Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Logline Critique Round 1 #29

TITLE: Thou Shalt Not Kill
GENRE: Crime Fiction

A series of regrettable events have led temporary secretary Lily Birch to moonlight as a calculating, desperate hitman. Killing her target means she gets to keep her house. Choosing the moral high ground means, well, low income housing might be an option; that or a nice cardboard box.


  1. Drop "A series of regrettable events" and start with Lily moonlighting as a hit man, then put in the so-what. The story sounds like it could be interesting, but the logline is too heavy with words that don't help.

  2. I agree with the above poster on the "regrettable events" part. My issue is that the voice is comical and great, but the content is dark, and those clash, making me wonder what the story actually IS.

  3. Calculating and desperate don't go together for me. I like the cardbord box, but juxtaposed with low income housing made the stakes sound fake to me. I would like to know why this is her only option.

  4. I agree with the comments above; I wasn't quite sure how serious this was; moonlighting as a hitman means killing people, which is intense, but the stakes--killing to keep out of low-income housing seems not so realistic. Is the tone more like a Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum books) where it's plucky bounty hunter with wacky side characters, or is this darker and more serious?

    I feel like this is almost there, but the tone needs to show what type of book this is. If it's a bit lighter, maybe show whether the target is a "bad" person; like if the target swindled or exploited innocent people it might show more sensitivity to your MC. Then you could pose a question like, "is killing her target worth escaping living in a cardboard box?" I feel like the motivation needs to be more than just housing, like maybe she is doing "right" by killing a criminal.

    If these details are clear in the pitch I think that will help.

  5. MC=Lily
    Inciting incident=?(regrettable events is too vague.)
    Conflict=Kill someone
    Goal=Keep her house
    Consequences=Low income housing

    By the tone of this, I think you mean it to be funny. Killing someone to keep out of low income housing is a pretty shallow motive.

    I'm guessing that her true conflict is really a moral one. What she needs is to find an alternative to killing someone and still keep her house.

    So her goal is to keep her house without harming anyone. The way this reads, is perhaps, not what you really mean.

    Get the basic statement down first, and then adjust a few words to achieve your humorous tone.

  6. I agree with omitting "regrettable events," as well as, "calculating, desperate..."
    What makes a hit person desperate?

  7. This isn't bad but we need a bit more information on the internal conflict as it seems like this is all about money and that doesn't make her very sympathetic. Is there another reason she needs to do this? Does she have children who will starve?

    Good luck!

  8. It may just be me, but the shallowness of her conundrum already makes her unsympathetic as most decent people would rather live in cardboard than kill an innocent. I'm assuming you've solved this problem in your manuscript, but a hint at that solution here might be helpful.

    The previous comments regarding the real issue being her moral dilemma are dead on, as are the comments on the tone seeming comic -- is it?

    Not only do we need to know mc, stakes, roadblocks, and stakes, we also have to make sure that our mc is someone we care about.

  9. I think this log line shows your MC as one shallow person, which probably won't help you sell this. If this is humorous crime fiction, make it evident. If it isn't, perhaps something more should be at risk than possibly becoming homeless.

  10. This is a well-constructed logline (except for the beginning, which is too vague). My problem is the content. I recently had to short-sell my house to avoid a foreclosure. 1) We didn't end up in a cardboard box or even low-income housing, and 2) we never once considered becoming hitmen in order to keep the house. Also, as moral high ground goes, not getting paid to kill people seems pretty low. There are lots of stories about innocent people forced to do bad things, but they usually involve people with guns to their heads (literally) or whose children have been kidnapped. So if your MC has a more gut-wrenching motivation, I want to see it in the logline or I'm not going to have much sympathy.