Logline Critique Session

I apologize that it took me longer to get this set up than I’d hoped, but I ran into a bit of a quandary regarding time zones!  Specifically, the first thirteen entries I received were technically before the submission window was open, but knowing how much confusion can be caused by daylight savings time, I decided not to disqualify everyone who was an hour early.  (And if I did, I wouldn’t have gotten up to thirteen entries!)  But . . .  since I also didn’t want to penalize anyone who did get it right and waited till 9:00 MST, it turned out to be more complicated than I’d planned.

In the end I considered all the submissions that came in between 8:00 and 5:00 MST (most of them came in the first couple of hours), and since I couldn’t do first come-first served and still be fair to those who figured out the Great Time Zone Puzzle, I sorted the entries by category and took the same percentage of each, based on how many I received in each category. So we have five Adult entries, six YA entries, and two MG entries.

As I’d said that each qualifying submission needed to be a legitimate logline, I gave preference to those who not only followed the submission rules but who at least included most of the basic logline elements.  Although I certainly understand that some people may have just discovered Baker’s Dozen and not had a chance to follow the critique sessions at MSFV or to do a lot of research on loglines, if you spend just half an hour reviewing the information readily available on that site you’ll know what should be in a logline — and what shouldn’t! 😉 Continue reading

More on Writing Loglines and How They Can Be Useful

Last year I did a blog post about contests and about composing pitches or ‘loglines’.  In that discussion I summarized what I’d learned from my research about loglines, and illustrated how they may be of different lengths and levels of development, depending on what’s required.  Now I’m digging a little deeper to explore how to write more effective loglines and also how to use them as a tool for looking objectively at a novel — which, among other things, can make it far easier to tackle writing a query letter and a synopsis.

While revisiting the subject of loglines due to the upcoming Baker’s Dozen auction at Miss Snark’s First Victim, I’ve learned some new things that I feel have given me a greater insight into what makes a compelling logline that will grab a reader’s attention. This is mostly thanks to Holly Bodger, aka ‘The Logline Guru’.  In the past few years Holly has imparted her wisdom about loglines at MSFV, both generously offering her comments on all the logline critique rounds and sharing her thoughts in a number of posts about the problems she sees in the participants’ entries.

In her basic guidelines for composing a logline, Holly gives this formula: “When [MAIN CHARACTER] [INCITING INCIDENT], he [CONFLICT].  And if he doesn’t [GOAL] he will [CONSEQUENCES].”  While this exact order may not be what works best for every story, Holly also stresses that “loglines are stronger when they come in the order that has the greatest effect“.  In any case, the capitalized components all need to be included.  And in critiquing loglines it sometimes seems that the best advice is to suggest that the writer go back to the drawing board and use that formula to figure out exactly what those components are in their own book. Continue reading