Crafting a Log Line
Do you know what a log line is? Though used mostly by screenwriters, log lines have made their way into the novel writing world during the last ten years. A screenwriter composes the log line first. They work on it, crafting it to be a one sentence description of what the screenplay is about. When they've nailed it, they type it in italics, centered, just below the title.
Why Create Log Line
Used by novelists, a log line is a tool to help a writer focus her or his story. When you have your log line condensed into one sentence, then you really know what your story is really about. It cuts through all the subplots and your emotional entanglements that can keep you from seeing the essence of your story. If you can condense your entire book into one sentence, then you'll be able to discuss your book with editors and agents when the time comes.
Read the blurbs in television guides to get a handle on what a log line is. The writers that produce these very brief synopses are experts at crafting one sentence descriptions of movies and television shows. That's what you need to do with your manuscript. Read scores of them. Master the succinct formula they use.
Half Dozen Tips
Beyond writing the log line in present tense, keeping it short (duh!), and stating the genre, here are some tips to help you create a log line. Answer each question with as few words as possible then take everything you wrote and condense, condense, condense.
1. What's your protagonist's situation and what complicates it?
2. What action does your protagonist have to take?
3. What decision must your protagonist make in the supreme crisis?
4. During the story's climax, what threatens the protagonist?
5. What is your protagonist's growth arc or the transformation he/she must make?
6. Where's the excitement, the thrill, or the high concept in your story?
Practice crafting a log line for your story. It's time well spent.