Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Author a Book: Lesson Two LOGLINES

My amazing class at Seven Peaks is in it's 4th lesson - but for you, following along on the blog, we are on number two -- Loglines.

Loglines are a great way to capture your story in one line. You have to be able to tell people what your book is about, in as few words as you can, but still make it intriguing and awesome. Because, it won't matter how many things you're going to blow up, how great the love story is or if it's the best mystery in the world -- If you can't sum it up in the best way possible, you'll lose the interest of the people you need to get your book published - the agent, editor and/or publisher. You have to think about everyone who will see this logline before the book ever hits the market for readers. 

If I haven't mentioned it before - go out and buy SAVE THE CAT! by Blake Snyder -- right now. It was written for screenplays - but it rocks for novels, too. A screenplay is just a short 120 page novel, after all.

Blake talks about LOGLINES in his book. And it's worth the read. Especially if you are in the query stage of your book - but even before you begin - before you write one single line in that amazing first chapter - you should have a logline. Like a beacon, it will keep you headed toward your goal as you write each chapter.

What is a logline? 

Logline: A good logline tells what the story is in the most creative and quickest way. 

Examples I found on the web: (you can find some easily if you type in LOGLINES for movies)

   FORREST GUMP: A Southern simpleton has a bumbling hand in some of the 20th century’s biggest events in this touching story of love, courage over adversity and snappily-named shrimp chains.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL: Blacksmith Will Turner teams up with eccentric pirate “Captain” Jack Sparrow to save his love, the governor’s daughter, from Jack’s former pirate allies, who are now undead.

THE HELP: An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maid’s point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

·  The Legend of Nina Simone: After hearing a legend about the lost recordings of Nina Simone, a young boy teams up with his friends on an adventure to find the treasure in hopes of saving his dying grandfather.

     E.T. : An alienated boy bonds with an extraterrestrial child who's been stranded on earth; the boy defies the adults to help the alien contact his mothership so he can go home.

The best way to come up with a logline of your own is to copy others first. Take one of them from above and pop in your characters/ideas. Play with it until you have changed all of the words and made it your own.

When writing loglines - Ask yourself these questions:
  • Who are your main characters?
  • What happens to them? Good and bad?
  • What is the most important thing that happens in the book? 
  • What makes the MC dive into action? 
  • Why did you want to write this book in the first place?
  • What is the big ending? 
  • How does your MC grow?
  • What is the main story at its root?

The book I am working on right now is called: 

Here's the logline: When her mom dies in a seaplane crash, a disconnected and depressed teen is sent to live with her crazy 1/8th Tununak Indian Uncle in Alaska where he forces her to confront her spirit guide and there she discovers that she's the missing link between an ancient Alaskan Tribe and the old magic of the Egyptian people. 

It's still a bit long and I'm working on trimming it down but you can get the idea of the book from this one line. 

1st Attempt to trim the logline:
   A depressed teen is sent to live with her crazy Uncle in Alaska where she discovers she's the missing link between an ancient Alaskan Tribe and old magic of the Egyptian people. 

I definitely cut it, but it lost too much of the interesting parts. 

2nd Attempt
   A depressed teen is sent to live with her crazy uncle in a mixed Indian Tribe Alaskan commune where she unwillingly confronts her spirit guide and discovers she's the missing link between an ancient Alaskan Tribe and old magic in Egypt. 

This is a good mix of both the longer version and the super short one. I'll keep it for now. 

    So that's it - that's a logline. You really should have one. You can think of it as your elevator pitch. It's good to be prepared in case you ever are in front of your wish-list agent and she/he asks you what you're working on. 

Your assignment is to come up with the best LOGLINE for your book before the 3rd lesson. 


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