Writing the Logline

When someone discovers you are an author, they might exclaim, “Wonderful! What do you write?”

What do you say? Do you have your spiel ready to go? Or do you sputter, hem and haw, and don’t know what to say?

Giving your genre isn’t enough. It’s important to tell people your story! Give them a reason to want to read your book!

You need a logline. A logline is often called an “elevator pitch” because it’s the amount of time you have to tell someone about your book on the ride up the elevator. It must be succinct. The shorter, the better. It needs to be snappy and to the point — usually 50 words or less. A logline should only take 60 seconds to give.

IMPOSSIBLE!” you say?

Not really impossible. But it does take some time and effort to hone it to how you want it.

To get started, write down:

  • PROTAGONIST: Who is your main character (hero or heroine)?
  • PROBLEM: The issue or event that causes your protagonist to take action.
  • ANTAGONIST: Who or what tries to stop your protagonist?
  • CONFLICT: The major obstacle, difficulty or dilemma your protagonist faces.
  • GOAL: What your Protagonist hopes to win, achieve, find or defeat.

Then fashion it into a sentence or two:

     In a (SETTING), a (PROTAGONIST) has a (PROBLEM) caused by (an ANTAGONIST) and (faces CONFLICT) as they try to (achieve a GOAL).SETTING: When and where your story takes place.

   Write a single adjective + noun combination for each: SETTING, PROTAGONIST, and ANTAGONIST that captures its essence. Stay away from giving names. Use descriptors like the sample below.

**(Note: This isn’t the same as the “tagline” that might appear on the front of your book as a teaser)

SAMPLES:

“A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.”

Logline for The Matrix via filmdaily.tv

“In what used to be North America, a desperate 16-year-old battles to be the sole survivor of the nationally televised “Hunger Games” where teens fight to the death, but at what cost to her humanity?”   

Logline for The Hunger Games.

Time your spiel by practicing out loud in front of a mirror. Memorize it, if possible, so you can give this anytime, anywhere so the next time someone asks, “What do you write?” the reader will be so impressed, they’ll follow up with, “Where can I get my copy?”

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