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! 😉

And speaking of rules, please follow the same guidelines for critiquing as you would at MSFV, and if your entry is posted here try to critique a minimum of five other loglines.  Also, because of the time crunch for the Adult authors (since the Baker’s Dozen submissions for those entries are this coming week), please comment on those loglines first.  To make that a little easier, I made those entries the first five.  Entries six through eleven are our YA loglines, and the last two are MG.  Since their submissions in the auction will be the following week, we have a little more time to get to the YA and MG ones, and I will keep this open for comments all week.

Thank you to everyone for participating! 🙂

249 thoughts on “Logline Critique Session

    Title: The Wildflower Season
    Age Category: Adult
    Genre: Women’s Fiction

    When a man from her past tracks her down in search of a diary that may hold the truth about her best friend’s death ten years ago, Julie Portland joins him on a mission to seek out the missing book she never knew existed. Obsessed with finding answers that will absolve or implicate her, Julie follows him to her Southern hometown, where they uncover scandalous secrets about the friend she thought she knew.

    • While I think the premise of a diary holding the answers implicating or absolving the MC is awesome, the logline seems a tad too complicated. Why mention the other guy or that she goes to her hometown? I think keeping it simple and focussed on the MC alone will make it much stronger. Hope this helps 🙂

    • Love the second sentence!

      I agree with Utsav’s comment re complication and MC focus. That first sentence requires some pretty heavy processing. I advise breaking it up. I’d also like to see the MC up front, instead of buried at the end of sentence 1.

      Also, can you tighten this up? I see a few redundancies and unnecessary words in there.

      Best of luck to you!

      • I agree with MC up front.

        A simple way to achieve this might just be to swap the first “her” with “Julie Portland”.

    • I think the first two lines are good, and set the story up well. The use of the terms “absolve or implicate” is a bit unclear…does it have to do with the best friend’s death (aka murder) or some other indiscretion. This may need to be cleared up.

      One other tip, in the second sentence, clarify “the missing book.” I understand you don’t want to say diary twice, but something to help make the diary and ‘the missing book’ clearly the same thing.

      I like the idea of a southern town setting! Good luck!

    • I really like the premise here. I feel like the strongest point is that Julie needs to find these answers to absolve or implicate her in relation to the friend’s death. What I’m wondering is if you can restructure this so that point can be stated first. As it is now, the man showing up almost makes it seem like he is the motivation in her seeking out these answers. Has she been looking for answers for ten years and now the answers may finally be available? Did she leave her hometown because people blamed her for the death? I know this is a logline and it’s hard to fit all this info into 2 sentences, but I really think this could be stronger if you start with her aching obsession to find answers, then the man shows up offering them, but the conflict is that maybe the answers are more than she bargained for.

    • I agree with the above that starting with your MC will keep the focus on her. I’m no expert on these things, but if you could start with the MC’s need — whether it’s she feels guilty about her friend’s death or just can’t let go — then bring in the inciting incident of the man who tells her about the diary — it might feel more streamlined.

      That said, I love the idea of searching for a diary to uncover clues to what happened to her friend.

    • I like the concept here, but I think Sara and Peggy made some excellent points. The issue I see has to do with what I wrote about in the essay I just posted about loglines on Friday. That is, this needs to start with the MC’s personal need that’s going to drive the story, rather than with another character’s goal. As it is, we don’t get to what’s motivating Julie herself until the second half of your logline, and then the ‘finding answers that will absolve or implicate her’ is too vague.

      Has Julie been struggling to deal with her friend’s death all these years, and did she perhaps leave her hometown to run away from what happened? Rather than starting with the man tracking her down, could you start with what happened to her friend and how she’s been trying to put it behind her and move on with her life (but without the clichés!)? And then when the man shows up looking for the diary, it would make sense that it brings it all back and forces her to realize she has to go and face that ‘shadow’ if she’s ever going to find her ‘inner peace’. (I’m guessing that’s her real need from the beginning.)

      Then you need to be a bit more specific about the goal that’s going to help her fulfill that need — that is, is there some implication that she was involved in her friend’s death, or was someone else responsible who’s never been caught, such as if her death was ruled a suicide but really wasn’t? Being specific rather than vague will also help to show how achieving that goal — whether it’s to absolve Julie of guilt or make her face something that really was her fault and deal with the consequences — would also make it very clear that this is what’s necessary for Julie to finally get that peace and be able to ‘move on’.

      Hope that helps. 🙂

    • I’m guessing that the man arriving is the inciting incident, but I’m in agreement with other commenters that he’s not necessary in this logline. Julie’s need would seem to be knowing her actual role in her friend’s death – focus on that and how those scandalous secrets stand in her way. Nice suggestion of betrayal and mystery at the end!

    • Thank you all so much for your helpful feedback! I can’t even tell you how lucky I feel to have gotten the opportunity to have this critiqued. I know everyone is frantically revising their own loglines, but I’ve worked up another version of this. If anyone would be interested in weighing in one more time, I would love to know whether this one works better for you:

      Julie Portland doesn’t remember killing her best friend ten years ago, so when she learns of a missing diary that might tell a different story about what happened, she vows to find the answers that will absolve or implicate her—even if that means returning to the Southern hometown she despises, and uncovering scandalous secrets about the friend she thought she knew.

      • I like the shift you made here! It’s more dramatic, more compelling, and more direct than the first version. For the most part, it works for me.

        There’s one nagging question, though: would she be in jail? Or in an institution, if she was declared incompetent to stand trial? The only reason I can imagine her wanting to find the diary is to get to it first–to prove her innocence, or destroy it if it proves her guilt. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to share the proof that she is, after all, a killer.

        Maybe you could use some [much better] variation on, “Julie doesn’t remember her best friend’s death.”

      • The second effort is much better but there is still that legal question. And… whose diary is it? If it’s the friends diary, I shouldn’t think it would provide too many answers as to Julie’s guilt or innocence. Again, why is Julie free if there is a question as to her guilt that is not yet resolved?

      • That revision works for me. I liked it the first time and couldn’t think of anything to add to the comments but the story is really coming across now and it sounds great. Well done and best of luck with it!

      • This is looking really great!

        For clarification, I’d change “doesn’t remember” to “doesn’t know if…” Then finding out the truth, regardless of if it’s in her favor or not, is more foregrounded.

        Right now, the final bit about the scandalous secrets is mostly world-building – can you tie it into the conflict/need at all?

    • I was a bit thrown off by the “implicate/absolve” comment. If there was some question as to her guilt or innocence in regard to her friend’s death how does that play with the fact that she’s out running around free? And, if she was charged, tried, and exonerated, what’s the issue? I need to feel that there is something else here or, at least, how it fits with her current liberty.

    • I think you can replace “to seek out the missing book she never knew existed” with “to find it”. Aside from that, it needs to be more clear in this sentence WHY she wants to find it. You say she wants to find “the truth” but it sounds like she was somehow blamed for the death and is trying to clear her name (I’m guessing this of course). Whatever it is, it happened first and it is the NEED that drives her to pursue the GOAL and thus it needs to come before everything else here, including the Inciting Incident.

      The beginning of next sentence (“Obsessed with finding answers that will absolve or implicate her”) will not be necessary if you’ve established her motivation first. The end of this sentence would be stronger if you gave us obstacles rather than results. Is this diary hard to find? Is someone trying to hide it from them? You can certainly hint at the stakes (her uncovering secrets) but that should come after the obstacles (and should only be mentioned if it affects the main character directly.

      Good luck!

      • Good luck with your log line, Haley. I like the second try better, but it is still too wordy. The comments from the other people are very good and I congratulate you, Haley, on being such a quick study. I love mysteries, so I look forward to reading yours when it gets published.

      • This is much more crisp. But like Holly says spell out the need for her to find the book. Technically, if I have doubts whether I killed somebody, I may not want to know whether I did it. Give us more of a reason, why she absolutely must know the answer. Also, her friend’s scandalous secrets don’t seem to directly affect her quest as of now. If they are important, show us the stakes – do the secrets put her in more trouble?

        Hope this helps :).

        I’ll keep an eye out for a revision if you have one.

    Title: Tides of Magic
    Age Category: Adult
    Genre: Epic Fantasy

    When the advent of magic allows former tyrants to lay siege to his kingdom, rebellious Prince Darius must choose whether to submit to their savage rule or destroy magic completely along with thousands of innocent lives.

    • I’m a fan of short and sweet, and this does it!

      What I don’t get: if magic hasn’t existed previously (as you imply), and if it’s the cause of the tyranny, why would the complete destruction of magic be a bad thing?

    • That is a very strong logline! Concise and impactful, with the stakes right there. If anything, I wouldn’t mind some slight indication as to the nature or personality of the person who has to make such a choice (Prince Darius). It also makes me curious about the setting, but I know that’s an awful lot to stuff in a logline!

    • I like that this is short and sweet, and I agree with an earlier comment that the stakes are clear. Great job!

      What I would like to see are a few more details. I know with loglines you don’t want to get too wordy, but my main question is how destroying magic would also destroy innocent lives. I would like to know how the two things are linked.

      Other than that, I’m intrigued. Good luck!

    • Good job condensing this (fantasy is so hard to keep short). You show the external conflict and stakes, as well as who the protagonist and antagonist are. I’m wondering: is there more internal conflict you could reveal here? What is it Darius personally needs or has to gain here? Does he wish to prove himself a worthy ruler? Do the people doubt his ability to be a good ruler? If you could include more about his internal conflict I think this would be stronger.

    • I agree with what others have said — nice concise story line! The one thing I’d like to know is how Prince Darius’ ultimate choice will affect him — if he chooses a) what happens, if he goes with b) what are the consequences?

    • Though it is nice that this is crisp and tight, I think Sara is spot on again in that it’s missing the internal conflict, and that means that while you have plenty of external conflict and high stakes, the need and the goal aren’t coming through. What is the prince’s need at the beginning of the novel? You say he’s rebellious (and rebellious princes are always fun characters!), but what specifically is he rebellious about and what drives him?

      Then, how does that lead into his personal goal, and how does the rise of magic and the siege threaten that goal? (Other than the obvious part about how that situation would make anyone’s life pretty difficult!) That is, you need to show how the internal and external arcs come together, and what Darius’s personal stakes are as well as the greater stakes involving the whole kingdom. Hope that makes sense . . .

    • Wow! Thanks for the appreciation and the comments guys. I have a revised version, which I do hope you don’t mind looking at.

      When the advent of magic allows former tyrants to lay siege to his kingdom, nobility-hating Prince Darius must choose whether to submit to their savage rule or destroy magic completely along with the lives of thousands of nascent magic wielders.

      • I think that’s a fabulous revision. The rebellious prince had me confused (rebelling against what?) but I love the nobility-hating prince. Thousands of nascent magic wielders is also much more specific than thousands of innocent lives. Great external and internal conflict. Well done and good luck!

      • The MC’s moment if choice is the most significant scene in a novel, but you need more than this moment in a logline. Otherwise, your entire book could be written in 4
        sentences such as:
        Bad guy: “We have magic now so we’re taking over your kingdom.”
        Prince: “But if I let you, I will lose power over my kingdom. And if I don’t, I will have to destroy magic which will destroy innocent people as well.”
        Bad guy: “True.”
        Prince: “In that case, I am going to ”

        I sincerely doubt that your novel is 4 sentences long which means there is probably a lot more going on than you are saying. The moment of choice is supposed to be the moment that the MC does two things: a) chooses to meet or not meet his outer goal, and b) chooses to act in a way that he never would have done when he was his flawed self in chapter 1 (so if his flawed self is money-hungry, this choice has to be to ignore money). So what we need to know here is a) what goal is not being achieved because of these tyrants? It sounds like they are an obstacle to something here but we need that something. And b) how will this choice change him as a person? It sounds like his hates nobility so maybe that is his flaw and you are trying to show that his choice will be to keep the nobility he hates.

        Okay, that may be the longest comment I have ever made on a logline. Good luck!

      • This is stronger, and it’s intriguing that a prince would despise the nobility, but I’m concerned that the goal isn’t really coming through. He ends up facing two difficult alternatives, but what exactly does HE want? And because the goal isn’t clear upfront, I’m not quite seeing how the fact that he dislikes the nobility ties into his goal, and what he would see as the desired outcome in this situation. Does that make sense?

        ETA: I just cross-posted with Holly, and she explained it far better. 🙂

        • Thanks a bunch LCM. Every comment helps and you taking the time to read twice is just uber-cool. Thank you for taking the time.

          I’m going to be selfish and post a revision (please please please don’t mind), since submissions open tomorrow (yikes) and I think I’m close to a good logline.

          Here goes:
          When the advent of magic allows former tyrants to lay siege to his kingdom, nobility-hating Prince Darius is forced to choose between acceding to their savage rule and becoming a puppet king or becoming a despot himself and destroying magic completely along with the lives of thousands of nascent magic-wielding subjects .

          • I really like your premise and your last revision. I think you can cut a few words though. You may not, for example, even need to say that Darius hates nobles, because it can be implied by the fact that they are laying siege to his kingdom and his internal conflict of not wanting to be a despot.
            Also, you could condense the next bit like this if you wanted: ”Darius must choose between becoming a puppet king under their savage rule or becoming a despot by destroying magic completely along with the lives of thousands of nascent magic-wielding subjects.”
            Plus, it is a mouthful of a sentence. I think just finding a place to cut it in two would be helpful.
            Best of luck tomorrow and thanks for critiquing mine! 🙂

          • The “puppet king” line makes “nobility-hating” somewhat superfluous (interesting character trait, not necessarily relevant to the action demanded in the logline).

            I’m curious why you use “former tyrants” as opposed to “neighboring” – is this a rebellion or an invasion? I think you can streamline this idea.

            Related, this whole logline is one sentence. Is it worth it to break it up for more simplicity?

            The stakes at the end are much clearer now. Great revision.

      • I really like that you added Prince Darius hates nobility. It gives a much clearer picture of his character and shows why submitting to their rule would be difficult. I am still wondering if there is more going on that you aren’t telling us, like Holly says below. Since she is the logline guru I won’t repeat what she already iterates beautifully (and much better than I ever could). I do think this is better and clearer, but I still want to see more of a struggle with his decision. Is the only downside to submitting to their rule the fact that it hurts his pride? Or is something else at stake that would weigh equally against the thousands of lives lost?

        • The premise seems intriguing, but how can Prince Darius hate nobility without hating himself. Being a prince makes him part of the nobility he despises, so does he hate himself? That would make a good internal conflict for him. Good luck.

          • Thanks a lot people!
            Final revision:

            Prince Darius detests the thought of becoming king. But when the advent of magic allows former tyrants to lay siege to his kingdom, a ruler he must become; a puppet king under their savage rule or a despot who destroys magic completely along with the lives of thousands of nascent magic-wielding subjects .

            • Utsav, I like this much better! Good work. The last bit about the lives of thousands of newbie-magicians still has me puzzled. Are these good subjects or bad? Does destroying magic necessarily mean destroying the magic-wielding subjects?

    Title: Blood and Salt
    Age Category: Adult
    Genre: Fantasy

    Azetla has been separated from his people for thirteen years, living as a soldier and a pariah in the Imperial Capitol. When his battalion is sent to catch a violent Miso devil, he finds himself embroiled in a rebellion against the Emperor. In order to stay alive, or have any hope of going home again, he must strike a bargain with the so-called devil, though he cannot trust her as far as tomorrow.

    • Nice first sentence!

      I think your logline will be much stronger if you de-passivize (has been separated, is sent, finds himself embroiled). Also, do you mean Capitol (the building) or capital (the city)? You have a few cliches in here that I’d suggest getting rid of (have any hope of going home again, trust her as far as tomorrow).

      Best of luck to you.

    • I think you have a good start here. There are a few things I think could possibly be left out, and a few other things that might be important to know.

      Does Azetla want to go home again? It isn’t quite clear. Maybe using a phrase like, “forced to live as a soldier…” would clarify that he is away from home against his will (if, in fact, that’s the case). I’m not sure it’s important to know that he has been away for thirteen years and I might consider eliminating it. It’s enough if you can show that he is away and wants to get back.

      I wonder if you can make it a little clearer as to how finding the Miso devil starts this rebellion. Who sent the battalion? Was it against the Emperor’s wishes?

      Last thing is that if it were me, I would try to find a different way to end. “Though he cannot trust her as far as tomorrow” strikes me as a bit trite. In fact, you could possibly leave that whole phrase out and still have a solid ending. I think people would naturally infer that a bargain with a devil would be fraught with mistrust.

      Just my two cents. Good luck to you!

      • Yeah, I really hesitated with that “trust her as far as tomorrow line” and your critique and the others confirmed that it was a poor choice. Thanks!

    • I like the first sentence and think you’ve done a good job of setting up the story and showing the conflict: he wants to go home BUT doing so means striking a bargain with the devil. The last line throws me off a little bit: “he cannot trust her as far as tomorrow”. I think it is a given a devil cannot be trusted, so how can you make this stronger to show what he risks in striking a bargain? His life? The lives of others? If you can make it clearer what he stands to lose, aside from never being able to go home again, I think that would really make the impact you are going for here 🙂

    • This sounds like an interesting story with a lot going on. Azetla is a soldier and a pariah? It sounds like he is not exactly a willing servant of the Empire. If that’s so, it’s not too surprising that he gets involved in the rebellion. I’m not sure what’s meant by ‘getting home again’. I think it’s the people he was separated from 13 years ago but it might also be the Imperial Capitol. The so-called Miso devil that he doesn’t trust is confusing as I’ve no idea what she is (and I googled Miso devil). Perhaps you could start with the MC’s Need.
      Azetla needs to get home to (find his family/ the girl he loved/ his little sister?) Forced into the Imperial army 13 years earlier, he has (no idea what became of the rest of his people?) When a mission to… goes wrong, Azetla finds an unexpected ally/a chance to leave the army he hates … But trusting the devil means…
      Of course you know your story best. I’m just guessing from your log line.
      It seems to me you have the key elements but could re-organise them a little to make it clearer. Hope this is helpful and best of luck with the contest!

    • The logline left me unclear about a couple points. I assumed his serving in the army has made him a pariah to the people back home, but wasn’t sure if that’s what you meant — perhaps he’s regarded as a pariah by the other soldiers? I also was a bit confused by the two devil references. We first get the reference to the Miso devil and later a reference to a ‘so-called devil’. I’m assuming this means the Miso devil is not quite the devil the MC thinks at first, but this then seems to contradict his worry about trusting her. I think by trimming out a few bits, the bones of the story will be clearer.

      • I tried to fix some of those problems mentioned by you and the others. New version:

        Azetla lives as a pariah and a soldier in the Imperial capital, slowly crafting his chance to return home. When his battalion is sent to the desert to catch a devil, Azetla realizes the mission is part of a rebellion against the Emperor. Considered a threat by both sides, Azetla must ally with the caught devil—who has inscrutable goals of her own—and carve the rebellion into something he can use.

        • In both the first version and in this modified one, I think you can put “Azetla” into the 2nd sentence and lose the 1st sentence altogether – it’s mostly world-building (though in this version, you’ve identified his need – nice).

          I’d put in a more active verb than “realizes” in the 2nd sentence.

          “Considered a threat” – Azetla or, more likely, the devil? that part is unclear.

          I’d tie Azetla’s need (return) to the stakes (rebellion) to tighten this up at the end, but I think you’ve already got a great progression.

          • That’s interesting. I hadn’t realised they caught the devil in your first version. Does that mean Azetla is going to set her free? If so, I think you could make a bit more of this as it’s an interesting choice for your MC. What are the options if he does/doesn’t set her free?
            It is getting clearer though, what your story is about, so you’re moving in the right direction. Well done!

        • I also think you could consider dropping the first line by inserting Azetla’s name into the second and there are a few points I’m confused about, even with the new revision. Like, what makes Azetla a “pariah” and who he is a pariah to, the people he is serving as a soldier or the people back home? What is stopping him from returning home that would be helped by allying with a “devil” and hijacking a rebellion? What makes him a threat to both sides?
          I like the setting and action that you inserted into the pitch though. Just need some clarity on the motivations.
          Good luck, and thanks for critiquing my pitch! 🙂

        • Your first sentence implies a need but doesn’t state one. We really need something strong that tells us he is trapped somewhere miserable and just wants to go home. If there is a specific reason why he wants to go home (like to his dying mother or dog), then include that too. It adds depth and stakes.

          The next sentence needs to incite the goal, and not a realization about the motives of someone else. This is the point when he realizes he may be able to get home if he can do X.

          Finally, we need obstacles. So if he needs to work with the devil to get home, but she has her own goal that is contrary to this, that’s a great obstacle. And if this rebellion is somehow going to get in his way, then mention that too. The key is to tie everything back to the goal. If you haven’t mentioned the stakes with the need, you’ll need those here as well.

          Good luck!

          • This is a lot better but as Holly says giving a strong reason for him to go home makes us care more and root for the character.

            Also, maybe replace inscrutable goals of her own with nefarious goals? Sounds much more crisp in my head.

            Hope this helps 🙂

        • Oh I really like this much better! I agree with Kurt on cutting Azetla somewhere, only because it is hard to pronounce (like most fantasy names) and that alone is distracting. I am still a little unclear as to the goal–is it to get home or save the Emperor or both? Is his goal just to get home, but then the goal changes into changing his status? He is a pariah after all 😉 Does he want a better life for his family back home so saving the Emperor could provide this? Show more internal motivation behind his choice to ally with the devil and I think you’ve got it 🙂

          • So another revision:

            (All these critiques are so wonderfully helpful! I realized what my main problem was: I was emphasizing Azetla’s need to return home, which is actually only subtly implied in the MS, so using it as the driving need was a mistake, because I couldn’t really highlight it in the necessary way. So I focused on a more concrete need in this version):

            Far from home and treated as a pariah, Azetla has carved a precarious life for himself in the Imperial army. When his battalion is sent to catch a devil, he discovers that the mission is part of a rebellion against the Emperor. Deemed untrustworthy by both sides, Azetla must ally with the caught devil—who has ruthless aims of her own—to shape the uprising into something he can not only survive, but wield.

            • I agree with Wordsmith on both counts. So much stronger, but still missing something at the end. Why does he want to wield the uprising? What would this mean for him? A crown? Power?

        • This re-write is far better than the first but there’s still something missing. The closer on it still feels a little weak. I don’t really feel the tension or a sense of some stronger force.

          • Why is his life precarious? I get he’s sandwiched from both sides, but what does he want in life? Seems like he doesn’t like serving in the army, yet he doesn’t want the rebels to succeed. Answering this question will clearly establish the stakes and then siding with the devil will be all the more interesting.

            Hope this helps.

            I’ll keep an eye out for revisions.

    • I think MVB’s suggested revision is quite good. And I could say I’m seeing a pattern here — or perhaps it’s because I’m starting to get a better feel for the concept of ‘need before goal’ and the importance of the interior arc that Holly Bodger explained! But the first thought that came to me while reading this logline was also: what is the MC’s need at the beginning, and how will accomplishing his goal fulfill that need?

      The third sentence does tell us that he wants to go home — and of course we can assume that rather than being a pariah he wants to be where he feels he belongs, as that’s very important for most of us — but this would be stronger if you make that need clear right at the beginning, such as in the way that MVB suggested.

      And then it would help if you were more specific about what he has to do — I think you could be more direct about why he would have to strike a bargain with the Miso devil. Also, be careful of falling back on broad statements that are also rather clichéd, such as ‘finds himself embroiled’, ‘in order to stay alive,’ ‘hope of going home again.’ And I’m afraid I don’t really care for ‘so-called devil’ — it sounds a little forced to me, and I’m not clear if by that you mean that she’s really not a devil and he’s starting to see that, or if you mean something else.

      But I do think this story sounds intriguing, and I like the title.

      Good luck! 🙂

    Title: Erasing Ramona
    Age Category: Adult
    Genre: Thriller

    At age 17, Miranda awoke inside a strange house and found six dead bodies. Afraid she’d be the prime suspect, Miranda ran. Ten years later, her father’s funeral brings her home. She hopes to rebuild a relationship with her mother, but instead her return sets the killer on her trail. Miranda must unravel what happened on that long ago night or become the final victim.

    • The first two lines are awesome. What I don’t get is why mentioning her father’s funeral is important. You can simply keep – ten years later, her return to home sets the killer on her trail. Also, I’m not sure of the stakes. How will finding out the truth help her save herself? I mean she can technically find out the who the killer was and be killed as well. Defining that unknown will make this logline much more crisp and ready to roll. Hope this helps :).

    • I also like the first two sentences. I’d leave out the motive for coming home, and — unless the rebuilding of a relationship with the mother is key — I’d leave that out as well. Maybe the answer to Utsav’s question is to change “or become the final victim” to “before she becomes the final victim”? That might set the stakes a bit more firmly.

      Congrats on making the lucky thirteen and best wishes to you!

    • Great job. I’m instantly intrigued by the first sentence, but I agree with the previous comment–I’m not sure you need the part about her father’s funeral, or even about rebuilding a relationship with her mother. I’m sure those things are important to your story, but they don’t add anything to the logline.

      I’m also not quite clear on why the killer would be after Miranda now. Obviously the murders are unsolved if the killer is free. Is Miranda still a suspect? Was she meant to die all those years ago? Does the killer think she knows his identity? Just a few more details would add to the intrigue, I think.

      Hope this helps! Best of luck to you!

      • I think you’ve got a very compelling story here, and I’m wondering if there is something more vital to the story you’re leaving out? My first question is why would she be in a “strange” house to begin with at 17, and why is she with 6 “bodies” instead of friends? What would make her run, instead of seek help? Was she involved with something she wasn’t supposed to be involved in? Does she know the killer? What’s behind her fears? I hope my comments are helpful. I think you have an awesome story here, and best of luck!

    • This sounds really intense and the opening line certainly grabs the reader’s attention. But while everything you have here is pretty logical, I’m not sure whether the reference to rebuilding her relationship with her mother — which several people have suggested may be extraneous in the logline — is actually the need that drives the MC’s goal or whether her need may be something else. And if reconnecting with her family really is Miranda’s goal, it looks like you need to reorder this so that it’s clear to everyone that’s not a secondary plot line instead.

      So if you keep that opening hook (and I would recommend spelling out ’17’), the very next thing needs to tie that shocking experience into what her goal is now. Does she regret that the fact that she ran away also meant estranging herself from her family, and her father’s death is the emotional trigger that makes her realize that its urgent that she reconnects with her mother before she misses more time with her as well?

      Once the goal is clear, I think the other pieces will fall into place, as it makes sense that her reappearance would make the killer fear that she knew who was responsible and want to get rid of her — which naturally is a threat to her chance to spend time with her mother (and perhaps other family members or old friends in the community), as well as being a threat to her life itself.

      Good luck!

    • I really like the first two sentences as is and I think it IS important to state some motivation for her return home with the father’s funeral, but would cut the bit about the mother, connecting the “but her return sets the killer on her tail” to the end of the third line. That would cut down your word count a bit and you could add some specifics about the killer and what she is doing to unravel the plot.
      Great set up! Good luck!

    • I have a couple issues with the opening. What we require here is a NEED and this is not quite implying one. It sounds like she ran away because something made her believe she’d be convicted of the murders (this had better be strong like her fingerprints are on the gun and it’s lying next to her!) It is that fear that has kept her away. But then her father dies and she overcomes the fear of going to jail so she can pay her respects. If this is true, then her need is to get her life/family back which means reconnecting with her mother is important as part of the need. It’s this that drives her inner arc and forces her to get over her flaw (fear of jail?)

      The goal that should be incited next is probably to clear her name. Finding out what happened will not do that. It is a step she must follow in order to do that, but it’s not the actual goal.

      Once we have that goal, you can list the obstacles that will make it difficult for her to clear her name (ie, Find out who the murderer is? Perhaps refute the evidence that made her run in the first place? Convince a cop who hates her that she’s not a bad person?)

      The final stakes (the murderer killing her first) are good and always strong to finish with.

      Good luck!

    • First of all… I LOVE the title. Sucks you right in. After that, unfortunately, it lost me along the way. “Afraid she’d be a prime suspect”? That’s it? I should think a 17 year old’s first thought would be more along the lines of Nightmare on Elm Street and, OMG! What’s going on and am I next? I would think being considered a suspect in a mass murder would be less than tertiary on her mind.
      After that, everything seems a little disconnected. At 17 she leaves home, comes back at 27 for her father’s funeral, wants to rebuild a relationship with her mother… Okay, so the police have closed this file on a mass murder and the killer is still running free in the town. Why would the killer go after Miranda if s/he is essentially free? Why risk exposing him/herself by another killing if it’s a cold case?
      A lot of questions that just don’t mesh.

    Title: Deacon and The Lizard
    Age Category: Adult
    Genre: Thriller

    When his former partner is believed killed in a car bombing, CIA Special Agent Deacon Wainright just wants to work solo and be left alone, instead he locks horns with a new partner, a female version of himself. But, when a trail of bodies points to his renegade ex-partner, they must work together to stop him before they become his next victims.

    • The premise is strong but I’m unclear on the motive and the stakes. Why must the MC and the new partner work together to stop the ex-partner? And why does the ex-partner want to kill them? A small mention of what the actual crux of the dispute is will complete the logline and stand in you in really good stead. Hope this helps :).

    • I like your premise. Here are a few things that were confusing to me, however: I think it would be better to say “believed to be killed” instead of believed killed. I know we’re trying to get a lot in with a few words, but this would make it a lot smoother.

      Secondly, I think saying “a female version of himself” doesn’t do your logline a good service because we don’t know enough of about Deacon himself in order to use him as a baseline for some other character, and it diminishes the feeling of variety. Perhaps say, “who is also a rough loner” or “who also isn’t that interested in a new partner.”

      Lastly, make clear that the renegade ex-partner is the same one he thought was killed. That eluded me for a second.

      Like I said, enjoyable premise, and good luck!

    • Good start.

      A few things: it took me a second reading to get that the former partner believed killed and the renegade ex-partner were the same person. I think the wording needs to be changed to make clear that the partner Deacon believed to be loyal has for some reason turned on him/the CIA. And I agree with an earlier comment that “a female version of himself” doesn’t tell us anything about Deacon’s partner. All we know about Deacon so far is that he wants to be alone. Does this woman want the same thing? I also think that either “work solo” or “be left alone” could be left out of the first sentence, as they have such similar meanings.

      Hope this helps! Best of luck to you!

    • I’d also alter “believed killed” to “believed to be killed”. End the first sentence at “be left alone” and start S 2 at “Instead he locks horns with…”. Kill the “But,” in the next sentence and start with “When a…”. I’m a fan of short sentences. 🙂

      I don’t mind the “female version of himself,” but I understand Jayme’s point. The biggest problem I had was that it took me a minute to connect renegade ex-partner with the former partner thought to be dead.

      And I agree that some tidbit about the ex-partner and the MC is needed.

      I like the idea and just need a little more to hook me!

      Best of luck to you.

    • I agree with previous comments about the first line needing to say “believed to be killed”. I also had to re-read to clarify former and ex-partner being two different people. I also agree with adding in the motive of ex-partner, why he’s killing everyone. And lastly, how will the MC figuring out how to work with his new partner and solving the murders change him for the better? I think the story is intriguing and with a few tweaks your story will really stand out. Best of luck!

    • I, too, like the story line — this sounds right up my alley as a reader. I did wonder if it might be stronger to start with ‘After his former partner is killed by a car bomb’ — rather than letting us know from the outset the ex-partner isn’t necessarily dead.

      I also thought inserting a sentence break between ‘…’alone’ and ‘instead, he…’ would make for a smoother read. I didn’t have a problem with the ‘female version’ of himself line, but wanted clarification about why he and the new partner are likely to be the next victims. If it’s because they are the ones who have figured out this renegade ex-partner is still alive, I think including that fact would help set the stakes.

    • I’m mostly in agreement with the comments that have already been posted, but I wanted to ask in particular about your opening sentence. Given the way you’ve phrased it, it sounds like Deacon liked his partner when he was still “alive” and a “good guy” ? Is that the case? That he’s not necessarily a loner so much as in mourning and perhaps blaming himself for the result of a bad mission? You’ve set up at least this possibility, which could give a lot of depth to the character both here in the logline as well as in the manuscript, especially depending on how you connect that dimension to his need.

      great set-up!

      • Yeh. Deke and his old partner were friends of longstanding. His partner, Mitch, went rogue for reasons which don’t come out until the end but Deacon and his new partner, Liz, in tracking the ‘trail of bodies’ discover that Mitch is the only connection among them. And, yes, Deke is quite a genial fellow but he doesn’t deal with losing people close to him well.
        Thanks, Kurt. this has given me a lot to think about and look at.

    • This certainly looks like a solid concept for a thriller, but without rereading it a couple of times it isn’t clear enough that the renegade ex-partner and the partner he’d believed dead are the same person. So I agree that you need to reword that to avoid any possible confusion — it’s an important enough point that you probably just need to state it plainly, explaining that it turns out that his longtime partner had actually faked his death and has become a renegade.

      I also agree that it would be stronger if we had a better understanding of why he wants to work alone (is it just because he’s grieving, or is he something of a loner anyway?) and how his new partner is similar to him (are they both stubborn and independent?). Also, I’m assuming the ex-partner may target them to stop them from uncovering his crimes, but it might help if you were more specific about the situation they’re dealing with.

      Good luck!

    • Thank you, EVERYONE, for your comments and help and for taking the time to read. Hope to get a reworking up tomorrow. (Got a flu shot the other day and it worked… I got the flu!)

      Again, thanks to all for your help.

    • Everyone has pretty much touched on the key points here. I think this is a strong premise. You do a great job up front of telling us why he wants to work alone–his need and motivation are believable. I agree that it isn’t clear the renegade ex-partner and the partner he believed dead are the same person. I would also like to see more clarity as to the conflict the female partner brings, aside from he just wants to be left alone. She’s a female version of himself, but that doesn’t mean much to us in the logline since we don’t know a lot about Deacon yet. Is there romance involved here? Does that present a problem pertaining to his ex-partner? Why is the ex-partner a threat to him? Overall, the story is solid. I really want to know what happened to the partner and why he was believed to be dead, so you have me hooked there. I just think some clarity regarding the points mentioned will do the trick 🙂

    Title: Blemished
    Age Category: YA
    Genre: Speculative Romance

    When seventeen-year-old New Yorker Eliyana Ember discovers the hideous birthmark she’s always considered a curse is the key to another realm’s salvation, she must break her vow to never love again and bestow her sacred first kiss upon the one boy who can save her mom from a wicked ruler—even if it means Eliyana can never be with the Guardian who unexpectedly captures her heart along the way.

    • There’s a story here, but I’m confused about who’s in trouble, another realm, Eliyana’s mom or Eliyana. There may be some interesting conflict between ‘the boy who gets the kiss’ and the Guardian. It seems like saving her mom easily trumps the Guardian. I also would remove the ‘unexpectedly.’

      • Hi Grandkee! Thanks so much for this helpful feedback. The realm and the mom are in trouble. Do you suggest focusing on just one?

    • I think it wouldn’t hurt to break this up into two sentences. I like that something she thought was a curse turns out to be a good thing, and I really like that that good thing involves a painful choice, but there is just so much going on that it’s hard to keep track of it.

      Maybe strike the “break the vow to never love again” because while I do not doubt that it is important to the story, it doesn’t seem like she necessarily has to be in love to bestow her sacred first kiss…esp. considering that she’s possibly in love with the guardian instead. I just think you might be better served to omit one or so of the plot threads and focus on the highest stake ones.

      Make those stakes a little clearer: her mom’s life (why was her mom stolen) and the curse that is actually a key to salvation.

      Very good luck to you!

      • Hi Jayme! Thanks so much for taking time to write this thoughtful comment. I will work on breaking it up and post a revised version below. Best of luck to you as well!

    • I think one thing you can do is break this into 2-3 sentences. There’s so much going on right now, it’s difficult to tease all of the threads apart. Is Eliyana’s need keeping her vow? Is it keeping her mother alive? If she’s vowed never to love again, she must have loved once before – did she never kiss her love at that point, leaving her first kiss still pure and sacred? The love of the Guardian may be the reward, but it’s not necessarily the need. You may be able to consolidate some of the logline this way. I really like the set up of the MC and her “blemish”. Good luck!

      • Hi Kurt! I so appreciate you taking time to comment on my logline. Eliyana makes the vow because she wants to avoid the heartbreak love inevitably brings. The boy she fell in love with rejected her (so yes her first kiss hasn’t been given yet) and at the beginning of the novel she believes her mother to be dead. Her need to avoid heartbreak is linked with saving her mom (once Eliyana discovers she’s alive) because she believes her mom is the only one who could ever love her despite her ugly birthmark. But the only way to save her mom is to kiss the rightful heir to the throne, thus sealing her life to his forever. The conflict is that she meets this Guardian and he makes her believe someone could love her for who she is. Obviously that is a mouthful, which is why I’ve had difficulty condensing it into 75 words or less 🙂 I will work on breaking this up into shorter sentences. Thanks so much again and good luck to you too!

    • Okay, so first of all this is a very long sentence. Try to chop it up some to avoid unnecessary confusion. Some things to chop… you probably don’t need to mention her last name, and I think that the fact that the birth mark is hideous tells us that she doesn’t like it with stating that she “considers it a curse.” Also, cut the word “unexpectedly.”
      Why is her birthmark the key to another realm’s salvation? Salivation from what? And why did she vow never to love AGAIN? What happened to her first love? Why is her first kiss “sacred” and why would kissing this boy help save her mother? How did her mother get taken by a wicked ruler in the first place? And why would kissing this boy stop her from being with the Guardian? I’m guessing there is some interesting magic in play with all of this, but I don’t know what it is and all the confusion is turning me off, rather than hooking me.
      Focus in on one primary need/goal for character and then bring in the stakes. I think some of your magic/world building details add interest, but less is more. Don’t insert it if you don’t have the room to explain it.
      There are lots of interesting ideas here though and with more clarity, I think you’ll do just fine. 🙂

      • Hi Jacque! This is wonderful feedback! Thank you! I’ve answered some of these questions in my comment to Kurt above. My biggest issue is condensing all of this information into 75 words or less (obviously haha). All of this is explained in my blurb, but since Baker’s Dozen asks for a logline my dilemma is deciding what to put in and what to leave out.

        Your suggestions of things to cut are spot on. Thank you! In answer to your questions:

        1) her birthmark is the key to another realm’s salvation because it is actually a secret inscription revealing the name of the rightful heir to the realm’s throne (as you can see that info could be the entire logline by itself)

        2) The salvation is from the wicked ruler who killed the last king and took over the throne

        3) She vowed to never love again because love only brings pain and leads to heartbreak. The people she loves always leave, either by death or by choice. At the beginning of the novel Eliyana believes her mom is dead and was also just rejected by the boy (her best friend) she is in love with. So she makes the vow because she never wants to feel the pain of heartbreak again.

        4) In the other realm, a first kiss is sacred and seals you to another for life. Eliyana was bestowed special protection at birth (the result was the birthmark) and the only way she can pass that protection on to the heir to the throne is to give him her first kiss. Then he will be strong enough to defeat the wicked ruler.

        5) Kissing the heir seals her life to his and to be with anyone else, aka the Guardian, would mean her death.The Guardian is special because he makes her believe true love is possible and that she could be loved despite her flawed appearance.

        So any suggestions you have or are willing to offer based on these answers would be EXTREMELY helpful. You are right that I need to focus on one need/ goal. I will work on revising this today. Thanks again!

        • My main feedback is to focus on ONE strong conflict for the pitch. It’s all interesting, but as you said, word count is too tight here to include it. But if you can hook people with one strong conflict, they will want to read your blub and get the rest. So as far as I can tell, you have a choice. Either focus on the internal /romantic/sacred first kiss side of things (leaving out the birthmark, all references to her mom, and only mention the fate of the kingdom in terms of how it adds tension to the romantic choice) or focus on the external threat of the evil ruler to Eliyana and her mother based on her birthmark. I really don’t think there is room for you to do both right here, and that is okay.

          I had to do the same thing with mine, so don’t think I take this lightly. My book is called “The Demon Prince,” but I don’t think my pitch really says who the prince is or even hints at the romantic complications that come into play. People would have to read my full blurb and find out. 😛

          I hope that helps!

    • Here is my revision (WIP) of my logline. Anyone who wants to let me know if I am on the right track is greatly appreciated! Also, thank you L.C. McGehee for offering this space this week for us to work on our loglines. You are awesome!

      Seventeen-year-old New Yorker Eliyana never wants to feel the pain of love and loss again. When she discovers her hideous birthmark is an inscription hiding the name of another realm’s rightful king, she must make a choice. Either bestow her powerful first kiss on the king, sealing her life to his and saving the realm’s people from a wicked ruler, or sacrifice everything for the Guardian who loves her, despite her blemished appearance.

      • Hi Sara,

        I’m coming in late on this one (it’s one of the loglines that I really had to think about!) and have tried to absorb all the previous comments. I do like your revision VERY much!

        I’d kick out New Yorker — it doesn’t seem to add anything. You could tighten it up by saying “When she discovers her hideous birthmark hides the name of another realm’s king…”

        Are you amenable to changing “sealing her life to his” for something like “forgoing all other love” (or something like that). I had to read through your notes above before I really understood what the choice was. Take that with a grain of salt, because my mind has been turned to mush as a result of the Query Week from Hell. 🙂

        I agree with Wordsmith that the Guardian seems to come in from nowhere. Rather than have people wonder what this guardian is, could you simply say “the other man/woman”? And I’d really like to know if your MC loves the guardian, and isn’t interested only because he sees past her disfigurement and loves her.

        One other tiny little thing, and I don’t know how to put my finger on it, but the term “hideous” bugs me. Is there another adjectival that would work? (I get the feeling that it is hideous, but I just don’t like the word here.)

        This is really hard, isn’t it? 🙂

        • Yes! This is hard haha 🙂 Thank you for this helpful feedback, CVDalcher. I have New Yorker in there to establish she is from our world, but you are not the first person here to suggest cutting it so it looks like I need to consider it may not be necessary. She does love the Guardian–actually she hates him at first, but slowly begins to see him differently and he captures her heart. How is this?

          Seventeen-year-old Eliyana never wants to feel the pain of love and loss again. When she discovers her unsightly birthmark is the key to saving her mom from another realm’s wicked ruler, Eliyana resolves to do whatever it takes to get her back. But Eliyana never expected this would mean forsaking the boy who achieved the impossible—the one who captured her heart and made her believe in true, happy ever after love.

    • Is it critical to mention the fact that she’s a New Yorker? It feels a bit stilted, from a reader’s standpoint. You also have a break in logic in that there is a disconnect between the hideous key and the vow to never love again. There does not seem to be any continuity between these two events. So, the first question is… WHY? So, she fell in love before and never kissed the guy? Or is there something in the progression from birthmark to key to salvation that elevates her kiss to ‘sacred’ status? And then the Guardian pops in out of nowhere. I was sort of looking for some continuity in the progression from first recognition to salvation – personal and global.

      • Hi, Wordsmith! Thanks for taking time to comment. Kisses are sacred in the other realm across the board–everyone’s first kiss seals their life to the person they kiss.

        She never kissed the boy she loved before because it was an unrequited love. He rejected her.

        What makes her kiss special is that the birthmark sets her apart as betrothed to the rightful king of the realm. The birthmark is an inscription revealing his name and also gives her special protection that her first kiss will bestow onto the king, giving him the power to defeat the wicked ruler. If you see my revision above I’ve tried to make this a bit clearer 🙂 I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have time.

    • The birthmark’s connection to the rightful ruler and the kiss sounds very original to me. Perhaps if you concentrate on that and leave out all or most of the vow, the mother and the guardian, you can fit it into 75 words? If she passes the protection on to the heir will the disfiguring birthmark disappear? If it does, this would be a good motivation.

      • Thanks, MVB! That is so encouraging! No, the birthmark doesn’t disappear (this has to do with a twist at the end of the story). Her biggest motivation is to save her Mom and the realm (the people she grows to care about throughout the story). I revised in the comments above. I would love to know your thoughts if you have time 🙂 Thank you for your feedback!

    • Latest Revision:

      Seventeen-year-old Eliyana never wants to feel the pain of love and loss again. When she discovers her unsightly birthmark is the key to saving her mom from another realm’s wicked ruler, Eliyana resolves to do whatever it takes to get her back. But Eliyana never expected this would mean forsaking the boy who achieved the impossible—the one who captured her heart and made her believe in true, happy ever after love.

      • I’m liking this a lot! The only thing that leaves me wondering is the last sentence — if I didn’t already know the basic plot elements, the boy who’s about to be forsaken seems to come out of the blue. There just seems to be something missing there. I think you could tighten up the end by replacing “the one who captured […] ever after love” with something like:

        “by capturing her heart and allowing her to believe in love again”

        or somesuch. That would give you a few more words to play with earlier on.

        Excellent revision!

        • Awesome! Thanks so much for your help, CVDalcher! I like “made her believe in love again”. 🙂 I will work on this…maybe put the boy earlier so her doesn’t come out of the blue. Really, thank you so much!

        • Great revision, Sara! I agree with CVDalcher suggestions, also, I would still want you to clarify a bit how a birthmark could save her mother. Maybe just specify that it contains a secret code? Also, you could cut the “evil ruler” and just say that she is trying to save her mom from another realm. And I’m a bit wary of using the phrase “never expected.” I think the last line would be stronger if you just end it with “But this would mean…”
          Good luck!

          • These suggestions and comments are so helpful and encouraging. Thank you!

            Okay, here goes another try…I am still keeping the evil ruler because a post by Holly B on MSFV says to include the antagonist. I am also not sure how to add the boy closer to the beginning without going over the word count. I did get the inscription thing in there and tried to tighten up the end. What do you think? (it’s five words shorter now, but clearer I think)

            Seventeen-year-old Eliyana never wants to feel the pain of heartbreak again. When she discovers the unsightly birthmark she’s always considered a curse is an inscription holding the key to rescuing her mom from another realm’s wicked ruler, Eliyana resolves to do the one thing that can save her—even if it means Eliyana must forsake the boy who made her believe love doesn’t always lead to heartache.

            • Okay, the linguist in me is dying to give your second sentence to an intro to Lx class for tree-diagramming purposes! 🙂

              It’s a loooooong sentence. How about something like:

              Eliyana never wants to feel the pain of heartbreak again. At seventeen, she realises the unsightly birthmark that she considers a curse is actually a mysterious inscription — it holds the key to rescuing her mom from another realm’s wicked ruler. But saving her mother will mean forsaking the one boy who made her believe love doesn’t always lead to heartache.

              Just a suggestion from the Queen of Parsimony (which is probably why I’ll never get a book published!).

              • Lol thanks! Believe me I hate long sentences too. My novel reflects my love for short ones, but alas my logline does not. Sometimes it takes an extra eye to see where a change can be made. And your eyes have it! Thanks!

            • I think you’re close, but there’s a couple of little things I’d suggest combining from the different revisions. Because ‘heartbreak’ and ‘heartache’ are so similar, I’d stick with ‘love and loss’ in the first sentence (it’s also more lyrical.) And I think CVDalcher’s suggestion for how to split up the second sentence looks good.

              Also, I’m concerned that there’s a contradiction between saying she’s given up on love and then turning around and referring to the boy who made her believe in love — unless you make it clear that this changes in the book, it doesn’t quite make sense. So perhaps the last sentence could be something like this: “But saving her will mean forsaking the boy who’s just given Eliyana hope that love might not always lead to heartache after all.”

              Hope that helps. Good luck!

    Title: Magnolia
    Age Category: YA
    Genre: Paranormal Romance / Suspense

    Seventeen-year-old Sophie looks forward to a perfect senior year — until she’s forced to leave New York and spend that year at an elite girl’s school in the South. Before long, Sophie finds some parts of history are alive and well. One part she falls in love with. The other is out to get her.

    • I like the concept of a New York girl sent to the South, but maybe add a word or two to provide the flavor/feel of that dramatic shift (that whole ‘brisk and busy’ to ‘slow and sweet’ is a fun one to play with!). Secondly, the stakes are a little confusing and vague. What is out to get her? What history is alive and well? If this is connected to a mythos or cultural tale, then let us know what that connection is.

      Just a little extra clarity at the end will do the trick. Good luck!

      • Ok, two extremely helpful comments led to a revision (I hope we’re allowed to do this!):

        Seventeen-year-old Sophie looks forward to a perfect senior year — until she leaves the bustle of New York for an elite girl’s school in the slow, but charming, South. While there, Sophie encounters two ghosts from her own past. One she falls in love with. The other is out to get her.

        I like it better already. 🙂

        • I’m following Holly Blodger’s advice from some of this months MSFV writing, which is why I’m focusing on the need in all of my comments. The first sentence here is set-up and inciting incident, which aren’t necessarily helpful in loglines (but wow are they hard to separate out!). Is her need the ghost she’s in love with, to be with him? Is her need to survive the second ghost? The discovery of aspects of her or her family’s past?

          I like what you’ve got as a general reader, but as someone who’s trying to learn how to write these damn loglines myself, I think you can be tighter and more direct.

          • This is indeed much better. But mentioning leaving New York for the South seems unnecessary information as it does not tell me the hardships for Sophie except a location change. Does it cause her adaptability issues? (I imagine so because of elitist school but spelling it out helps raise the clarity).

            I like the second part quite a bit but mentioning why she meets these ghosts in the elitist school (I’m assuming that;s not random chance) would set up the stakes much better.

            Hope this helps. 🙂

    • The first sentence works. I get the MC and the inciting incident. ‘history’ is too vague. I dont’ know what it means. Also, I’d like to know more about consequences. The fact that some other history is out to get her (whatever that means), doesn’t make me want to read this.

    • I love your revision, and I think that was exactly what you needed to clarify the story. You could keep it that way, but since I’d like to try and be more helpful, my only suggestion would be to hint at why the second ghost is out to get her (is it revenge, jilted lover, is it her fault at all, or just an angry ghost?). Hope this is helpful. Best of luck to you!

      • Thank you so much, Shari. I’m overwhelmed by the helpfulness here! The struggle I’m facing (and perhaps others are as well) is how much information to divulge in the logline and how much to keep back. I see comments on other entries that want more, but the question is — how much ‘more’ is enough?

        Best of luck to you as well!

    • I’m commenting on the revised version — and it’s great. The added details help flesh out the story. I like the suggestion to add in a ‘why’ the 2nd ghost is out to get her and, I think a note about what will happen if the ghost does get her (is the threat death?) so we know what’s at stake.

      • MVB and PeggyR —

        Thank you! Yep, there’s a way to work in the ghost description. I’ll work on revising tomorrow. Love the helpful comments.


    • Kurt — you’re absolutely right. I’ve been struggling with the need issue from the beginning. I think part of my problem is that my MC’s need/want changes over the course of the book. So, taking your advice, here’s a revision.

      All Sophie wants is to leave the snobby southern girls’ school her mother chose and hop the first train back to New York. But things change when she meets Stuart, and Sophie finds herself falling in love with him and the South. If Sophie’s going to stay, she first needs to confront a ghost from her own past – one who’s come back to settle a century-and-a-half old score.

      Thank you again!

      • This is definitely more direct. You’ve got the need (stay!) and the conflict (confront a ghost!). Is there any way you can bring those two things into any kind of opposition with one another, so that succeeding in one looks like failure in another (drama!).

        The opening sentence is nice worldbuilding, but you might need to or be able to lose it in favor of highlighting the action.

    • Responding to the revision:
      Okay, so while I like the idea of adding the descriptive contrast to the first sentence (New York bustle vs charming South), I think the words you chose confuse the emotion a bit. I mean, “slow and charming” just sounds better/more desirable to me than “bustle,” so if you are trying to show that the move isn’t something Sophie wanted, maybe you could pick a more positive adjective for NY and a less positive one for the South.
      In the next sentence, I think you could remove the “own” just to save you a word.
      Also, is there a way to make Sophie seem a bit more active? What is she trying to accomplish while she is plagued by ghosts? Still trying to have “the perfect senior year” or did that change with the move? Is seeing ghost something that just started happening to her, or did she cause it somehow? And at the end, I assume she wants to stop the ghost “out to get her” as the stakes, but does that mean the ghost is playing pranks that prevent her from having “the perfect senior year,” or that the ghost is trying to kill her? What does she want to do to stop him, stop seeing ghost in general or banish this particular ghost?
      I don’t know if these are all questions you can answer in one pitch, but I think that getting a better sense of the character/action overall would be a good thing. I love ghost stories though, so I am definitely fan of this one.
      Good luck and thanks for critiquing my pitch! 🙂

    • Your latest revision works very well. Knowing that Sophie doesn’t want to go to the southern school helps greatly with the set-up and I think you’ve tied up the ghosts nicely too. The story looks great now. The only comment I can think of to add is a typo. You left out the ‘on’ in hop ‘on’ the train. Great revision, well done!

      • Since your new revision appeared at the same time my last comment did, therefore making my comment useless, I am going back in to see if I can actually be helpful. 🙂
        Better first line, minus the small typo already mentioned. And you could delete the “But” in the second line and the “own” in the third.
        Is Stuart a ghost? That probably merits an early mention. Otherwise, the last line kind of comes out of nowhere as far as inserting a random ghost attack on the scene. Maybe find a way to connect the paranormal elements into your story earlier? Maybe say that one of the reasons she wants to go back to NY is because there are ghosts in the South bugging her?
        Great revision though!

    • I just so loved this but then got hung up in the “parts of history are alive and well…” What kind of history? In the South, I automatically clock back to the Civil War. If there is a Civil War connection, it might help to disclose that. Does she have a previous connection to the south and/or this school or area? There doesn’t seem to be much at stake. Up the ante so we can appreciate her investment.

      • Hi Wordsmith, and thanks so much for your helpful comments. I did revise the logline — twice now — and got rid of the vague “parts of history” crud that was making everyone twinge.

        There’s a historical southern element, but it’s all antebellum, not civil war. I’ll see if I can work in something like “meets the ghost of a young Antebellum man” — that would clear up who Stuart is and tie it into the pre-war South / 150-year-old problem.

        Really appreciate the feedback. It’s the first time I’ve ever done this!

        • Arriving late, but enjoying the process. One tweak, maybe? Is he trying to kill her to settle a 150-year-old score?
          Good luck!

          • Hi Chris,
            No! The ghost of Stuart is the good guy — he’s the one protecting Sophie from the other (female) ghost who has come back to settle the score. I’m working on the revision to clear this up. I’m also working on a way to telepath my entire MS to anyone who reads the log line. 😉

            I also appreciate all the typo point-outs re “hop the train” — in my idiolect (UK/US English), things like “hop a plane/train” work, but I see they might not for others. Thanks for pointing it out!

    • Honestly, I really love this. It immediately made me think of Lauren Kate’s “Fallen” which is good because that made it click for me-I like Fallen, this is similar in genre, so I will like this too:)

      I read through the comments and really like the details in your latest revision. You state the need and conflict and I love the historical element. Really, nice work!

    • I’m reposting the final (or semi-final) revision here so it’s easier to find for Lara. Thank you all again for such wonderful help!

      All Sophie wants is to leave the snobby southern girls’ school her mother chose and hop the first train back to New York. But things change when she meets Stuart, and Sophie finds herself falling in love with him and the South. If Sophie’s going to stay, she first needs to confront a ghost from her own past – one who’s come back to settle a century-and-a-half old score.

      • This story sounds quite intriguing, but I’m a little puzzled that you mentioned earlier that Stuart is a ghost as well, and that doesn’t come through in this revision. If Sophie doesn’t know he’s a ghost (and perhaps doesn’t find out until the end of the book), that might not be necessary, but the idea of the two ghosts — one she falls in love with, and one that’s a threat — creates a nice parallel.

        And this is a small detail, but it seems that using the term ‘first’ in the phrase ‘she first needs to confront’ almost deemphasizes the challenge. In any case, I think you could tweak that last sentence to make it sound more ominous. It says she needs to ‘confront’ the ghost, but it doesn’t give a clear picture of what the ghost’s intentions are, and whether settling the old score means it’s actually out to kill her.

        Just my two cents — I do think this looks pretty good overall.

        Good luck!

        • Thank you, Lara! You’re a star. I’ve taken your suggestions and submitted to the Baker’s Dozen.

          Thanks to everyone else who commented. I want to give each of you a great big hug!

          Good luck with your submissions!

    Title: All the World’s a Stage
    Age Category: YA
    Genre: Single Title, Realistic Contemporary Romance

    After a lifetime of being a puppet, seventeen-year-old Gabrielle decides not to attend Juilliard and be an actor. But standing up for herself means complete alienation from almost everyone including her mother. But Adam counteracts her monstrous self-doubt and fears of making it on her own, believing in her new recycled artist and activist roles. Now she’s got to find the guts to risk her heart and their friendship, or possibly lose him too.

    • Some of this works, but the order of things seems seems off. ‘alienation’ is a good word. It makes me want to read it, but it’s a consequence and might better be at the end. Is Adam a boyfriend? He needs definition. Maybe alienating everyone, her mother and Adam could be the total consequence. If Adam believes in her activist role (I don’t like the use of ‘recycled.’) how is she risking their friendship?

    • This is a good start, but I think some things need to be elaborated on, and some things could stand to be omitted. I’m not a fan of “after a lifetime of being a puppet.” Knowing nothing else about your work, I thought for a second that this was a story about a literal puppet. Silly, I know, but there are plenty of fantasy stories out there! Maybe you could change the opening line to something like, “After a lifetime of doing what she’s told, seventeen-year-old Gabrielle defies her mother’s wishes when she refuses to pursue acting at Julliard.” Just a thought.

      I find myself wanting to know why Gabrielle is alienated when she decides not to go to Julliard. I can see that her mother wants her to go, but why would her other friends/family care either way? Are all of her other friends actors? I was confused about her monstrous self-doubt, because the first line is all about her standing up for what she wants. That doesn’t strike me as someone filled with self-doubt. The fears of making it on her own seem completely legitimate, though. I do think we have to know more about Adam–what makes him important? In what way is she risking her heart and their friendship?

      With a bit of refining, I think you could get rid of some unnecessary parts and get in some valuable information. Hope this helps. Best of luck to you!

    • Love the idea of a stage-daughter rebelling. More of them probably should!

      I agree with most of Grandkee and Haley’s comments. What I’d most like to know is:

      1. Why does the MC rebel? Perhaps she never wanted to be an actress? If so, what does she want instead? Perhaps state up front that she’d rather be an artist/activist than be on the stage.
      2. Who is Adam?
      3. How is she risking her heart and her friendship with Adam? I don’t see the set-up for risking the former, and her relationship with Adam seems to be solid already.
      4. Does the MC care about the alienation from her mother? I would think she doesn’t, if she feels as if her mother has been running her life up until now. Perhaps you could leave this out?

      It sounds as if she’s already risked alienation (although I want to know why), so perhaps you could tie this in to the next risk she needs to take.

      I think it can work with a bit of tweaking. Good luck to you!

    • I’m going to echo much of what’s already been said. This sounds interesting, but I’m not sure you’re showing off the story to it’s best advantage. I wasn’t a fan of the puppet line either and think the simpler ‘after x years of study’ or something like that. I also wanted to know who Adam is — is he a current friend supporting this new change in her life — or someone she crosses paths with as part of making this change? I admit, the ‘recycled’ description didn’t work for me, too. I thought the closing could use a bit of clarification — It sounds as if she may ruin her relationship with Adam if she doesn’t gather her courage and go to Julliard, but I wasn’t sure.

    • I think you really get to the meat of the story with the last sentence. You’ve hinted that her main need is standing up for herself – focus on that and on the consequences. If she’s not going to Julliard, then the fact that she chooses not to go reads like inciting incident and probably something you can ditch here.

      I get the feeling from that final sentence that somehow the very act of standing up for herself is what could cost her Adam’s friendship (and more?) – which is great. Personal need (independence) vs. emotional need (love). Very close and personal stakes – simple, yet dramatic. Fantastic.

      • Thank you all for your comments. They are so helpful to this grueling process. The biggest thing is I missed was being clear about Adam and how he fits into the story. Kurt, you were absolutely right about Gabi risking love for her independence, but it is the relationships of family and friends she risks while Adam remains her sole support. Here’s my revision. I hope this is more compelling and clear. 🙂

        Seventeen-year-old Gabrielle’s never made a choice based on what she wants. So when she chooses to stop acting and focus on becoming an artist and activist, everyone thinks she’s being brainwashed by Adam, her boyfriend, the sculptor who wants to save the world. Between her mother’s threats of abandonment and her actor friends alienating her, Gabi is forced to choose between living her life for other people, or start living for herself.

        • This is an interesting revision and it does make the story clearer, particularly Adam’s role in it. The only thing is choosing to stop acting doesn’t sound nearly as big a deal as giving up a promising acting career and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend Juilliard, so I think you need to make a bit more of that. I’m also wondering whether Gabi really is making her own choices or if she’s just doing what her boyfriend wants… but maybe that is what your story is actually about… the extent to which our choices are influenced by others (family, friends, boyfriend/girlfriends) and the extent to which they’re our own. I must admit I’m curious as to whether Gabi will actually like being an activist with a creative boyfriend whose first priority is to save the world…

        • Hi Shari,
          I like this revision. The stakes are much clearer now! I wonder if you could bring out Gabi’s need earlier, perhaps by saying something like “At seventeen, Gabrielle needs to start making her own choices”

          How about a word like “influenced” instead of “brainwashed”?

          The part about risking abandonment by her mother doesn’t sit well with me. Would her mom really abandon Gabi in this situation? Disapprove and give her daughter the cold shoulder, maybe. And psychological/emotional abandonment can be just as bad (or worse) than physical abandonment.

          Hope that helps. Great work with the revision!

          • Wow. Thank you all for your feedback. It is amazing. Although I’m tearing my hair out, each time I read a comment I see where I’m off. Here’s another revision! 🙂

            Seventeen-year-old Gabrielle never made a decision and stuck with it, allowing family and friends to persuade her. So when she defies her mother, says no to Juilliard and dates her best friend Adam, no one supports her. Faced with alienation from her actor friends and creating huge family conflict, Gabi’s got to find the courage to stand up for herself, and accept jeopardizing all her relationships as a consequence.

            • Okay, just jumping in with the latest version!
              I loved it up until the last line. It sounds like you are summing up what she already did, restating it as the stakes. So I would take the best parts of the last two lines and combine them. Use the extra words you free up to tell us something about Adam (why she is drawn to him and why her family wouldn’t like him) and how that finally motivates her to turn her back on Juilliard and her family. I think right now we have the need, character, goal, and stakes, we’re just missing the WHY that will connect it all.
              Good luck!

        • Hi Shari! I also like this revision 🙂 I love the ending line. It looks like she has a lot to lose if she decides to live for herself, which is great! I feel like you’ve made the conflict clear and the premise is really interesting (I would read this!) Great work!

          • Oh boy. Thanks again for awesome feedback! Here we go again….

            At seventeen, Gabrielle never made a decision and stuck with it, allowing family and friends to persuade her. So no one believes her when she decides to stop acting and become an artist and activist and date Adam the sculpture who wants to save the world. Faced with creating huge family conflict and her acting friends alienating her, Gabi’s got to find the courage to follow the life she’s been afraid to admit she wants.

            • Just to be awkward, how would it work if you used different lines from different versions?

              Eg: Seventeen-year-old Gabrielle’s never made a choice based on what she wants. So when she defies her mother, says no to Juilliard and dates her best friend Adam, no one supports her.
              Faced with creating huge family conflict and her acting friends alienating her, Gabi’s got to find the courage to follow the life she’s been afraid to admit she wants.

              But I think it’s really coming together with the revisions, great work!!

            • I think MVB’s suggestion works well (although I’d change something so the first and last sentences didn’t both end with ‘she wants’), and I personally like keeping the reference to Julliard because it’s specific and provides a sense of the setting. But I’m also seeing different bits and pieces that I think you could put together.

              So here’s another compilation to consider (with a few tweaks of my own):

              Seventeen-year-old Gabrielle has always allowed family and friends to persuade her, never making her own choices. So no one supports her when she says no to Juilliard, decides to become an artist and activist, and starts dating Adam, the sculptor who wants to save the world. Faced with creating huge family conflict and being alienated by her actor friends, Gabi’s got to find the courage to follow the life she’s been afraid to admit she wants.

              Whichever version you go with, I think you have a strong concept here, and I love the title. 🙂

              Good luck!

              • Thanks a million L.C.! And I truly appreciate you opening your blog up for us. This has been an amazing lesson in log line writing and I’ve learned soooo much in the past week. 🙂

    Title: Splice Children
    Age Category: YA
    Genre: Science Fiction

    Waking as a human amphibian after undergoing a genetic experiment to save humankind from a terrorist-engineered pandemic, Zen is mired in a genocidal game of bio-chess that threatens everyone he cares about, including his beloved Dana.

    • Wow! This is a mouthful but I can tell the story has awesome potential. The only thing needed is a little bit of uncluttering and removal of non-essential details. E.g.- I think we can live without knowing why Zen was converted to a human amphibian. Additionally knowing who is the opposing party on the bio-chess would give a clear picture of the stakes and why we must root for Zen. Hope this helps 🙂

      • Thanks Utsav! How’s this:

        Waking as a human amphibian after undergoing a genetic experiment, Zen is mired in a game of bio-chess against a genocidal terrorist organisation that threatens everyone he cares about, including his beloved Dana.

        (I hope it’s not rude or inappropriate to repost, LCM. If so, feel free to delete this. I thought it might help to avoid repetition of the same feedback, though.)

        • RIght now you’re only at 33 words – enviable! – but I think you need to expand. Is his primary need to defeat the terrorists? Is it to get out of the system in which he finds himself? Is he a willing soldier in this battle? Who carried out the experiment and does that related to his need?

          While I really like the setting you’re describing here, I think you’re relying on it too much for the logline.

      • I agree with Utsav. There’s too much unnecessary info in the first sentence. It would help me to know more about the conflict. What exactly is genocidal bio-chess? Also, the consequence is a bit too terse for me. ‘threatens everyone he cares about’ with extinction? disease? bad hair? I’m close to being intrigued.

    • I’m currently imagining Zen as the Man from Atlantis playing chess underwater…
      My problem is I don’t know what Zen needs. Does he need to turn back into a human or is saving Dana enough?
      What is a human amphibian? Does it live underwater? Why is he one? Will this genetic mutation save mankind from the pandemic by enabling them to live underwater? And what about the terrorists who engineered the epidemic? Are they not human or are they somehow immune? How is Zen going to achieve his goal? Is he actually playing chess?
      I’m not saying you need to answer all these questions in your log line but I do think it needs to be more specific in terms of needs, goals and stakes. At the moment it feels more like a metaphor for your story.

    • I think dividing this up into a few sentences will make for an easier read. Since it’s fairly brief, I think you have room to add in a few additional details like Zen’s age, who Dana is, and whether Zen — as a human amphibian — has a chance of a future with Dana (if Dana is a girlfriend/boyfriend) or whether his is a purely altruistic journey to save the world and the person he loves.

      • The revision seems much better. But maybe explaining what bio-chess is, like the others have pointed out may help making it clear. Also, I get that he must save Dana but 1) How can Zen stop the terrorists and 2) if he has the tools and the abilities, what’s stopping him (the hurdle/obstacle)?

        Hope this helps.

    • I have to say, I really like the premise. I also think the bit about the terrorist-engineered pandemic adds a nice layer of tension/threat. A ‘bio-chess’ game in which we have to wonder is he a pawn or a king? Or, maybe a little bit of both? I do wish I knew whether Dana, obviously the queen, was, likewise genetically altered. And, is Dana being singled out or is she just one among the masses under threat from the terrorists?

    • Okay, I know this is getting late in the piece, so I won’t be offended if nobody reads this. Also, I hope this isn’t cheating, but given the confusion the previous version seems to be causing, I’ve started from scratch on a different tack:
      Despite his best efforts, Zen cannot recall who Dana is. When the young pair awake from cryonic stasis with their memories obliterated, they find themselves genetically changed beyond recognition. With nothing to confirm their identities in the present era, they commence a challenging process of integration into an alien, high-tech society. Yet there’s something elusively familiar about Dana, something in Zen’s heart he needs to identify. Otherwise, he may lose the only link to his past, and maybe the most important person in his universe.

      (Yes, it’s the same story. Just a different aspect, probably the one I prefer most.)


      • Hah, I have replied to myself! Here’s the same version with the third sentence cut (perhaps unnecessary exposition).
        Despite his best efforts, Zen cannot recall who Dana is. When the young pair awake from cryonic stasis with their memories obliterated, they find themselves genetically changed beyond recognition. Yet there’s something elusively familiar about Dana, something in Zen’s heart he needs to identify. Otherwise, he may lose the only link to his past, and maybe the most important person in his universe.
        Any preferences?

        • Hi Nicholas! Thanks for looking at mine. Here to quickly return the favor. 🙂
          Compared to the previous version, I definitely think you are on the right track with this and I like the first line.
          Second line is good too, but you could say “they are” instead of “they find themselves” just to save you a word.
          The last two I’m a bit iffy on.
          I agree that it reads a little stronger without the extra line, but at the same time, the slow build up to the last line has me a little worried. This does not really tell me what they actually will be doing in the story besides staring at each other cursing their lost memories. I’m not sure how Dana would become the “most important person in his universe,” why losing a link to an unknown past would be so bad for him, and what, specifically, threatens to take her away. You do set up a compelling internal conflict, but without some physical details of the world or villain, it just comes off a bit vague.
          Internal conflict is hard in a short pitch like this. I’m not saying you can’t do it, but try to build it around the physical details of what your characters are DOING if you can. So maybe instead of the line you took out, what you actually need is one strong reference to the physical conflict of the book. Not just that they are trying to “reintegrate their society” but what they are fighting against or fighting for from your MC’s perspective (even in an emotional sense if there isn’t a physical battle in your book). Are they still working against the plague (mentioned in your last version)? Is there a dystopian authority to be reckoned with? Whatever it is, be as specific and action based as you can and maybe build the feeling of the last two sentences around it.
          I really like what I’ve seen from your pitches though and I wish you the best of luck tomorrow. 🙂

        • Both versions give us some fascinating details about the story, but my concern is that the basic elements — the need, the goal, the conflict, and the stakes — aren’t coming through clearly enough. The last sentence is too vague, and I’d also be careful about using phrases like ‘only link to his past’, because it’s a bit clichéd.

          Jacque made some excellent points in the comments above. What exactly does Zen need to do, and what’s in his way? Is there someone or something behind all this that wouldn’t want Zen and Dana to regain their memories? I’d suggest revisiting the basic formula and thinking about how you could restructure this to highlight the essential elements.

          Good luck!

    Title: The Scientist’s Daughter
    Age Category: YA
    Genre: Fantasy

    For obvious reasons, fourteen-year-old Lara never tells anyone she believes a sparkling, vibrant, magical life exists underneath the daily routine of normal life. When Finnian gives her a glimpse of this magic, Lara is torn between her dad’s contemporary world of science and Finnian’s older world of legend. She doesn’t want to lose her new friend, who makes her feel so alive, but she doesn’t want to lose her dad either.

    • I think you could make this tighter. I’d cut the following:
      1. “For obvious reasons”
      2. either “vibrant” or “sparkling” (they seem redundant to me)
      3. “daily”
      4. possibly “who makes her feel so alive” — could you swap this out for one terse adjectival?

      I love the contrast between the new/scientific and the old/legend.

      I get a sense of the stakes in your last sentence, but I don’t get that sense *enough* — the first thought that comes into my mind is “why can’t Lara have both?”

      Congratulations on making the lucky thirteen, and best wishes for success!

    • I pretty much agree with CVDalcher. Additionally, I would avoid repetition of the word “life”. Maybe “routine days” instead of “daily routine of normal life”?

      Not sure about others opinions, but I want to know a tiny bit more about this Finnian. Maybe add an extremely brief description before his name? (I know we’re trying to tighten this.)

      Also, possibly don’t need the comma in “…friend, who makes…”

      I like the premise of magic vs science 🙂

    • I also agree with eliminating “For obvious reasons and I would stick with only “sparkling”. I love the premise of the story and the contrasts, but am wondering why she is in this predicament? What exactly is at stake here? Why can’t she keep her new friend a secret and why would she lose her dad? Good luck!

    • Thanks very much for the comments. Is this any better?

      Fourteen-year-old Lara is nothing but a dreamer, longing for something she doesn’t even understand – until Finnian gives her a glimpse of the magic she’s dreamed of. Torn between her dad’s contemporary world of science and Finnian’s older world of legend, Lara discovers Finnian needs her help in a matter of life and death. But since he can’t explain, Lara must figure it out for herself.

      • I liked this version better, but I’d cut the ‘nothing but a’ from ‘Fourteen-year-old Lara is nothing but a dreamer…’ I’d also look for a way to rephrase to avoid using ‘dreamer’ and ‘dreamed’ in the same sentence.

        I think you need to inject something to let us know why Lara can’t have both the scientific and magical worlds. Does her father forbid or ridicule the mention/world of magic? Or if she enters Finnian’s magical world, is she barred from returning to her old life? In the portion about Finnian needing her help, if you could find a way to avoid using the vague ‘matter of life and death’ and give us something more specific, I think it’d be stronger. Is it a matter of Finnian’ss life? Lara’s? His magical world?

      • I think this revision makes some strong changes, but you still haven’t identified Lara’s need – is it to save Finnian? To save the world from which Finnian comes? The set-up you’ve got now is great – it may want tightening later on, but keep going in this direction. Great work.

    • Wow, what a fantastic group. Thanks everyone for great feedback and comments. And the chance to repost is brilliant as well. It’s so helpful to see entries make such phenomenal progress.

      I hope this version makes Lara’s need and the stakes clearer.

      Fourteen-year-old Lara is a dreamer, longing for something she doesn’t even understand – until Finnian shows her a glimpse of the magic she always suspected existed, though her scientist father would find a rational explanation. Torn between the contemporary world of science and an older world of legend, Lara discovers Finnian needs her help. But, since he can’t explain that it’s his life or death at stake, Lara must figure it out for herself.

      • It’s better but I still don’t understand her conflict between choosing her father’s rational explanation and Finnian’s world of legend. If she chooses science, does she lose the ability to see Finnian’s world? If so, spell it out. It ratchets the stakes that much more. Also, give her the impetus to take the scientific route because then she has a concrete conflict.

        Hope this helps. 🙂

        • Thanks so much for coming back to comment, Utsav.
          Lara’s father believes in science and Finnian believes in magic. In the end, it’s not so much there’s a conflict, or even that only one of them can be right, as that Lara has to work out what she really believes herself.
          While I think it’s an interesting dilemma, I do find it hard/impossible to turn it into an exciting conflict with high stakes!!! Any suggestions are so welcome…

          • Can you tell us what the main conflict of the manuscript is? I’m wondering if there’s a way in the logline to pit saving Finnian’s world against believing in his world, for example – which would certainly give those kinds of stakes, but not knowing how your story shakes out, I’m just spitballing.

            • I didn’t read ALL the comments here, but I tried to respond to the latest version:
              Fourteen-year-old Lara is a dreamer, longing for something she doesn’t even understand – until Finnian shows her a glimpse of the magic she always suspected existed, though her scientist father would find a rational explanation. Torn between the contemporary world of science and an older world of legend, Lara discovers Finnian needs her help. But, since he can’t explain that it’s his life or death at stake, Lara must figure it out for herself.
              I find the first sentence here a bit overdone-like you are trying to do too much at once. I think it is mostly the last bit “though her scientist father…” because it immediately makes me think, what does that have to do with anything? You’re saying her father believes in science, but why should Lara even care since you labeled her a “dreamer” “who always suspected there was magic?” She doesn’t seem like she follows in her father’s footsteps at all based on that line. I could see a clearer conflict if SHE was shown to be the scientist, following in her father’s footsteps or whatever, and science was important to HER. But maybe that doesn’t fit your story? I don’t know….
              Also, the end is a little tricky, too. If Finnian can’t explain his predicament, how does she discover it or even know to keep looking until she figures out his life is at stake? It probably would be better, at least for the pitch, to just say that his life is at stake without qualifying it by whether or not he can tell her about it. And what does his life even mean to her personally? I don’t think you clearly stated how she even feels about Finnian himself, with or without magic, so it does beg the question of why she cares more than anyone else would. Does she have to believe in magic to save him? That would add to the conflict if there is also an equally compelling reason for her to want to NOT believe in magic.
              I think the conflict of science and magic IS a great one to explore though and I wish you the best of luck here! 🙂

    • This is so hard… Thanks so much for all your comments. Jacques, thank you for all your questions which made me rethink completely.

      I don’t know if this is any better. There is no plot left in it.

      Fourteen-year-old Lara is a dreamer, longing for something she doesn’t even understand – until Finnian shows her a glimpse of the magic she always suspected existed. But Lara has been trained to think rationally by her scientist father. She knows magic is an illusion with a logical explanation. Lara has no idea, but Finnian’s fate depends on whether she chooses to believe her intellect or her instinct. And what she does about it.

      • I’m in total agreement that these things are brutal – a distillation of ms that foregoes plot almost entirely.

        I think this is coming along really nicely. I’d combine sentences 2-3 to streamline that Lara’s father taught her rationality and that “magic” has an explanation.

        What is the major conflict in the book? Does Lara have to fight against some force in Finnian’s world? Will choosing to trust her instincts put her into conflict with her father? I’m trying to look for a way you can give the final sentence(s) a dramatic punch.

        Fourteen-year-old Lara is a dreamer, longing for something she doesn’t even understand – until Finnian shows her a glimpse of the magic she always suspected existed. But Lara has been trained to think rationally by her scientist father. She knows magic is an illusion with a logical explanation. Lara has no idea, but Finnian’s fate depends on whether she chooses to believe her intellect or her instinct. And what she does about it.

        • Thanks for the encouragement, Kurt. The points you raise are very similar to LCM’s comments. You’re both right of course. And if I can answer you both, I probably will have a decent logline – at last…!!!
          Might have an improved query at the end of it too, which would be a fantastic bonus.
          I’ll have to give it more thought.

        • The first sentence is better and I think that if you combine the next two sentences as LC suggests, that will be a lot stronger too. I know you are working on the last two sentences, so I won’t beat on you too much for them until I see a revision, I would just caution against using “Lara has no idea.” If she has “no idea,” then that makes it seem like you removed her from the conflict and the stakes are written from Finnian’s POV—he must get this girl to believe or else. Keep things in terms of what your MC knows, her overall goal, and what stands in her way.
          Good luck and I will check back to see if there is a new version up!

      • Though I haven’t gotten to any of the YA entries yet, I just saw your revision and wanted to give you my thoughts on it. I’m afraid the last two sentences aren’t doing much for you, as they’re too vague to clearly convey the conflict and the stakes. And while you’ve clarified the situation about her internal conflict with magic and science at the beginning, I still don’t think her goal is clear either. You’ve also spent a bit too much time on that issue; for instance, you could combine the second and third sentences into: “But Lara has been trained to think rationally by her scientist father, and knows magic is an illusion.”

        And if her need at the beginning is to resolve her ambivalence about science vs. magic, is her goal actually to prove that magic does exist? In that case, I could see how Finnian would seem like the means to achieving the goal, if he can give her that proof, and then the conflict that threatens to block the goal is whatever is threatening Finnian (and naturally her feelings for him as a friend give her another reason to save him). So I think you need to be specific about what is endangering Finnian, and how conquering it requires that she accept the existence of magic, which is what I believe you’ve implied.

        Hope that’s helpful and not just more confusing! And good luck with this — it really sounds like a neat story. (I like your character’s name, by the way. 😉 )

        • Thanks so much for your input and insight. Couldn’t believe it when I saw you’d commented. Your perceptive comments have given me great clarity. Hope I can work out how to use it in a log line now!
          And thanks again for hosting this event. It is brilliant to be part of such a motivated and interactive group.

          • MVB,
            Keep up the good work. This is a tough process. But I see a huge improvement. Your last revision is A LOT better, and I agree that you did a great job clarifying the beginning, which made a huge difference. Great suggestions all around. It is really coming together. Sounds like an awesome story. Best of luck!

    • Thanks so much again for all the comments and all the help. Thanks to you all, if I’m not there yet, I must surely be getting much closer…
      In this version, I’ve followed the advice to concentrate on the stakes and would love to know if anyone thinks they sound strong enough yet? (Or even, just stronger?)

      Fourteen-year-old Lara is a dreamer, longing for something she doesn’t even understand – until Finnian shows her a glimpse of legendary magic. But Lara has been trained to think rationally by her scientist father and knows magic is an illusion. When Finnian is pursued by an old foe, Lara tries to save her new friend. But she never expects to end up responsible – both for Finnian’s fate and the future of magic.

      • First two lines are still great and the last two are MUCH closer. It is definitely better!
        You do set up some good stakes here, my only concern is connectivity. It isn’t clear by the ending stakes that there is any conflict with her belief (or her father’s belief?) in science. It just seems like she has been shown magic by Finnian, and runs off to save it and him without a second thought, making the reference to her father’s belief in science seem random. Is there a way to show in the stakes that there is something equally compelling about science that Lara would have to give up in order to save Finnian and magic and add that conflict to the stakes? Would she lose her father’s love or just strain the relationship somehow? Would she lose the sense of security rational thought gives her? I don’t know what fits your story best, but if the conflict is science and magic, than there has to be something desirable about both options.
        Right now, it seems like she believes in magic from the start and there is no conflict, with the bit about her dad as just added background info. If that is the case, than you don’t need to mention the father at all and just talk about how she sets off to save magic and what else makes that difficult.
        Also, nitpick, I would not begin two sentences with “but” so close together and I’m wary of the phrase “never expects” as more of cliché that eats up your words without giving much impact in return. Maybe just “Lara tries to save her new friend and ends up responsible for both Finnian’s fate and future of magic.”
        I don’t want to be discouraging though because I think you are on the right track and have tons of potential here. Even if you don’t make any changes now, things are looking better and I’m sure you’ll have a decent shot! 🙂

        • Thanks for coming back Jacque and making such a valid point. Missed today’s window (devastated), so hope to submit very early on Thursday with a modified version…

    Title: The Demon Prince
    Age Category: YA
    Genre: High Fantasy

    Ashira wishes for love, excitement, adventure far from her desert village. When her coming of age prophecy states she will live a life of “no renown,” she would do anything to change it, even deal with a lazy and cynical djinni who sets her every wish awry. Now faced with demon outbreaks and darker prophecies pointed in her direction, Ashira must contain the power she unleashed before it leads to the destruction of her world.

    • Oh, I really like this one! I am a sucker for a desert setting, and for this kind of mythos and I LOVE that it starts out with a prophecy of dullness, and that the consequences of forcing a new path are dire. Your stakes are clear and your set-up is intriguing. Honestly, good job, and good luck!

      • All good stuff, although I think it can be tighter. For example, ‘she would do anything to change it’ could be ‘she rebeled.’ I wanted to know something about ‘the power she unleashed’ and how it affected her future.

    • I like this a lot. Stakes are clear and I love the unwanted boredom-to-unexpected-dangerous-adventure idea!

      Like Grandkee, I’m not seeing how (or why) the MC unleashes power, or what the nature of it is. It seems that the Djinni screws up Ashira’s wishes somehow, but is this a result of the Djinni being lazy and cynical, or something else (like mischievous or inept)?

      To tighten it up, what about “…rebels, and resorts to a […] Djinni…”?

      Neat coming-of-age concept. Best of luck to you!

    • Thanks to all those who commented! And Jayme, thanks for being so nice to me!! If I can figure out which pitch is yours, I’ll be sure to return the favor as I give out my own feedback.

      I would like to trim the word count here, so I love the specific suggestions. I’m still mulling over the “rebels” line though. To me, that would say there is a dystopian/authoritarian person enforcing the prophecy for Ashira to actively rebel against, when it really is more of a cultural/magical idea of fate. So if I said “rebels” I would want to qualify it more and it would still leave the word count where it is… Maybe that’s just my own frame of reference though….

      And the “power she unleashed” refers directly to the djinni magic/wishes. Would something like this make it clearer? It cuts a few words anyway. Also, no one mentioned it yet, but there is a typo in the first line that this fixes too! 😛


      Ashira wishes for love, excitement, and adventure far from her desert village. When her coming-of-age prophecy states she will live a life of “no renown,” she would do anything to change it, even deal with a lazy and cynical djinni. Her errant wishes trigger demon outbreaks and darker prophecies pointed in her direction. Now, Ashira must contain the power she unleashed before it leads to the destruction of her world.


      Thanks so much!

      • This is much better. Although, I’m imagining that she does have the power to stop the destruction, so maybe telling us what’s the actual conflict stopping her from achieving that will help. e.g.- Saddled with a less than helpful djinni, Ashira must contain… (I know the example sucks but it’s off the cuff)

        Hope this helps 🙂

        • That’s interesting. Unlike Ustav, I’m imagining Ashari has no idea how to contain the power she’s unleashed but will have to find out and this will be the substance of the story.
          Actually I think the misunderstanding comes from the ‘power she’s unleashed’. It’s actually the djinni who’s unleashed the power, isn’t it? Because of Ashari’s wishes?
          Maybe if you could use something like ‘Ashira must find a way to contain the disastrous fall-out before her world is destroyed.’

      • Great job stating her need at the beginning! I can identify with this character just from reading the first sentence. From reading your explanation above this revision I understand it’s her wishes from the djinni that are causing destruction, but I didn’t know that without reading the explanation. I think it might be because djinni is spelled different here than what I’ve seen before. If you could clarify Ashira’s wishes granted by the djinni are causing destruction and she has to contain the djinni in order to the save world, the confusion will be eliminated. Maybe even simply changing “power she unleashed” at the end to “djinni she unleashed” will do the trick 🙂 But honestly this is such an awesome premise and jinnis/djinnis/genies are really in right now. Harper Teen just published one called Exquisite Captive. Totally different from yours though 🙂 Good luck!

      • This revision really brings a lot of the drama forward. I’d look now at simplifying – Ashira wishes for adventure, for example – to streamline and see what else you’re missing. You’re at 70 words, which is still under the limit, but running with the idea of shorter-is-better (to a degree, of course), pull it back.

        Word choice – I’d say “bargain with” instead of “deal with” – it’s more active and sets up their relationship more clearly. “Deal with” I read first as “tolerate” – which raised questions you don’t want.

        Super intriguing. Love the set-up.

        Ashira wishes for love, excitement, and adventure far from her desert village. When her coming-of-age prophecy states she will live a life of “no renown,” she would do anything to change it, even deal with a lazy and cynical djinni. Her errant wishes trigger demon outbreaks and darker prophecies pointed in her direction. Now, Ashira must contain the power she unleashed before it leads to the destruction of her world.

    • Thanks so much for all the comments! You guys are too nice!
      I haven’t changed it enough yet to really merit a re-posting, but I’m considering everything that has been said and welcome any more thoughts from the group to get this tightened up and ready to go. 🙂

      • Okay, here it goes. I played around with the last bit so it is five words shorter. For any of you who thought “power she unleashed” was confusing, does this help at all? Also, the last line, I think it adds some extra voice/punch to the end, but maybe I should just leave it off in favor of making it nine words shorter? Thoughts?


        Ashira wishes for love, excitement, and adventure far from her desert village. When her coming-of-age prophecy states she will “live a life of no renown,” she becomes determined to change it, utilizing a lazy and cynical djinni. Errant wishes trigger demon outbreaks and prophecies of a darker force she must contain before it destroys her world. Maybe “no renown” wouldn’t be so bad after all….


        Thank you!

        • I really like this version. It sounds like Ashira’s problems have escalated beyond the troublesome djinni, which is what you want to convey, isn’t it? The phrase you end with works for me. Best of luck with it!

          • I’m glad that comes across for you! The djinni isn’t the villain, more of an irritating side-kick/secondary pov character who becomes the catalyst for all the trouble based on the nature of the wishes and other dark forces in play. In the end, he has no better idea than Ashira how to fix everything; he is just along for the ride!
            Thanks for taking another look! 🙂

        • Hi Jacque,

          I agree this works pretty darn well.

          One tiny point is the four periods at the end (unless that was unintended). Though it’s a contentious issue, I personally would only use three to indicate the sort of pregnant pause you seem to be intimating. As far as I can tell, a fourth period is more appropriate for academic omissions at the end of a sentence, where the sentence actually ends (as opposed to an indication of ‘trailing off’ for dramatic effect, which I only see with three periods).

          You get both takes on the issue at: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=230015

          I still prefer just three periods, with a space after the final word before the ellipsis (though again, it’s a matter of stylistic preference).

        • This story sounds like a lot of fun, and I think the logline is close. However, I’d suggest replacing the last lines with the ones you had in the prior version.

          I think it’s important to say ‘Her errant wishes’ to make it clear that it’s what she asked the djinni to do that causes all the trouble, and while the last sentence adds some charm since it suggests a whimsical quality to the story, I’m not sure it really fits in a logline (though you could certainly use it in the query).

          I think you could just end with “Her errant wishes trigger demon outbreaks and darker prophecies. Now Ashira must contain the power she unleashed before it destroys her world.”

          Good luck!

          • Nooo!!!!


            Thank you so much for weighing in and for hosting. I will add back the “her” and save that line for my query. I’m just not sure what to do with the last line now because at least three other commenters said “power she unleashed” was confusing/vague, which was why I changed it. Good thing I’m not submitting until Thurs! 🙂

            • Best of luck on Thursday and make sure you submit in good time. I was a little late today (3 hours) and it had already filled up, so I’ll have to try again on Thursday!

    • I doubt a lot of you are on here anymore, but on the off chance you are, I wanted to swing by and thank you for helping me polish up my pitch. It was selected for the baker’s dozen auction (number 48) and I really appreciate all the help that I got here beforehand. And thank you again, Lara, for hosting.
      Best of luck with all of your stories!

    Title: Maria’s Beads
    Age Category: Middle Grade
    Genre: Magical Realism

    When María’s best friend becomes deathly ill and her parents refuse medical treatment, she desperately tries to save her friend with the help of magic beads from a mysterious old woman. But to succeed, María must find and use her own inner strength, passed down through her ancestral Huichol culture . . . or watch her friend die.

    • I love the premise here. Her goal and motivation are clear. I’m wondering: has Maria always known she possesses this special inner strength, or is it something she’s just discovered? How does she find it? Does she have to go on a risky journey and if she takes too long her friend will die before she returns? Make it clearer how she goes about finding and using her power and your logline will be stronger 🙂

    • This sounds great. I take it Maria has to find the way to release the magic in the beads? If you could just make that slightly clearer and, as Sara suggests, give a little insight into the kind of journey (spiritual/physical) she has to undertake, it would be perfect (I think!)

    • Since your genre is magical realism, I’m unclear as to whether the inner strength refers to a strength of character or a skill/gift/talent which is connected to her history/ancestry.

      Also, since the stakes are solely focused on the friend, some word or two to emphasize the dearness of that friendship would help create a deeper emotion to those stakes.

      Personally I would be very interested to read a book that delved into Huichol culture, so the best of luck to you!

    • I think the first line here does good job of setting up the need/inciting incident. I would focus more on the second. What does using her “own inner strength” look like and what might stop her from using it? I think being a bit more specific here would add tension to the stakes and flesh out the details of your world a little more.
      Best of luck to you!

      • Thanks Sara, MVB Jaymie & Jacque. I’ve made the following tweaks in response to your comments:

        When María’s closest friend becomes deathly ill and her parents refuse medical treatment, she desperately tries to save her friend with the help of magic beads from a mysterious old woman. But to succeed, María must overcome her fears and then find and use her inner spiritual strength, passed down through her ancestral Huichol culture . . . or watch her friend die.

        • I think this revision is bringing in more worldbuilding than you need. You can lose “her parents refuse…” and collapse “with the help…” to one of three things – the beads, the old woman, or her own inner strength. I think you can move the stakes from the final sentence “watch her friend die” to the first sentence so that right off the bat you’ve got our attention and sympathy. Then you can wrap up with the magical element of the beads or the old woman, whichever serves your story better.

          it sounds like a great story!

          • I’m pretty sure there is a connection between the magic beads and Maria’s inner spiritual strength, but it needs to be clearer. At the moment it sounds a bit like she uses the beads but they don’t work so she has to try something else. But I imagine that what actually happens is that the beads somehow help her tap into her inner spiritual strength. Hope this is of help!

        • I also think you could cut “her parents refuse medical treatment.” The last line still worries me because it seems like a vague list of unrelated things, as BVM says, though I’m sure it all connects together in your story. I’m just not sure what fears she has and what using her “inner strength” would actually look like. Maybe try to bring out the external struggle more so we can picture what she is actually doing to save her friend?
          I think the way you ended it is great though and I love the idea of bringing in this kind of world building. Good luck!

          • I think things are pretty clear, and you’re really super close, but I agree, clarifying how the beads connect with her – specifically her need to get rid of fears and her finding strength – would help strengthen the pitch and eliminate any confusion the reader might have.

        • I hope this isn’t impolite Grandkee, but here’s a suggested edited version:

          When María’s closest friend becomes deathly ill, she desperately tries to save her with the help of magic beads from a mysterious old woman. But to succeed, María must overcome her fears and use her inner spiritual strength, passed down through her ancestral Huichol culture . . . or watch her friend die.

          Even with the edits, I wonder what her fears are? Maybe say “overcome her fear of (etc.)” Is it a fear of using her spiritual strength, or spiritual powers, or similar? Fear of the occult?

          Nice stakes and premise, just curious about that specific point.

        • I love this concept! A lot of folks have misconceptions about what magical realism is, and this sounds like it could be the real thing. 🙂

          There are just a couple of things I would tweak in this logline now. First, it seems almost repetitive to say ‘But to succeed’ at the beginning of the second sentence and then ‘or watch her friend die’ at the end, because to succeed clearly means to keep her friend from dying. I also don’t think you need ‘and then find’ because that clutters the sentence without adding really adding something meaningful.

          If you wanted to emphasize the connection between the magical beads and Maria’s own spiritual strength, as MVB suggested, I think you could replace that ‘to succeed’ with something more specific. So the second sentence might be, “But for the magic to work, Maria must overcome her fears and user her inner spiritual strength, passed down through her ancestral Huichol culture . . . or watch her friend die.” (Or something else about how she must believe in the magic — or draw on her own healing energy — to make it work; I’m assuming that’s the gist of it.)

          Good luck!

    Title: The Story of the Story of the Egg
    Age Category: MG
    Genre: Adventure

    Fin’s curse is that the opposite of what he wants is just about what always happens, so when a villain kidnaps his baby sister, he knows he can’t want her to be saved. He will, however, have to want to help the villain – without actually becoming one himself.

    • That is a brilliant logline! And concept! wish I had thought of it. My only comment is wrt the last phrase (without becoming a villain himself). I’m not sure what you mean by it. How would he become the villain and what would set him on the path? Making that clear will turn this into a winner. Hope this helps :).

      • A really clever concept. Congrats! I ended up reading the first line twice before it clicked. Maybe reorder things, e.g. ‘Fin’s curse is that what happens is the opposite of what he wants.’
        Otherwise, I’m ready to read the book.

    • What a great story idea! I agree with Ustav….wish I’d thought of it first, haha 🙂 This is an excellent start, but I do think it could read a bit smoother. I would cut “just about” (do you need it?). I was also a tad bit confused at the end- does he only WANT to help the villain or does he ACTUALLY help the villain? Also, how does this put him at risk of becoming a villain? In other words, does an inner conflict arise from this? Does he find he likes being a villain and then becomes unsure of who’s side he’s on? Really this is EXCELLENT, as I said, I would just clarify the inner conflict a little more 😉

    • Yes, great concept. I agree, the only thing that’s unclear is why he’s going to become a villain? What about his character puts him in danger of becoming villainous? Also, if you needed to clarify that point, you could tighten the first line. For example, you could reword as follows: “Fin has a curse. The opposite of what he wants almost always happens….” — Just a thought. Best of luck!

    • Wow. I love it.

      I think Shari’s idea for a first line revision is a good one. Crisp and tight. And it sets up what you may be trying to get at — that Fin naturally won’t want to be a villain himself (even if this desire is subconscious), so of course he’s at risk of becoming just that.

      The only thing I worry about is the “just about always happens” — maybe you can raise the stakes by not qualifying Fin’s curse.

      Brill job, and best of luck to you!

    • I agree with the above. What a great story idea! I also agree with clarifying Fin’s inner conflict and how he risks becoming an actual villain.

    • Many thanks for all the comments! I’m trying to keep it tight and snappy in the revision process, so here’s the latest version:
      Fin’s curse is that what happens is the opposite of what he wants. When someone kidnaps his baby sister, he knows the only way to save her is to want the opposite and help the criminal. Now he just has to figure out how to be a hero – without turning into a villain.

      • I like the revision. It cleared up the first sentence for me.
        I’m struggling a little with the idea of “wanting” though, because obviously he is taking steps because he “wants” his sister saved, so “wanting” isn’t really what triggers the curse, right? He has to take some action too?
        Also, perhaps you could use a more specific word describe your agonist rather than villain or criminal? I know that is what they are based on their actions, but knowing something else about them would bring in SOME world building/context/motive that would help me know what kind of story this is.
        Great set up though and I wish you the best of luck!

        • I find the revision clearer too, but I think you can use the extra space to develop Fin’s needs and the curse. What Fin really needs is to get rid of the curse, find a way to live with the curse, get his sister back? How did he get the curse in the first place? Does everyone have a curse or is Fin unusual/unlucky? Is the person/entity that cursed him the same one that took his sister or are they two unfortunate and unconnected events? I’m not saying you need all this in your log line but I think including some more information about Fin and/or his world would round it out a bit.

          • Slightly modified to expand on the villain below. -MVB, I’m actively trying to steer clear of worldbuilding details right now. It’s a big can of worms – one that I began with in my earliest logline drafts, but everything requires too much detail for what I can fit into the logline, so that’s why I’ve been avoiding it.

            Fin’s curse is that what happens is the opposite of what he wants. When the malevolent Monkey King kidnaps his baby sister, he knows the only way to save her is to want the opposite and help Monkey King. Now he just has to figure out how to be a hero – without turning into a villain.

    • The latest revision:
      Fin’s curse is that what happens is the opposite of what he wants. When Monkey King kidnaps his baby sister, he knows the only way to save her is to want the opposite and help with Monkey King’s crime. Now he just has to figure out how to be a hero – without turning into a villain.

      • Just a few clarificatory questions. I think if you answer these your logline is done and dusted.

        1) Is the crime you talk of not the same as kidnapping his baby sister (assuming that it’s not, spelling it out makes us understand the true nature of Fin’s challenge)?

        2) Is becoming a hero Fin’s objective? Or is it an incidental occurrence because of his choices? If it’s the latter, then point out his real objective (saving his sister obv and stopping the monkey king)

        3) I can understand Fin not wanting to become the villain. But what happens if he does? Does it mean not saving his sister? Seems unlikely because the absence of any contrasting goal/hurdle make it implausible for Fin to choose otherwise.

        The last line is still vague and does not tell us the actual stakes. How will his choices make him a villain? Does helping the Monkey King (by not wanting to help him? lol) make him a villain?

        Hope this helps 🙂

          • Great rewrite. I really like the concept, and it’s pretty easy reading now.

            One suggestion: I think the opening line could be smoother. Here are some possibilities, with the line broken up:

            Fin is cursed. Whatever he wants, the opposite happens.

            Fin has a curse. What he wants, the opposite happens.

            Fin’s curse: what he wants, the opposite happens.

            Or a mixture of the above.

            (Not sure about colons in these loglines, but in general writing I think it would make sense, so I don’t see why not in a logline.)

            Of course you don’t have to use one of these, but I think the line still needs polish. Particularly, the words “that what” make my eyeballs spin a little (extremely picky I know, but we’re trying to emulate agents here!)

            Hope that helps! (And hope this is not too late!)

      • This is such a neat idea for a story. (I remember reading the opening in one of the critique sessions at MSFV, and it’s definitely stuck with me.)

        But I have to say that I think the way you phrased part of this in the first version you submitted worked better than it does in the revision — specifically, the part about how he can’t want to save his sister or it won’t happen. Although it makes sense that Fin must at least seem to be helping the villain, I feel that adding the part about helping with the crime makes it less clear and straightforward than you had it in the beginning.

        So I’d suggest combining the first and last versions of your logline into something like this:
        “Fin’s curse is that the opposite of what he wants will always happen. So when Monkey King kidnaps his baby sister, he knows he can’t want her to be saved. To be a hero, he’ll have to want to help the villain – without actually becoming one himself.”

        Good luck!

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