Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Logline Critique Session Three #6

TITLE: The Grey Library
GENRE: Literary/Womens's Fiction

Divorced, lonely and bitter, Franklin Grey suffers a memory-erasing stroke that lands him in rehab, where a nurse's aid reads to him from his list of favorite books. The words she reads trigger memories that lead Grey to suspect the woman is his daughter who was abducted when she was two years old--the event that ruined Grey's marriage and life--but he must overcome fear of a final devastating rejection as he secretly pursues the truth in hope for reconciliation and joy.


  1. This is a bit long, but I actually loved this. I would pick up this book based on the logline. Can you condense it? You do use a lot of adjectives that could perhaps go without affecting the basic hook.

    Nicely done!

  2. I'm sorry to be a downer, but after reading this, I got the impression that there were holes in your plot. For one, he has a memory-erasing stroke, which implies he can't remember everything about his bitter divorced life. How much memory does he lose? Because he remembers his two-year-old daughter. Second, we have no clue as to how old the daughter would be now. Has it been long enough for the aid to be his daughter? Three, how do words she reads out loud from books trigger these memories? For one, the girl's voice will not be the same now that she's grown up. She's not saying words that the daughter would have said as a child, she's reading other authors' words. I'm not seeing how books leads to memories/suspicions that you've described here at all. Four, is the main conflict in this book his fear of it not being his daughter? Because I'm not sure that's enough to carry the book. Does the nurse's aid reject him as a father and he has to deal or prove to her it's true? Also, all of this is internal conflict, but what's the external? Is he never going to heal? Can he not communicate with this girl? I think there are too many details you don't need and not enough details you do need. You can cut "divorced, lonely, and bitter" and start with the stroke. You can also cut "the event that ruined Grey's marriage and life" because that's implied. To improve, I recommend condensing this, and then focusing on explaining how he "secretly pursues the truth" while in rehab...does he reopen the investigation? Because there's the external conflict this logline is missing. And if you can show that there is external and internal conflict here, I wouldn't be worried about plot holes in the story. Keep in mind that the only question a reader should really have after reading a logline is "how does the character overcome the conflict." As you can see above, I have many more questions than that, so get to the heart of your story.

  3. this sounds like an interesting read. i'm not an expert on women's fiction, but i was thinking it odd that the MC is a man in a WF book. maybe i'm the odd one...
    i think if this is pared down a little on the words, it would be a little bit sharper.

    divorced and bitter, franklin grey suffers a stroke that lands him in rehab, where a nurse aid reads to him his favorite books. the books trigger memories that lead grey to suspect she's his daughter who was abducted at the age of two--the event that ruined his marriage and life. But he most overcome fear of rejection, as he secretly pursues the truth and hope for reconcilliation.
    ...something like this was off the fly...

  4. I have to agree with K, I came away from this thinking 'no way.' You may just be presenting it from the wrong angle or with the wrong details, but my biggest takeaway from this was that it sounded implausible.

  5. From the log line, it sounds as though this whole story takes place with him in the hospital, and that it's about a man trying to figure things out.

    Nothing/no one is threatening him and he has nothing to lose, because he's already lost it all.

    Perhaps say how he goes about learning the truth which seems to be what the story is about. Does he search out her abductor? Does he delve into her past? Tell us what he actually does.

  6. If you wrote this from the perspective of the nurse caring for a man who is just a little bit too inquisitive, you would avoid all the criticisms above, but then you'd have to rewrite (I think), unless you'll use dual POV. I believe women's fiction and loglines need to be from the woman's POV. Slap me upside my head if I'm wrong.

    The Grey Library title intrigues me. It suggests that accessing his memory whether by him or by her coaching him, pieces together the story via flashbacks.

    I get that he could be recovering these thoughts but maybe it's best to say so instead of "memory-erasing stroke" which leads to confusion in your logline.

    Some suggestion of outside the hospital events needs to be included.

    I like the general idea and would read on but then recommend general literary fiction.

  7. I see this as a character driven story with mostly internal conflict, so I'm not bothered by some things others have cited. Also, I assume the stroke affected his recent memories, but not long past ones.

    But I agree with K, and for the same reasons, that I don't understand how "the words she reads trigger memories that lead Grey to suspect the woman is his daughter ..."

  8. I'm not sure if it's common for women's fiction to have a male MC, but I could be wrong. I think this is a really interesting premise, but I did wonder how he's remembering these things when the first thing you stated is that he had a memory-erasing stroke. Are his memories coming back to him in snatches then?

  9. This feels a bit too focused on the inner goal (fear of rejection). Is anything else going to stop him from just asking her if she's his daughter? We need a serious conflict or antagonist.

  10. At this point I would just clean it up. Take out the "that" and the adverbs. Simplify the plot. A lot is going on for just a logline. It needs to be short and concise.

    The premise is interesting and I think if you use the advise from our critiques you will have a powerful and interesting logline.

  11. Just wanted to say I would love to read this. This sounds great to me. Just make it a little clearer what the conflict is and I think that hook will come through more!

  12. The first question that came to mind for me was how the words she reads trigger memories that would make him suspect she's his daughter. The books are from a list of his favorites so how do they connect to the daughter? I'm also not clear on the conflict & consequence.

    It is an intriguing idea - hope you can make it clearer.

  13. I didn't have many issues with this one. I'm assuming he loses his memory and the memories start to come back due to the reading.

    A few things:
    Should 'aid' be 'aide'? That's how I would spell it but it could be a regional thing.

    I would say 'reads to him from his favourite books'. Otherwise it sounds like she's reading a list of his favourite books, as in, titles and authors.

    Leave out the bit between the em dashes. Your logline is long and we can guess that having a daughter abducted would ruin his life.

    Lastly, I would call this literary, not women's. I'm not sure if you can have a male MC in women's fiction (though I suspect it's more about whether the story will appeal to women than the MC's gender), but I think you'll get more leeway on the conflict if you are writing literary. i.e. literary can be more about the internal conflict than the external. At least that's what I think :-)