Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What is a Logline and How Do You Write One?

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

Last week we talked about how to come up with a high concept for your novel.

A high concept pitch is not the same as a logline. A high concept is an intriguing idea that can be stated in a few words and is easily understood by all. A logline is a one- two-sentence description of a story that tells us what it is.

Here are the ingredients I use to create a logline:

1. Inciting incident
2. Character + adjective
3. The hero's (primal) story goal
4. What's at stake

The sentence might look something like this:

When ____1____ happens to ____2____ he must ____3____ before ____4____ happens.

Or this:

A(n) ____2____ does/experiences ____1____ and must ____3____ before ____4____ happens.

If you're not writing a high concept, you should still try to craft a logline that meets the high concept elements of being universal, unique, and having a hero dealing with a BIG problem. Also, the logline doesn't always include the inciding incident. As long as you have a WHO, a GOAL, and an OBSTACLE, you're in good shape.

For example:

An outcast teen (2) finds therapy writing her enemies into her story (3), but when her novel is published (1), she must face the consequences of using her pen as her sword (3). The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill.



Let’s try it with one of my ideas. And let me just say, it's not easy to get a 180k epic fantasy idea down to once sentence. I totally understand how difficult this is.

I started off with: When the ocean swallows their homeland(1), the survivors of two enemy kingdoms(2) take to the ocean to look for new land(3), but their common plight isn’t enough to stop the war between them(4).

I’ve got the #2 WHO (survivors), the #3 GOAL (finding new land), and the #4 OBSTACLE (they’re at war).

But it’s not great, either. Why?

-33 words is way too long. I like to shoot for 25.
-My WHO is no good. I need a single main character for the logline, even if the book has multiple POVs.
-I used the word “ocean” twice.
-It’s wordy and can be condensed.

So… I’ll try again.

When his homeland is destroyed, a prince(2) leads a fleet of ships in search of new land(3), but an enemy gives chase, bent on war(4).

-25 words
-I like focusing on the prince. It makes the story feel more personal.
-And saying the enemy is chasing them adds a sense of urgency.
-All in all, it's a descent logline.

Going back to last week's high concept, is there an easier way to say this? What comparisons can I draw for a displaced kingdom? Searching for a new homeland? The threat of an ongoing war? Can I get these ideas into a single high concept?

Nope. I couldn't. I spent months on it and totally gave up. But my agent spoiled me when she came up with this:

Fantasy Battlestar Galactica at sea.

This is much better! It’s a “TV show in a new setting” high concept and it’s only five words long. When you read it, you have a pretty good guess about the kinds of things that will happen in the plot. And the fantasy setting and “at sea” aspect gives the “people searching for a home” concept” a unique twist.

Your turn! Let's focus on the logline today. Can you summarize your concept in a sentence of 25 words or less? Be sure to give a WHO, a GOAL, and an OBSTACLE or try one of my two fill-in-the-blank sentences. You might have to play with the words and rearrange a little. And that's okay.

Paring your idea down to a few words forces you to focus on what your story is about and keeps you on track as you write. Loglines are the way agents and editors sell your idea. And when you make it simple to remember, you make it simple for them to pitch. Give it a try. And then help someone else with their idea.

120 comments:

  1. My logline: Bent on avenging her mother's death, Sienna sets out on a journey that will either lead her to freedom or destroy her kingdom.

    That was so hard! There's so much I want to say that could draw the reader in, but can't fit it! I'll have to work on it some more.

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    1. It is hard. Who are the bad guys in your story? Who is trying to stop her?

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  2. A logline for one of my works in progress might look something like this:

    When an assassin is wounded, he is forced to choose between following orders and protecting the girl who healed him.

    20 words. It has a who and the inciting incident, but I'm not sure if the obstacle is clear enough.

    Thanks for your advice on condensing our story down! It's harder than it looks sometimes and not something that is often covered in books on writing!

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    1. Good start! It is hard. How about: When a wounded assassin is healed by his target, he must choose between following his orders or protecting his healer. *shrugs* It's kind of the same...

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  3. Thanks for the post Jill! I can't tell you how helpful it was. Okay, now for the logline, I've never written one before, but this is what I've thought up for now. It still needs work, though!

    A young man fulfills his dream of joining the Protectors, but when his sister is captured by corsairs, he must rescue her. But can he give up his dream?

    I have two POVs in this WIP, but I didn't put the other MC in the logline. I also put dream twice and I don't really like that, but I couldn't think of another way to put it. :p

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    1. Sounds very interesting! Suggestion: I noticed you also used the word 'but' twice as well. Maybe reword the last sentence to "Can he give up his goals to save her?" or something like that.

      Good luck on your WIP!

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    2. Oh, yeah! Didn't notice that, lol. I like that. Thanks for the suggestion. :)

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    3. Why must he give up his dream to rescue her? Is it an either/or choice?

      Also, I totally forgot to mention this, but it's wise to avoid fantasy words in your logline. You want the very basics of the story, and fantasy words confuse the listener since the listener don't know what they mean. My examples are protectors and corsairs. Protectors is probably okay since its definition is fairly easy to infer. But corsairs is one that I can't instantly guess, so I'd cut that one.

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    4. I'm kind of a pirate geek so I recognized the term corsair right away. It isn't a fantasy term, but a history one that is usually used to refer to a specific kind of pirate. It might be a good idea to use the more generic pirate rather than corsair. Though, I do love the way corsair sounds when you say it. :)

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    5. I'll try to explain. He was supposed to protect his (adopted) sister because she is the princess of another land and she had to escape, because her land was taken over, but he chose to join the Protectors of the sea instead because she seemed safe. So if he rescues her, he will have to protect her, not sailing around the sea battling corsairs. (She's eleven, btw.) Also, he did think she was dead when she was initially missing, and found out later she was alive when the Protectors attacked the ship she was on.
      My logline isn't exactly the main point of the story, but it's the best I could come up with at the moment.
      I hope that was helpful. It's hard to summarize the book in a few sentences. :)
      Thanks for all the advice everyone!

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    6. Okay, yeah. Maybe use pirates instead. This is a tricky thing to do, Sierra. Good job!

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    7. Thanks Jill! :)

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  4. Very helpful post! This is what I've come up with for my WIP:

    (logline) When a girl discovers she’s an otherworldly magician, she must solve three clues to find and destroy a sword of lethal magic before it can be reclaimed.

    (high concept line) Indiana Jones with magic.

    27 words, but I'm still working on it. To the best of my knowledge, a plot like my WIP hasn't been done like this before. Sound cliché or anything?

    Thanks!

    ~L. Marshall

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    1. I think you need to work more on the high concept pitch. "Magic" in some form was used in the Indiana Jones movies. The Temple of Doom people were doing creepy things. And there were supernatural things happening with the old man guarding the grail and the people who touched the arc. I'm sure you mean that your book has a very different type of magic, but it's not clear from simply saying "Indiana Jones with magic." Can you give me a little more information?

      As to your logline: I'd like to know why she cares to destroy this sword. What's in it for her? What are the stakes?

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    2. That's true. I didn't think about the "form" of magic in that way. :)

      Okay, so a hint as to the stakes/character's goals. Thanks *so* much for the tips, you've helped me out a lot! (and I'll keep working on my logline/high concept pitch)

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    3. I changed my logline around and decided to go with a different angle for the high concept pitch. In "Go Teen Writers" - the book - Stephanie mentioned going with a movie-tagline style, so I decided to try out that method.


      Logline: When a girl discovers she’s an otherworldly magician, she must find and destroy a sword of deadly power to keep two worlds’ magic balanced and prevent global catastrophe.

      High concept pitch: Two worlds hang in the balance.


      I think that's a bit better than before. :)

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    4. Oh yes, I like both of those better. I think they communicate your story concept well. Good job!

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  5. When Shadow recieves a mission to recover a stolen book of legend, she must find it before it is lost forever?
    How is that?

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    1. Not a bad start. Same question to you. Why does Shadow care to recover this book? What's in it for her? What are the stakes? Who or what is working against her?

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    2. I can't think of any high concept pitches, what always comes to mind is "Harry Potter meets ?" and then my mind goes blank.

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    3. Harry Potter meets Percy Jackson or Indiana Jones. Something for the adventure/quest side of things. Or maybe just: It's Harry Potter on a quest. or Harry Potter goes on a quest.

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  6. Hm...

    When Lauren Leston falls into another world, she must save the world before it is destroyed by the evil 'king'.

    20 words! I'm not sure if it's that good, but it has a low word count :)

    High concept line: Alice in Wonderland meets Lord of the Rings.

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    1. Fun, Emily! I like that high concept. It puts some interesting images in my mind.

      Why does she want to help them, though? What are the stakes for her? Is it like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz? Is helping them the only way to get home again?

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    2. Sorry I didn't get back to you. I've been busy with school and winding up the end of the first draft of my novel.

      How's this? It's longer, but it describes it a little more. Kinda.

      When 17-year-old Lauren Leston is pulled into another world by the evil 'king', she must save the world, before it destroys the lives of many- including hers.

      29! Eek!

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    3. *the king, not it.

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  7. Jill, you've made it SO much easier for me to write loglines! Thank you! The one for my current book is:

    When her best friend is abducted during the summer of 1924, seventeen-year-old Piper Sail will hunt for answers amidst the corruption that strangles Chicago, but she will have to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the truth when her amateur sleuthing skills lead her back to her own front door.

    Concept: Veronica Mars meets 1920s Chicago

    Mine is long, yes, BUT I have an agent who likes longer ones and usually adds words if I send her a stripped down one. So I've learned to not stress about making mine shorter :)

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    1. I love it, Steph. And I can't wait until you let me read it! :-)

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    2. When is this book going to be released? It sounds like such a great book!

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    3. Stephanie, I love it. And, oh no!!! Are you writing a story set in 1920s Chicago? Me too!!!!! :-)

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    4. We'll have to swap research book finds then!

      Ana, thank you! No pub date as of yet. Hopefully soon :)

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    5. Boy, I wrote that sentence weird. I meant, "Since you're also writing in 1920s Chicago, we should share research books that have helped us." Not sure why I decided to make it all funky. Sheesh.

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  8. It took me several tries, but I did it. (And learned more about my storyline, too!)
    Here is one: "Florinda Carmichael is determined to honor her dead mother by running in a marathon, before she ultimately betrays her memory."

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    1. I love the name Florinda, and I love running, so brownie points for you! :) As long as it's clean, I would read any book involving running. I'm a little bit confused about the betraying her memory part. Do you mean before Florinda betrays her mom's memory, or Florinda's memory?

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    2. I love the first part, but the second half is a little vague. How does she ultimately betray her memory?

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    3. Thanks! I'll have to work on it some more...these aren't easy. :D

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  9. Logline: An individualistic teenager hates being a spy, but when her parents are kidnapped, she must rescue them--even if it means walking straight into a trap. (26 words)

    Concept: Gallagher Girls and H.I.V.E. with a touch of Spy Kids gadgetry

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    1. The part "Individualistic teenager hates being a spy" immediately makes me thing of Alex Rider. Maybe include that in your Concept.

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    2. Oh yeah, that's a good one!

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    3. Revised Concept: Gallagher Girls meets Alex Rider with a touch of H.I.V.E. and Spy Kids

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    4. I would definitely read this book; it sounds so suspenseful! Great job with the logline. I had no trouble understanding what your story is about. The only suggestion that I have is for your high concept pitch. There are a lot of book and movie references, so I would probably cut one out. I might be wrong, but maybe Mrs. Williamson or Mrs. Morrill can clarify.

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    5. I love this idea already. Spies. I totally have a weakness for spy books. :)

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    6. How about..Gallagher Girls + Alex Rider meets The Mysterious Benedict Society

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    7. Good job on the logline! Yeah, I'd try and keep it to one spy movie/book reference. Any more than that and the agent or editor will give you that "look." LOL When you say two movies or books, the point is to give two very different ones, like "It's Alex Rider meets Fablehaven."

      So think carefully. Alex Rider and Spy Kids and Gallagher Girls are fairly similar. Pick the one that is closest to your set up and either mesh it with something totally different or say something like, "It's Alex Rider for girls." (Not that girls don't read Alex Rider, but...)

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  10. Logline: An adolescent boy searches for hope and guidance in unlikely places during a year of shattering experiences that threaten to tear down his family's faith. (22 words)

    (The logline above is only for a novella-length story. Are they allowed to have shorter loglines?)

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    1. Conflict is very ambiguous in this. Maybe put a name to one of the "shattering experiences"?

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    2. I always jump at the chance to read Christian stories, and this sounds like an interesting one! I agree with Ivycloak. It would probably be best to specify shattering experiences. You should also consider specifying what unlikely places the boy looks towards to seek hope and guidance. If by specifying these things your logline becomes longer, I suggest replacing "An adolescent boy" with the name of the boy. I did this for my logline and it helped me to fit more about the plot of my novel into my logline.

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    3. Yes, novellas can have loglines, especially if you intend to pitch them to an agent or editor. You're off to a good start on this, but I agree with Ivy and Ana. Can you define at least one of his obstacles?

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    4. Haha. On second thoughts it probably does need a little more defining. So, second try: Jude searches for hope and guidance through Shem, an unlikely friend at No 34 Ellesmere Road, during a year of crises, involving broken Christian fellowship and friends, which threaten his family's strong faith in God. (35 words)
      Thanks for your help, Jill, Ivy and Ana.

      Delete
  11. How about this? "A young thief torn from his home must convince two war-hungry generals to come to peace. Failure will mean the destruction of all he knows."

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    1. The high concept (hopefully, high concept) was this: "A young thief fights to protect others and keep a promise."

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    2. This is a great logline. It's really clear what the story is about, and the premise sounds like something that I would love to read about.

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    3. What is "all he knows"? What time period is it?

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    4. The "all he knows" is quite literal - his home, country, enemies, and friends. But that was all a bit long to squeeze in. :) As for time period, I don't really know. It is set in a fantasy world that operates identically to our own, but has a more mish-mosh of things from different time periods. If I had to say something, maybe Renaissance era with a touch of Dark Ages and Modern. Again, couldn't figure out a way to fit it into the logline.

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    5. Good job, Ivy. Why is this the thief's responsibility? Does he know something the generals don't know?

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    6. Again it's a pretty long explanation. He actually does it for selfish reasons - he mostly cares about one particular person who could die if the war isn't stopped, not the hoardes of people he doesn't know. And the two generals are going at it because one sees it as his duty (even though his side is dreadfully losing) and the other is simply bloodthirsty. I don't know how I can explain all those different motivations within a logline.

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    7. Maybe: To save the life of a friend, a young thief must leave his home and convince two war-hungry generals to come to peace.

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    8. I'd use that, except everything was against his will. He was forced to leave home, and it is really because of that that his friend was in danger.

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  12. This isn't a logline, and it's too long, but it's what I've got so far for my book (writing pitches is SO HARD!):

    "Operating transhumanist scientists in a twelfth-century world will do anything to protect their genetically mutated servant. Except he has no idea he was their slave long before he was his enemy's."

    Also, Jill, I had a question. You said you were writing a 180,000 word epic, and I'm trying to write an epic as well (at least I would rather not split it into two books) that could turn out to be 180-200,000 words. Would a publisher even consider my work, especially considering I doubt I'll be publishing anything before it?

    walking in the air.

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    1. High concept might be "The Lord of the Rings meets Captain America and Star Wars" or something like it.

      walking in the air.

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    2. Although, haha, I guess the medieval Earth wouldn't have had scientists who could create people, so maybe that's high-concept enough....

      walking in the air.

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    3. The idea has me intrigued. But this sentence confuses me

      "Except he has no idea he was their slave long before he was his enemy's"

      He's his enemy's what? Slave? If so then why are they his enemy?

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    4. Ooh! Sci fi in the 12th century? That's very intriguing. Like J. Liessa, though, I'm a little bit confused about that second sentence. Is he still the slave of his enemy? If so, how can he be a slave and a servant at the same time?

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    5. I was wondering if that might be the case with that sentence. Thanks for the help and the suggestions! For some reason it is insanely difficult to write a good synopsis of your story in a sentence without making it unintelligible. Haha.

      walking in the air.

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    6. You're welcome, and I totally agree. It must be especially hard for you since your book is 250,000 words! I could never imagine writing a book of that length, much less writing a short logline for it. My first novel, which I just finished, is only 51k.

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    7. Haha, yeah, well my book USED to be 250,000 words, but needed to be dramatically shortened. We'll see where this draft takes me ;)

      walking in the air.

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    8. Yes, I need more info on that second sentence to be able to offer feedback, Hannah. Care to elaborate some?

      As to epic fantasy, I go by what Brandon Sanderson once said. To break in, you should write a stand-alone that's about 120K. That makes you a much lower risk to publishers because they sell a 120K book for the same cover price as a 250K book. So the lower the word count, the more apt they will be to take a risk on a new author.

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    9. Also, the book I'm currently writing is suppose to be between 150-180K. Right now, I'm at 156K and I'm maybe 2/3 done. I will have to find a way to get it under 180K, and it's not going to be easy! *weeps* But if I succeed, it should be a much tighter and fast-paced epic. *should* :-)

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    10. You are both amazing and mind blowing writers! It just makes me so overwhelmed just thinking about writing a book that long! I can't even imagine how much stamina, effort and time that must involve. Good for both of you!

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    11. Haha, that's how I feel about mine, Jill :) And Ana, thanks! That means a lot.

      On the second sentence in that "logline"--
      My main character is a genetic mutant whose life, unbeknownst to him and everyone around him, is being controlled by fully operational transhumanist scientists in this twelfth-century world. Not remote-controlled; he still has full usage of his own brain. But essentially his life is being planned out by these people who predicted centuries ago that a few generations down his ancestral line there would be a mutation which would create the "perfect soldier"--big, strong, fast, exceptional IQ, and brilliant strategizing skills. They want to mass-create these soldiers based on him so that they can destroy their opposing race, so they have to keep him alive at all costs. Since where he is now is potentially dangerous for him, they have to arrange for his lawful enemy (who is of the opposing race) to enslave him so that he can be kept comparatively safe--and closer to their base. Anyway, if you need more details than that, I can give them to you. Somehow a book idea never sounds very good when one writes it out for a lot of people to see :)

      walking in the air.

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  13. How is this? Jacky must take a leap of faith over the edge of the world in hopes of finding her grandfather in another world before he dies, along with their family secret.

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    1. Wow! This sounds like a fabulous story. You did a wonderful job with the logline; nothing about it confuses me and I was able to get a clear sense of what your story is about. Great job!

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    2. Thank you. Would my high concept be that people can jump off the edge of the world and fall into another or would it be something about traveling to find one person?
      -Anchor

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    3. Maybe your high concept could be something like "Jumping from one world into another."

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    4. I like the way that sounds, thank you, Jill!
      -Anchor

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  14. Artemis has lived for centuries as a goddess in the Greek Pantheon, yet at the chance meeting of nymph, her world, and her divinity are crashing down around her.

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    1. I love how you used a really strong verb in that last part: "crashing down around her". However, I'm a little bit confused about "the chance meeting of nymph". Does she meet a nymph, or is the meeting called nymph? If the meeting is called nymph, maybe you should capitalize it so it's a little more clear.

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    2. Take out the comma after world and it's perfect. Otherwise you're saying "at the chance meeting of nymph, the nymph's world, and the nymph's divinity" and I think you meant "at the chance meeting of nymph, Artemis's world and her divinity come crashing down around her."

      Is that right?

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  15. When the owner of two assassins dies they must continue as his 'sons' to avoid their previous intentions at the king's court being found out.

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    1. Wow! Exactly 25 words! Great job! Are the assassins slaves? What are their previous intentions? I suppose it would be hard to fit these into your logline since loglines are so short, but maybe you can consider it. Anyway, it sounds like a really suspenseful story.

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    2. Heh. It took forever to whittle it down to that. And some creative rephrasing...

      The assassins were slaves. Their master picked them up off the streets when they were young and 'adopted' them. Really though he was training them as assassins to kill off his rivals. The job they were about to complete was to off the prince so that their master alone would be the heir to the throne. And of course it would be bad if that was found out.... Anyway so now they're stuck without their master's political protection if they're found out.

      But yeah. XD It's nearly impossible to fit all of that in. Lol. I've tentatively titled it 'Bravo'. It would employ both meanings of the word in that they're forced to act the part of nobles (bravo being applause for their acting) and that they're assassins or bravos.

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    3. I like this, J. Liessa. If the owner has died, must they still accomplish their mission? Or had they already killed the prince and are trying to cover it up? Also, if they are pretending to be his sons, and he was an heir to the throne, does that make them heirs, and if so, which one is the oldest and are they rivals with each other now?

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    4. They've already killed the prince, yes. But now they're trying to turn over a new leaf. They are both heirs, but because the will was ambiguous as to who inherited what (seeing as neither of their ages are known) they split the inheritance in half. They're actually fairly close because they grew up with only each other. Their master encouraged their comradeship as well because while the boys might risk harm to themselves, they're less likely to risk hurting their brother. If that makes any sense. Part of the conflict is also that their master was part of a conspiracy that has taken root in roughly a third of the king's court. These people are all too willing to use the boys as scapegoats and say that it was all them. Even though the boys were given no choice in the matter. Legally they were always recognized as free, but their master held them enslaved secretly by force and manipulation. So their claims that they were forced to kill the prince are shaky with little documentation.

      If that makes any sense.

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    6. Urg. Posted before I was ready. Twice. Continuing from the one not deleted....

      As for who's heir to the throne, I'm undecided. It would probably go to another official, rather than one of the boys. But if it would go to one of the boys traditionally Ansel was presented as older and would be more likely to inherit the throne. He's also the more mature of the pair.

      There is also the issue of the princess. At the point of the story I'm in now, she's going to reach the age of marriage in a few months but has so far shown interest in only a life of celibacy. Being female she is ineligible to inherit the throne, but her husband may inherit it. And she doesn't want to marry someone who only wants the throne, so her solution is to never marry and let the nobles fight it out.

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  16. This is my logline for the first draft of my first novel which I just finished recently. It's an MG science fiction novel. "When Twig is imprisoned, she must find the secrets regarding the interplanetary war that her captors are hiding-before the planets destroy each other." The wording seems a bit awkward, so I'd love some suggestions. Also, is this story premise clear? Thanks everyone.

    Now I'm off to go buy the GTW book so that I can use it to edit my novel.

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    1. I'm trying to think of a high concept idea and this is the first one that popped into my mind.

      Star Wars from a child's perspective.

      I think it fits my story well, but I'm not sure if Star Wars is too popular to include in my high concept pitch. Do you have any other suggestions?

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    2. That's what I was thinking with mine, because I included both LOTR and Star Wars in my "high concept" pitch. I can't think of any Star Wars- or LOTR-like books to replace it with, though. Otherwise I think your logline is pretty good, pretty clear. Good job! And thanks for the feedback about mine. :)

      walking in the air.

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    3. I like it. The only thing I would add is some sort of adjective to describe the protagonist.
      And thanks for giving my own logline some feedback. :)

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    4. First off, may I offer a high five to a fellow middle grade writer?
      The premise is clear, as is the logline itself, though maybe it would read a bit snappier if you cut the "When she is imprisoned", leaving something like "Twig must find the secrets regarding the interplanetary that her captors are hiding - - before the planets destroy eachother." 'Captors' already implies she's a prisoner.

      But I warn you I'm sleep-deprived at present, so take my advice with a grain of salt. Anyway, your book sounds awesome!

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    5. Cool idea. Like Ivycloak mentioned some sort of adjective (age maybe?) would give us a better understanding of who Twig is. :)

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    6. Oh, and another thing: how many planets are involved in this war - just a few or the whole galaxy? :)

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    7. I think the premise is intriguing. I'm curious how she can find out anything if she is in prison? And why is this Twig's responsibility? What makes her want to accomplish this goal? What is her motivation? I'm not saying to put those things into the logline. I'm asking so I can understand and then help you tweak it. :-)

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    8. Are her captors big players in the war?

      Jill, I went way overboard with an explanation of my story below, and it's really not fair of me to inflict it on you or the rest of Go Teen Writers. Could you delete it?

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    9. Thanks for the advice everyone!

      Hannah: Thanks, and you're welcome. I can't think of any other Star Wars like books or movies either.

      Ivycloak: Thanks. I'll consider that as I revise my logline.

      Miri: Yeah! High five! Thanks for the awesome advice. I'll be taking your advice with more than a grain of salt, because it'll give me room to include more details about my plot. Yes, her captors are big players in the war. They are actually manipulating the other planets by making it look like some of the planets are doing bad things to other planets when in fact they are responsible for the crimes. Basically, they are inflicting war from the sidelines.

      Sofia Marie: Thanks for the suggestions. I think including her age is a great idea because it will let people know what audience the book is meant to be geared towards. I think it's the whole galaxy. I only just finished the first draft, so I haven't figured everything out yet. I only mentioned some planets in the draft, but I would like to make it the whole galaxy.

      Mrs. Williamson: Well, she first has to escape prison to find out what she needs to find out. Maybe I should include that in my logline. It's her responsibility because she was assigned the mission to go to another planet that supposedly has war winning secrets. However, she gets captured on the way there by people from another planet. She wants to accomplish her goal to prove herself worthy of such a big responsibility. Also, she doesn't want to see her planet fall into complete ruin.

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    10. Also, sorry I didn't get to comment on everyone's loglines. I've been away all day for high school orientation and a cross country meet so I haven't had much time to check the blog.

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    11. Maybe you could say, "After escaping from prison," Twig must...

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    12. Thanks for the suggestions everyone. This is my new logline: After escaping from prison, thirteen year old Twig must find the secrets that her captors are hiding-before the interplanetary war goes too far.

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  17. My novel is middle grade fantasy.

    High concept pitch: Proper princess in a war-prone matriarchy. (Or inverse of Brave meets Frozen meets Eragon.)
    Logline: When her older sister stops talking and her castle is attacked, courageless Princess Meralyth thinks she must be mature and strong to keep her family and kingdom from crumbling.

    Long, I know, though I feel like like I should mention raising the baby dragon in secret and running away, too...


    I've written the first draft, but that isn't the logline for it. That's how I'd like the book to turn out after I do my major rewrites.

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    1. I think you've got all the ingredients, now find the best word for each word. No vague words allowed. How about: When her older sister stops talking and her castle is attacked, cowardly Princess Meralyth must be mature and strong to keep her family and kingdom from crumbling.

      You could also use "meek" or "fearful" instead of "cowardly." Remember, this isn't going on the back of the book, it's to help you pitch it to an agent or editor. Also, I cut "thinks she" because that meant the whole story was just her thinking she must do something, and I know that's not what you meant.

      How is the baby dragon a part of the story? Tell me, and maybe I can help fit it in.

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    2. Well, I don't want to dump a whole summary on you, but...sorry...Much of this is backstory/subplots that my MC doesn't riddle out until "Act 3."

      Meralyth's (My MC's) older sister, Ismere, is the perfect heir to the Glendourian throne - a strong warrior and charismatic mediator. But she's secretly tired of basing her perfection off other people, so she goes, on the ambassadors' suggestion, to prove herself by drinking from a legendary fountain in the dragon caves and steal a dragon egg under the pretext of accompanying the ambassador to some of the outer clans. (Their maternal grandparents were killed -sort of accidentally- by a dragon. Meralyth doesn't know; Ismere hopes training a dragon to defend the castle will help their mother finally move on/get to a better a mental state than a paranoid hatred of dragons and the unnaturalness of breathing fire.) She succeeds in both drinking the water and taking the egg, but the legendary fountain is actually gives dragons their firebreathing abilities, so whenever Ismere talks she breathes fire uncontrollably. She doesn't talk when her family come to the rendezvous point, and plans to fake her death so she won't risk burning them, but Meralyth doesn't understand and thinks she is running away, and manages to persuade her to return to the castle with them. Enter drama over Ismere's continued silence and their mother's fury over having a dragon egg, the latter unhindered by any explanation from Ismere. Ismere has dropped being the solution to conflicts in the castle to being the cause of them. All of this is worse because the castle was attacked while Meralyth and her little sister met Ismere at the rendezvous point.

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    4. Actually, that's waaaay too long, and it's not fair for me to take that much of your time to read or critque. I shouldn't have posted, as, my book's not near the stage of being pitched anyway. Please delete the above. I posted a comment similar to this one above that, in case your comment feed starts from the top and you read through that wall of text before getting to the apology.

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    5. Since the sister not talking is in the backstory, I'd cut that. So maybe: When her castle is attacked, courageless Princess Meralyth must flee to protect a dragon egg that will someday keep her kingdom from crumbling.

      ???

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  18. MoreShipsThanTheNavyAugust 27, 2014 at 11:21 PM

    My novel is YA fantasy.
    High concept pitch (hopefully): Race of people (including my MC) who can heal any injury by taking it on themselves.
    Logline: After the Oligarchy kills Elske's parents, she and her sister must journey to the stronghold of their people or risk being killed for their abilities.
    It might be a little unclear about these 'abilities', but I've been laboring over precalc. Maybe tomorrow.

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    1. Maybe you just need a prefix like: "In a world where magic is shunned, the Oligarchy kills Elske's parents for their abilities, which forces her and her sister to flee to the stronghold of their people where they will be safe."

      Or maybe just: After the Oligarchy kills Elske's parents for their magical abilities, she and her sister flee to the stronghold of their people or risk being killed as well.

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    2. MoreShipsThanTheNavyAugust 28, 2014 at 5:58 PM

      Oh, thanks! I like that first one. darn precalc... fries my brain.

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    3. Oh yes. That would fry my brain too!

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  19. Thanks for the advice, Jill! Here's mine:

    When popular new girl threatens Serena's budding relationship with the coolest guy in high school, she must prove that she is worth the love.

    So... that might not even be the most important aspect of the story -don't know yet. Any advice is more than welcome! Again, thanks Jill!

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    1. When [a] popular new girl threatens Serena's budding relationship with the coolest guy in high school, she must prove that she is worth [his] love.

      I think it works, Sofia. What are some other important aspects of the story?

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    2. Thanks so much, Jill, for the advice and encouragement!!! It does sound better that way.

      Other aspects are: 1) absolutely LOVES soccer and evaluates herself by how she's doing in it; 2) will enter a music contest possibly to prove she's worth something without her popular friend; 3)lives with her mom and mom's come-and-go abusive boyfriend; 4) will learn about Christ through fellow soccer player. Anyway, that was probably more useless info than helpful. :)

      I haven't written in a while. :( Will get back to it though on the pretty long train ride we have. Yippee for finally making myself write. :/

      Thanks so much, Jill!

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    3. Sounds like a fun story, Sofia. I bet it will be fun to get back to it.

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  20. This was such a helpful post, Mrs. Williamson--thank you!

    How is this for a logline?

    When his father is arrested, an ambitious Soviet pianist must decide whether defecting to America is worth playing the hypocrite to conceal his underground church involvement. (26 words)

    Thanks!
    Sophia Zervas

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    1. MoreShipsThanTheNavyAugust 28, 2014 at 6:00 PM

      I really like that one! It works really well. I hope you're actually writing this; it sounds fascinating!

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    2. Sounds very good!

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    3. I like the premise a lot, Sophia. I'm confused whether he is defecting to save his father or to protect his church. Why was his father arrested? Why does defecting make him a hypocrite? Also, what era is this? Is it historical?

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    4. Thanks for the encouragement!

      His father is arrested for "counter-state" activities, that is, pastoring an underground church. Actually, because my protagonist believes that the Soviet censorship will limit his artistic expression, he plans on defecting due to personal ambition, although his family and the heroine desperately need him to stay. To get an exit visa, he feigns fidelity to the Soviet Union and tries to assimilate with his peers, thus hindering his Christian testimony.

      Yes, it's new adult historical fiction set in the 1940s (WWII & Siege of Leningrad--great material to make my characters' lives difficult with!)

      Sophia Zervas

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  21. A selfish adolescent girl is not looking forward to sharing her birthday with her younger twin sisters, but when she is transported to a mysterious maze she must use whatever abilities she has to save what she doesn't know she loves.

    Is this too long?

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