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When you’re a student in film, you learn about loglines. They are, in short, a sentence that explains the entire essence of a story (note: no spoilers) .It’s incredibly difficult to create such a sentence, and it might feel like that one sentence won’t or can’t do your story justice. I argue that not only can you summarise your story in a single sentence, you should. It should also the first thing you start with.

Here’s the lowdown: if you can’t make a logline for your story, you can’t make a cohesive story. For screenwriters, it’s considered the “DNA” of your script. It works the same way for novelists. Have a great, solid logline, and you have the backbone understanding of a great, solid story. It’s a simple, effective means to ensure that you know what your story is about.

If your story changes through drafts, that’s okay! Updating a logline is easy. So long as it remains a good, solid sentence, you’re all set. Another benefit to having a stellar logline? They’ll help you get published. The movie and publishing industries work the same in that regard.

So how do you create a stellar logline?

First, read this compiled list of loglines from some of the most famous movies of all time.

Understand a bit better what goes into a logline? If you’ve seen any of those movies, you’ll know there’s a lot more going on in those movies than those sentences suggest, but, at the same time, they sum up their movies perfectly. They convey the essence of the story.

To start with, a logline answers the typical who, what, where, when, why, how of your story. The typical formula goes:

 In (setting) a (description of the protagonist – writer, baker, politician, candle-stick maker) is faced with a (challenge) caused by (a situation or antagonist) as they achieve their goal.

 It’ll take quite a few tries to get right, but don’t worry about it! The mere act of drafting a logline will focus you on the essence of your story. You’ll know the key aspect that holds it together. The driving force that your story can branch and grow from!

If you’d like more help understanding loglines and what makes a great logline, see these great articles on the subject:

  1.  “Writing a Killer Logline
  2. How to Easily Write a Great Logline
  3. How to Tell if Your Story is On Target—What is Your Book About in ONE Sentence?

Once you’re done drafting your loglines, share them! I’d love to read them, share them with the greater Dark Sentences community, or help you out on your journey to writing the backbone of your story.

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