What's It About
That's something readers want to know as well as editors and agents.
As a pro writer, you need the skill of being able to say in one compelling sentence what your book is about. Or, you need to be able to rattle off one compelling sentence that doesn't necessarily say what the book is about but is so compelling that the person who asked wants to know more about it.
What the Heck is a Logline?
A compelling sentence that incites curiosity is called a logline also written as log line. In the past, loglines were used mostly by screenwriters, but they have made their way into the novel writing world during the last 10-15 years.
A screenwriter composes the logline 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.
What a Logline Does For Novelists
Used by novelists, a logline is a tool to help a writer focus his/her story. When you have your logline condensed into one sentence, then you really know what your story is about. Writing a compelling blurb then is like falling off a log, er, logline, that is. It cuts through all the subplots and 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 loglines. 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.
6 Tips to Writing Loglines
Beyond writing the log line in present tense, keeping it short (duh!), and stating the genre, here are 6 other tips to help you create a logline. Try to answer each question with as few words as possible then take everything you wrote and condense it to the most compelling sentence which may or may not include all the answered questions. Then condense again to as few words as possible.
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?
Answers to the first 5 questions give you a 1 sentence blurb that can be considered a logline. A true logline though is the answer to question 6.
In my latest book, Brianna's Season for Miracles, part of Love, Christmas 2, questions 1 - 5 are answered in a 1 sentence blurb that can be considered a logline:
Brianna's seductive persona hides what she's ashamed of so what will happen if the man she's fallen for discovers her secret?
In my previous book, Second Chance Bride, the sentence that follows is what I condensed from the answers to all 6 questions which happen to be the goal and the conflict.
It's also the answer to #6, short, exciting, and compelling:
He was the only man she wanted--and the one man she could never have.
If you're a writer reading this, how far along in your journey are you?
Answer the question in Comments to be entered in the November Giveaway. See details at the top of the left sidebar.
Practice crafting a logline for your story. It's time well spent.
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