Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Logline Critique Session Two: #7

TITLE: the magic withheld
GENRE: urban fantasy

Justus is an expert at hiding in plain sight. He is a Wilder, an unrestrained mage, and the Imperium, a secret guild of wizards wants all of them leashed. Hiring a troubled adept linked to the guild is his first mistake. Falling in love with her is the second.


  1. What does Justus want here? What's his goal?

    He hired an agent ... to do what?

    I'm guessing the consequences of failing to do whatever the goal are being "leashed".

    What conflicts are we looking at? Sorcerous battles, dead bodies, summoned demons, tea parties without enough crumpets?

    It sounds like the main character spends the book trying to hide, which isn't a very fun goal to read about unless you convince me it is.

    And I'm willing to be convinced. It sounds like there's a really interesting world behind this logline, but I need a plot to follow.

  2. The first sentence was great. It gives me a great sense of the world I'll be entering. But the last two don't seem to connect to it. Perhaps say how he is threatened personally and why he hires the adept.

  3. This left me very confused. It's tough to introduce this many new terms in just a logline (ie, Wilder, mage, adept). Also, I don't see a goal or consequences and even the conflict is a bit burried. Is it the Imperium or the adept?

  4. Holy world-building Batman! With limited words you can use in a log line, I'd stick to English rather than your made-up, fantasy world language. You can sprinkle that into the query, but at a maximum I'd use only one in the log line.

    For more story goodness, why not tell us why Justus has to hire an "adept" in the first place?

    I think you've got some interesting story elements here, but you'll have to give us the Dick-and-Jane version in the log line so we can follow along.

  5. The second sentence is confusing. Maybe say, "He is n unrestrained mage known as a Wilder, and a secret guild of wizards wants all of Wilders" then maybe replace "leashed" with a clearer word, since I'm not sure if you mean "restrained" (like a leashed dog), "imprisoned," or "killed."

    I wouldn't drop both Wilder and Imperium on us right yet. Too much world-building for a logline.

    Next, what's your conflict? I get that it has something to do with hiding from the Imperium and balancing his love for the adept with his fear of the guild she's a part of, but why did he hire her in the first place? How does it all connect?

    This is a great start!

  6. Wow, I fail at checking my quotes. Okay. What I meant was, "He is an unrestrained mage known as a Wilder, and a secret guild of wizards wants all the Wilders"... then the "leashed" replacement I mentioned above.

    Sorry about that!

  7. I agree with Jess about second sentence, it's confusing, but u can always fix that. The first sentence hooked me. I would difinetly read on. ;-) RubyRed0

  8. I love the first line. From there, I did get confused. In fact, I wasn't sure who the "his" was in second-to-last sentence (thought it might be Imperium but then rereading told me that wasn't so).

    I sense you have a great story here, and hope you can portray it in more straightforward language.

  9. Too many unfamiliar words: Wilder, Imperium, etc. Sentences too short. Too declarative. And too general.

  10. The problem here is that you're relying on terms that you expect us to understand - but we don't. What is an 'unrestrained mage'? And Imperium is a term that is common in fantasy - so your interpretation could mean anything. How is the adept troubled? What is the guild for?

  11. I agree with most of the other commenters. I really like the first sentence and the last two but the second sentence gets weighed down by a lot of unfamiliar words. I particularly like Jess's suggestion on how to fix it.

    Good luck!

  12. Having read lots of fantasy, I think I understand the concept behind the "world-building" words in your logline. I'd agree though that there are a few too many of them in here - perhaps pick the most important (I'd suspect it is "Wilder" and just use that once). I like your first sentence, and with a couple of minor edits as suggested, I think the second will flow much better as well. I think the third sentence is too vague - consider telling why he hired the adept. Was he trying to get her to cast a spell on him so he could hide properly, did he want her to kill the head magician, or what? Also, perhaps just consider calling the adept a "trainee magician/wizard" or a "troubled wizard" (whichever fits best), which would give the same meaning in a form that's easier to understand.

    Just a more general comment for you to think about, but to me the logline makes the story sound as though it is solidly in the fantasy category - the logline doesn't give me any sense of "urban fantasy", which of course has different "understood" requirements as a genre. I'm not sure whether this is a genre point or something that needs tweaking in the logline itself.

    Hope this helps :)

  13. What I'm seeing here is a whole lot of world building and a whole lack of plot building. A logline is about plot more than anything. And plot revolves around Justus's goals, motivation, and conflict. I'd take a more direct approach, i.e. (and this is just a sample, not trying to rewrite for you!):

    When Wilder Justus is hunted by a guild aiming to keep him on a leash, he hires a [better description of the adept] for protection. But this woman brings more danger than safety, especially when Justus lets down his guard while falling for her.

  14. Yup - too many unfamiliar words don't want your readers reaching for the dictionary before they can read chapter one. You also don't mention the real conflict/incident and we're left guessing if it's the Imperium or falling in love w/ the adept? Good concept, though. I'd read it.

  15. I like this, mainly for the voice, but it is somewhat confusing and could be tighter.

    Justus, an expert at hiding in plain sight, is an unrestrained mage, but a secret wizard guild wants them all leashed. Hiring a troubled girl linked to the guild to (reason he hires her) is his first mistake. Falling in love with her is the second.

    (Although I don't think you need "expert at hiding in plain sight" at all because I don't see how that connects to the rest.)