The how-can-she-be-so-amazing Holly Bodger, after having critiqued this week's 40 loglines, offered to write up her thoughts to help you all as you continue to grind your loglines into submission. Of course I immediately took her up on it. Here are her golden nuggets:
1. The point of a logline is to explain what your character wants and why it will be difficult for him to achieve it. It helps to pepper in a few interesting details about your character and setting, but only if they are necessary. A logline is not supposed to summarize your plot or explain your concept.
2. PLEASE SAVE MY SANITY AND DO NOT ASK QUESTIONS IN YOUR LOGLINE! If someone said, “What’s your book about?” you would not answer with, “What do YOU think it’s about?” Well, maybe you would, but if you said this to me, I’d want to fling poo at you. Questions are great for taglines. Save them for those.
3. A lot of loglines seem to be confusing the goal and the need. The need is the thing the character wants before the book starts (ie, a friend). The goal is the thing the character decides to go get at the beginning of the story. While the goal must fulfil the need, it is not the same thing.
4. Speaking of goals, they must be tangible. The goal is the thing that, when reached, means the story is done. The reader will never know when the character “reaches inner peace”. They will know when the character finds out who killed his dog. This is not to say that finding inner peace is not important. This is what I meant about the need. Your character NEEDS inner peace and finding out who killed his dog is the GOAL that will accomplish this.
5. BE SPECIFIC. You have 2-3 sentences to show agents why your book is special and special is in the specifics. Half of the books in my library could be defined as “girl who wants to find love”. You need to show why your girl is different and why her journey to find love is not like the rest.
6. Finally (and this is the most important one), remember that loglines are hard to write for everyone (including me)! I firmly believe that you can pants an entire novel as long as you have a perfect logline. If you cannot make your story fit into the required elements of a logline, then maybe you need to re-think whether or not your story has the required elements, full stop.