Loglines And Why You Should Make Them

Have you ever wanted to tell people what your visual novel is about, but find yourself struggling on the details and nuances? Are you writing a visual novel that seems to go everywhere and nowhere at the same time? Have you ever posted a plot summary of your work online, only to see ‘TL;DR’ as the next response?

If you said yes to one of these questions, or if you lied and said no, then you could benefit from writing your own loglines.

A logline is a short blurb, a 1 to 2 sentence description, of the core of a visual novel. It’s a concise distillation of the narrative that tells people, especially the person writing it, what the visual novel is about.

Being able to form a logline of your visual novel will help you accomplish many goals within your narrative and convey important and compelling details to potentially interested parties(customers, backers, team mates, etc.)

What I have to say here isn’t an all-inclusive guide to loglines. Think of it as an introduction into the basics of it, and enough to explore and play around with your own ideas.

A logline is typically composed of three essential elements:

  • The Protagonists, and something about them. (“An agoraphobic skydiver…”)
  • The Antagonists, or external source of conflict. (“A daredevil ex-fighter pilot”)
  • The Action the Protagonist is taking, or the opposing actions.

And may additionally contain other elements to convey theme or mood.

  • The Setup details (“In a world where animals can talk…”)
  • The Stakes (“… or risk turning into a puddle of slime forever!”)
  • The Urgency (“… has until midnight to…”)

Examples

  • Silence of the Lambs:
    A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.
  • Reservoir Dogs :
    After a simple jewelry heist goes terribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.
  • Breaking Bad:

  • A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family’s future.

Tips

  1. No one knows who John Smith is.  Unless your characters are well known figures, namedropping your characters won’t provide any worthwhile information. Stick to their story essential details and traits.
  2. The Antagonist should be a genuine threat. For best effect, emphasize the unique challenge of being the protagonist against the antagonist. An antagonist that is exceptionally good at exploiting the protagonist’s given weaknesses makes for a compelling narrative. Example: A professional arsonist antagonist vs a pyrophobic protagonist.
  3. Irony is your friend. An ironic premise, pairing, or a protagonist with an ironic trait can help convey the wit and mood of a story. Done right, and this can be very effective at making both dramatic and comical ideas shine.
  4. If you’re struggling with your logline, there may be a problem in your idea. The best formed ideas can be expressed simply. Even an intricately woven plot can have a simple to explain premise and concise logline.
  5. Your logline is about the “A” plot. The B plot, the protagonist’s inner conflict, or sub-plots, should be implied at most. The discovery and resolution of the B plot is part of the fun and full story.

Exercises

Try writing a few loglines of your own. Here are some prompts to get you going. Try them all and see which one you like the most.

  • Write a logline where the protagonist and antagonist are polar opposites.
  • Your protagonist has 24 hours to achieve their goal. Write a logline incorporating this urgency with an antagonist that reinforces it.
  • You have two protagonists and the stake is their romantic life/future. What external and internal forces drive them apart, and what do they have to do to save themselves?
  • Think outside the conventional. The only thing that can resolve your conflict is a high-stakes spelling bee.
  • Think of your favorite movie, show, book, or VN, and try to write a log line for it. Bonus points for finding the original logline after to see how they match up.

Resources

If you’re still struggling, give these videos a try!





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Author: Ian Glidewell

Remort Studios

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