- You've got to mention your protagonist and his problem/antagonist/conflict
- You've got to give a sense of the story, make us want to read it
- You've got to have a good title to go along with it
Or else you found yourself saying,
"Well, there's this planet seventeen light-years from Earth where everything exploded six millennia ago, right? And this transport ship that blew up and left debris in the atmosphere that was actually too toxic to breathe but people breathed it anyway...well, it left this gaseous fog that turned the inhabitants into these sort of mutant half-humanoids. So this seventeen-year-old named Ollum finds out that his great-grandfather was born on the transport, and--"
And your friend is snoozing.
A good log line answers the question, "What's it about?" And it only takes one or two sentences to accomplish this.
So here's a potential log line for The Taming of the Shrew, my favorite Shakespeare play:
A determined bachelor attempts to tame the shrewish daughter of a wealthy man by marrying her against her will.
Now, I wrote that off the cuff and it needs some work. I don't necessarily like the word "bachelor" because it's not strong enough. And yes, he's certainly determined, but there might be a better adjective.
It's got the basics bones of a decent log line, though. The conflict is right there--a shrew being married off against her will.
Feel free to edit, discuss, rip it apart in the comment box. Or write a completely new one for the same play. Those of you who are interested in participating in December's Very Special Thing will benefit from some practice, yes?
Myself included. (No, I'm not participating in the Very Special Thing. But I am trying to come up with two strong log lines right now. And not having much luck.)