Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Logline Critique Round One #30

TITLE: Thou Shall Not Kill
GENRE: Crime Fiction

Murder for hire isn’t on Lily Birch’s agenda until her father dies, leaving behind a secret debt. Italian mobster, Silvio da Corte is out thirty thousand dollars. If the mild-mannered thirty something can’t repay the money her father borrowed, Lily and her mother are also out the deed to their home.

When Silvio offers to wipe out Lily’s debt, provided she wacks his no good nephew and makes it look like an accident, Lily begins stalking the death-obsessed oddball and his associates; Donal, the ferret-faced serial rapist and Madame Kahn, psychic and notary public.

However, killing someone can be considerably daunting when you’ve got a strong moral compass, a nosy mother, an epileptic dog, and a dysfunctional temp job. Toss in Silvio’s good nephew and a giant-sized undercover cop, who is also one heck of a kisser, and maybe crime really does pay. …Just not in cash.


  1. Bit long for a log line, but I like what you've got except for the confusing: " Lily begins stalking the death-obsessed oddball and his associates; Donal, the ferret-faced serial rapist and Madame Kahn, psychic and notary public.". I don't think you need any of this.

  2. Suggest you slice this 150 words to 100, then dice it to 75. Yes, writing loglines is not easy.

  3. I think this reads more like a query letter pitch than a logline.

    You could probably shorten this to something like: "After her father's death, Lily Birch is left owing $30 grand to the mob. When mobster Silvio offers to wipe out Lily's debt in return for whacking his nephew and making it look like an accident, Lily *specific action or conflict*

    I think you can leave out Donal, Madame Kahn, and most of the last paragraph (unless any of it is the specific conflict).

    This is pretty good as a query pitch, but you have a few spelling/grammar errors: "thirty something" and "no good" should be hyphenated, and "wack" has an h.

    Good luck.

  4. I agree with the others. Focus on her goal (keep the house), her challenge (kill nephew) and the obstacles (morales and nephew's goodness).

    Good luck!

  5. This would be great if it were shorter and punchier, keeping just the parts that will hook us. I do think it's a stretch that someone with a "strong moral compass" agree to perform a hit unless the stakes are really high.

  6. I, too, liked where you were headed; and agree with the others. K Callard's suggestion i dyno-mite.

  7. The concept is great, but I wouldn't kill someone to keep my house...maybe if my mom's life was on the line....

    I like the idea of the psychic notary public...kinda funny...but is it essential for the logline?

  8. I agree that this reads more like a query than a log line, but I like the premise. Good luck.

  9. This is not a logline. This is a query paragraph. That said, I really like it, and I would condense it into something like this.

    When her father's death leaves Lily Birch with a $30,00 debt to Italian mobster, Silvio da Corte, there is only one thing to do - wipe out the debt by whacking da Corte's no good nephew. But being a mob hitwoman can be considerably daunting when you've got a strong moral compass and a nosy mother.

    Not the best, but you get the point.

  10. For a logline, it's just way too long. As a query paragraph(s), it's good and could just use some tightening. While the 3 characters listed in the second paragraph sound interesting, I'm not sure they belong in the query either -- introducing too many characters gets confusing.

    I really liked K Callard's suggestion and the Anonymous above me has some strong points, too.

  11. Good premise! You've got two great examples of how to revise/shorten your logline. Like others have said, your current logline is more of what would appear in a query letter. Think of the logline as what you'd say to an agent or editor in an elevator--the longer it takes you to say it, the less likely they'll hear the whole thing before the doors open.

  12. I also liked K Callard's suggested revision, and I agree with Dale that the stakes need to be higher than losing her house or you have no chance of gaining the reader's sympathy. (Especially if the target is just an oddball. Now if it were the serial rapist, that would be an easier sell!)

  13. I stopped reading at the second sentence. You have three characters mentioned in your first 20 words.

    I actually did keep keeping so I could give feedback, but the number of characters is overwhelming.

    The last paragraph is a bit fluffy. It's just a list of people and situations and doesn't tell me much more about the story.

    The problem with so many characters is that you have to ground them for us with short descriptions (which you do 'death-obsessed', 'ferret-faced', 'giant-sized' and your query becomes a list of adjectives instead of a hook to read more.

    I'd suggest streamlining this way down to the core issue which is really very interesting. Right now your great premise is getting lost in people and unneeded details.

  14. This is too long. What does she want and why can't she have it? What stands in her way? And what will she do to get it?

    And as someone else said, why would she (with her strong moral compass) even consider killing someone to save her house?