Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Loglines--How One Little Line Can Help You

Please join me in my two part series on those little lines everybody loves (not!): loglines.

I’m sure I’m not the only writer who loses my way while creating a story. Now I could go into outlines or into one of the most basic mindsets that separate writers: plotting vs. pantsing. But I’m looking for something more basic than outlines that will guide my stories--and the queries and pitches I have to devise. To be truly helpful, this ‘something’ should help plotters and pantsters alike.

What could I be talking about? Not some elusive word, I assure you, but loglines.
Loglines? Yep!

Loglines are used by screenwriters to pitch their work and tell what their story is about. They basically read like simplified blurbs from the back of a book. Sound simple enough, right? I thought so, too--until I tried to write one. Now, this might lead you to ask, “Why do I even need to think about a logline?”

Well, for the simple reason that the essence of your story should be able to be distilled down into one or two sentences-- leaving the goal, motivation, and conflict (GMC) clear and compelling in its birthday suit. All padding is stripped away and what you have left is the core of your story--what most likely makes it salable or not. If you’re missing a strong GMC, you might want to go back to the drawing board, depending on your genre.

So how do we write loglines? Caveat: I’m not an expert on writing these yet. Maybe I never will be. But at least having a basic knowledge of what goes into a logline furthers my own work when the plot or characters become hazy. Now back to our scheduled blog.

Goal, motivation, and conflict are all incorporated into successful loglines. The stakes should be strong and emotionally intriguing, even if they’re only implicitly understood and not stated. By emotionally intriguing, I mean the stakes should resonate with basic human drives that we all identify with. Here’s my attempt at a logline for my short story:

A kidnapped human woman falls for the infuriating elvin male who keeps her captive in a foreign dimension.

Though I hate to end the post here, it’s becoming too long. Next month we’ll look at my logline and break it down according to GMC.

Before I go, I have some good news to share with you all. My novella Through the Rabbit Hole is under contract with Astraea Press! The cover art, which was done by the talented Elaina Lee, is so lovely I have to show it off.

Here’s the cover art and tentative blurb:

Social worker Natalie Danvers never thought she would fall head first into her very own dimensional tear — straight into a fey lord’s lap. The handsome but infuriatingly vague Lorh insists she’s stuck in his land for three weeks and that only she can discover the reasons behind her appearance in TirAnn. Natalie’s convinced this is all nonsense until forgotten memories of Lorh and his siblings resurface and collide with reason. Just who and what is she to Lorh and his family?

See you next month!


Daryl said...

Good post. Love the "birthday suit" analogy.

Lila Barton said...

Great blog. Loglines are terrible and great at the same time. And my new friend GMC appears as well!

Since seeing your cover art on the Critter board I've been wondering what the tale was about. I'm looking forward to reading it now


Lisa Kumar said...

Thanks for leaving commenting, Daryl and Lila!

Lila, I'm glad that TTRH sounds interesting. I did my job then!

Martha Ramirez said...

Good post. I am actually working on one now. In Save the Cat book, Blake recommends coming up with a logline and killer title and testing it before you go any further:)

Sheri Fredricks said...

Loglines are up there with synopsizes in my book - hehehe. Great blog Lisa!

Jenna Jaxon said...

Great post, Lisa. I'm working on loglines right now also, so this gave me some good insight and guidelines to follow. Thanks.

Lisa Kumar said...

Thanks for your comments, Sheri, and Jenna!