Wednesday, October 22, 2014

And a Final Chunk of Logline Wisdom From Holly Bodger

(Feel free to heap accolades, thanks, sycophantic remarks, and promises of your firstborn children for Holly in the comment box!)

1) The most common problem I saw this round was the use of vague or clichĂ© expressions in the place of real details. I think some writers do this because they think it creates intrigue. It doesn’t. When you say something like, “Linda needs to come to terms with her past,” this tells me nothing. Did she cheat on her first boyfriend? Was she abused by her father? Was she a mermaid who sold her voice for the chance of love with a guy with unusually perfect hair? YOU MUST BE SPECIFIC! All stories are pretty much the same without the specifics. The specifics are what makes it SPECIAL!!!

2) A few of you started off with the need (YAY!) For those of you who didn’t, please remember that readers engage with the character’s need, not their goal. That’s why I tell you to put it first. For example, start your logline with, “All Harry wants is to belong,” and I am in for 7 books, 8 movies, and a theme park. Start it with, “All Harry wants is to find the sword with the magic powers,” and I’m mildly interested, but I’m not paying $39 for a fake wand.

3) For those of you who completely ignored the rules of a logline, I’m going to guess that you’re also ignoring this post. If you aren’t, please please please remember that this is not the time and place to try to break the rules. If you can pull it off, please go ahead and break rules and conventions and stereotypes with your story. But don’t do it in your logline. You’re trying to show agents that you are a great writer who will be a pleasure to work with for years to come. Screaming, I DON’T FOLLOW RULES is not really the best way to accomplish this. Yes, you may be the one person who manages to pull it off, but you are a lot more likely to be one of the 99 who doesn’t.

Feel free to email me if you have further questions.

7 comments:

  1. Thank you so much Holly!!! I've already started reworking my logline following your advice, and it's so much stronger. You are amazing for all your help! And of course, thanks Authoress for continuing to host these crits <3

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  2. Thanks so much for your time and expertise on the loglines, Holly. Started revising both MG and my YA logline as well. Authoress, thanks for this opportunity, your time is truly appreciated.

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  3. Thanks once again for all your comments and advice, Holly. I admit I'm very impressed that you can do forty loglines so quickly -- it would take me ages to comment on all of them! :)

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  4. Thanks, Holly! I can see now the big reason why we need to start with the MC's need over their goal. You're awesome for taking the time to help us all get better at this! And Authoress, you're just awesome for what you do for the writing community with all these contests and critique rounds. Thank you!! :)

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  5. I must admit this was an eye-opener for me. I read a different book on writing loglines that gave a different set of "rules" on them. For instance, one complaint I was surprised to get was someone who wanted to know why I didn't name my protagonist when the book I read recommended describing what kind of person they are (for example, "a wizard PI" instead of "Harry Dresden").

    Still, I'll definitely revise my logline and try to add in the things I should've had in it from the start.

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  6. Thank you Holly! I learned a lot.

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  7. If nothing else comes from this, if I'm not selected, and I don't get an agent, I will still, at last, understand what is wanted in a logline, and how to write one- thanks Holly!

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