Friday, May 21, 2010

Hook 'em with a Logline

Logline/Hook Blogfest is brought to us by  The Time Guardian  Check out the blog to see the other entires and read more.    

In light of the topic and the fact that the purpose of this blog is to talk about writing topics in general, I'm going to talk about loglines and hooks. If you just want to read my hooks go to the end of the post, they're down there somewhere. Let's consider a few things first.

What is a logline/hook?

Industry standards have defined it, and most seem to agree, that a logline is a summary sentence that describes the entire book in 1-2 sentences. Correction: That describes the main plot of the book and main character in 1-2 sentences in order to grab the attention of the listener. Looking at it that way instead of saying the book in its entire 200 some page form is a little easier to swallow in pill form.

The listener will vary. It could be an elusive editor, agent, publisher, or grandma (if yours is like mine and doesn't understand anything about publishing or writing books). This is the shortest description possible because sometimes that's all you get. Like the first sentence of a speech, essay (when done correctly) it has to hook the audience, grab their attention and make them want need yearn to know more.

Many people have talked about this topic. What it is and then they list different loglines from movies (as the logline is an important item for a script writer) showing how they work, and how little changes make a big difference. But I'm going to diverge from that approach and instead go with something I know. Public Speaking (Yes, I am a shy writer and don't care for giving speeches but I have 8 years of practice competing in speech and debate. I also have a minor in communication.)

The first paragraph of a speech, or one of the first several paragraphs of an essay, is supposed to have a thesis statement. This statement sums up the main point no matter how long the speech or paper/essay are because even the 200 page thesis for a Master's degree can include these couple of sentences. The goal is to sum up the topic in general. The way we would teach the speech format to the public speaking classes at the University is this: Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them it and then tell them what you told them. That is what the introduction, body and conclusion do in their simple forms. The introduction format is the "hook" that is an entertaining introduction to grab the audiences attention. Then there is the thesis statement that sums up the main point, and then there are the sub points described (often three but not always). The logline is a combination of the hook and the thesis statement.

For more advice and examples on writing loglines check out these sites:

Blogfest Entry: Read Here and don't forget to check out the other entries at the above listed blog.

Rules of the blogfest: "Create a single sentence description of your novel. And don’t try to cram 13 semicolons and another half-dozen commas in to squeeze your logline into the 1 sentence rule. If you can’t speak your logline in a single breath, it’s too long.
One additional note: each participant can post up to five (5) different versions of their logline. That way we can all comment on our favorite of the bunch, what worked/didn’t work, and why."

And I'm not following all the rules. I've seen people post in blogfests long enough to know that the "rules" aren't always strict. I'm going to post loglines for different novels. Some have more than one logline while others I'm just posting one. My main reason for doing this is to practice since only 2 of the novels have finished first drafts, one is in rewriter and the other waiting. The other book's first draft is in progress, a slow progress. And instead of talking about each novel. I'm just going to post the loglines and see what reactions they get. Enjoy!

Tattle Tell

Ephram has been a snitch to the Suits ever since he can remember, but when he discovers his new best friend is a mutant he must decide between friendship and the consequences of life as a tattle tale.

Standing Ground

All Noah wants is to be normal and never use his mutation again, but when his family and boyfriend are kidnapped he's forced to risk exposure to save the ones he loves.

Fallen (still needs a real title)

Angels and demons don't get along, let alone date, but no one told Elijah and Lucas that. (Not the real logline, but I kind of like it at this moment so I'm keeping it in this blog post.)

Lucas believes everything good ended when he became a demon; until he falls in love and must fight to keep his relationship. But can a nice guy make it as a demon in Detroit?

As an angel, Elijah is bored with the monotony until one night he searches for sin and instead finds love... with a male demon.

XXY (Not the title, just the pre-title since I haven't even started writing this one yet.)

It's hard to be a teenager and even harder for someone born both male and female. Taylor's life is a struggle with no friends, parents that don't understand, and having to pick which gender is the right one.

Sekrit Novel

Ha Ha

I'm not telling!


Roland D. Yeomans said...

I like Tattle Tale best of all. It made me want to read the whole book. Aren't loglines like root canals, Dawn?


Iapetus999 said...

They're all pretty good. I can't decide. Stay away from questions in the hook...the agent may answer the wrong way. Maybe the first one, because it involves a clear choice.

Dawn Embers said...

Woot. Comments already.

Roland - Actually, I thought the logline writing wasn't too bad. They aren't the greatest but not bad for a first try.

Iapetus - Yeah. I'd rather not have questions but went for a variety. And a couple of the sources actually showed the questions in their examples so I thought I'd give it a try. I wanted them to not sound like they all came from the same logline formula. Oh and...

Thanks. :-D

Harley D. Palmer said...

Great lines Dawn! I think I like Fallen the best but only because I KNOW who those characters are! *wink*

Tessa Conte said...

I like them all (especially the sekrit novel hehe), but I think Tattle Tell's my favourite logline-wise (I like the story line in Fallen, though). For Standing Ground, I stumbled a bit over 'using his mutation'. Perhaps he wants to be normal and forget about his mutation?

And thanks for the Logline Info, I really should have read that before I did mine... hmm... bad tessa, bad tessa!!

Anonymous said...

For me, Tattle Tell was the most polished. Nicely done.

When I read the Fallen loglines, my first question was who was the protagonist, Lucas or Elijah? That should help narrow down your focus. That said, I think you have a great start with the "As an angel..." logline. That's pretty good as-is.

Thanks for joining the blogfest!

Sangu said...

I think all of these work pretty well, and I'm rather envious, you seem to have done it effortlessly!

Dawn Embers said...

Thanks everyone.

Harley - ;-) Though, I think you met Lucas but the other characters you met were Noah and Bastian, from the second mutant book.

Tessa - No worries. There are a few ways to do it and I thought yours weren't bad, really. I'm glad to have the information I added be useful to someone.

Bryan - Right now the demon/angel novel is a 2 person pov one. I'm doing the first draft with chapters in the different perspectives because there are certain points where one character knows/experiences something important that the other character doesn't. So, I really need to figure out a good logline that combines the two main characters.

Sangu - Thanks. It did take me some time. I didn't sit down and write them all in 5 minutes or anything. But it does seem a little easier than people make it out to be. Or that's how I felt when writing them at least.

Myne Whitman said...

XXY sounds intriguing and is a currently topical issue.

Raquel Byrnes said...

I think XXY is the most clear as to the story and conflict. I like the idea of the angels and demons the best, though.

Elaine AM Smith said...

Your twist in the tale is strongest with an angelic demon and demonic angel.

Dawn Embers said...

Myne - I hope I can write that one soon. I do really like the idea.

Raquel - The angel/demon story is fun. But you're right that the story is probably clearest writen in the XXY logline.

Elaine - Thanks. :-D Glad you like that twist.

Mia said...

Oh I really liked Fallen and Standing Ground. Those sound very interesting and my kind of reading :)

Also, obvs, I want to know about the Sekrit Novel. But I get it, it's a secret :P

Dawn Embers said...

Mia! - hehehe. I almost wanted to do one for Sekrit Novel but had to stop myself. It's so tempting to give details out but I'm staying strong.

Lovy Boheme said...

I'm the most interested in Fallen and XXY. Out of the loglines for Fallen, I like the first one the best. Also, I loooooove lovelove that you're writing gay lit. I'm definitely interested in reading.

Dawn Embers said...


Lovy - Thanks a bunch. It's encouraging to hear someone is interested instead of being told to write straight characters instead.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say, I like all the stories--so creative! If I had to pick, I'd choose the first one...always something intriguing about tattling. ;) Great post!

Dawn Embers said...

Ibdiamond - Thanks. :-) The first one is probably the first that I'll be sending out, so that's a good sign.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oooo, I like Tattle tell and fallen! :-)

Slushpile Slut said...

I'm liking the spin on Fallen and def intrigued to know more about The Sekrit Novel :)

Dawn Embers said...

Awww. Thanks Shannon and umm Slushpile... Not sure what to call you, really.

:-) I love all the novels and love hearing what ones other people are interested in.

prashant said...

They're all pretty good.
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