The Perfect Logline


Have you ever been asked, “so, what’s your book about?” and found yourself scrambling to explain your characters and storylines only to end up making excuses about how hard it is to sum up hundreds of pages? You might have become a deer in the headlights and have been avoiding mentioning your book ever since. 


Or maybe you are having trouble getting your story on paper (or computer) and midway you realize that spark of an idea you had is fizzling out. Your dream of pitching your book idea to an agent or editor is fading just as fast.


The power of a logline shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s one of the first steps in bringing an idea to life. If you

cannot summarize your story in one or two sentences than you don’t have a story period.  Not knowing what the central conflict is or what your main character wants is a big problem.


If you are a pantster who likes to write first and see where the story takes you later, you may find writing a logline to be unnecessary. However, I encourage you to at least give it a try as a logline will help keep you from wandering too far from your original story idea.


The Main Components of a Logline

Your logline will need to contain at least three things in a single summary:


1. The protagonist (the main character) 2. The conflict (the situation or crisis they are facing)

3. The goal (what do they want or need?)


Asking yourself the following question can help guide you through the process of creating a logline:


1. Who is your main character?

2. What do they want or need?

3. Who or what is standing in their way?


After brainstorming, try and put your answers together in a cohesive sentence. I recommend using a thesaurus to replace dull or boring words with vivid ones. Try to keep the logline simple, again something you can easily sum up in one or two sentences.


Here is an example using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone if you are having difficulties crafting your premise:


1. Who is your main character?

Harry Potter

orphan


2. What do they want or need to do?

Accepted to Hogwarts

Train to be a wizard


3. Who or what is standing in their way?

He Who Must Not Be Named


The finished logline:

An orphan boy attends a magical school to become a wizard but must battle for his life against the dark lord who murdered his parents.


Popular Movies as Examples


I recommend checking out streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime video for what a good logline looks like. If you don’t have access to those services here are a few recognizable movies as examples:


The Hangover : When three friends (protagonist) finally wake up after a wild bachelor party, they can’t locate their best friend (conflict), who’s supposed to be tying the knot (goal).


Stardust : A love-struck lad (protagonist) goes to another realm to capture a fallen star (goal).  He can handle a witch, but a cross-dressing pirate? (conflicts)


A Wrinkle in Time : Years after their father disappears (conflict), Meg and her younger brother Charles Wallace (protagonist) cross galaxies on a quest to save him from the heart of darkness (goal).


In the examples above you can see that the order of the main components (protagonist, goal, conflict) don’t always appear in the same order.  If you are having difficulty writing your logline try switching the order of the components around.


So, You've Written a Logline. Now What?


Memorize it! The next time someone asks you what your book is about you’ll be able to recite it immediately and with confidence.  If you’ve followed the steps outlined above it should make them want to know more or ask when your book will be available for purchase.


You could also write or print it out and post it above your writing desk. Make it the wallpaper or screensaver on your computer.   Share it with your followers and readers on social media to help generate excitement about your work in progress.


Congrats, you are now on your way to becoming a future author!

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