Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Log Lines

Heya blogger friends!

Y'all know what a log line is? A log line is a brief summary, often providing both a synopsis of plot, and an emotional "hook" to stimulate interest. Technically a log line is used for television programs and movies, but it can also apply to novels. It's that one sentence pitch that we try to whittle our entire 80K novel down to.

Condensing your story into a single sentence can really help you wrap your head around your novel, and it gives you the building block to writing a cohesive query that gets to the point. A log line usually states:

Who the protagonist is
Who/what the antagonist/antagonistic force is
The basic conflict
What is at stake

The log line for my novel Untouched is:

A dying girl, coerced into acting as grim reaper for a second chance at life, falls in love with the boy she was sent to kill.

Protagonist: a dying girl
Antagonistic force: death
Basic conflict: forbidden love (she's so not supposed to fall in love with this boy!)
What is at stake: life and love

I'm definitely an outliner, I plan my novel from beginning to end before I start (or at least before I get very far in). And figuring out the log line is one of the first steps I take. Since my muse never shuts up with the ideas, I have tons of story ideas, and some are no more than log lines.

Kai Of Chaos
With the help of a half-mad semi-psychic girl, a boy possessed by a demon of chaos embarks on an adventure to rid the monster from his body.

Emo Girl
A girl with empathic powers starts feeling murders and cannot rest until the killer is caught.

A moral bounty hunter who refuses to kill becomes the bounty and must prove his innocence as he flees from pursuers who have no such scruples.

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Questions for you:

What's the log line for your current WiP?

Do you find it easy or hard to summarize your novel in just one sentence?

Can you come up with a log line for a well known movie/book?


A girl falls in love with a "vegetarian" vampire who finds her blood especially appealing.

Wizard Of Oz
Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets, then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again. (Attributed to Richard Polito of the Marin Independent Journal, who writes humorously sarcastic briefs for the paper's daily TV listings)

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Check out edittorrent for more info on log lines and some great examples.



  1. What's the log line for your current WiP?

    A princess sets out to rescue her king-napped father with the help of the kingdom's most notorious criminal -- who may or may not be responsible for the king-napping.

    Do you find it easy or hard to summarize your novel in just one sentence?

    I wrote that summary in about a minute, but usually it's excruciating.

    Can you come up with a log line for a well known movie/book?

    In the spirit of Richard Polito:

    A thief with the help of a cursed lamp seduces the daughter of the rich and powerful king. (Aladdin)

  2. Loglines. My head hurts just thinking about it. I attended a workshop at a conference that made us create loglines. Cant remember what I came up with. But yours sure are good :)