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By Mikael Colville-Andersen:

History of Hollywood Dramaturgy -
The long road to the modern screenplay

Screenwriting by Numbers
A Screenwriter's Checklist.

European Film & American Movies
The evolution of two distinct worlds.

Writing a Logline
A short guide to that all important log line.

Other Articles:

Mogens Rukov
The Dogma Doctor from Denmark.

'Il Postino'
The Disneynisation of classic works.

Creating Characters
A guideline to creating excellent characters.

Check Out Our Screenwriter Interviews:

Budd Schulberg
Paul Schrader
Richard Price
David Newman
Suso Cecchi d'Amico
Jean-Claude Carriere
Sergio Donati


The log line (also referred to as a pitch) has a practical function in that it gives the reader an idea of what your film is about, including genre.

Being able to write a log line is one of the hardest parts of the process. If you can't sum up your story in 3-4 lines, then it is quite possible that you don't know what it is about. And if you don't know, how will others know?

Spielberg said it best: "Pitch me, 25 words or less "

A log line or pitch is the briefest explanation of your story and usually contains one to three sentences.

It contains the basic elements the protagonist, the conflict, the antagonist and the genre.

Here are three examples of log lines which you can use as a guide to writing a log line for your own films:

"A cynically self-interested nightclub owner must decide whether to risk helping a former flame on the run from the Nazis." (Casablanca)

"A headstrong farm-boy must learn to become a warrior in order to join a galactic rebellion against an evil empire." (Star Wars)

"A stubborn, over-the-hill former gunfighter again straps on his pistols to try to make a living, but must contend with a sadistic small-town sheriff." (Unforgiven)

A log line should always follow the following format:


The above are just examples from Hollywood. If your log line stretches to three lines, not to worry. As long as it contains the above elements.

© Mikael Colville-Andersen 2006-2011