Logline. No, it’s not what you wait in at Six Flags to ride a fake piece of wood down a water chute. A logline is a one sentence teaser, typically used to promote a movie but it also applies to novels. Sometimes it will be two lines. Or three. One is best. Bob recommends 25 words or less.
When I started submitting my first manuscript to agents, I faced the challenge of writing a synopsis, a one-page summary of my story. I researched how-tos online and found one that suggested writing one sentence (a logline), then expanding it to one paragraph. Then taking that one paragraph and making it one page. Piece of cake! Once I had the luxury of an entire page, it was much easier to do.
Here’s the logline for my first manuscript, A Forgiving Season: When a single mom returns to college, she never imagines a disabled professor will show her how to love and trust again. Tagline: We all have disabilities—some are just easier to detect than others.
Imagine you’ve just read a great book and are recommending it to a friend. They ask you what the book is about. Your response is a logline. Or you’re channel surfing and pull up a movie to watch. Your cable provider gives you a one-line summary to entice you to watch it.
Here are some examples of movie loglines (a few were originally books):
1. After serving as a perpetual bridesmaid, a young woman wrestles with the idea of standing by her sister's side as her sibling marries the man she's secretly in love with.
2. A teen living under house arrest becomes convinced his neighbor is a serial killer.
3. When a fairytale princess is sent to New York City by an evil queen, she begins to change her views on life and love after meeting a handsome lawyer. Can a storybook view of romance survive in the real world?
4. A young widow discovers that her late husband has left her ten messages intended to help ease her pain and start a new life.
5. The life of a top chef changes when she becomes the guardian of her young niece.
6. Single-girl anxiety causes Kat Ellis to hire a male escort to pose as her boyfriend at her sister's wedding.
7. Two men from opposite sides of the law are undercover within the Massachusetts State Police and the Irish mafia, but violence and bloodshed boil when discoveries are made, and the moles are dispatched to find out their enemy's identities.
8. A hardened trainer/manager works with a determined woman in her attempt to establish herself as a boxer.
9. Karl Childers, a simple man hospitalized since his childhood murder of his mother and her lover, is released to start a new life in a small town.
10. A naive young woman comes to New York and scores a job as the assistant to one of the city's biggest magazine editors.
11. Cady is a hit with The Plastics, the A-list girl clique at her new school, until she makes the mistake of falling for Aaron, the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic Regina.
12. When a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent with the only athlete who stays with him.
13. A FedEx executive must transform himself physically and emotionally to survive a crash landing on a deserted island.
14. Two business rivals hate each other at the office but fall in love over the Internet.
15. A bored married couple is surprised to learn that they are both assassins hired by competing agencies to kill each other.
16. Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.
17. The music of the Beatles and the Vietnam War form the backdrop for the romance between an upper-class American girl and a poor Liverpudlian artist.
1. 27 Dresses
4. P.S. I Love You
5. No Reservations
6. The Wedding Date
7. The Departed
8. Million Dollar Baby
9. Sling Blade
10. The Devil Wears Prada
11. Mean Girls
12. Jerry Maguire
13. Cast Away
14. You’ve Got Mail
15. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
17. Across the Universe
Not so hard to do now that you’ve seen it done, right?