I've heard this idea elsewhere, and I think it's great. Imagine if you were in an elevator with an agent or publisher and you had 5 seconds to sell to catch his or her interest. What would you say? This is a great guide to how to construct that line or two that will bring your story home.
Posts: 2185 | Registered: Aug 2007
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I've encountered several terms that are virtually identical in purpose and meaning to logline. Another of those writerly things where the lexicon is all over the place. As annepin noted, an elevator pitch is a term I've heard from publishers, editors, and readers. Another is dramatic premise or story premise or just premise, what a story's plot is about. There's a bunch more, some cutesy, some la-la weird, some obfuscative. No wonder every emerging writer feels like they have to reinvent the wheel. What if there were a widely accepted writer's lexicon for newly emerging writers to start with?
Posts: 3425 | Registered: Jun 2008
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Thanks for the link, Kathleen. Also, it's nice to hear that OSC thinks of us.
I agree that if you can write a logline for a story you're in better shape to write it than if you can't, and maybe we should have some challenges based on the idea.
But, I have one or two stories which people tell me they don't understand. It's incumbent on me to revise them until they can be understood. For one such story I know what the logline is, but if I share it, readers will "get it" without having to figure it out from the story.
So the question is, if we share loglines for our stories, will we compromise the ability of Hatrackers to read and crit the story as would the slush-pile reader, who will not read the logline even if we put it in the query letter--not for a short, at least ... maybe this would be a better idea for writing and selling novels?
ps We could have a two-phase sudden fiction challenge, where the first phase is to propose and revise loglines, and the second phase is to write a story using one of the revised loglines as a trigger.
That's a good point, but the main purpose of a logline isn't so much to act as a litmus test for your story but to grab the attention of a producer who doesn't have any time to spare. Most producers work 10-12 hour days that are packed with everything from wrangling financiers to attaching directors, directors of photography, etc. to projects. It's a very rushed profession and you just don't have time to pour over a billion queries and at all times. Because you don't have time, you want something you can read quickly, something that will grab your interest immediately and stand out from the myriad of other ideas clamoring for, most importantly, your time.
If a logline sticks out and interests a producer, they'll ask to read a synopsis and/or the actual screenplay. And if the screenplay doesn't work, they'll be able to tell, regardless of whether the logline they read cleared up the story or not.
And sometimes, a screenplay will work, but they still won't buy it, because producers have to choose screenplays which get them excited. They know that whatever screenplays they choose to work on, they will spend the next 4-5 years working on that one project. So whatever they choose, it must be something that they can really devote their energy to.
It's a little bit different from the publishing industry where it seems like a query letter is more of the standard.