Log lines: one or two sentences of a story summary.
Now, try writing 100 of those right now. Or 200.
As an exercise you write them one right after the other, almost without thinking each one through. Out of 200, there may be one worth expanding on. This is the point.
Most of our initial story ideas suck, but writers tend to get attached rather quickly with an idea. Time is wasted on trying to make something work, or make it more unique than it is and then you’re back to square one: “What do I write about?”
Writing log lines sets our ideas next to each other and we can see right away how dull, awful, or just plain dumb they are.
I wrote 250 log lines once. It was miserable. I wouldn’t recommend it. Doing 50 could work. All of them probably will be trash. But what I found through this exercise was that I was able to delve deep into my imagination…because to make up 250 story ideas I had to get creative.
Since I did the exercise for a class, I actually had to expand on eight of the idea and create pitches. This further allowed me to see quickly that even if an idea initially seemed great, upon expansion I found that it was actually terrible.
Log lines allow you to get creative, cut the crap, and save you from concentrating on a story that just won’t work. (Or a story that’s been told 100x over.)