Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Logline Critique Round Two #1

GENRE: Lower YA Speculative Adventure

Geneva 2025 - nothing in pogrom-ruled Europe is going to stop fourteen-year-old Thomas and his scientist mother escaping to America. Until he’s snatched from home by a rebel priest and dumped in a hidden monastery in the Italian Alps that is. He’s got exactly 21 days to find out who, why and what makes him the prime candidate to save a bunch of multi-denominational kids from extermination by the state. But then he meets Sylvie and suddenly escape is nothing but a coward’s game.


  1. I don't think you need "that is" in the second sentence. I was a bit confused about the last line. Does the coward's escape refer to the escape to America? The third sentence suggested action not flight.

  2. I think you're trying to fit too much into this. As I understand it, a logline should be one or two sentences.

    I find it hard to suggest specific edits without knowing the story, but here are a couple of thoughts:

    1. I don't get a sense of what Thomas is like. There's a lot of plot here, but no feel for the character. Can you use an apposite word to describe him?

    2. Why is the mother relevant to the core of the story? Or where they want to escape to? Or exactly who snatches Thomas and where they go? My guess is that these elements could be removed from the logline in order to pare it down to the fundamental plot.

    3. Thomas has 21 days to find out why he must be the one to save the kids, but what happens after that? If you mean he has 21 days to save himself and the other kids from being exterminated, it would be better to say so (less wordy and raises the stakes).

    4. By the time you mention escape in the last sentence, Thomas isn't trying to escape any more (as I understand it); he's trying to find out why he has to save the kids. So the last sentence doesn't fit.

    Hope that helps. It sounds like an exciting plot.

  3. I know its HARD to boil your plot down to a few dozen words, but you seem to have some great ingredients here. Perhaps reorder and prioritize?

    Geneva 2025 - 14yo Thomas and his scientist mother are determined to escape pogrom-ruled Europe, but Thomas is snatched en-route and hidden in an ancient alpine monastery with a bunch of other kids. Special kids. From multi-dimensions. And they are set to be exterminated by the gov't if he can't get them out in the next three weeks.

    I don't know the full plot obviously. But I think you can use language to your advantage to build the stakes and up the tension.

  4. I agree with AFE Smith in that it feels like there's a lot more in here than we need. It sounds like the core is that Thomas is snatched and has 21 days to find out why. I'd suggest opening with that, e.g.

    "When fourteen-year-old Thomas is snatched from home by a rebel priest and dumped in a hidden monastery in the Italian Alps, he’s got exactly 21 days to find out ..."

    Or something along those lines.

    And is it that he has 21 days to find out, or 21 days to actually save them? The latter is more dramatic IMO. Could maybe tighten that part.

    Having said all that, the core premise sounds very interesting.

  5. I agree with the others' suggestions on tightening this to increase the tension. I especially like the new first sentence Amelia suggested.

    Maybe you could do something like this:
    Geneva 2025: 14yo Thomas and his scientist mother are determined to escape pogrom-ruled Europe, but Thomas is snatched en-route and hidden in an ancient alpine monastery with a bunch of multi-denominational kids. He’s got 21 days to find out why and how to save them all from extermination by the state.

  6. Once again, I'm sure your tired of hearing this but: simplify simplify simplify.

    Character, Problem, Complication, Stakes, Goal.

    Multidimentional traveler, Thomas ______ and his mother need to escape pogrom-ruled Europe, but he is kidnapped en route and now must solve the mystery of his own kidnapping within 21 days or he and other victims will be exterminated.

  7. You've got most of what you need here, but it needs to be re-worked a little. It sounds like the goal of this book is for Thomas to get out of the monastery so he can move to America with his mother (the moving to America is the motivation, not the goal of the plot). Finding out the who and why and what sound like complications although I would question whether or not he needs to just find out these things rather than do something about them (ie save the kids). Sylvie is a further complication because it sounds like she wants him to stay (but you need to come out and say this...also why would he care if she thinks he's a coward?) The part about escaping being a coward's game only makes sense if you start by telling us why he needs to move to America ASAP.

    Good luck!

  8. Picky question: can a place be ruled by pogroms? It could be pogrom-ravaged, or destabilized by pogroms, perhaps, but my understanding is that pogroms are about purging undesirable populations, not controlling them.

    The phrase has me curious about who is perpetrating the pogroms and who is being targeted. From the little information here, I don't know whether the government is going after scientists or religious people, and whether it is all religions or only certain ones. I would maybe try to make that clearer and leave Sylvie out.

  9. I second Rebecca's concern about "pogrom-ruled." I had the same reaction.

    Also, you may want to reconsider the use of the phrase "multi-denominational" because it's causing some confusion. Several people seem to have read it as "multi-dimensional." I did too at first glance. Not surprising given that this is genre fiction with a sci-fi bent (I assume that's what "speculative adventure" means.) If you actually meant "multi-dimensional," you need to fix your wording. If you meant "from many religions," it might be better to re-phrase.

  10. I got stuck at "multi-denominational, too, wondering what it meant. But over all, I think this sounds very intriguing, and sinister. :)