The No-Stress Way To Create Your Story’s Logline

medium_4467347340by Laura Drake @PBRWriter

I love loglines. There’s no better feeling than pulling together words that capture the spirit of your book in a perfect, compelling way. I teach a submissions class for the Lawson Writer’s Academy and find that loglines are a major source of stress for my students.

Have you ever noticed that loglines are only fun to come up with when they’re NOT yours?

There’s a reason for that.

But first, there’s some confusion about taglines vs loglines, so let’s start there.

  • A tagline is a catchy ‘movie poster’ phrase.
  • A logline is a 25 word synopsis of your book.

Examples illustrate the difference clearly:

Jaws

Tagline – Don’t go in the water.

Logline – After a series of grisly shark attacks, a sheriff struggles to protect his small beach community against the bloodthirsty monster, in spite of the greedy chamber of commerce. (from J. Gideon Sarentinos)

So WHY is it so hard to write loglines for your own books? You’re too close to it. A logline is a concise, yet sweeping portrayal of your novel’s genre, conflict, characters and emotion. Did I mention in 25 words? Yeah, no problem.

There are formulas to come up with loglines:

  • At Filmmaking101 Joe Lam says it must have 5 parts:  Protagonist, genre, inner conflict, outer conflict, and climax.
  • Blake Snyder in his book Save the Cat! says:  It must contain a type of hero, the antagonist, the hero’s primal goal and it must have irony.
  • Some say, all you need is a character with a goal and a conflict.

All those work. They’ll give you a perfectly workable logline. A workmanlike logline.

But to me, that’s only a place to start.

THEN you need to add what Margie Lawson calls,

*Sparkle Factor* 

Something that make readers say, ‘Ohhhhh…”

  • Use Backloading: If you haven’t yet attended a Margie class (and if not, you seriously need to – trust me) backloading is taking the most important word in your sentence, paragraph, scene or chapter, and placing it at the end.

Example: Smoke rolled into the sky, spreading over the dairy like an angry fist.

  • Use Power words: Very simply a word that carries power. In the above example, ‘angry’ and ‘fist’ hold power, because they evoke emotion.

Logline Examples:

  • A tough principal takes revolutionary measures to clean up a notoriously dangerous inner-city New Jersey high school. Lean on Me
  • A meek and alienated little boy finds a stranded extraterrestrial and has to find the courage to defy authorities to help the alien return to its home planet. ET
  • Naive Joe Buck arrives in New York City to make his fortune as a hustler, but soon strikes up an unlikely friendship with the first scoundrel he falls prey to. Midnight Cowboy
  • In a future where criminals are arrested before the crime occurs, a cop struggles on the lam to prove his innocence for a murder he has not yet committed. Minority Report
  • A comedic portrayal of a young and broke Shakespeare who falls in love with a woman, inspiring him to write “Romeo and Juliet.” Shakespeare in Love
  • An archeologist is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis. Raiders of the Lost Ark

It could be as simple as an intriguing title40 Year Old Virgin? Who wouldn’t want to read on to find out about that?!

It could be the intriguing premise, stated by combining two disparate references:

“Stephanie Plum meets the Underworld” Darynda Jones, First Grave on the Right

Personally, I’m a fan of using an intriguing line from your book. It can be a good intro to your voice.

This is the line I used in my query for my novel, The Sweet Spot:

The grief counselor told the group to be grateful for what they had left. After lots of considering, Charla Rae decided she was thankful for the bull semen.

From Her Road Home:

You can’t outrun nightmares on a motorcycle – Samantha Crozier knows because she’s tried.

Get the idea? Seem impossible? It’s not. Think about your book. SOMETHING was intriguing enough about the idea to make you spend months writing it. What was that? What was Different? Fun? Compelling?

Okay, your turn. If you’d like input on your logline, post it in the comments, and we’ll help polish it until an agent will need to wear sunglasses to read it!

Tall Dark and Cowboy 72dpiLaura’s double  RITA® FinalistThe Sweet Spot, has been included in a contemporary western anthology that will be released June 3.

Read it, and 5 other great cowboy romances for just $3.99. Click here to pre-order!

About Laura

Laura Drake is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both Women’s Fiction and Romance.

She sold her Sweet on a Cowboy series, romances set in the world of professional bull riding, to Grand Central. The Sweet Spot (May 2013), Nothing Sweeter (Jan 2014) and Sweet on You (August 2014.) The Sweet Spot has recently been named a Romance Writers of America®   RITA® Finalist in both the Contemporary and Best First Book categories.

Her ‘biker-chick’ novel, Her Road Home, sold to Harlequin’s Superromance line (August, 2013) and has expanded to three more stories set in the same small town. Reasons to Stay will release August, 2014.

This year Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

http://LauraDrakeBooks.com
https://twitter.com/PBRWriter
https://www.facebook.com/LauraDrakeBooks/info

 

photo credit: Loco Steve via<ahref=”http://photopin.com”>photopin<ahref=”http: ?=”” 2.0=””by=””licenses=””creativecommons.org=””>cc

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105 Responses to The No-Stress Way To Create Your Story’s Logline

  1. Erin says:

    Excellent tips. I’ve been struggling with writing a logline. Thanks!

  2. jamiebeck says:

    Great post! I love all the examples, too. I do think it is easier to help others with loglines than it is to write my own. Thanks for the “Margie” reminders, too.

    • Laura Drake says:

      Jamie – yes, easy to look brilliant on someone else’s! I struggle with my own, too. Usually if you can get something down, your crit partners can ‘juice it up’!

  3. jillhannahanderson says:

    Since I’ve taken this class from you, this is a good refresher course for me! I have to comment on you working on your Texas accent. Just throw a lot of “y’all’s” in your sentences, and sometimes an “all-y’all”! I had to ask my brother’s family (they live in TX) what all-y’all was, and it is “all-inclusive” I guess!🙂
    Great pointers on our loglines and I feel better knowing why I struggle with mine while others, like you, can whip out a great idea for me!

    • Laura Drake says:

      Loved having you in class, Jill! Yes, it’s like you have just the right answer for a friend who’s struggling with their ‘issues’ – but our own? Not so much.

      My latest Texasism (though I can’t imagine myself saying it) “Kinta” As in related to. “You’re kinta the Midkiffs?”

  4. Okay – let me be the first to expose my throat: “A girl befriends a young dragon who is running from a witch, unaware they are being tracked by ‘rescuers’ who intend to kill the dragon.”

    • Laura Drake says:

      Thanks for being brave, Nance! Wow, there’s some conflict! Honestly, I think that’s a good logline! States the goals, motivation, conflict, characters in a compelling way!

  5. Laura, as one of the lucky ones who took your class (and Margie’s advanced editing also) I can say that before I was clueless. The class not only helps because of your strong leadership and great feedback … it helps because we got to read all our classmates work as well.

    That is what this post does, it gives the reader several examples and guides them through what used to be for me a maze of confusion. Great post, wonderful advice. I am telling everyone … if you get the chance to work with Laura … DO IT🙂

  6. Sharla Rae says:

    Thanks for this Laura. The tag lines and the log lines get all twisted up in the media stuff we have to remember.🙂 I’m with most of your students on creating the log lines — Easy to do for other people but not so easy on my own stuff. You offer some great tips.

  7. Excellent post, Laura! Here’s mine::
    Six years ago, Niamh McBride and Riley Cooper shared a single night of passion. The result? A child he knows nothing about.

    • Laura Drake says:

      Carol – yikes! There’s conflict too! Just a couple of suggestions – first, don’t waste words on using names – we don’t know the characters, so we don’t care yet. Instead, use adjectives to give us a sense of the characters: An impetuous cowboy, a guilt-ridden teen, a grieving mother…see how that tells us more?

      Then, him not knowing about the baby only will matter if he finds out, or they’re thrown together, right? I’m assuming that happens….I’d put that in, too.

      • Awesome suggestions! Laura, thank you so much. I will work on it some more. And yes, they do get thrown back together.

        • Does anyone need sunglasses for my new and improved version?

          A single mother’s safety depends on a battle-hardened soldier who doesn’t know their single night of shared passion six years ago resulted in a child.

        • Laura Drake says:

          Carol, I love your second version! Shows tension and conflict – going to get my sunglasses, and read it again! Fine job!

          Can y’all (practicing my Texan here) see how much better that is? And how we need someone from the outside to sharpen our focus?

        • Carol, Your second one is great! Laura, you are always such an inspiration. I didn’t know the difference between a logline and a tagline!

    • Carol, in the movie business, it’s called an “elevator pitch.” I’ve been struggling with the one above since before the book came out in 2010. Thanks to Laura’s 25 word limit (and the “properties” link under “File” in MSWord, it suddenly seemed easy. I just kept going back and forth to check the number of words on the page until it was honed to 25. Now I’ve got to firmly etch it into my memory, so I don’t freeze – or babble on – the next time somebody actually asks what the book’s about.

      Since I can’t make the “Reply” button work on my query, I’m taking advantage of the fact that yours is still “Live” and I can send Laura a grateful, “Thanks!”

  8. Very timely post, Laura. How did you know I needed those reminders?🙂
    Okay, okay … going back into the cave to work on mine.

  9. Jann Audiss says:

    Great blog post today Laura – will work on my 25 words.

  10. HI Laura. It’s so hard, partly because there are so many ways to approach the log line. Not sure if either of these are good, but just to show how different they can be for the same book.

    Sticking to the facts:Maddie’s traumatic childhood taught her she can only count on herself, but she must learn to trust or lose the dream family she’s found in Fortune Bay.

    More conceptual: Sometimes to get the good stuff in life, you have to take a leap of faith, even if that means leaving everything behind.

    Neither sound very original to me, missing the grit in the book I guess.
    Two questions. They seem to be present tense in your examples, is that standard, like the synopsis? And what do you think about writing a logline as a question? Or is that more like a tagline?
    Interesting post.

    Judy

    • Laura Drake says:

      Judy, a logline can be a question – but I’ve seen some agents say it’s passe/overdone.
      But, some like it. Yeah, that’s helpful, huh?😉

      I like the factual one more. Remember, you have 25 words to tell them about YOUR book, and the conceptual one tells them more about the theme than what the book is about.

      If you don’t mind, I’ll tweak a bit:

      YOURS:
      Maddie’s traumatic childhood taught her she can only count on herself, but she must learn to trust or lose the dream family she’s found in Fortune Bay.

      TWEAKED:
      A traumatic childhood taught a **** to only count on herself, but if she doesn’t learn trust she’ll lose her dream family.

      But that’s not done yet. First, you don’t need names. Instead use an adjective and a noun, instead, to tell us more. ‘a plucky teen’, ‘a regretful housewife’ – see how that tells us more than a name? Okay, then – you need to up the stakes. WHY will she lose the family? Is this a man and her kids? Or is she still a teen who’s been fostered out? See how someone who knows nothing of your book wouldn’t know?

      Feel free to post the next version if you’d like!

      • Right, it tells you nothing. There is so much in the book it’s hard to distill it. I’ll try.

        • Her are two more attempts. I like the second one better, although it has less facts.

          A single mother and struggling photographer must fight the isolating lessons learned from her alcoholic mother, or lose her chance for a real family.

          As the child of an alcoholic single-mother, Maddie learnt that happily-ever-after wasn’t for people like her – until she met her logger landlord and the family of her dreams.

          Is the struggle inferred?
          This is great. Thanks for the comments.

        • Here I’m replying to myself again. Thinking on paper. (This actually came after the next “reply” but there were no more reply buttons!) The heroine has a TV family she’s adopted as her own. Saw your “cliche” comment so changed “family of her dreams” to:

          As the child of an alcoholic single-mother, Maddie learned that happily-ever-after wasn’t for people like her – until she met her logger landlord and her TV family came to life.

          Or:

          It’s Gilmore Girls meets Men in Trees –a single mother, photographer struggles to leave her isolating life behind to take a chance on her dream family.

          Are you doing a course on this? Reading everyone’s comments is so helpful.

        • Laura Drake says:

          Judy – responding to your last comment (no reply button on that one, either).
          I think what you have is great – I see the backstory conflict perfectly – but the in the book conflict, I don’t. So:

          As the child of an alcoholic single-mother, Maddie learned that happily-ever-after wasn’t for people like her – until she met her logger landlord and her TV family came to life.

          The child of an alcoholic single mother knew happily-ever-after wasn’t real – until she met her logger landlord. But….

          I loved yours but was trying to shorten it up so you can add the book’s conflict at the end. What threatens her HEA in the book?

        • Thanks Laura – I”ll work on it, and the other three I have to do. (Kill me now!)

  11. Hi, Laura. Like everyone else, I struggle with these. Here’s mine. A DJ for a late night radio show about space aliens helps a rodeo cowboy fight his grandfather’s secretary in her bid to take the fortune and ruin their small town.

    • Laura Drake says:

      Wow, Stephanie – sounds like a roller-coaster ride!

      There’s so much happening in few words though, you lose me in detail, halfway through.
      Keep in mind I don’t know which details are critical to the story, so I may be full of it, but I’ll give a shot at slimming it:

      A DJ for a late night Alien-focused radio show helps a rodeo cowboy fight his grandfather’s trusted employee who would steal his inheritance and ruin their small town.

      ‘who would’ isn’t smooth, but do you think cutting a bit of the detail helped?

  12. This post is a keeper for me. I struggle with loglines and have four to do. Here’s one.
    A Scottish chieftain marries a demure Highland lass, but he must fight his own clan to save her from her evil cousin.

    • Laura Drake says:

      Lots of stakes there, Elaine! Okay, questions – is his clan against their getting together? is this demure lass in love with him?

  13. christawojo says:

    Oh, thanks so much for this post! It came at the perfect time.

    I just published a novelette on KDP. My blurb and log line need help. They are definitely lacking in sparkle factor. Here’s a bit about it.

    “The Wrong David is the story of David, who has never really felt at home in the world. He’s awkward and cynical, and stumbles through life medicating himself with alcohol and cigarettes.

    His only friend is his oldest buddy from high school, Brian, who is handsome, out-going, and loved by all. Brian has always taken David under his wing and appointed David as CFO of his wine company.

    They meet up in Marseilles to tour vineyards and source new wines. There, David indulges in his most powerful vice of all, Brian’s wife, Vanessa.

    Vanessa is a goddess in David’s eyes. She is the only thing that makes him want to be part of the world, but he has never shared his secret with anyone.

    As the threesome drink themselves through The French Riviera, David is losing his ability to hide his feelings.”

    • Laura Drake says:

      When a cynical self-medicating loner winery CFO travels to France on business, he meets a more powerful vice – his boss’s wife.

      I think that’s concise and powerful – but doesn’t make him look like a very good person. Does he end up with the girl?

      • christawojo says:

        I think you’re onto something, Laura! That is a concentrated packet of info.

        The MC’s not really a bad guy. He’s just bitter. And he’s known the girl and has been hiding his feelings from her for years. I guess the above blurb is misleading. It sounds like he just met her. I’m afraid I can’t give away the ending, but I’m jamming off the lead you’ve given me here.

        Thanks so much for helping all of us, Laura. I bet it will keep you busy all weekend. You’ve probably dreamt of loglines all night. You’ll have so much practice, they’ll fly off your tongue without a thought.

        I’ll get back to you after a few more drafts if you don’t mind:)

  14. A young Englishwoman in Regency times thought she’d found journey’s end, but finds herself alone and has to grow a backbone and take over her life for herself with the help of an unexpected stranger.

    Have a feeling that’s too long! Anyone have any ideas?

    • Laura Drake says:

      Beppie – ‘journey’s end’ could mean the end of the rainbow (good), or the end of the road (bad). We need specificity in your words to understand which it is.

      You can cut words by using ‘Regency Englishwoman’.
      ‘with the help of’ – I have a feeling there’s drama there – is this a love interest?
      “grow a backbone’ is a cliche.

      Don’t be discouraged – this is where we all start – you have to chip away the stone to get to your Venus de Milo!

  15. M. Lee Scott says:

    Ok, here goes…no guts, no glory…
    Wanting to return home and reconnect with her estranged family, an independent woman must also inform her one-night lover that he’s the father of twins.

    Great post!

    • Laura Drake says:

      M. Lee – another drama-filled story!

      An independent woman returns home to reunite with her estranged family, she must face her past, including informing her one-night lover that he’s a father – of twins.

      I like the backloading and hard hitting last words. That’ll make a gateekeeper go, ‘Ohhhh!’ I found myself wanting one more adjective about her to make her more interesting. These suggestions won’t work (I don’t know the character) but if you could add something quirky to spark interest – ‘an independent biker-chick’ ‘a reclusive hoarder”. See what I mean?

  16. Loglines drive me batty. lol! This was a great post – I love the examples. Those make it much easier to understand. Thank you for sharing!
    Okay, so here’s the one I’ve been working on:
    Fighting for control of her own body, a possessed private investigator uses the demon within her to solve cases before it takes over her forever.

    I’m not feeling the “wow” from that one.
    But I really like the blurb. If I could only figure out how to cut it down to 25 words, we’d be rockin’. Grrr.

    (Here’s the blurb for use in helping fix the logline:
    My name is Luna Fairwater. I’m a Private Investigator with an uncanny ability to close cases others can’t. The police hate me and the FBI doesn’t trust me. Hell, most days I don’t trust me, either.
    There’s a demon inside of me and it’s getting harder to control. Through it, I can sense evil. It calls to me, seduces me. One day, this darkness inside me is going to take over and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to stop it. So I go where it leads me, trying to find what it wants and why it chose me to do its bidding.)

    • Laura Drake says:

      Wow, Jennifer – love your voice! Why not use your character in the logline? She’s very compelling.
      I’m a PI that neither the police, the FBI or I, trust. See, there’s a demon inside me who helps me solve cases, but who lures me to darkness – and I’m losing the battle.

      Okay, 34 words. But do you think it’s more compelling than your original? This sounds like a wonderful story, with serious series potential! Thanks for sharing.

      • Ah, much more compelling in the character’s voice. Very cool.
        I do plan on it being a series. I just started working on the series bible… or my version of one anyways, since I’m a pantser trying so hard to be a plotter. lol!
        Thanks for the help and the awesome post!

  17. I’ll throw one in there too, because I’m having to do that and back cover copy right now for my summer release. Hate this part. LOL. I rot at cover copy and loglines.

    A small town business woman who has hardened her heart to love gets a jolt when the Harley-riding bad boy from her past rumbles back into town.

    It’s the “gets a jolt” part that bugs me.🙂

    • Laura Drake says:

      Oh good – another release from one of my favorite authors! People, if you haven’t read Sharla, you’re missing a lesson in sexual tension, and characterization…not to mention a damned fine story! (And I promise she’s not paying me).

      Okay, your logline.

      WHY has she hardened her heart? Had the Harley dude broken it? It would up the stakes if we knew that.

      But with what we know:
      A heart-hardened small town businesswoman – I think is a smoother description.
      I’m trying to think of clever ways to get rid of ‘gets a jolt’ – did she used to ride his bike? I’m thinking of something like, ‘is thrown’ or ‘crashes’ or ‘wrecks’ or ‘highsides’ (although not everyone will recognize that ‘biker-term’) You know, something tied to motorcycling.

      I think it’s perfect from ‘when’ on….

  18. Jenny Hansen says:

    I’m with Sharla…I rot at this! You likely know more about my book than anyone, so HELP.

    A faith-challenged nun promises her mortally ill sister she’ll help at her healthcare clinic, which caters to the porn industry.

    Only that doesn’t get in most of what the book is about. Estranged sisters, family secrets, acceptance, and learning to live life as a civilian.

    See why I need help?

  19. Thanks, Laura. Very helpful!🙂

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  21. Susan Dunn says:

    To earn a ticket home, a stranded American birdwatcher whose mother ran off with a movie star is forced to accept an engagement of conveinience with an arrogant Scottish matinee idol.

    Is that ironic?

    • Laura Drake says:

      Dang – a lot happening there, Susan! Why is the part about her mother running off with a movie star important? Did it teach your heroine to distrust actors? Also ‘forced’ gives me just a bit of unease – brings to mind rape or sexual slavery! How about ‘must choose’ – at least that way we know she has a choice!

      Let me know the answer to the first question, and we can play with it!

      • Susan Dunn says:

        Thanks, Laura, good point about “forced” Every word has to do double duty here. I’m taking out the bit about mommy because it’s just an emotional issue. The twist could be something like this:
        When a misguided effort to rescue a man strands a wimpy American birdwatcher in Scotland, to get a ticket home she agrees to an engagement of convenience with a arrogant Socttish movie star, the very man she’d tried to save.
        Many thanks.

  22. ericjbaker says:

    Sorry for my ignorance, but when is a logline deployed? In a query? Most query examples I’ve seen have 100-200 word paragraphs.

    Anyway, here’s one for my WiP:

    “After a global catastrophe kills every adult on Earth, three young girls face a desperate battle for survival against starvation, street gangs, and a teenage sociopath who plans to take over the world.”

    I’m not sure how to get it under 30 words without losing some punch. It’s always a trade off.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Ooooh, a dystopian Lord of the Flies…that’s rad.🙂

      • ericjbaker says:

        Ha! The corny, melodramatic, trashy movie trailer-loving side of me wanted to tack on: “It’s Lord of the Flies on a global, apocalyptic scale. Only this time, there’s no deus-ex-machina ending with a boat.”

        That would have been waaaaay over the 25-word guideline.😉

    • Laura Drake says:

      Eric – A logline is for pitches and queries. It’s a teaser line after your intro. It’s the start of the body of your query, to catch an agent’s attention.

      Yours is excellent! I can get rid of two words – I’d cut ‘for survival’ – because that’s apparent in the remainder of the sentence.

      And they’re not going to count the words and reject you for having 28. Great job!

  23. littlemissw says:

    When a teenage boy and his brother are taken as child soldiers they have only one goal, to get home and find their family. With their country wracked by violence and lawlessness that’s easier said than done.

    Is that ok?

    • Laura Drake says:

      Little Miss – I think it’s a bit more wordy than you need – which waters down the drama.
      Let me try:
      When a teenage boy and his brother are conscripted as child soldiers, they vow to escape and get back home. But in a country decimated by war and lawlessness, will there be a home to return to?

      Don’t like ending on ‘to’ (kind of weak) but does that spark any ideas?

  24. Laura Drake says:

    Thanks everyone, for being brave and sharing – man, I love playing with loglines!

    Feel free to repost your next version if you want more feedback – and keep an eye on Lawson’s Writer Academy courses for my next submissions class – I cover everything from etiquette to tracking your submissions – all except synopsis….which could be a class all to it’s own!

  25. I hate writing loglines, being the sort of person who has paragraphs, not sentences running around in her head. Here’s one I’m struggling with at the moment. I’m sure it doesn’t say nearly enough about the story to make anyone want to read it:
    Desperate for money, Laura becomes a nightclub hostess, finding love in a world of sex, drugs and corruption, but at an impossible cost.
    I love some of the ones I’ve read here – they make me want to reach for the books.

    • Laura Drake says:

      Manic, Okay, first we don’t need her name (even though I LOVE her name😉 What was she before? You know, like, ‘a laid-off brain surgeon’ or something…tells us more than a name could. What is the impossible cost? You’re asking an agent to accept that it IS an impossible cost, and the don’t know you – they won’t believe it without seeing for themselves. So what is the cost? That’s the stakes – so they need to be high!

      • Thanks for your time, Laura and for helping me focus..
        Attempt 2 (I can’t seem to avoid repeating ‘sister’; plus it’s as much the boyfriend’s story (he’s the nightclub owner) as hers, but he doesn’t get a look-in in the logline – do you think that matters?):

        To support her younger sister, an office worker becomes a nightclub hostess, finding love in a world of sex, drugs and corruption that threatens her sister’s life.

        • Laura Drake says:

          I like it! And I know there’s LOTS more in everyone’s story – and you have the rest of the query to tell them that – don’t worry that you can’t squeeze it in the query.

          Think of this as bait for the hook you’re throwing in the pool! Something to catch a gatekeeper’s attention – that’s all.

  26. Abby says:

    Thanks for this post, Laura. It was very helpful to see all the loglines and comments. I’m making this up on the fly for my WIP, “Feed the Kitty”:

    “When a cat sitter overhears a major heist being planned, she enlists the help of a detective with whom she has a history in a race against time to prevent the crime.”

    Kind of blah and a bit too long, I think.

    • Laura Drake says:

      ‘with whom she has a history’ is long – how about ‘her ex-boyfriend detective’ instead? That shows us conflict! ‘A race against time’ is a cliche – can you freshen that a bit?

  27. Ann Sligar says:

    I’ve been struggling with a logline, too. After several tries I have come up with: Rival princes search for a mysterious magic that will determine which of them will be named heir to the Dragon Throne, but uncover a sinister plot that could destroy the kingdom instead.

    • Laura Drake says:

      Anne – do they work together to overthrow the plot? If so, what do you think of:

      Rival princesses, each seeking elusive magic that will grant the throne, uncover a sinister plot and must work together if they are to save the kingdom.

      • Ann Sligar says:

        That sounds a lot better, although work together could use a modifier to indicate that they will have a hard time doing that (two of the three hate each other, and one also hates the third). So–try, to; attempt to; must grudgingly work…; of is that more angst than is needed in a logline?
        Actually they don’t work together but that’s part of the where everything falls apart before it’s saved bit of the plot and shouldn’t be given away too soon.

  28. Okay, I can barely wrestle my first book into a 25 word logline, but now I’ll try it with my current WIP (I’m ready to cut off my arm right now when I read mult-published authors like Sharla struggle with this!)
    “Small-town businesswoman who is struggling to be accepted in her new town, falls in love with a lumberjack, until finding out they might be related.”
    I feel like someone’s got their hand over my mouth, there’s so much more I want to tell!🙂

    • Laura Drake says:

      Yeah, Jill, we ALL struggle with this! But what I’ve found is that the tangled mess in my head, when I lay it out on the table in front of my crit buddies, becomes a shiny thing!
      Okay, yours:

      “Small-town businesswoman who is struggling to be accepted in her new town, falls in love with a lumberjack, until finding out they might be related.”

      A small-town business owner struggling for acceptance, falls for a **** lumberjack until learning that he could be ****

      Okay, a couple of questions – I’d like one more adjective describing him – preferably one that hints at HIS conflict. Like ‘shy lumberjack’ or ‘damaged lumberjack’. See?
      Then, ‘related’ isn’t very hard-hitting. HOW are they possibly related? Brother/Sister? Cousins? I think if it’s a close relation, it would hit hard.

      • You are seriously a genius at this!
        How about – “New in town, a small-town business owner struggling for acceptance falls for an untrusting lumberjack until learning he could be her half-brother.”
        As always, thanks so much for your helpful guidance. Laying it out on the table, literally, is a great idea!

        • Laura Drake says:

          Jill – How about – A new-to-small-town business owner – smoother? Untrusting doesn’t hint as to why – maybe ‘twice burned’ if it was in love? And I think ‘until she learns’ hits a bit harder. You go, Jill!

  29. Just wanted to say thanks very much again, Laura. Your help is much appreciated.

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  31. Jaye Garland says:

    Reblogged this on ~ Jaye's Days ~ and commented:
    Tag Lines vs Log Lines, by Laura Drake. Saving this, she makes this look soooooo easy!

  32. Laura, the reply button for my original posts seems to have vanished but I wanted to say thank you for the help with my logline!! It sounds so much better now. I will still be nervous when I pitch at National but at least I have a very cool sentence to start off with and that’s a big help.🙂

  33. squaresails says:

    Reblogged this on Julie Doherty and commented:
    Do your eyes glaze over when someone asks what your book is about? This will help! Laura Drake is an expert at creating tag and log lines.

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  35. Just found this post (behind on my blog-reading), very helpful, thanks,

  36. Pingback: How to Create Your Novel’s Logline | Abby J Reed

  37. “This war had been brewing for years – unfortunately no one thought to tell the princesses about it. Their father is dead, his killer sits on the throne. Their neighbour and ally is under siege. The fate of two countries now rests on the shoulders of two inexperienced girls, and their list of allies is growing thin.”
    Not sure if it’s too long. I’m horrible at these.

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