After a resounding round of form rejections, I took a step back, revamped my query and synopsis, and am now getting back into the query trenches.
You’d think I know querying forward and backward — and I do, when I stop to think about it. But, recently, one of the query submission forms asked for a one-sentence pitch — a logline — I kinda flubbed it!
How? You might ask.
The query should be zoomed in on the first third of the story. It should be focused on the initial goal, and the starting stakes of the story.
The logline is for the whole story.
It’s gotta have the main character and the setting, but also the central conflict for the book, not just the initial stakes.
I almost sent out something that stopped far short of a logline. A sentence that only covers the inciting incident — the thing that kicks our main character out of her day-to-day life and into the story.
“When Lilivan’s envy of her chosen little sister causes marks of her Goddess’s enemies to appear on her belly, she’s got three options: kill herself, be purified to death by the temple, or run.“
Luckily, I double-checked myself before I submitted the query. With a lot of back and forth, this is the (not nearly pithy enough, but hopefully dramatic and intriguing) one sentence pitch I sent in.
“Devout Lilivan’s in hiding from the temple’s soldiers for the sin of envying her little sister, but when her sister’s in trouble, can she truly betray her goddess and accept her magic, or will she let the temple kill her sister for the good of the nation?”
Still, not quite a logline. I need to drop the character’s name and back it up.
Maybe “After envy of her little sister causes a devout apprentice to be cast out, she must betray her goddess and accept her magic to save her sister and redeem herself.”
What do you think? Got anything better?
What’s your logline?
P.S. My other drafted version was “A devout apprentice must find a way to accept her unholy magic if she’s going to save her chosen sister from the temple that’s killing her” but I’m not sure on that…
Not bad, but…
You could also say something more of an overview, and simpler, like “This fantasy thriller’s compelling plot features the challenges of Lilivan, a devout apprentice (in magic? or what?), as she tries to save her little sister (from what?).
A logline is supposed to be pithy, not wordy. When I worked as a script coordinator, I had to come up with many of them. Examples:
**Jason and Linda, a couple that ‘has everything,’ learn each other’s darkest thoughts due to a mysterious stranger’s meddling which has deadly consequences.
**Kat is warned to keep away from a kinky tattooed gay-club stripper, but her desire overrides her fear – which proves to be her undoing.
**Kyle falls in love with the charismatic Michael, who knows all about the repugnant murders in Kyle’s antiquated building. Is this stranger himself the murderer?
In this light, I actually like your first try the best! 🙂
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Your sample pitches read like great pitches to me, so I’m a little confused why you added the prefix explanation of what the sentence is for to your reworked version that you called “simpler” for my story?
Actually they aren’t meant to be pitches. They’re loglines, as discussed – just one-sentence summaries of the episodes I was involved with in a TV series.
But I’m confused by your confusion. 😅 Not sure what you’re saying. Do you mean my version of your loglines isn’t so different from your own? You may be right! Lol.
Your examples of great loglines:
Character do PLOT that has CONSEQUENCES.
Your suggestion for fixing my logline:
This GENRE’s compelling plot features the challenges of CHARACTER, as PLOT or CONSEQUENCES.
My confusion was why you added the explain-y bit at the beginning, rather than jumping to the meat. “Lilivan, a devout apprentice (in magic? or what?), must try to save her little sister (from what?)”
I’m not as fixated on the order of elements (genre, character, plot, consequences) as I am on the mention of them in a pithy manner. Less is more, I feel. Agents’ time is precious and they have sooo many words to get through in a day. Why force them to read more than they need to, to catch the drift of what we want to say? That’s all I meant, really. Are we good? 😊
I didn’t mean to indicate the order. I just wanted to say the “In my genre novel, my plot is about…” portion clearly could be cut in your suggestion for me.
Cutting the text about the context makes it pithier, just like your examples were.
I’m not upset at you, I’m just frustrated my explanation of why your example for me differed drastically from your other examples of good pitches clearly utterly failed. But, that’s on me.
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Ah. Okie dokie then!
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