1. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Loglines

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by peachalulu, Mar 3, 2015.

    I thought it might be interesting to have a thread where people can work on their loglines and get some feedback. They can be pretty hard to write. 27 words to sum up character, goal, plot, motivation, antagonist. I know I'm having issues with mine. It feels a bit stumpy.

    Here's what I have so far -
    When an amnesiac cop's identity is challenged, he dares to take charge of safeguarding a nymphet, who survived an attack, putting both their lives in danger.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I've been struggling with my logline for a while because my story's setup is complicated.

    Re yours, it may not flow:
    When an amnesiac cop's identity is challenged, he dares to take charge of safeguarding a nymphet, who survived an attack, putting both their lives in danger.​
    I'm trying to match "when X, Y follows." I can't put 'ID challenged' with 'safeguarding nymphet'. I don't see the relationship. And how does 'dares' fit in?

    Here's mine that I'm a long way from being happy with:
    Centauri Rising a serious socio-political novel told through the experiences of young people living fantastic lives in the not too distant future on a colonized planet in a nearby star system.​
    I opted for the more esoteric description over the what actually happens in the novel description. It was the only way to make it one sentence.

    But I'd still like to get something in that describes two cultures clashing, or the fact that one subjugates the other, or something about the class divided social system.
     
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  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    That's the trouble with only having a handful of words to work with - dares sounds good to me because he's an amnesiac cop ( he doesn't remember how to do anything - it's kinda like a surgeon who has amnesia trying to wing it through an operation. )
    But obviously dares isn't cutting it.
    Also my poor mc keeps being mistaken for other people so he has to keep insisting he's Dexter Harris when he has no idea who Dexter Harris is.
    By safeguarding the girl - that's got to do with his job. She's attacked by a serial killer so he's trying to prove his worth as a cop.
    ... Back to the ole drawing board. :rolleyes:

    On another writing site I frequent this was their format for loglines -
    When incident occurs character with role and motivation pursues goal only to discover that opposition threatens disaster.
    and on another site this was their format -
    Who, obstacle, goal.

    Centauri Rising a serious socio-political novel examining the cultural clashes experienced by young people colonizing a planet in a nearby star system. - maybe?
     
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  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It helps a lot to read those formulas. And I like the "cultural clashes" more than "fantastic lives". I shall have to ponder a bit here.
     
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  5. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is pretty stellar. "Socio political" makes me think serious work. "Young people living fantastic lives" is exactly what the modern audiences want (except for me of course because I'm so sophisticated). "Colonized planet" makes it even more exciting. Nice work.
     
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  6. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wow, that's exactly how I formed mine!
     
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  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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  8. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    What does it mean that his identity is "challenged"? He thinks he is one person but he is told he is someone else?

    Now that I think about it, if the protagonist is amnesiac, then it is practically a given that he will try to figure out who he is and that he must re-learn how to do his job. (Maybe the latter is less certain, considering Jason Bourne-type protagonists.)

    If the girl survives an attack, then I tend to assume her life is still in danger by default, unless her attacker is dealt with. Does the cop really put her life in a new kind of danger?

    Try something like this:

    An amnesiac cop risks his life to protect a girl from the serial killer who tried to murder her.
     
  9. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    "a colonized planet in a nearby star system" evokes pretty much everything I associate with a "not too distant future" sci fi setting in space, so "not too distant future" might not be necessary.

    Is there supposed to be an "is" after the title, or is this a logline format I am not familiar with?

    If the young people who live fantastic lives also try to change the status quo, then consider something like this:

    On a colonized planet in a nearby star system, the youth challenge the class system that stratifies and subjugates them.
     
  10. 123456789
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    Sorry. I liked hers better. It was flashier.
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    Re 'is': I am learning this stuff, so I can't say what should or should not be in the logline.

    I like "the youth challenge the class system." That's perfect. Not sure about "stratifies and subjugates". I'll have to ponder that part for something closer to the problem. The theme is not so much about subjugating as it is about the social system of society sucking. As teens, they feel superior to the system, judgmental about it, believing they are above it while wanting to change it.

    A new generation gap revolution
    I might play with that.

    As for "not too distant future" I can see how that matters to me, the author, but may not matter to the reader.

    I wanted to avoid too much predicting of what the future would be like because technology is changing at such a rapid pace. I was afraid I'd fail if I tried to portray too much progress. But lack of extreme new technology may be something the reader doesn't notice.

    Not that there isn't new tech in the book. It is sci-fi after all. But much of the tech I've gotten from reading actual on-the-horizon technology, and that risks being outdated before the book hits the shelves. :p
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    There's some excellent information in that link.

    From the link:
    setup-who-goal-obstacle

    Good advice.

    But here's where I need to read more:
    What's fascinating about that is, when I look at who-goal-obstacle, I have a serious problem making it fit my book. But I did write the story with a clear idea in mind, and it doesn't wander all over the place, so that's not the problem.

    And then he said, "three acts", and I can see my book as three acts: my protag's life growing up in her village, what happens to her in the city of the enemy**, and resolution for both. She doesn't just get away and make it home, her entire path to the future changes and it has an effect on the enemy society as well.

    I believe in my story and refuse to be discouraged by comments like this:
    Pffffttt!

    Though I get it he is saying it's harder to sell. But I'm not worried about that given the editor/gatekeepers are now more easily bypassed. It's one thing to say a new writer can't write a complex story and quite another to just be saying if you do, it's harder to get an editor interested.

    I shall have to explore the link further.


    **I say enemy but I'm going to have to find another word for that as well because the word is not precise for the situation.
     
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  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are you guys writing log lines for novels? For submitting to agents, or...?

    Are you confident you need them? I guess it's been a couple years since I queried anyone, but I've never used one, and I had no trouble getting agent interest.

    I really thought log lines were more for screenplays, rather than novels.
     
  14. GingerCoffee
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    I began trying to write one as part of my query letter. And I've found it very helpful writing both the logline and the synopsis in sharpening up my story.

    From @peachalulu's link, I think this is very true:
    I don't know about needing it first, but it did help me tighten up my story. When I was about halfway through I began formulating a synopsis. It was like taking that fuzzy picture in the viewfinder and focusing it. The logline focuses it even more.
     
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  15. BayView
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    Yeah, if it's helpful for you in your writing, then, absolutely, it sounds like a great idea.

    But the "few (if any) industry professionals will read your story" part from that article? I really don't think that applies to the book industry. (and I noticed that all the examples in that article were movies).
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It's only opinion of course. And I know 'logline' is typically used for movie and TV script proposals. But:

    The term log line (also spelled log-line and logline) is usually associated with movies, but the wise novelist will learn how to write one.

    For me this all started when I found myself giving long winded answers when people ask me what my book is about. Not that the logline would be the answer, the synopsis would be. But the logline, believe it or not, is helping me with the synopsis as well.
     
  17. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mine:

    A young woman tries to undo the curse that prevents anyone from remembering her.

    Short for a logline, but when I include other information (that she is stranded in the middle of nowhere and wants to return to her mom and dad, but physically cannot, for reasons too complicated to explain; that she is in love with someone who lives nearby and who obviously cannot form a relationship with her but who is subconsciously influenced by what she says to him; that she plays a significant part in the formation of a city in the place where she is stranded; that the growth of the local community, for reasons, again, too complicated to explain, brings her closer to an answer to what caused her curse, etc.), it quickly bloats.

    The difficulty with a plot driven by artificial constraints that I impose authorially (and reasonably explain with magic in the story) is that the challenges faced by the protagonist are not self-explanatory. My usual tactic for shortening other people's loglines (identify information that is redundant because it is implied by other information) does not work in this case.
     
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  18. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    From reading @peachalulu's link I wonder if you can't make 'a young woman' more interesting. The example the writer gave was The Fugitive. You could have 'a man', but it's more interesting if it's 'a doctor'. 'Falsely convicted' becomes more interesting when he's 'falsely convicted of killing his wife' and so on.

    So, is your young woman a witch or a wizard? Did she cross a witch? Was the curse from jealousy? You've gotten to the bare bones, now give us a little more than the skeleton.
     
  19. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Before she was cursed, she was just a normal student in the fictional world's equivalent of something between high school and college. All that distinguishes her is her personality and her intellect. She had the potential to "matter" to society in the conventional way (becoming famous, contributing to the arts and sciences, leaving a legacy) -- when people could still remember her.

    The curse is very esoteric, and remains a mystery until the end, when it is revealed to be a weird kind of... "metaphysical bookkeeping mistake" is the best way I can describe it.

    Basically, as much as I want to hint at what is interesting about the protagonist, or what interesting steps she must take toward (1) finding out why she is cursed and (2) making herself not cursed anymore, it seems to require several sentences even to begin to describe that information. It would be convenient if she was cursed by a jealous witch and if the story was a battle of wits between her and the witch, but that is not what this story is about.

    When I try to capture it in one sentence, this happens:

    A student who could have contributed to the arts and sciences is inexplicably cursed so that no one can ever remember her, and now, with no clues other than visions of a metaphysical bureaucracy that controls history, she investigates why she is cursed.
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    So, combining the two:
    A young woman tries to undo the curse that prevents anyone from remembering her

    A student who could have contributed to the arts and sciences is inexplicably cursed so that no one can ever remember her, and now, with no clues other than visions of a metaphysical bureaucracy that controls history, she investigates why she is cursed.
    Becomes:

    A promising college student with flashes of clairvoyance seeks to undo the curse that prevents anyone from remembering her.

    Just a thought. :)
     
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  21. Catrin Lewis
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    Having hashed the question out in my Progress Journal and thought about it awhile, I might try this:

    The Single Eye (romance thriller): Two idealistic young architects are confronted with a Faustian choice when a ruthless domestic terrorist subverts their highest aspirations to recruit them for his cause.
    That pretty much does it-- except that it doesn't let you know the two architects are a man and a woman who are deeply in love with each other.

    So maybe this instead?

    An idealistic young couple are confronted with a Faustian choice when a ruthless domestic terrorist subverts their highest aspirations to recruit them for his cause.
    Or even this:

    Two idealistic young architects are confronted with a devil's bargain when a ruthless domestic terrorist subverts their love and work to recruit them for his cause.
    Well, maybe. Though it's really Who-Obstacle-Goal (implied).





     
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  22. GingerCoffee
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    I like the last one. Not being a logline expert, as a reader I would read that. :)
     
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  23. daemon
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    I had to google "Faustian".

    The choice between a terrorist's cause and love/idealism is nearly the definition of a devil's bargain/Faustian choice.

    Is there any such thing as a terrorist who is not ruthless? And does the fact that he is a domestic terrorist (instead of what, a foreign terrorist?) make the story more interesting?

    My take:

    A terrorist tempts two young architects to sacrifice their love for each other and their blind ambition for his cause.

    Idunno. I seem to have a gift for making things less flashy. And I took the liberty of inferring from the statement that the architects are "idealistic" that they have a blind ambition to create some awesome-but-impractical building or another.
     
  24. Catrin Lewis
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    Not "more interesting," necessarily, but I want to avert the impression this is about jihad or Al Qaida.

    This points up why when, back in the days when the TV Guide used to lie on the living room coffee table, I used to read the loglines for my favorite shows and wonder, "I wonder what that's really about?"

    Apparently that's what my tentative logline did for you. o_O

    It would also be the case with this suggested change, because the "Who" isn't the villain, they are; he isn't tempting them to sacrifice their love, but to keep it (and their lives) at the cost of working for him; and they are not blindly-ambitious, he is.

    In this case, my book might be something Whose Time Has Come. :p "Idealistic" for an architect means client-responsive, environmentally-sensitive, financially-responsible, do-the-best-damn-job-you-can-whether-you-get-paid-properly-for-it-or-not design.
     
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  25. Catrin Lewis
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    I could also do something like this:

    Two principled young architects are confronted with a diabolical life-or-death bargain when a sinister rejected client refuses to take "no" for an answer.​

    What I'd like to get across is the idea that the villain tries to use the good things they value most-- their desire to do the best design they can, their love for each other, their desire simply to live-- against them in his evil quest to "own" them and their work. Does that help?

    EDIT: For the updated version, see post No. 31, below. My, this is a process, isn't it?
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2015

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