Saturday, April 19, 2008

Loglines

I know today's our normal challenge check-in, but if Paty doesn't mind posting the check-in tomorrow, I thought this might be a fun exercise. I totally pilfered this from Karin Tabke's blog because it was so cool.

A logline is a one sentence pitch that describes your book (or in the case of screenwriters, their script). It's the blurb in the TV guide that tells you what a movie is about. It's the line that gets you excited about a book or movie or TV show. It's what you say when someone asks, "What's your book about?" Obviously, it should answer one main question: What is your story about?

Two reasons you need a logline:
1. A logline keeps you focused as you write.
2. A logline summarizes your book in as few words as possible when you're ready to pitch it to an editor or agent. (And it gives you something to say when you find yourself alone in the elevator with Leslie Wainger at Nationals and she says, "So what are you working on now?" {One can dream, right?})

So...now that you know the definition, what's the logline for your current wip? I'll go first:

Mythological warrior falls for the one woman destined to save his race - the same woman he's been sent to find and lead to her death.

Okay, your turn. Post your logline in the comment section. If you don't have one, post what you've got and we'll all help you perfect it. And comments are good. If you want to hack mine to pieces, go for it. ;)

21 comments:

Paty Jager said...

Ahhh, snuck in on me! LOL

Stephanie Plum move over, this 1880 impetuous Pinkerton agent is out to prove to herself and a US Marshal she can not only complete her assignment, but she can capture his heart.

That's off the top of my head. Any thoughts or ideas are welcome. I have a paragraph written up but not a one liner.

Eli, yours pretty much tells it all. Nice job!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Sounds great, Paty! I like the addition of "impetuous". Tells us a lot about her.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Oooh. One thought (after I hit send, LOL). Can you give us an adjective for the US Marshal? Something that will maybe hint at their romantic conflict? Cynical? Womanizing? Weepy? (Oh, I hope he's not the last! LOLOL)

wavybrains said...

I like your logline Paty, but one thought: The "move over Stephanie Plum" bit is VERY overused right now: It's Nancy Bush's Tagline for her series, Elaine Vietch's tagline for her Mystery Shopper Series, and nearly every mystery series with a female heroine seems to use some form of that line. When I judged a mystery category for PNWA, I noticed that half the entries used that too. I think your logline stands very well without it. Just my 2 cents.

As for my own logline, everything I'm coming up with sounds really hokey. Very hokey.

"In the race to save his building project from sabotage, a contruction contractor finds an unlikely ally in an Emergency Room Doctor."

or maybe "A construction contractor is forced to confront his past when he falls for an Emergency Room Doctor."

Both of these sound way too lifetime movie channel. It's a romantic comedy with a dash of mystery, but the mystery takes a backseat to the banter. I'm not sure how to convey that.

Great post, Karen!

Paty Jager said...

Thanks, Eli. I"m thnking on the best word to describe the hero. I'll post when I come up with the right one.

Wavy, Shoot- I thought that was the best way to describe my book is like that series. After all they are always wanting you to say what it is like so they can get a handle on what it is. ~sigh~

wavybrains said...

Well, I guess since she kind of defined the genre, it DOES make a certain amount of sense, but it also seems like it's becoming a bit cliche. Maybe you could work the Stephanie Plum reference into the body of the sentence rather than the lead?????????? Just an idea.

Kendra said...

During a blizzard in the remote Cascade mountains, a self destructive ex-U.S. Marshal plots revenge on a serial killer after a plane crash.

Right now there's a major hailstorm and thunder going on up here. I just drove back from Eugene and had to put it in 4WD going over Ankeny Hill during a hailstorm that buried I-5.

Oh, wait. Sunshine now!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Thanks for playing, Wavy! We missed you today. I kept hoping you'd show up for at least part of the time.

Okay...on to your logline. I think we need some adjectives to describe your hero/heroine. What is it about each one that causes sparks to fly between them? What is it that makes them different from other construction workers or ER docs? Is their profession even pertinent in this logline? Both loglines left me with hanging questions...how is an ER doc an unlikely ally? Or how does an ER doc help him confront his past? I think we need to narrow this down. Can you post a paragraph (or two) blurb about the book so we can help you narrow down the bare bones?

Elisabeth Naughton said...

During a blizzard in the remote Cascade mountains, a self destructive ex-U.S. Marshal plots revenge on a serial killer after a plane crash.

Ooooh...I really like this, Kendra. Great job! My only question is...where's the heroine? Since I know this is an RS, I'm wondering if you could sneak something about her in there. Otherwise it reads as a straight thriller. HOWEVER...(LOL...since we've had this discussion)...if you're going to end up marketing it as a straight thriller, I'd leave it just the way it is. Nice work!

Glad to hear you made it home safe and sound. That hail was crazy, wasn't it?

wavybrains said...

What I'm working on right now is a trio of linked stories. I'm aiming for category length, but they might surprise me. Think Grey's Anatomy meets Harlequin with a healthy dose of Jennifer Cruise/Lori Foster. Each book features a different E.R. Doctor and a different mini-mystery.

This book has an E.R. Intern who's used to doing what's easy--she drives the car her father picked out for her, lives in the apartment her mother decorated, and is a doctor because people in her family either become doctors or lawyers and she (obviously) has no talent for argument. She's blonde, rich, and high maintence--everything that hero doesn't want in a woman.

Hero renounced his family's fortune to make his own way in construction. Now, he's finally got a huge contract building an addition onto the hospital--and a huge problem on his hands: workers keep getting sick and injured. Is it back luck? Sabotage? Sick building syndrome? He's running out of time to figure it out.

Heroine is interested in hero as a diversion--she wants a one-night stand. He's just interested in exorcising her from his system so that he can get back to work. They both have a lot of growing to do to make anything more lasting out of all the sexual sparks.

um. That was probably way more than you wanted. :) And teething + crawling = horrid combo. No movie for me.

Paty Jager said...

An impetous Pinkerton agent is out to prove to herself and a righteous US Marshal though she may not always play by the rules, she can not only complete her assignment, she can capture his heart as well.

Better?

Wavy I agree with Eli, we need to know more about them- show the conflict deeper.

Kendra- Nice!

Paty Jager said...

Wavy, didn't see your last post until I posted. Sounds like a great book! I'll think about a logline.

PS I'd never heard this called a logline before.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Hm...Wavy. Okay...main question...why does he need HER to solve his mystery?

Off the top of my head I came up with:

Self-made business man running out of time to figure out who's sabotaging his worksite is forced to turn to the one woman he wants to avoid before someone else winds up dead.

But that doesn't tell us anything about her or why he needs HER specifically. (And I totally threw in the dead part purely for shock value. I have no idea if people are winding up dead or not. LOL) Hmmm...I'm still thinking.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Yeah, Paty.I think that sounds a lot better. I only have two suggestions: 1) I'd tighten it down a little so it's less wordy, and 2) I'd put something in about her being a woman agent during this time. Women weren't generally in law enforcement back then, were they? Her being a woman in her profession has to be a big conflict between them. Maybe something like:

An impetous Pinkerton agent is out to prove to a righteous US Marshal that she's the best "man" to complete the assignment and the only "woman" who can capture his heart.

Paty Jager said...

Eli, thanks I like the condensed version you came up with.

There were few women Pinkertons which were a private detective agency who didn't have to play by the rules that the US Marshals did- which is one of the conflicts with them. They are each actually after something different, but the adversary is the same person.

wavybrains said...

Um. He doesn't NEED her.

Problem.

I always end up with low conflict stories. I like reading fish-out-of-water and opposites attract stories, and that's what I typically write.

Anyway. There needs to be more conflict here. A reason beyond just he's him and she's her why they can't just be together. She doesn't want to let her family down, that's a huge part of it. And he doesn't want back into that world. But maybe there needs to be something more?

Do all stories need "the one woman he can't have" sort of conflict? Way beyond the scope of this post, I know. Just musing.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Conflict drives plot, Wavy. So my answer would be yes, there does need to be more conflict than simply "he's him and she's her" keeping them apart. Does it have to be of the "she's the one woman I can't have" variety? Not necessarily, but it has to be something that seems insurmountable to your reader so they'll keep reading to find out how the two will work things out.

When I asked why he needs HER, I was simply wondering how she gets involved with this suspense plot or why he turns to her for help. Remember that all romance stories - whether they're contemporary, suspense, paranormal or historical - are primarily about the romance. Everything else is secondary and those secondary plots drive your hero and heroine either apart or together (or both).

Alice Sharpe said...

Eli -- Good point about conflict driving plot.

With yours, Eli, I would take out the "find and". I know it's part of his mission, but is it necessary in this logline? You judge.

I am not ready to play, I'm sorry to say. That says a lot right there...

Wavy, I like fish out of water stories, too, but there's no issue, in my mind, between those stories and high conflict. Think of North by Northwest -- plenty of conflict, both internal and external. And opposites attract is a hot bed (pun intended) of conflict. You may have to fight what I have had to teach myself to fight and which, frankly, I still fight, and that is resolving differences too soon and too easily. I have a peacemaker personality, so I want everyone to be happy. It is my nature to resolve conflict quickly, sometimes at my own expense. This does not work in fiction.

Think, she's mad, he's insufferable, she retreats to a safe place, begins to forgive him, he finds her, apologizes, she admits her part in the brouhaha, all is good.

Dead end.

Consider, she's mad, he's insufferable, she retreats to a safe place, begins to forgive him, he finds her and says something else stupid, she responds out of disappointment, he retaliates and leaves, she stews -- conflict, plot progresses...

This may all be too simplistic for you, but that's a situation I had in THE BABY SEASON and the first way is a way that killed the book dead in the water -- I had nowhere to go from that peace-making scene. So, take from this what you will.

Paty, yours is shaping up great! Kendra, I agree -- I'd like to know about the heroine if this is a romance.

I wish I had something to offer so you guys could give me your two cents as I've done with you... maybe tomorrow. Neat blog, Eli

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Good point, Alice. Less wordy. Thanks. :)

Kendra said...

Okay, a little on the heroine:

During a search and rescue mission in a blizzard in the
remote Cascade mountains, a self-destructive ex-US Marshal plots a
deadly revenge on a serial killer who survived the plane crash. An
idealistic nurse on the team turns the Marshal's head and threatens
the success of his personal mission.

Karen Duvall said...

Loglines are tough! Here's mine:

Half angel and half human, Chalice is a thief destined to become a hero, but bondage to a gargoyle forces her to chose between life and death in order to be free.

Eh, lots of "to" in there. Needs work.

I loved reading your loglines, ladies. What fun books we'll all have to read. 8^)