Book Review: The Long and Short on Writing Strong Loglines


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wpid-wp-1422369688386.jpegWhen Doug King approached me with his book on writing strong loglines, I was really pleased to have the opportunity to review it because – as you all know, I run the #loglinechallenge so am always glad to read about – and share advice on – loglines.

The cover is simple yet effective at enticing the reader, and the content is much the same. The book is sectioned into a clear-to-understand introduction and tutorial on writing strong loglines, and is then followed by a large collection of sample loglines; some from actual movies, the rest from the active imagination of the writer himself.

In this sense, the book could be considered to be a logline/idea inspiration book, since the writer gives his absolute permission for readers to use any of his ideas from the collection of loglines. Loglines are split into genres, though these aren’t evenly comprehensive, with the writer’s favoured genres containing more loglines than others.

The introduction is the bit you need to read if you want to brush up on how to write loglines. Here, the writer humourously and clearly gives us the lowdown, including advice such as how loglines must answer a range of questions about your film so as to give as thorough a pitch as possible, and must avoid being too vague or theme-heavy.

Quotes from industry folk back up explanations, and there’s even a bit about writing TV loglines which concern not only one story but a potential for multiple stories. The writer’s formula goes a bit like this…

Who is your main character?

What is he or she trying to accomplish?
Who is trying to stop him or her?
What happens if he or she fails?

“After such and such…”/ “When such and such…”  
“…then (protagonist) is forced…”/ “…then (protagonist) must discover…”

This book is a nice, quick read and a good one to dip into if you’re lacking inspiration for ideas. However, the writer’s passion for coming up with new story ideas does tend to shine through in greater quantity than the logline-writing advice itself.

It’s worth keeping in mind that genre can affect loglines, and that it’s always important to identify whose story, and what story, is being told/will best fit the concept or genre.

Some of the loglines in the book don’t follow the writer’s advice very well, for example: “A young man on the path to enlightenment travels the world and discovers love” is just too vague and doesn’t really tell us much about the protagonist and what they are really facing.

However, there are certainly some good examples in the mix too, for example: “After a corporate store opens in small-town Middle America, one Main Street shop owner, set at odds with her husband who works for the big box store, must rally the other shop keepers to fight for their life-style and livelihood.” This one gives us much more of an idea of what to expect.

Another point to keep in mind is some advice I read on ScriptMag.com recently, by Angela Bourassa, on how not to write a logline…

“Keep in mind that loglines have their own set of clichés which should be avoided, if possible. For example, starting a logline with the word “When” is a bit tired. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but look for ways to be original with your word choice and sentence construction whenever possible.”

Don’t forget to join the #loglinechallenge group on Facebook! We’ve been having a rest this January but the challenge will be back this February and we’re hoping to spice it up a bit!

You can check out Doug’s book HERE!

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