In our last post, we gave you homework. You all did your homework, right? Of course you did. You are all prodigies and wouldn't slack on such a thing. (Secret message to Laura: This means you. *ggg*)
I'm going to pretend I'm pitching something and will craft a fake list for us to use as an example.
Heroine: Laidback earth-mother
Hero: meticulous craftsman
To convert the heroine's garage into mother-in-law quarters.
She needs $10,000 as a down payment.
Crappy economy and frozen credit.
Consequence of failure:
Mother-in-law will be in spare bedroom, and heroine will lose her workspace for her art.
Heroine promised dead husband she would always care for m-i-l.
Challenge to self-image:
Until this all happened, my character used to think he was: family-oriented and generous.
Nursing home kicks m-i-l out because she keeps stealing the other patients' candy. She's a handful, that one.
Nursing home is paid up for six weeks. After that, m-i-l is out.
Important steps taken:
Heroine hires hero to do the rush build.
Heroine tries/fails to get financing.
Heroine tries/fails to get dead husband's family to help.
Heroine tries/fails to get hero to cut corners on plans.
Final reversal :
Hero pulls out of job because he can't work like this and because he secretly thinks heroine should extricate herself from dead husband's family affairs.
She finally finds closure on her marriage, free to love the hero, sends m-i-l off to live with other family, and converts garage into art studio. Meticulously crafted by hero, of course.
He learns that he can't control every detail, no matter how hard he tries, and that sometimes a man has to give a little to get a little. *wink*
Now, here's what you do. Pick any two or three items on the list, and mash them together into a single sentence. Then pick a different two or three items, and mash those. Lather. Rinse. Repeat until you hit on a combo that sizzles.
And there's your log line. Lead off a pitch with a sizzling, story-specific log line, and whoever is listening will have a "hook" to hang the rest of the pitch on. (I don't mean hook in the secret baby/amnesia/billionaire way, but in the sense that this is the piece which will prop up all the other pieces.)
Added bonus: You can use the rest of the worksheet to draft the rest of your pitch. Why not? You've basically just created a handy little structural road map for your story. Might as well use it to get where you want to go.
Let's try a few, shall we?
When a laidback earth mother gets a six-week eviction notice from her mother-in-law's nursing home, she has to choose between finally letting go of her dead husband and honoring her deathbed promise to him to always take care of his mother.
Eh. OK. But where's the hero? If you use a line like this for a romance pitch, bring the hero in quickly after it.
When a laidback earth mother must take her dead husband's mother into her home, she hires a meticulous craftsman to build a garage apartment, and instead they end up building a new life together.
A little hokey, but it definitely conveys the premise.
When a laidback earth mother hires a meticulous craftsman to construct a garage apartment, the two of them battle over everything from appliances and color choices to their growing attraction to each other.
When her dead husband's family refuses to care for their ailing matriarch, a laidback earth mother must come to terms with her widowhood and find a way to love again.
As you see, once you start playing with piece, you might find yourself riffing in ways that leap off the worksheet you filled out. That's okay. The worksheet is meant to inspire, not to limit.
Now it's your turn. Mash away! Keep going until you find an opening sentence that really speaks to you.