Lining up the Logline

Lining up the Logline

In this post we are taking a break from discussing the content of Tens Day. Instead I want to consider a small but potentially important marketing vehicle for the graphic novel: a logline. A logline is a sentence or two that really gets to the core of a story. Used in the comic-book, television, and film industries, a logline’s purpose is to encapsulate a project when it is pitched to a company or studio. A quick online search turned up an overwhelming number of examples and discussions concerning the subject, but here is a handout from a university course upon which I stumbled that I found quite useful: View Here.

The linked document contains successful and unsuccessful examples of loglines, according to the instructor. Although we are not pitching Tens Day right now, I figure we can use a logline to help promote Tens Day 1 in the coming days. Here is what I started with:

Tens Day: The explosions were just the beginning
Tens Day: The real story happens after the bombing

Not good. The pair is, in fact, quite bad. It didn’t take me long to realize my biggest obstacle. Tens Day has an ensemble cast.

No Logging Zone

The linked handout lists a great number of loglines embodying a story with a hero. I’m not spoiling anything by revealing that Tens Day lacks a hero of the sort at the center of many loglines. This was my struggle. Attempting to essentialize a narrative in one sentence without referring to any of the principal characters left me gravitating toward the overly vague. What to do? Search again, of course, this time pairing “ensemble cast” and “logline,” after which another bevy of links flooded my screen.

I didn’t read that many. I didn’t have to. Near the top of the list of links was this Reddit post, which proved to be all the help that I needed to re-engage with my logline anew. The first response to the post asking “How to write a Logline for an ensemble cast” provides an example for the Spike Lee film, Do the Right Thing. Although it’s been a while, I have seen the film multiple times. My familiarity with the picture coupled with the sample logline for it written by the redditor cleared the way for a fresh take on my own logline project. The key?

The sample logline for Do the Right Thing stresses the importance of the film’s Brooklyn neighborhood, the temporal arc of the film – a single day’s sweltering heat – and the ensuing eruption of “race and bigotry.” No mention of Mookie or Sal. A heroless template that I could use as a springboard for a Tens Day logline.

Caution: Logline Ahead

After some misses and some hits, here is the current logline:

Tens Day: In the wake of a mysterious bombing at the premier corporate resort in 23rd century interstellar space, grievances against the United Colonies of Earth and criminal schemes reach explosive heights.

I don’t refer to any characters in this version of the logline, but I do include the where, what, when, and the lure(s). This draft is still a work in progress, but it is more effective than the two with which I started; those two reflected the what – the bombings – with little else except vague hints at the story to come. Well, yeah, of course, there is the story to come, but what is it?

The most recent logline, I think, begins to gesture to more of the larger story. It drops enough plot elements without needlessly overloading readers with information about the INT universe, while hopefully finding that right amalgam of suggestion and detail to mobilize the curiosity of readers, who might be wondering what the United Colonies of Earth is, for instance.

At least those are my thoughts. If you have any questions or comments about the Tens Day logline or about loglines in general, we’d love to hear them.