“What is your story about?”
This inevitable question can send authors either into a stammering stupor or a ridiculously long-winded explanation of the intertwined subplots and fantastic twists of your novel. Either way, without a succinct answer, you’ve lost your audience and maybe even a sale.
There’s a simple solution to this situation. The logline.
What is a Logline?
A logline boils your entire story down to a single, easily understood concept. In about 25-50 words, it captures the essence of the story in one sentence and is the first description of a film or book that the audience will encounter.
A good logline not only states the core idea of the story, it also demonstrates the main character, the main conflict or antagonist, and the stakes. It allows the reader, agent, or publisher to form an opinion of whether they want to invest time and money in you and your work.
“An orphaned boy enrolls in a school of wizardry, where he learns the truth about himself, his family and the terrible evil that haunts the magical world.” – Dynasti Noble, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) on imbd.com
Why Use a Logline for a Novel?
Film writers have effectively used loglines since the inception of cinema. Writing a logline is a necessary step in selling and promoting screenplays and is often the first thing a script writer will do, even before plotting and writing the script.
The publishing industry is rapidly changing and it is becoming more difficult to grab the attention of both readers and publishers.
A succinct logline can propel your pitch or query out of the slush pile and into the hands of a publisher.
It can be used in twitter pitches or query letters, as the first sentence on the back cover of your book, or in promotions.
Crafting a logline for your novel helps you, as the author, to understand what your story is about. It forces you to pinpoint your characters’ goals, conflicts, and stakes. It requires you to understand the essence of your story well enough to convey it to others. Writing a logline before your manuscript can help to ensure that the characters’ actions stay true to their goals.
“A young man, falsely imprisoned by his jealous “friend”, escapes and uses a hidden treasure to exact his revenge.” – Kenneth Chisholm, The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) on imdb.com
Before writing the logline, you need to narrow down four key elements of your story…
Read the article in the MARCH Opal Writers’ Magazine
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Allison Gorner has been a librarian, production assistant, art director, and coalminer. She has diplomas in Cinema, Television, Stage & Radio, and Writing For Children, and is a member of Alberta Romance Writers’ Association (ARWA) and Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF).