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Tools of the ScreenWriting Trade: Textbook by Esther Luttrell
Screen Writers News: Front Page

Tips

Don't use the name of your character in your Log Line.

Don't use caps or dialogue.

Tell ABOUT the story. Don't try to tell the story.

Do NOT give an analogy such as "Sienfeld invades E.R.", "E.T. meets Frankenstein", "Archie Bunker gets no sleep in Seattle", etc.

Try to keep it to 2 lines. If you have to, stretch it up to 5 or 6, but make sure they're short lines.

Log Lines

Log Lines are critical. These are the short blurbs you see in the TV Guide, telling you something about the program listed. You'll also find Log Lines beside the title of books in book club brochures. These words are the real marketing tools.

You may have thought it was difficult to reduce your screenplay to a One Page, but squeezing it into a Log Line that is so exciting, so well-stated, that a reader will want to invite you to submit a script, is a real challenge. There are some writers who simply can't do it, but not many. Everyone finds it difficult, though.

A Log Line must "sell" your query letter!

Here's the reason: A reader or development exec must "sell" your idea to his or her superior. Because you interested the production company on the strength of your query letter, which contained that dynamite Log Line, your reader or exec will use it to entice the next person who must be persuaded in order for anyone to go forward with your work.

I devote an entire chapter to Log Lines in my book, "Tools of the ScreenWriting Trade," but for our purposes here, let's just take a look at a few samples so that you'll get the idea of their importance.

WILLING TO KILL: The Texas Cheerleader Story: If it didn't really happen, you'd never believe it. (Note: they could get away with such a brief Log Line because the story was already well publicized by the news media; everyone was familiar with it)

BRIDGE TO SILENCE: She can't hear, her mother won't listen. The silence is tearing them apart. (Note: this TV movie starred hearing impaired actress Marlee Matlin)

GHOST ON THE HAUNTED SHIP: A motley crew aims to scare the wits out of children in this high-spirited tale of pirates and tall ships-- and kids who believe in guardian angels.

MOVING PLATFORMS: When she took him to the train station that morning, she knew she'd have to make a decision before the end of the day. Which was she in danger of throwing away ... her past ... or her future?

DANCING ON A DIME: Rhythm Ranch is more than a dance school and it's more than a dilapidated old building in the worst part of an already terrible little town; it's a place where dreams are dreamed and where young people can envision, no matter how briefly, escape from Ozone, New Mexico ... on the wings of their dancing feet.

MURDER C.O.D.: Die now, pay later.

SIMON'S SUMMER: The child that nobody wants, steals the dogs that nobody wants--to become Arizona's Most Wanted!

PROWLER OF THE CUMBERLAND: An ordinary man, school teacher and father of a 12-year-old, doesn't believe in ghosts. At least he didn't ... until something mysterious confronts his daughter and doesn't leave so much as a footprint. If it was a ghost, however, it served a valuable purpose ... It forced him to realize that he's stronger than his fears.