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Loglines are usually associated with TV and movies but as an ever-resourceful writer, but they can be quite useful for novelists.
Juliet and Jon define, dissect, and discuss loglines. Jon shares one that he’s working on and with for a current writing project.
David Macinnis Gill is an associate professor of English education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, specializing in young adult literature. We talk about his very useful blog post about loglines:
Log lines are very useful to you. They allow to you answer the question, “so what’s your book about?” with a succinct phrase, rather than beginning with the stock, “well, see there’s this guy….”
A second good use for the log line is the pitch. This handy, dandy quick summary of your story is very useful in persuading agents, editors, and even your dentist that you’ve hit on a “wow” premise that simply MUST be written. Better yet, if it’s already written, then it MUST be read. Think of a pitch in terms of advertising: You’re trying to hook a reader the way a commercial tries to hook a detergent user. Seriously. Alan Gratz, author of Samurai Shortstop and several other excellent novels for teens, calls this the elevator pitch, under the assumption that if you’re riding four stories with an editor, you can finish your delivery before the doors open.
The third use for a log line is you. A novel is a big thing. It’s difficult to hold the whole story in your mind, especially when you’ve finished a first draft and are still giddy from the flow of creative juices. Writing a log line helps you define—for yourself—the essential elements of the plot. It was also let you know immediately is major components of the plot are missing. This prevents episodic plots that are a string of (interesting and exciting) events that lack a complete story spine.
Check out one of David Macinnis Gill’s books at Amazon. Soul Enchilada.
Juliet mentioned one of her favorite books, Earnest Hemmingway’s at Amazon A Moveable Feast.