The Art of the Logline: 9 Questions With Lane Shefter Bishop

Lane Shefter Bishop

Lane Shefter Bishop

By Sean Tuohy

Writing a novel or screenplay is an extremely difficult task, but the next step in the process is even harder: selling your work.

Pulling from her years of experience as both a filmmaker and a producer, Lane Shefter Bishop delivered a best-selling book, Sell Your Story In A Single Sentence, that is a must-have for all writers. Bishop writes from the trenches of Hollywood, informing her readers how to write the best loglines that will actually get read. She mixes together much needed know-how with humor that will make you chuckle throughout the book.

Bishop took some time to sit and talk for me about her target audience, the biggest mistakes that writers make, and how writers can sell their work with one sentence.

Sean Tuohy: What was the biggest drive to write, Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence?

Lane Shefter Bishop: I’d been speaking about logline creation for years at numerous conferences and there was just so much need for this information. Whenever I asked writers, “What are you working on?” I got told such sagas. In my business, most people don’t have more than a few minutes to spare for a content creator, so I knew those long answers would never work if these writers wanted to actually be able to sell their material. Also, after every seminar, I’d always have a line of folks asking me if I had a book...

ST: When you sat down to write Sell Your Story in A Single Sentence, what did you want the reader to take away from it?

LSB: I wanted readers to know that you can have the best material in the world but if you can’t sell it, it doesn’t do you any good—and in this crazy busy world we live in, the quicker you can sell it, the better.

ST: Sell Your Story in A Single Sentence is written in a very clear and funny tone. When you approached this project what was your mindset: a writer trying to help other writers or as an entertainment executive helping writers?

LSB: I’m sort of an out-of-the-box producer because I was a working director prior and was also a senior executive at an entertainment company for a few years, so I’ve been on both sides, the selling side and the buying side. As such, I have a unique perspective to offer writers and wanted to use that to assist them in their marketing efforts. I love writers and am continuously impressed by their creativity, so I really wanted to help them expand their opportunities.

ST: What are the biggest mistakes writers make when trying to sell their work?

LSB: The biggest mistake I see is that they are being too general, using big broad concepts to talk about their work. This just serves to make it sound generic, like hundreds of other stories. I am forever hounding writers to be more specific because it is those specifics that make a story unique and different and thus infinitely more sellable.

ST: The logline can make or break a story. Why is the logline so important?

LSB: The logline is so important because it can literally be the difference between someone wanting to read your work or turning you away empty-handed. It is the magic potion that can lead to a “yes,” which is always the goal.

ST: What makes a great logline versus a bad logline?

LSB: A great logline is one where who the protagonist is, what they want and what is at stake (if they don’t achieve their goal) are all clearly defined while using the most unique elements possible to do so. A bad logline is one where the content creator is either much too general or has tried to cram their entire plot into one veeeeery long run-on sentence.

ST: What do you wish you saw more writers do when they try to sell their work?

LSB: Read my book first! Seriously, I know a great logline would help them sell because I’ve used them successfully myself for many years now.

ST: What is next for Lane Shefter Bishop?

LSB: I’m going back to my roots and directing a feature film. I’ve also been asked to write a proposal for a book on the book-to-screen adaptation process. And of course I have numerous projects that I am currently producing through my company, Vast Entertainment. So, kind of a lot, I guess!

ST: Can you tell us one random fact about yourself?

LSB: I truly believe that I am the biggest dog lover on the entire planet.

To learn more about Lane Shefter Bishop, visit her official website or follow her on Twitter @LaneShefterBish.

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