Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Logline Critique, Round 3 #14

TITLE: The Secret History
GENRE: Historical Fiction

Theatre tart turned courtesan, Theodora captures the Emperor’s love (or lust) and is forced to choose between her children, either protecting the son the Emperor can never know about or saving the daughter she scarcely knows.


  1. I'd clarify that the Emperor's son is also hers.

    Had to reread to figure it out that it's not just the Emperor's child and her daughter to worry about, but her own son and daughter--sort of a Sophie's Choice moment. Clarify that, ans we'll be hooked.

  2. What's causing her to have to choose? Are either of them his kids? I'm left a little so-so just because I don't get a sense of how they're connected with the emporer. It's clearly a good concept, though.

  3. I think this is intriguing, for sure. And does its job. But I don't like the (or lust) part. And why does she have to choose between her children. That isn't clear and I don't understand why she must. I think that does need to be clarified.

  4. If this is historical fiction, definitely work in the time/place it's set.

  5. The (or lust) set this up as comedic for me, so I was surprised at the serious nature further on. I also want to know WHY she has to decide between her children, and it took a second read to figure out the emperor's son was also her own.

    Sounds like a compelling read. Good luck!

  6. This read a bit confusing to me, but, it may be just me! I agree with T.L.--why does she have to choose? Also, I'm a bit confused at the "is forced to choose between her children, either protecting her son the Emperor can never know about or saving the daughter she scarcely knows." Do you mean there are three choices? Or that "is forced to choose between her children--the son no one, much less the Emperor, can ever know about, or the daughter she scarce knows."?

    Good luck! :)

  7. I agree with Julianna. I had to reread everything after -or lust - multiple times because it just didn't flow very well. Would a semi-colon work better after children, because she has just two, right? The son the Emperor doesn't know about and the daughter she doesn't know. Maybe some rewording and punctuation, along with the advice above, and I think it would be solid!

  8. I'm a little lost. So the story starts when she captures his love and he forces her to choose between her children? If so, why? Also, why does she need to make this choice? Why can't she keep both or why can't she just tell him to take a long walk off a short plank? Or hide? If your entire plot is based on her inability to choose, you are going to need to make her reasons for not choosing extremely strong.

    Good luck!

  9. This logline made me think of the parent in Sri Lanka (as best I can remember), who had to let go of one of her two children during a tsunami because she couldn't save them both. If that's the sort of choice your MC has to make, bring out the horror of the situation. Knowing a bit more about the setting might help with this. As it stands, the tone of the first half of your logline contradicts the seriousness of the second.

    I also wonder if you might want to rethink your title, because I immediately thought of Donna Tartt's novel of the same name. Completely different genre, but literary agents would likely make the same connection.