A big mistake I made as a new writer was not knowing how to properly answer this question. Like so many others, I tried to give a talk instead of being precise and to the point. But I learned my lesson the hard way so that you don’t have to.
As an established screenwriter, I’ve learned well what to do and what not to do.
Writers often use loglines to pitch their ideas to potential producers and investors, so they must be as strong and compelling as possible.
Instead, have a single sentence (or two at the most!) at the ready, one that captures all the essential core elements of your script.
A logline is a concise (one or two-sentence) short synopsis of your script or movie, as noted in this article from Masterclass.
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The ONLY Logline Formula for a Movie You’ll Ever Need!
When you read the following loglines, think of each movie in terms of the following:
- Protagonist(s) – The story’s main character(s).
- Inciting Incident – The event that sets the protagonist(s) on their journey. This is the first turning point, where the main character’s ordinary world upends.
- Objective – The main goal of the protagonist(s).
- Antagonistic force – The character, force, or obstacle preventing the protagonist(s) from reaching the objective.
Each of the following logline examples uses my logline formula to create a compelling logline that draws in the reader:
When INCITING INCIDENT,
a PROTAGONIST must OBJECTIVE
despite an ANTAGONISTIC FORCE.
A few tips for writing the best logline include:
- Keep your logline short and to the point
- Brainstorm your best movie ideas before you write the logline!
- Think about the key ingredients of the story elements of your book or movie before writing the logline
- Focus on the main conflict in your story (the central problem that moves the plot forward)
- Don’t use character names in your logline
- Don’t give away the entire script or the whole movie!
- Avoid naming similar books or movies in the logline
Here are 25 famous logline examples from successful films you may recognize. These movies are from 25 different popular genres of movies, so you can use them to help inspire you to write a logline for your screenplay!
25 Famous Logline Examples
1. Sci-Fi Logline Movie Example: BACK TO THE FUTURE
After a teenager is accidentally transported 30 years into the past, he must find a way to both return to his own time and reunite his parents before he and his future cease to exist.
2. Western Logline Movie Example: DJANGO UNCHAINED
After being rescued by a German bounty hunter in pre-Civil War Mississippi, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a sadistic plantation owner.
3. Action Logline Movie Example: KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE
When an unhinged billionaire plots to cull the human race, an underprivileged trainee in a secret intelligence agency must prove himself in order to save the world.
4. Crime-Thriller Logline Movie Example: THE FUGITIVE
Falsely accused of killing his wife, a doctor desperately searches for the real killer, with a relentless federal agent hot on his trail.
5. Espionage-Thriller Logline Movie Example: NORTH BY NORTHWEST
When an innocent advertising executive is framed for murder, he must evade the authorities long enough to uncover a foreign spy ring.
6. Fantasy Logline Movie Example: THE WIZARD OF OZ
After a twister takes a lonely Kansas farm girl to a magical land, she sets out on a dangerous journey to find a wizard with the power to send her home.
7. Holiday Logline Movie Example: ELF
When a Christmas elf discovers he’s actually human, he travels to New York City to find his biological family.
8. Crime Logline Movie Example: RESERVOIR DOGS
After a simple jewelry heist goes wrong and the authorities close in, the surviving criminals suspect that one of them is a police informant.
9. Thriller Logline Movie Example: SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
In order to catch a maniac who skins his victims, a determined FBI cadet must seek help from an incarcerated and manipulative serial killer.
10. Romance Logline Movie Example: TITANIC
When two star-crossed lovers meet on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, they must find a way to survive when the doomed ship hits an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean.
11. Cartoon Logline Movie Example: TOY STORY
When a new spaceman action figure supplants him as the favorite toy, an aging cowboy doll must overcome his jealousy for the sake of the other toys in the house.
12. Comedy Logline Movie Example: THE HANGOVER
When three groomsmen lose their about-to-be-wed buddy following a drunken bachelor party in Vegas, they must retrace their steps in order to find him.
13. Horror Logline Movie Example: THE EXORCIST
When a teenage girl is possessed by a demonic entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.
14. War Logline Movie Example: APOCALYPSE NOW
A disenchanted US soldier in Vietnam is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has established himself as a god among a local tribe.
15. Historical Epic Logline Movie Example: GLADIATOR
When a corrupt emperor murders his family and sends him into slavery, a former Roman General sets out to exact vengeance by becoming a gladiator.
16. Animated Adventure Logline Movie Example: THE LION KING
After he wrongly takes the blame for his father’s death, a lion cub grows up in exile and must return with his unlikely friends to reclaim the throne from his evil uncle.
17. Space Opera Logline Movie Example: STAR WARS
Following the discovery of two unusual droids, an adventurous farmboy joins a mysterious hermit to rescue a space princess from the evil Empire before they can unleash their ultimate weapon.
18. Epic War Film Logline Example: SAVING PRIVATE RYAN
Following the D-Day landings in Normandy, a group of battle-weary soldiers is tasked with a deadly mission to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.
19. Fantasy Drama Film Logline Example: THE GREEN MILE
When a large and gentle black man is sent to Death Row for a brutal murder in 1930s Louisiana, the guards discover his miraculous healing gifts and begin to suspect his innocence.
20. Psychological Crime Thriller Logline Example: SE7EN
Following a string of murders based on the seven deadly sins, a veteran and a rookie detective must stop the manipulative serial killer before he finishes his list.
21. Dark Comedy – Action Film Example: FIGHT CLUB
An insomniac office worker’s life turns upside down when he starts an underground fight club with a rebellious soap-maker.
22. Black Comedy – Drama Film Logline Example: AMERICAN BEAUTY
In the midst of a midlife crisis, a depressed suburban father tries to reinvent himself as he develops an unhealthy obsession with his teenage daughter’s attractive friend.
23. Indie Comedy Film Logline Example: NAPOLEON DYNAMITE
Tired of his bizarre family life, a listless and alienated teenager decides to help his new friend win the class presidency in their small-town high school.
24. Cult Crime Drama Example: RESERVOIR DOGS
After a jewelry heist goes wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.
25. Mystery Crime Thriller Logline Example: THE USUAL SUSPECTS
When a suspect is arrested following a horrific gun battle on a boat, he recounts how he met five of the criminals involved at a seemingly random police lineup.
Frequently Asked Questions About Writing a Logline
What is a good logline?
A logline is a short summary of a movie, TV show, or book that concisely states the central conflict and describes the characters. It’s usually only one or two sentences long. A good logline should be clear and concise, giving readers a good sense of the story without giving away too much information. It should also be exciting and attention-grabbing, making readers want to learn more about the story.
How do you write a good logline?
A film logline is one sentence that sums up the entire plot of a film. It’s similar to an elevator pitch but with a few key differences. First, a movie logline should be no more than one sentence long. Second, it should be written in the present tense. Third, it should focus on the central conflict of the story. And fourth, it should be catchy and memorable.
How many sentences are in a logline?
A movie logline is a one or two-sentence summary of a film that typically includes the movie’s genre, setting, and main characters. Though movie loglines can vary in length, most are relatively brief. This is because movie executives, producers, and other Hollywood insiders have minimal time to read and respond to pitches. As a result, a concise and attention-grabbing logline is essential for getting a movie made.
Can a logline be a question?
In general, the best loglines are written as statements in the active voice. Seeing a logline written as a question is unusual (but not impossible!). Follow the logline formula given in this article to write a concise and compelling logline.
Should you use character names in a logline?
A perfect logline should be concise, delivering the essential information about the story in as few words as possible. One way to achieve this is to avoid using character names. Instead, focus on describing the protagonist’s goal and the obstacles standing in their way. This will give the reader a clear sense of what the story is about and what stakes are at play. In addition, it will help to ensure that your logline can be easily understood by anyone who reads it.
What is the difference between a logline and a tagline?
A logline is a brief summary of a film or television show that typically includes the main characters and a quick overview of the essential parts of the plot. On the other hand, a tagline is a catchphrase or slogan used to promote a film or television show. It is typically shorter than a logline and is designed to capture the reader’s attention. Both loglines and taglines are essential tools for marketing a film or television show, but they serve different purposes. A logline is used to give potential viewers a quick overview of the story, while a tagline is used to generate interest and excitement.
Can I use AI to help me write a logline?
Yes! I have tried using Jasper AI to help me write a logline for a movie script. It’s not perfect, but it can help make the process faster and easier, especially if you feel the dreaded writer’s block! AI story writing tools are great for helping you push through that blocked feeling and get your thoughts down. For step-by-step instructions for this, check out my article on how to use AI to help you write a logline!
Conclusion: Logline Examples for Popular Movies and Films
Movie loglines are essential for promoting your screenplay or movie to the film industry.
More than that, they are a valuable tool in distilling your core premise into a single sentence so that you can have a ready answer the next time someone asks,
“What’s your story about?“.
You can follow the logline formula that I used to create these loglines to create your own for your next screenplay or film! Remember to use a good screenwriting software program to write your screenplay.
For more help with creating your own logline, you can check out these screenwriting resources: