If someone asked you what your story is about would you know the answer? Really know the answer? The logline isn’t plot, twists, sub plot, dialogue. It’s your concept. At the most basic level, it’s the spine of your story. It’s what holds everything together. Okay, now what is your story about? A lot of writers don’t. If you’re writing to publish, whether that’s through a traditional publisher or self-publishing you need a logline. They don’t just grab an editor’s or agent’s attention. They can entice readers.
There was a time when a logline was associated only with scripts. Hollywood uses them to gauge potential projects. To hook people. A good logline will prompt the listener to ask questions and want to see the movie. More and more editors and agents want to see a logline for your book. In queries or in person or online pitches they want you to condense your story down to 25 words that allows them to envision the whole story.
Why do editors and agents want loglines now? Because if you can boil your concept down to 25 words or less you know your concept. Really know it. And knowing your concept can help you stay on track when you’re writing the story. Oh, yeah, I recommend coming up with the logline BEFORE writing any of the story. When you’ve finished writing the book it’s actually a lot harder to figure out what that spine is. Boiling it down to a succinct logline is hard. You want to put in everything you think makes the story great. But you have to pick out the basics, just enough to catch someone’s interest and get them asking questions.
The general consensus is the logline should be twenty-five words or less. If you go over by a few words that’s fine. But the twenty-five word limit forces you to be as precise as possible. Trim the excess words and get right to the point. The logline should tell us WHO the story is about, WHAT he wants (Goal), and WHY he can’t have it (Conflict). A good logline will have the GMC. I like to start my loglines with the inciting incident or character motivation. Why does the protagonist need to go through this story? What prompted him to take action?
Loglines should, usually, use generic characters. A sexy librarian, a happy go lucky cop, a cursed witch. The reason for the descriptor and then noun for the character is impact. It tells you more about the character then just the name.
To stop a murder, a sexy librarian must deliver a rare first edition from the library to the man holding her sister hostage, but the library burns down.
That tells me more then: To stop a murder, Lexa Tome must deliver a rare first edition from the library to the man holding her sister hostage, but the library burns down.
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