I recently read a post by Laura Drake on Writers in the Storm about a hassle-free way to create a logline for your story. (If you’re wondering what in sand buckets a logline is, it’s the short big picture byline used to sum up your work of genius. Think: mini synopsis.)
I thought hey, my sci-fi novel I’m currently editing is in need of a logline. And I reallllly suck at coming up with one by myself. Let’s figure out how to create one together.
There are formulas to come up with loglines:
- At Filmmaking101 Joe Lam says it must have 5 parts: Protagonist, genre, inner conflict, outer conflict, and climax.
- Blake Snyder in his book Save the Cat! says: It must contain a type of hero, the antagonist, the hero’s primal goal and it must have irony.
- Some say, all you need is a character with a goal and a conflict.
All those work. They’ll give you a perfectly workable logline. A workmanlike logline.
But to me, that’s only a place to start.
THEN you need to add what Margie Lawson calls,
*Rubs hands together* Let’s do this.
I’m looking at Joe Lam’s 5 part list. . . and getting overwhelmed. So I’ll jump to Blake Snyder’s list. Irony? On demand? I have a hard enough time getting the bare bones down, which leaves me with the last of the bullet points: character, goal, conflict. (I’m answering this according to the New Adult sci-fi/fantasy manuscript I’m currently editing.)
Character: 22 year-old Breaker Gershom. (a description of the character is always more useful than the name because you learn more about them). This becomes >> a 22 year-old amputee who built his own prosthetic
Goal: to keep his little brother from dying. This sounds vague to me. Why would he be dying? This becomes >> to keep his little brother from going to war.
Conflict (what keeps him from achieving this goal?): he needs to fix a starship first. First is vague again. It doesn’t show the pressure he’s under. This becomes >> fixes a starship under deadline.
Okay. Let’s see what we’ve got before we add sparkle, or what my critique partners call “sexing it up”: A 22 year-old amputee who built his own prosthetic fixes a starship under deadline to keep his little brother from going to war.
I’m pretty happy with it so far. The name change added a lot. Let’s tweak a little to add more of that glitz and glam.
A 22 year-old amputee who built his own prosthetic fixes a starship under threat and deadline to keep protect his little brother from going to fighting in a brewing war.
I like it. I might cut the “who built his own prosthetic,” especially for Twitter pitches, but for now I think I’ll leave it.
This is the final version:
A 22 year-old amputee who built his own prosthetic fixes a starship under threat and deadline to protect his little brother from fighting in a brewing war.
Ta-da! Thoughts? Anything you’d change? Are you working on your own logline?