Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Logline Critique Round Three #3

TITLE: The Death Clock
GENRE: Literary/Psychological Thriller

Everyone grows up knowing the date when they will die, but not everyone tells the truth about their death-date. When lawyer Jonathan dies without warning, he leaves two women clues to a secret that could end his amoral uncle Asher’s government career. But there’s a problem – one woman is helpless with grief, and the other is Asher’s new wife.


  1. This is definitely an intriguing concept. But is it science fiction as well? How does everyone know the date they're going to die (I love that by the way - what does that do to how a person chooses to live their lives?). However, as a logline, this feels a bit disconnected. I'm not sure there is enough of a tie between that very interesting concept and Jonathan's leaving clues. Maybe the problem is that the hero of the logline - Jonathan - is dead! Who is the hero of the book? If it's one of the women, perhaps the logline needs to focus on her. Or if the plot moves back and forth, make Jonathan more active in it. But it sounds like it could be pretty good. Good luck.

  2. The "without warning" confused me. Do you mean that he didn't know he was going to die or that he didn't tell others? I think it's the latter but I can't tell for sure.

    Aside from that, I don't see the connection between this and his uncle or the death date for that matter. I also can't tell who the main character is and can't see any goals for any of these characters. I'd suggest you re-word this using the formula:

    When [INCITING INCIDENT] happens, [MAIN CHARACTER] realizes he/she must [GOAL], but if he/she doesn't [LIST OF OBSTACLES], he/she [STAKES/WHAT HE/SHE HAS TO LOSE].

    Once you have plugged your pieces into the formula, you can re-word so it better fits your voice.

    Good luck!

  3. I really like the premise here, though I am curious how they know their death date -- is this alternate reality? Futuristic sci-fi?

    I had a little trouble with the line: When lawyer Jonathan dies...
    I felt like his last name was missing, and it made the sentence a little disjointed for me.

    Also, I wonder if he is still the MC but a ghost or if the story and logline should focus on the women.

  4. I agree that you need to focus the logline on the MC. I'm guessing that is one of the women affected by Jonathan's death. If so, you might start out by saying, "When MC's (husband? lover?) dies without warning, she's left with a series of clues that could end the career of a powerful, dangerous man." And then say whether she wants to pursue those clues, why (what does she get out of it?), what obstacles she faces, and what happens if she fails. Of course, this is assuming that following the clues is actually your story. Whatever it is, I'm fascinated by everyone knowing their death dates and how the affects the story.

  5. Guys, thanks. It's not sci-fi; the knowledge of death-date is just an awareness of time that people are born with, which I've clarified in my first chapter. Jonathan dies early on, but remains a strong presence throughout the novel. His ex, Kit, is probably the real MC. Does this sound clearer?:

    Everyone is born with the ingrained knowledge of when they'll die, but not everyone tells the truth about their death-date. Kit's ex dies without warning her, leaving her a watch, but she's too grief-flattened to give much thought to its odd inscription. However, as Jonathan's tight political family closes around her and more close friends die, Kit realises he's left her a clue to a closely-guarded government secret: death is not as predictable as it seems.

  6. I would like this better if you omitted the first sentence. The rest of the passage is interesting and isn't dependent upon the odd notion about knowledge of death. Maybe you do clarify that point in your first chapter, but it sounds too complex to explain here. Also, since you say Kit is the MC, then don't deflect that focus from her.

  7. I had the same thought as Georgia Girl before I even opened the comments box. Alternatively, you can go at it more like:
    "In a world where everyone knows the day they'll die, Jonathon decides to hide his death date to take down his uncle's amoral governmental dealings"....or something to that effect....

  8. I like your second logline more but it is still a bit confusing. What is Kit's goal? What are the stakes? Also, you mention Jonathan's name out of the blue. Without knowing that he was Kit's ex the logline is confusing.