Posted in elevator pitch, hook, log line, plot



Having just completed a fantastic online course through #WFWA by the brilliant and talented Laura Drake and Kathryn Craft. Wow. Talk about eye opening. Perhaps that is why it is now day 32 into my query process and still no requests for partial or fulls.

For me, it was back to the drawing board for all three, plus some re-writes of my story.  I can’t (or won’t) convey the entire class, but I can offer a tip or two along the way that I learned.

Today let’s talk about log lines. Elevator pitches – whatever term you want to use. Why do we need them? Ever have someone actually ask about your book while in an elevator? I have because I live in a high-rise building. Without having to talk like you’re on speed, can you describe your story? On the street talking to someone? You have about thirty seconds to catch their attention for your book.

Wikipedia says “A log line or logline is a brief summary of a television program, film, or motion picture often providing both a synopsis of the program’s  plot and an emotional  hook to stimulate interest.”

The same applies to books. The basics – try to get the plot and the hook down to 25 words or less.

Your log line should show four things. Protagonist, Goal, Motivation, Conflict.

Example: Protagonist wants Goal because Motivation but Conflict gets in the way.

I have a very, very short one for the manuscript I am querying that I have used in the elevator several times. It doesn’t really show the plot, but it gets a conversation going.

“My book is about international adoption that goes all wrong.”  10 words.  Your thoughts? Doesn’t fit the formula, does it?

And I have a too-long one.

“A barren Louisiana woman adopts a Russian child to fill her desire for motherhood, but when the child turns life into a nightmare, she does the unthinkable and gives her away. When the child’s life is in danger, she realizes her mistake and must save her.”    46 words and two sentences.  If I stopped at the end of the 1st sentence, I’d be close to my word count limit of 25, but it did not convey the total plot.

Would either of these log lines want you to know more?

I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions. And send me your log line. Can you do it in 25 words or less?

Posted in authors, writers

Where is the GMC in the PLOT?

I am half way through a best selling novel and I must pause to reflect. I remember when I strictly read for enjoyment; when I did not care where the story went as long as I was entertained.

Apparently those days are over. When I crossed over that line from reader to writer, something happened to my reader radar. Not intentionally, but now I critique every book I read.

In this particular best seller, I would have quit reading eleven chapters ago if this was not a book club read that I need to discuss next month. Without naming the novel, it took until chapter thirteen to reveal the plot. For twelve chapters I kept trying to figure out why and where was this story going. There appeared to be no goal for the protagonists, no motivation to do anything and no conflict.

I must confess. I had to find out how this author got away with this gross error in our unwritten laws of writing. The answer is: wait for it, it is his fourth book. He obviously had a book deal. I can not imagine any new writer getting a chance in hell with a book that actually begins on chapter thirteen. True, the writer is witty, and outrageous enough to make for good conversation, but seriously? Thirteen chapters in?

The other thing I noticed were the forty five word sentences. What? So much for the test of a proper length of a sentence being if you can read it aloud without taking a breath.

This is one of those cases where once you are established you can break all the rules. For my fellow authors, has writing ruined you from strictly enjoying a book without picking it apart? Do rules broken jump off the page at you? Or am I perhaps just a bit jealous that others can get away with what I can not. I would love to hear from you.