Turning Ideas Into Loglines
There are few books that provide wise advice for film and tv storytellers at the early stage of an idea. A treatment or screenplay has yet to be written. The writer is usually itching to rush through this process and get to creating the story. In effect, a logline is a tool in helping the sreenwriter stay on track during the writing of a screenplay. But more, it helps screenwriters know up front if they have good film or TV idea.
At this stage, the idea needs to listen to the voice of others who offer advice for writers at this stage of development. In the process of developing ideas for stories or wanting to develop these ideas. Few offer advice at this early logline development stage and the pitch. It is something most writers give little thought to or pass quickly through and onto writing their scripts. They usually spend a few months a half a year on a script. Often, more time.
Why not put more time into the development of the idea before writing the script? Almost all screenwriting gurus and books acknowledge the importance of this early stage. But few spend much time on explaining how to develop a powerful logline as they are more interested in getting to story structure.
What to Write … Not How to Write
Two of the best in this area are Erik Bork and Christopher Lockhart. Erik’s book The Idea offers a structured way to look at what many consider an unstructured entity … that is, the idea. The seven key elements Bork discusses offer a method that needs application at the early stages of a story but they are also useful to those who have started a story and want to check the dramatic viability of the story idea.
Bork does not focus on telling writers how to write like most of the other screenwriting books out there. Rather, he is more interested in telling them what to write. A long-time veteran of the industry (working with luminaries like Tom Hanks and others on award-winning films) he certainly has the credentials to offer this advice.
The Idea is offers up-front advice to writers and screenwriters that can save them countless hours of proceeding down the wrong path with a bad idea. Essentially, it is about putting the ideas for a story into a powerful logline. Not surprisingly, the book gets rave reviews on Amazon (currently 85 five-star reviews).
King of Loglines
The other top advice comes from an unpublished paper rather than a book. It is by WME Story Editor Christopher Lockhart and called I Wrote a 120 Page Script But Can’t Writer a Logline: The Construction of a Logline. Published around 2013, the 54-page document is perhaps the best single source of information on loglines one will find. Lockhart has read thousands of scripts and his advice is tremendously important to the early idea stage of story projects. The paper is divided into a few sections. The first section provides a clear explanation of the key elements of a logline. A second second offers examples of loglines with criticism and a third section offers a libary of loglines. The piece can be accessed here at Writing Loglines-Lockhart
Writers and screenwriters should spend a little time with Eric and Chris at the beginning of a project. It’ll be the most worthwhile time you’ll ever spend on your story project.
See loglines of screenplays that made the 2017 and 2018 Black List, Hollywood’s favorite unproduced screenplays at Black List Loglines