I write stuff for kids...and muse on writing, children's books, and the publishing industry in general

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Evolution of a Logline... (*please help*)


My logline has been through a number of changes over the last few months.

Pitch

It all started when I entered an agent pitch contest over on Market My Words. I was the joint winner of that contest (here's my post about it), and I received a fantastic query critique from the awesome Mary Kole. Here's the pitch I submitted for that contest:

When misfit Verity is brutally murdered by the boy she loves, she awakens to find herself filled with deadly new powers, uncontrollable rages, and an unquenchable desire for vengeance.

First Logline

Last week, I was lucky enough to be given a spot in Miss Snark's First Victim's Logline Critique (here). This is the logline I submitted for that critique:

When misfit Verity is brutally murdered by the boy she loves, she awakens to find herself filled with uncontrollable rages and an unquenchable desire for vengeance. And if she doesn’t find a way to harness her hatred and her deadly new powers---soon---she won’t be able to stop killing, not even the one person who may save her.

Revised Logline

I received some fantastic suggestions for amendments from the MSFV Critique session, and revised my logline to the following:

When misfit Verity is brutally murdered by the boy she loves, she becomes a ghost with telekinetic powers, the ability to burn her victims, and an unquenchable desire for vengeance. Her search for her killer and her increasing body-count stretch her sanity to the limits, and unless she can find a way to regain control of herself, more innocent people—including the one boy who can still see her—will die.

As you can see, this version gives a lot more detail about my plotline.

Current Logline

Based on your fantastic suggestions from this Logline Blogfest (thanks so much!), my logline now reads as follows:

When misfit Verity is brutally murdered by the boy she loves, she becomes a ghost with deadly new powers, the ability to burn her victims, and an unquenchable desire for vengeance. The search for her killer and an increasing body-count stretch her sanity to the limits, and unless she finds a way to regain control of herself, more innocent people—including the one person who can still see her—will die.

My New Challenge - Creating a Rockin' One-Sentence Pitch

What I'm trying to do now is shorten my two-sentence logline into a rockin' one-sentence pitch that gives more info than my first attempt. If I start again with my "older" one-sentence pitch, and add a few things, I get:

When misfit Verity becomes a ghost after being brutally murdered by the boy she loves, her deadly new powers and an unquenchable desire for vengeance lead to an increasing body-countif she fails to regain control, more innocent people will die, including the one person with the power to save her from herself.

Hmm, what do you think???

If you want to have a squiz at some posts on loglines, check out here and here.

I'm taking part in Steena Holmes's Logline Contest, so check out the other entrants here. Don't join in ok - I want the prize for myself (*winks*). All right, all right, I'm only joking (*grins*).

Can't wait to hear what you think of my new logline and work-in-progress pitch.

49 comments:

Rachel Morgan said...

Firstly - very impressive to sum up an entire novel in so few words! Well done!

Secondly - I think the only thing I can suggest is about the word "transform". That sounds like the body itself transformed into a ghost but doesn't she look over and see her own body as separate from her ghost-self? I don't know, is there a different way to say that?

Oh there's another thing I just saw, it's one of those where if you just read it differently it can mean something different! It's the "even more innocent people" part. I think you mean that more innocent people will die, but it could also read as: the people who will die are more innocent than the people who already died. Um... do you get what I'm saying?!
People will probably understand what you mean though...

Ok, I'm gonna stop now!

Rachael Harrie said...

Ooh, thanks Rachel, I totally get what you're saying. And great point about the "transform" bit - I'll change that to "becomes a ghost" I think.

I'm going to edit my post to pop your suggested changes in :)

The Golden Eagle said...

Great logline! Wow. It's not easy to sum up an entire novel like that. I was a little confused by the "her search for her killer and increasing body-count" part of it--when I first read it, I almost thought that she was looking for a body count, not just killing. Maybe a "and the increasing" instead?

Joanna St. James said...

am sorry I cant really help am just impressed and happy to see a pitch.

gideon 86 said...

Hey Rach,

Great job on the loglines and thanks for the info on the contest. I just tweaked a few things on it. Use what you will. All of yours are really strong and Congrats on getting mentioned in Miss Snarks! I didn't make the cut.


When misfit Verity is brutally murdered by the boy she loves, she becomes a ghost with telekinetic powers with the ability to burn her victims and quench her desire for vengeance. Searching for her killer and the increasing body-count stretches her sanity to the limits, and unless she finds a way to regain control of herself, innocents- including the one boy who can still see her-will die.

Good luck in the contest!

Michael

Colene Murphy said...

Have nothing to add to change it, just wanted to let you know how impressive that logline is! And how awesome your novel sounds!

Madeleine said...

Hi Rach, I liked the opening: 'When misfit Verity is brutally murdered by the boy she loves, she awakens to find herself filled with uncontrollable rages and an unquenchable desire for vengeance. Her search for her killer and her increasing body-count stretch her sanity to the limits.Unless she can find a way to regain control of herself more innocent people, including the one boy who can still see her, will die' :O)

Steena Holmes said...

I love your logline - loved it the first time I read it on MSFV and love what you did with it - it's more powerful now. My only thought was ... the boy she loves and the boy who can still see her - my first thought is that they are the same boy but then realize he's included in the 'innocent' part. Can you differentiate a bit between the two? I think it's just the similar wording that catches me.

Good luck on the contest ;) And thanks for spreading the word!

Kristina Fugate said...

Very powerful. I can't suggest anything to add or change, though. It's awesome just the way it is. I'd love to read your book :D

Quinn said...

Love the logline and I definitely want to read more.

Quinn said...

Love the logline and I definitely want to read more.

Rachael Harrie said...

Hey guys, thanks so much for your comments, I really appreciate your input ;) I'll make a few tweaks to the logline above in line with your thoughts.

Rach

L'Aussie said...

That is so hard to do - write such a short logline. Congrats on being joint winner of the contest and it's great that you've received such good feedback. Your story sounds intriguing. Good luck with the next one..:)

Huntress said...

I like a mixture of the first and second pitch. It peaked my interest with its subtle mystery.

The last one...I don't know. I think there is a point where 'too much information' comes into play.

Laura Pauling said...

It depends on how detailed you want the logline to be. The first one that Mary Kole chose definitely gives the reader a feel for the story without revealing too much. But others might like the details of the last one. It's up to you. I like revenge stories, so would like either. I'm just wondering if the second sentence on your last one, is too wordy? Can the same thing be said with less words? Super job!

vbtremper said...

Hi Rach,

Very interesting to see the evolution. I remember seeing your logline on MSFV last week and the comments that resulted in your latest version. You definitely address those criticisms. I also noticed that you've gotten longer and longer, probably becuase people asked for more detail.

You've definitely hooked me. My only comment is super nit-picky. This phrase doesn't flow, I think because of the repetitive pronouns:

"Her search for her killer and her increasing body-count stretch..."

Great job! Good luck!
Vicki

lbdiamond said...

Wow! Nice job! Thanks for sharing you logline's transformation.

Jamie said...

This is really great and it definitely makes me interested in Verity and what is happening with her. I think you could maybe look at changing out some of the uses of "her" like vbtremper says. It's a bit repetitive and distracting.

Maybe something like "A search for her killer and an increasing body count stretch Verity's sanity to the limits"...you get the idea. But it's a really good logline, nicely done!

Nicole Zoltack said...

I love this logline and would definitely read the story. I would just tighten:

When misfit Verity is brutally murdered by the boy she loves, she becomes a ghost with the ability to burn her victims, and an unquenchable desire for vengeance. Unless she can find a way to regain control of herself, more innocent people—including the one person who can still see her—will die.

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

I'm still easing my way back into blogging, but just wanted to say congrats on all your effort and progress, etc. This logline is delicious! I'd read the book!

Vicki Rocho said...

I liked seeing the different versions of this. Is she searching for the killer because she doesn't know who it was or because he's hiding from her? (How do you hide from a ghost?)

I'm assuming she's killing innocents because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time? That she doesn't have control over her new powers and they are more accidental deaths than murders?

Definitely curious to read more!

RaShelle said...

Sounds like a great novel. Excellent.

Rachael Harrie said...

Wow, love your comments guys, thanks so much. I hadn't even noticed all those "her"s - it's funny how we become blind to our own work after hours of staring at it :)

I'm off to make a couple of little tweaks in my post, hoping it will read a bit smoother then...

Rach

Marieke said...

Love the logline! :D The only thing I'm wondering is if you can give "the one person who can still see her" a little more punch. Why is it important she doesn't kill him? Surely not just because he can see her? ;)

J.C. Martin said...

I like your amended version! It's so difficult to sum up a whole novel in just a couple of sentences. I'm still struggling with mine!

P.S.: There's a blog award awaiting you on my site! ;)

http://jc-martin.com/fighterwriter

salarsenッ said...

Wow. I really like this. You've summed it up really well. You've given me a few ideas of my own to incorporate. BTW, thanks for your visits back to my blog. I think I should try and do what you did. Write a two liner and then condense. I'm going to reiterate what Steena said in her comment about the boy being the same. That was the only thing that made me go Hmmm... Great job!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Wow, how did I miss yours last week? I was in the MSFV crit as well, but the advice I got resulted in my not so great (until Christina edited it) two sentence version.

I was hooked on the one you entered the contest with. And it just got better after that.

Question: is the boy who killed her and the person she loves the same?

Rachael Harrie said...

It's amazing how two sentences can tie your head in knots, isn't it (*groans*).

Thanks for all your comments, I so appreciate them. The two guys are different - she goes on a rampage trying to kill her murderers, including the boy she once loved, but in the process she falls in love again, with the one guy who can still see her (and you'll have to read the book to find out why (*smirks*)).

I'm stuck on the last part of the pitch/logline, if I mention "loves" in the second part, you're right - it gets too confusing. But Marieke's right, I need something stronger than "can still see her".

Any ideas???

Rachael Harrie said...

I've tried a different approach, changing "she has come to love" to "with the power to help her regain her sanity." Not sure though...thoughts???

Rachel Morgan said...

Ooh, I like this latest version. Interesting to see how it's changed since I was last here! There's one thing I want to ask about. In the last line:

"including the one person with the power to help her regain her sanity."

The regaining her sanity part sounds sort of... not emotive enough (wow, my eloquence in these comments is astounding ;-)!). Is their relationship more intimate/personal than that? Would something like

"including the one person with the power to save her from herself."

possibly fit? Just an idea!

Rachael Harrie said...

Ooh, thanks Rachel!! I like that one. Changing it now :)

Rach

Madeleine said...

Hi Rach, You've inspired me to have a go: http://scribbleandedit.blogspot.com/2010/11/logline-blogfest.html
:O)

Hart Johnson said...

(purposesly didn't read comments so I could give fresh feedback) I really love the two sentence version you've ended up with. I think the final one-sentence though, needs a little... less? restructure? Something... this would be my attempt:

When misfit Verity is brutally murdered by the boy she loves, she is left with deadly new powers and an unquenchable desire for vengeance that she must learn to control or a lot of innocent people will die.

I'm sure this isn't it... it just feels like what you have strains--it is technically one sentence, but it doesn't meet the spirit of a one-sentence... if that makes sense.

Tessa Quin said...

To be honest? I like the very first log line the best. I don't think log lines are supposed to be queries, so you shouldn't need the whole dilemma and what she has to do in it. It's supposed to raise interest, and the first one is short, snazzy, and an eye-opener.

The only thing I can think up to add is "When 17 year old Verity is..." if you have nowhere else to indicate that this is YA.

Bekah said...

I agree with Tessa; I like the brevity and emotional tug of the first one. One thing I tried, actually this weekend, was using my logline. People asked, "hey, what's your book about? And I found the simple one was the best. The others are great, don't get me wrong, it's hard to say, but if you ran into an agent and had to to give an elevator pitch which sounds best?

Jackee said...

I'm so impressed I have no advice to give. Great job, Rachael! And doubly great to meet you.

Go, you!!

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

I like the last two-sentence revision. It flows better and clearly conveys the conflict. I wasn't aware we had to create a one-liner. If so, I'm not going to make it. I just posted my fourth revision and am about to take on the fifth. It's hard to squeeze a complex plot into two sentences. Best of luck on this. Great job.

Rachael Harrie said...

Love your feedback and comments guys :) It's great, now I have a range of different pitches/loglines I can pull out depending on the occasion. I so appreciate all your help, and it's been wonderful "meeting" all of you. What a fantastic blogfest!!!

salarsenッ said...

Popping over again. I like both loglines. You're one sentence is really concise. I finally posted my revised ones, today. Thanks for all your help.

roh morgon said...

I like the last logline, but I agree with Tessa: replacing 'misfit' with '17-year-old' will paint a better image of Verity and place the story solidly in YA land.

Margay said...

I think you did a great job of getting it down to the one sentence pitch. Good luck with it.
Margay

Kate said...

I think I want to read this book!

charlotteotter said...

I also skipped the comments to give you my feedback. I like your new version. I tripped up in the first sentence wondering whether the ability to burn her victims was one of her deadly new powers. I wasn't sure if you were listing three things or if there should be a colon or semi-colon after 'powers'. It works better in your pitch - perhaps you could use the same structure in the logline?

Also if Verity is the cause of the ever-increasing body-count, I'd like to know if she's unhappy about it or not. To me, that's the conflict: she's killing people but she doesn't want to, and if that is the case, you need to indicate it.

Najela said...

I think the one liner sounds the most interesting. I'm curious to know how exactly the body count gets higher, but so far it's a good start.

Huntress said...

I am totally in the minority here, but I don't like the word 'ghost'. The other versions left a mystery to her transformation, made me sit up and wonder what happens.

When I read 'ghost', I slump and think, "Oh, thats what she is".

IMHO :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

When misfit Verity becomes a ghost after being brutally murdered by the boy she loves, her deadly new powers and an unquenchable desire for vengeance lead to an increasing body-count, potentially including the one person with the power to save her from herself.

I really like this premise!

Karen Akins said...

Love the logline. You've put in some hard work on it. And, lol, I totally missed that the logline blogfest was a contest. Must go back and see what it is...oops. :)

Christie Wright Wild said...

Very cool book! I think the one-sentence pitch is a run-on sentence and should really be two sentences. Is it too late for me to enter? I'm gonna try anyway.

Cat said...

Hi, I deliberately didn't read the other comments, so this might have been said before. I very much like the 2 sentence blurb. It's fabulous. But for a one sentence blurb, I'd go with the first version. Your last sentence seems much too long. Or you can shorten it.

When (x-aged) misfit Verity becomes a ghost after being brutally murdered, she needs to control her deadly new powers and her desire for vengeance to stop killing innocent people including the one person who can save her from herself.

Still long though...

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