Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Logline Critique Round 1 #36

TITLE: Serenity's Children
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Miriam has lived her entire sixteen years within the secluded Serenity’s Children cult. When their leader forces her into marriage with a virtual stranger instead of the boy she loves, she begins to question the beliefs of her society. She fears that happiness may mean leaving behind everything she's ever known. But when their leader begins to preach about the coming apocolypse, it is more than just her happiness at stake.


  1. There's a lot going on there. It's a bit cumbersome. And the stakes don't seem high enough. Are things the leader is preaching about starting to happen? Or is he just talking?

    Definitely drop the word virtual unless the man was found online (but then make that clear).

  2. This is a bit too long. I think you can entirely cut the sentence that starts "She fears. .."
    Instead of "marriage with a virtual stranger" consider "arranged marriage. "
    FYI, I noticed a few agents on MSWL last week mentioning interest in cult stories. Good luck!

  3. I think this concept is great, but the writing is lackluster, and the pitch needs to be...punchier.

    Condense. Perhaps start with a line about Miriam's leader forcing her into marriage with a boy she doesn't love, and that being a spark for her to realize her life isn't what she thinks. Then make the last line a great sinker about the "coming apocalypse," and Miriam having to make a choice soon before her life is on the line.

    Hope this helps!

  4. I think you'll have a punchier logline if you replace the vague statements, such as:

    "She fears that happiness may mean leaving behind everything she's ever known." If she's plotting to run away, say it.

    "it is more than just her happiness at stake." Are there signs of an apocalypse or is she worried about the brainwashing going on in the cult?

  5. Totally into this concept--a look inside a creepy cult is compelling.

    My suggestion is to cut this in half. See if you can show the most detail with the fewest words, making each phrase count. This level of detail is good for a query, but paring down will show the essentials.

    Here is my try:

    Sixteen-year-old Miriam questions the secluded Serenity's Children commune she grew up in when their leader forces her into marriage with a stranger. But challenging the leader means [x = exile?] and leaving the boy she truly loves [y = possibly a detail on him].

    I replaced cult with commune because, does she know it's a cult? I think the reader gets that it's a cult without saying it outright given the other detail, it's implied that Miriam is indoctrinated in this world if she's only now questioning, and she lives communally with a dictator-like leader who can command marriage. Make sure to name what is at stake rather than hint at it, that will set your story apart. Good luck!

  6. I agree the writing needs to be punchier. Throw in some scrummy adjectives! Great concept! Don't lose heart! We're supposed to be critical...
    Just Jill

  7. You can put a lot of the important elements into one sentence:

    16y/o Miriam questions her beliefs when the leader of the Serenity’s Children commune arranges her marriage to a stranger.

    I think the rest will depend on whether there's any evidence or apparent truth in the end of the world talk. What does she have to do? What will happen if she doesn't?

  8. Ooooh, a cult story!

    For a logline, I think you're trying to explain too much of the story. There appear to be two separate plots here: forced marriage vs. love + a coming apocalypse. Reading between the lines: is her choice flee vs. stay? Can she stop the apocalypse by staying? Tell what's at stake.

    The premise is interesting, and I think YA readers will grab it.

  9. I think the logline you posted on KT Crowley's blog was good. This one feels more formal and also more like a fantasy ('cause you bring up the apocalypse).

  10. This sounds like an awesome concept, and you've had some great suggestions about how to really make it shine. We get who she is, but what's at stake here? Is the only consequence not being with the guy she loves? What's this coming apocalypse? Mystery for a pitch can be very effective, but a logline should be a bit more hard-hitting and specific. :) Good luck! Sounds like an awesome story!

  11. I agree that the premise sounds interesting, but what you have here is too long for a logline. Something like SueJay's suggestion is probably closer to the mark, though I rather like Stephsco's two-sentence version that includes a reference to the boy she loves.

    I would also second the comment that you shouldn't use the term 'cult' because I'm pretty sure that isn't how Miriam would see it herself. (At least, not until she gets away from the group and looks back on her experience afterwards.)

  12. This sounds like a very long set up that doesn't end in a goal. I assume she is going to want to escape from this cult? If so, this needs to be established here and then you need to tell us why this will be difficult. If this is not the goal, you need to make it clear what is (and happiness can't be a goal because it's not tangible).

    Good luck!

  13. Unfortunately, questioning her beliefs isn't compelling, nor is preaching about a supposed apocalypse.

    Perhaps keep the part about the leader forcing her to marry a stranger, because that's the catalyst that sets things in motion, but add whatever the results of his preaching are, or will be.

    For example, there was that cult who believed the end was coming with the arrival of the comet Haley-Bop, or aliens were going to take them away, I don't really remember, but they all drank something that poisoned and killed them.

    What terrible thing will happen to your MC if she sticks around? If she wants to escape just to marry the boy she loves, then you don't need to mention the preaching about the apocalypse. If she wants to escape with the boy she loves because something is going to happen because of the preaching, then keep it and tell us what that something is.