Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Logline Critique Round 1 #3

TITLE: Satellite Hearts
GENRE: YA Sci-Fi Thriller

Sixteen-year-old Zahra Mbali is a programmable human: she can’t love, cry or remember stuff. Her only purpose is to kill. Until Zahra serves that purpose, she cannot die. But she’s programmed by her father to explode. She only has 21 days until she detonates to find out why.


  1. The programmable human is a strong hook, and I also liked "Her only purpose is to kill."

    However, "stuff" is a rather weak, meaningless noun. I'm assuming the "stuff" is Zahra's past and the knowledge of why her father programmed her to explode, rather than, say, short-term memory. Specifics there would be good.

    Also a bit confused about Zahra not being able to die unless she kills, yet her father programmed her to explode in 21 days. Wouldn't that kill her anyway?

    I understand that explaining everything may take too long for long line purposes, so consider leaving out "Her only purpose is to kill. Until Zahra serves that purpose, she cannot die."

    Good luck!

  2. I agree with Amanda that you have a strong hook; I'm intrigued! It's definitely an interesting concept.

    The "she can't love, cry or remember stuff" confused me a bit. As a programmable human (another slightly vague concept that intrigues me, so I'll let it slide), is she capable of feeling any emotion at all?

    The line "Her only purpose is to kill" is definitely hook-y, but it also makes me picture an assassin rather than a living bomb. That is, it made me trip on the next sentence, because I was expecting her to be an assassin-killing machine, not a one-hit wonder.

    I would suggest a reword for the latter part of this especially, and that you answer the "Why now?" question -- not why is her dad blowing her up (because that's a fascinating mystery as it is!), but why did she find out about her detonation just three weeks before it happened? What's so important about her solving this NOW, instead of earlier?

    Good luck! Like I said, this is definitely intriguing; the log line just needs a little tweaking :)

  3. DOn't like "stuff". Very weak word. Make sure to include as many "power" words as possible

    You imply that dying is a good thing for the MC? Is it? Why?
    And why has her father programmed her to explode? If she can't die, she shouldn't explode, correct?
    That's confusing and needs some clarification and reasoning. Otherwise, a good start.

  4. I like everything about the opening line except the "stuff". Be more specific. We don't care about stuff.

    Next, I don't understand what you mean by "serves that purpose" and how this connects to her exploding. Are you saying that her father has programmed her to explode after she kills a certain person? If so, why will she explode in 21 days if she doesn't kill? And why doesn't she want to kill? Does she have some feelings? Will she learn to love or cry if she finds out why he programmed her to explode?

    Good luck!

  5. But if she can't feel emotion, why does it matter? I need to understand the stakes of the story.

  6. I agree with the above. You had me until "stuff". I'm also confused about not being able to die, and yet, she's going to explode in 21 days? So, seeing as she's not human human (I think), does this mean she'll survive the blast as a head, arm, and half a torso left to wander the globe and continue to kill? Eek!
    If she can't remember, how does she know who to kill? When to take a shower? To look both ways before crossing a road?
    As far as having a father, does this mean she is a real human with some sort of brain implant to make her programmable or is her 'father' really a mad scientist type who assembled her?
    I'd cut it down to bare bones. The less I know the more I want to know.
    "Sixteen-year-old Zahra Mbali is a programmable human: she can't love, cry or remember. Her only purpose is to kill. Until she serves that purpose, she cannot die. There is only one obstacle keeping her from finding lasting peace: her father."
    Eh, or something like that.

  7. My first concern may be a story problem rather than a logline problem. If she can't feel or love, how am I going to connect to her? Why should I care what happens to her?

    Aside from that, it's an interesting concept. I had some of the same questions zolosolo did about what it means for her to have a father. And if she was going to die after she killed someone, what does it matter that she's going to explode?

    I'm not sure how to fix this because I don't know enough of the story, but I hope these questions point you in a helpful direction.

  8. I agree with the other comments on "stuff" reading as awkward. Especially with the next line which is so powerful.

    I also wondered if she can't love or feel emotions, how will readers connect? I guess it would have to do with how the story is constructed, but showing a hint of humanity would be an interesting aspect to the pitch; "she can't love, cry, or hold on to memories--except for one fleeting thought of..." But that really has to do with your story not your pitch.

    I do agree if there is a way to concisely say what has changed so that Zahra now knows she was programmed to explode, what is the inciting incident?

    Intriguing concept! I'm sure it's tough to fit it all into a pitch.

  9. Love the concept and the idea of a programmable human who can't feel or remember (though I wonder why someone who seems to be something like a robot can't remember-- machines don't forget. I also wondered whether she's going to explode if she kills someone and how those two connect. She's programmed to kill, but she's also a ticking bomb. Those two things seem to go against each other a bit. I think this is an intriguing concept, though.

  10. I think your voice is off in this logline. It is a little cold and lifeless and the word "stuff" also was quite jarring for me. It needs to be cleaned up and polished quite a bit, too. Push yourself. You can do it! If she's programmable, her purpose is the purpose of whoever is programming her. She can die. She'll die when she explodes. I think you mean that she cannot be executed for her crime. "To Find Out Why" was also very weak for me. Make us feel it. Why doesn't she just climb in a hole and wait to explode? What is really driving her? Does she feel?

  11. I think, Sasha, commenter above, asked great questions. I feel like most of the commenters about "stuff." You have an awesome concept here. You need to make the logline shorter and punchier. It needs to reach out and grab the reader.