Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Logline Critique Session Two: #8

TITLE: Bird Brain
GENRE: Middle-grade contemporary

Simon, a great birder and not-so-good baseball player, makes a deal to play catcher in the big tournament in exchange for his teammates joining his bird-a-thon team, but loses his birding zen as he becomes obsessed with winning the bird-a-thon.

16 comments:

Tami said...

Rephrase that ending bit and I think this is a really great logline.

Right now, you say he loses his birding zen, which means that losing it isn't the stakes here. Rephrased to say " ... but he's in danger of losing his birding zen as he becomes ..." leaves it open and tells us that is what's at stake.

It wouldn't hurt to throw in some conflict, either. What events are causing him to lose his zen, or what events are building up his obsession with winning?

Barbara said...

I really thought you were going to say he became obsessed with baseball and he would have to choose one or the other. But since winning the bird-a-thon is what he becomes obsessed with, I wonder why the baseball is even mentioned. And why does it matter if his friends join the bird-a-thon or not? Does he need them in order to win? Perhaps make some connections between the things you are telling us here.

Walter Thurman said...

I see where you're going with this, and for the character, the stakes are plenty high. I agree with Barbara that there's a lack of connection between the baseball, his friends, and his loss of birding zen. If playing baseball (or the help of his friends) is going to help him with his mojo, great, but right now there's no thread holding them together. Not quite sure how to fix it without knowing more of the story. Good luck.

SS said...

I think this sounds like a cool story, and I really like the logline.
One (small) thing that stuck out at me though was the repetition of 'bird-a-thon'. Can the sentence end after 'winning' without spoiling the sense of the book?

Angela Robbins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela Robbins said...

This sounds cute, but I have an issue with the premise.

I don't understand why a not-so-great baseball player would be desired as the teams catcher, when that is such a clutch position.

It would seem to me that if the mc was an awesome catcher, then the other boys would be interested in him enough to agree to the 'bird brained' idea.

Holly Bodger said...

This sounds like a good description of what happens but it is missing the conflict and the consequences. I think you are trying to say that his obsession with winning makes him lose his natural ability with the birds. Great. But what or who is really going to stop him from winning? If this is a "Simon against himself" kinda conflict, we need a better picture of why his obsession is going to hurt him and what he has to lose if he lets obsession win.

Michelle said...

Amen to all the other comments. But what a great sounding book. I hope you can clarify and connect the things mentioned, because this sounds like a fresh and fun read!

Anonymous said...

Thank you all so much for your time and insights. There are some logline experts in this community! I've tried to address some concerns and offer this revision:

When Simon, a great birder and not-so-good baseball player, loses his bird-a-thon partner he makes a deal to play in the baseball tournament in exchange for his teammates joining his bird-a-thon team, but when the ball players are not-so-good birders, Simon’s birding zen disappears as he becomes obsessed with winning and unknowingly puts birds' lives in danger.

Shannon said...

I'm not sure if the second one is clearer. I like that you tell us why he's made the deal, but the overuse of the word "bird" is throwing me. It feels repetitive, and I think it needs to be tightened up to remove some of them.

Also just wanted to say I love the title!

ajmitchell said...

I'm not sure I like the repetition in the second try. I think I get what's going on but I would like to see it more precise.

I'd suggest cutting the "not-so-good bird-a-thon team" and using something like "but Simon discovers that his teammates might be as bad at bird (watching/preserving, not sure what they do in the club) as he is at baseball and the birds he loves so much might have to pay the price" or something a little cleaner.

Hope that helps! Good luck.

Holly Bodger said...

There are still some issues with the second one:
1) You say he loses his partner but then gains a whole team. Is this a contest for two people or for a team of people?
2) Please break this into two sentences. It's WAY too long!
3) I still don't get a sense of the goal. You need to come right out and say, "Simon wants nothing more than the Bird-a-thon trophy" or something like that. Then mention how he gets ropped into joining a team of idiots, then add the whole, "but the biggest problem of all may be Simon's ambition" or that kind of thing.

Spiral said...

Your revision made things more clear, but you sacrificed length to get there ... try nixing the use of the word "bird" so much and condense the "deal" (playing baseball in exchange for birding partners). I'm thinking Simon hasn't had much experience with team situations, which probably explains (later in the book, I hope)why he became obsessed with winning at the expense of the bird's lives? Wishing you good luck!

DJ said...

I'm not going to delve into specifics, as others have done this so much better than I could. I just want to say that even though it's a bit confusing, I think this sounds adorable and I would love to read it and buy it for the kidlets.

And the title was my pen/nickname for the first 25 years of my life. So obviously you have good taste!

Melinda said...

I agree with all the other comments. Needs tightening and less repetition of 'bird.' Maybe cut out the baseball mention all together, and just say that he agrees to let/convinces some other kids to join his bird team. (It wasn't clear to me in either version if the other boys really wanted to be in the bird-a-thon or were just doing it to get another teammate--which doesn't make much sense if he's not any good. Also wasn't sure if Simon cared about playing baseball or not.)

Other than that, sounds like a cute story.

Bethany said...

Am I the only one that got lost at "birding".