Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Logline Critique Session Three #5

TITLE: Soul Sifter
GENRE: YA urban fantasy

When sixteen-year-old London Howell inadvertently "creates" a person, drawing the attention of the city's ruling mage family, the House of Dering, he must decide if the answers to newly raised questions about himself and his family are worth the price of a human soul.


  1. To be honest, I'm not quite seeing the connection between the first part of this sentence and the second part. I think that's mostly because your focus is a bit too much on details we don't need--like the mage family name--and a bit too little on the physical conflict at hand. The key to loglines is to hone in on the external conflict and give it clearly, without abstract phrases like "newly raised questions" and "worth the price of a human soul." These are abstract because they leave readers to ask "what questions" and "worth the price of a someone losing their soul or is that just how valuable it is?" When I see a logline, I want to have a concrete idea of what happens in the story and end with only one question: how does the character overcome the conflict? And I know that answer only comes from reading the book. So, give us more until we're at that point.

    I'd suggest something along the lines of:

    When sixteen-year-old London Howell inadvertently "creates" a person, he draws unwanted attention from the city's ruling mage family. Now London must [goal] because [motivation], or else [consequences...presumably he loses his soul or something], but [conflict that will keep him from succeeding].

    This is an interesting premise, though, so I hope you nail the logline and hook an agent's attention!

  2. OK, funny funny--"inadvertently creates a person." Like that. "Whoops!" :D

    -do you need quotes around "creates"? That makes it seem like he didn't really do it...?
    -Would you maybe say "must decide of revealing his identity as a (your word for creator of people) and jeopardizing his family are worth the price of a human soul."

    maybe. Sounds cool--best of luck! :o)

  3. I really like the concept of London creating a person! I'm a little confused on the rest though. What are the consequences of drawing the ruling family's attention and what are these newly raised questions?

  4. This seems to focus on the internal conflict rather than the external, as K, Cooper said, and as someone who dwells on the internal herself, I'm seeing here why it doesn't work. Nothing happens in this log line, except that London creates a person.

    What's missing are the problems that causes, stated in concrete terms rather than abstractions. What happens to him when the ruling family sticks their noses into his business? What does he do about it? What trouble does it get him into? You need more specifics here, I think.

  5. I'd drop "the house of Dering" and use the space to describe why the attention focuses on the ruling family by writing 'he draws attention to his ruling family."

    I'd state that he'd have to decide whether to kill his creation. It might be that the antagonist here is not the city's residents but his creation who wants to live. If so, you would have a powerful story that bends back to archtypes like frankenstein's monster... and who doesn't love an antogonist who just wants to get along.

    Fix-em up and I'd read on.

  6. When I read this part, "...drawing the attention of the city's ruling mage family, the House of Dering..." I expected a more external conflict to follow, like Barbara said. Not that the internal conflict isn't interesting (actually, I love it a lot!) but that sentence sort of leaves me hanging. How does the House of Dering fit into all of this? Do they give him this ultimatum? Answer the questions or they kill someone? If that's what you're getting at, I'd clarify.

    Otherwise, you have a really great premise here. I'm hooked.

  7. So I like the beginning of this (it's very Frankenstein-esque) but I agree that I don't follow how the inciting incident and goal are related. Also, "must decide" is not really a goal; it's something you do at the end of Act 1 or Act 2. Tell us what he is actually going to do in order to stop this human from losing his/her soul.

  8. I'd have to agree with the others. Your first sentence is intriguing. I'd take off the quotes.
    I would start it, as K. Cooper said, as a matter of fact I was just about to write the same sentence when I checked the others comments again.

    Great premise and with some fine tuning It will be more powerful

  9. I'm going to be an echo, but I agree with K. Cooper and the rest.

    I don't think the consequences are strong enough. What does the ruling Mage family do to him? Lock him up? Torture him? And what do they want to do to the person he created?

    Unique premise. I'm intrigued.

  10. Another cool concept - but I don't see his goal. What does London need to achieve and what are the stakes?

  11. The first part of this (ending at 'mage family') is good. Then we get into unnecessary detail (the House of Dering) and internal conflict. I think loglines read better when they're about external conflict, so if you remove the last parts and describe the external conflict instead (eg. what London's choice is and what the consequences of the choice are), this will read a lot better.

  12. Good to see a new concept in YA - I think this has a lot of promise. Follow the advice of the above comments, tweek it down a bit and you've got something great. Good Luck!