1. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Staff Contributor

    Oct 12, 2015
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    On the Road.

    Tagline, logline, blurb, query, synopsis—Unconfused

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by Lifeline, Dec 2, 2020.

    What makes your story unique?

    If you know the answer, the following exercise will be easy. Write 27 words about your story. Tell me why I should read it.

    These 27 words are called a LOGLINE, and when I encounter them I should know why I want to read your story.

    If you're struggling, start with the Who, What, When, Where, and Why? Or with the hero, situation, goal, villain, disaster. That there's no set formula makes life interesting.

    Done? You have the LOGLINE? Fine, then...

    Condense those 27 words into a one-sentence TAGLINE that you can use at the backcover of your book.

    Remember the last bestseller? I bet it shows one sentence at the top of its backcover that made you think 'Yeah, I'll read that one' before (and here's the important bit) your eyes skim the rest of the backcover. This TAGLINE will also come in handy when you want to market your book on social media or your author's webspace.

    Points of note for the TAGLINE: Be careful of negative phrasing. Don't mislead. Make it memorable. Express confidence: People want to read your book. They picked it out from all the other millions. They are just about to open the first page. You are a superstar.

    While we're talking about the topic of social media, an AUTHOR TAGLINE is always a good idea. What kind of stories do you write? Humour? Fluffy Romance? Dark and twisted Fantasy? Brand yourself, and your following will know that you are their kind of author. The same rules as for a tagline for a book, only this time apply them to your brand as author. Readers may not remember your name, but hopefully they'll remember your AUTHOR/TAGLINE.

    But we digress. Back to our story. Next, what's your story about, in less than 20 words. This's called an ELEVATOR PITCH, and you have until the elevator reaches the next level to get the interest of the agent of your dreams.What about it sticks in the agent's mind when he/she exits the elevator?

    You might notice similarities to your LOGLINE, but you can and should craft them distinct from each other. And by the way, write the ELEVATOR PITCH in words you actually would use, being stuck in an elevator. And then memorise them. Tomorrow, a stranger on the bus might ask you what you're writing.

    Things are getting difficult, are they? Tired yet?

    Give me next a TWO-SENTENCE BLURB. Tell me what your story is about in two sentences (which might or might not be the same as what you wrote in the LOGLINE.

    Make it colourful and engaging. You might use it (or not) as introduction on a cover letter before you get into the query proper.

    Expand it into a proper QUERY with less than 750 words. Three paragraphs. Should be manageable, right? You'd be surprised. Again, it's not about what happens but about stakes. Don't give me solutions—make me impatient to read your book!

    And finally we get to something every author I know hates: a two-page SYNOPSIS. This is a dull, blow-by-blow factual account about what happens in your story. Keep out all the fluff. Resist the temptation to write for a reaction. The SYNOPSIS shows the agent (and editor. and yourself.) if you have a proper story arch. Condensed into two pages, it's easy to see if your story has meat and bone and if it's worth being taken on.

    You can actually do all of the above even while writing your story. Outliners should be familiar with the concept, but even for pantsers like me it helps to keep all the threads of my story in mind. Really. On you go.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
    Rosacrvx and mar-iposa like this.

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