Thursday, October 9, 2014

More Logline Wisdom From Holly Bodger

Just so you know--I don't ask Holly to write these things.  She just...writes them.  And sends them to me.  And then I post them for you.

As ever, her words are chock-full of wisdom.


I saw two common problems with the loglines in this group:

1. Order. Much like with your novel, there are reasons why we need to see the NEED and then the INCITING INCIDENT and then the GOAL and then the OBSTACLES. A lot of these loglines had these elements, but many were out of order. This isn’t a huge problem, however the loglines are stronger when they come in the order that has the greatest effect. Also, remember that these loglines are like an ad for your novel and you (the writer). If an agent/editor sees a weird order in a logline, they might start to wonder if your book is all over the place, too. YOU DON’T WANT THAT! Final note: if you are struggling with the order of elements in your novel, get a copy of Save the Cat. It’s a wonderful tool I still use during revision (I know Authoress loves it, too!)

2. Goal not connected to obstacles. This one is really important: your obstacles have to stand in the way of the main character reaching the goal. So, if your main character’s goal is to win a soccer trophy at a tournament tomorrow, the obstacles must prevent the character from going to the tournament, or playing well, or winning. While it might suck for this character to find out her prom dress is going to be the wrong color, this would not be an obstacle to her goal.

Finally, there was only one question in all 40 loglines so I thank you for giving the poo-flinger a break!


  1. Thanks so much for this and taking time to comment, Holly! Save the Cat is my tool of choice, as well-cuts through the fog and keeps it simple. Thanks, Authoress for all you do! I got so much help and think my longline is far better now.

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this Holly! I've already revised my log line twice based on your and other comments, and definitely feel it is much stronger. You and Authoress are awesome, thanks for all you do.

  3. I took notes on this and with some of the other comments. It really is tough to get all the right elements in a succinct pitch.

  4. Many thanks, Holly. Your guidance has been so helpful. I've revised my log line numerous times in the past few days, thanks to you, and it's clearly improved.

    Here's another question: what's the overlap between a log line and typical query content?

    Thanks again, for your great help!

  5. Shelley: a query blurb should be almost identical except you get a higher word count so you can explain each element more. While I might use two sentences for a logline (one for NEED, II and GOAL and another for OBSTACLES and STAKES), in a query, I would give each item its own sentence. This means you have more opportunity to slip in information about the setting/world. It also gives you more opportunity to show your voice (although some people manage to do this in a logline as well).

    This is one of the reasons I think the logline is such an important foundation. Once you have it, you can use it for a query, a synopsis or an outline.

  6. Thanks so much for spelling this out, Holly. I'll print your post and refer to it as I fine-tune my query. Thank you!