Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Log Lines #2

Here's a pair of log lines from Murphy.

Threatened, a highly principled lady must go against her beliefs and blackmail a dangerous man brought down by grief, who is the only one that is strong enough to protect her.

or longer version

Desperate but determined, when she discovers her step-brother’s incestuous plans for her, she seeks out the much feared ‘Terror’, a man rumored to be ravaged by grief over the disappearance of the boy he pledged to protect, and boldly blackmails him into agreeing to sire the heir she needs to secure her lands - as barter for the information she holds regarding the missing boy’s fate.

Hmm. These are good starting points, but they're not quite there yet, are they? They show why it's so hard to write log lines. If they're short enough to follow easily, they might not give enough information. If they're long enough to provide good information, they can get a little tangled.

But let's tackle these from a different angle this time. As we discussed in last year's pitching clinic, one of the things I do during a pitch is listen closely for the story questions. A good, complete pitch will answer most of the big story questions, but there are almost always one or two details left unresolved. This is not a problem. I like it when I can ask questions and keep you talking about your story. I like listening to how you respond, because the manner often tells me as much as the content. Can you give a succinct and complete answer? Have I stumped you?

If a log line is meant to capture my attention right out of the gate, and if questions are a natural response to a pitch, then a good log line not only delivers a capsule summary of your story, but it also gives me a hint of the questions that might be answered in the rest of your pitch.

Let's take a look at the two sentences and see what questions they might prompt.

Threatened, a highly principled lady must go against her beliefs and blackmail a dangerous man brought down by grief, who is the only one that is strong enough to protect her.

My main story questions are:
1. What is the threat against the principled lady?
2. Is the man made dangerous by grief, or was his danger nullified by grief? (The sentence could be interpreted either way.)

That's not a lot of questions, but that's okay. There don't have to be a lot of questions, just enough to keep my mind actively involved. I get other important details from this log line that perk my interest, such as, the hint of inner conflict suggested by "highly principled" and "go against her beliefs." And I really like the way this sets up a contrast between the dangerous man who protects the lady from external harm, and the dangerous man who causes inner discord in the lady. There's a good balance of tension in this sentence.

So, not bad, but the end result is that this one is a tiny bit vague. Are her beliefs religious or ethical or other? Go against isn't very strong -- try a more dramatic verb like violate. And maybe just a teaser about the threat to the lady. Let's see what happens when we get rid of the relative pronoun, too, just for kicks. But we still want to keep it short and clean, so maybe something like,

Threatened, a highly principled lady must violate her moral code and blackmail a man made dangerous by grief but strong enough to protect her from her incestuous step-brother.

I don't know. What does everyone think? This version seems more linear and more concrete to me.

Let's take a look at the second now. It's really long and could probably stand a nip and tuck, but we'll leave that for the moment.

Desperate but determined, when she discovers her step-brother’s incestuous plans for her, she seeks out the much feared ‘Terror’, a man rumored to be ravaged by grief over the disappearance of the boy he pledged to protect, and boldly blackmails him into agreeing to sire the heir she needs to secure her lands - as barter for the information she holds regarding the missing boy’s fate.

I have a long list of questions in mind at the end of this sentence. I bet the rest of you do, too. Let's all help Murphy out here. Post your questions in the comments. I'll get the ball rolling with what seems to me to be the biggest question:

How is this blackmail?



Anonymous said...

In the first example, the "made dangerous by grief but strong enough" seems a bit of a non sequitur (I keep wondering how being dangerous isn't strong).

If the blackmail is what's violating her principles it might be better to specify that (by or through blackmail instead of and).

Threatened by her incestuous step-brother, a highly principled lady violates her moral code by blackmailing a man made dangerous by grief - the only man strong enough to protect her.

Could still use work (I don't like using 'man' twice) but....

Jackie Uhrmacher said...

In what time period is this?

Jordan McCollum said...

Along with "how is this blackmail?" and "When is this set?" (using "lady" instead of "woman" makes me think it's a historical, especially with the addition of the legal details), wouldn't the child's apparent illegitimacy hurt its claim to the land (I realize this is more of a problem in claiming land belonging to the father, but there's still the social stigma of illegitimacy that might keep them from inheriting). And isn't she taking a big risk—aren't chances about 50/50 she could have a girl? Are these incestuous plans slow enough that her step-bro wouldn't have taken full hold of the land by the time a baby, boy or girl, is born?

I'm just really having trouble understanding this legal situation. I want to trust that you've thoroughly researched land holding laws of the time/period. I can see we're just scratching the surface of a fairly complex legal situation, so it might be best for a single log line not to touch on it, but develop in a full pitch. So maybe:

When a highly principled lady is threatened by her step-brother's incestuous plans, she violates her moral code to coerce a dangerous, grieving man [something more specific] to help her [maintain her claim on the family estate].

If not, here's my take:

When her step-brother plans to wrest her share of the family estate from her, a highly principled woman boldly coerces a dangerous [still want something more specific here--occupation?] man into siring an heir to secure her lands in exchange for her information regarding the fate of a missing boy he was supposed to protect.

The pronouns do get a bit confusing there though.

Jordan McCollum said...

Also, when you're hearing a pitch, is there a difference between a "I want to know more about THAT" kind of question and a "huh?" kind of question?

Babs said...

I took it to be historical as well. The term 'sire' makes me think that along with 'inherit' - blackmailed and barter? Lot's of good stuff there I just want to know more.

I'm with Jordan too. What about the legal issues?

I like Theresa's logline for its simplicity. I don't think there needs to be anymore until you're asked...but I'd like to know more. The longer version has me wondering. Why is the guy feared? Does she barter or blackmail him? Does the pledge to protect the missing child involve the step brother somehow?

em said...

I think I'm with Anon on this one. Barter and blackmail are confusing. Choose one and go with it. I like desperate that tells me something and so does determined, I don't know though? Here again, do you need both?
My take:
Threatened by her incestuous step-brother, a highly ethical lady violates her principles by blackmailing a man made dangerous by grief - who's is the only one strong enough to protect her.

Unknown said...

Starting off with just the word "threatened" like that threw me off a lot. I think turning it into a phrase would work a lot better--"After being threatened by..." for example.

Julie Harrington said...

I think having the inciting incident stated right up front and plainly at the beginning of the pitch will go a long way in clearing up the confusion. If it's a historical, a simple title like Count, Lady, Sir, etc., will go a long way as well.

And I'm winging it here because I obviously know nothing about the characters but something like..

When the sudden death of her eccentric parents leaves her in control of their vast fortune and at the mercy of her step-brother's incestuous plan to gain control of it, a proper English Lady is forced to blackmail the infamous "Terror" - a man so dark, so reclusive, and so haunted by a mystery in his past, that her plan to blackmail him into her bed in exchange for the key to that mystery will either be her save her from evil... or send her straight into its very clutches.

ACK! Okay, so the ending is a little wobbley, but obviously we don't have all the details here. LOL. And wow, that's one big run on. [cringe] Sorry about that.

I guess for me the questions that pop up no matter what log line I have are:

When are we? Is this a historical? Because it's really unusual for a female to be left in control of an estate or fortune... which is the only reason I can come up with that the step-brother would need to produce an heir with her. If HE just needed to produce an heir with her, he'd just knock up anybody. Wouldn't have to be her.

Why is The Terror so consumed with grief over the boy? Just because he failed to protect him? Was it his son? How was he entrusted to care for him in the first place and how would he even have realized the boy was in that much danger?

But the biggie for me?

Why wouldn't the heroine -- if she knows how grief-stricken the hero is and that there is a child involved -- have told him the truth to the whole mystery in the first place? How did she find out the truth if he couldn't/hasn't? And what kind of person does that make her to walk up to the guy and say "You either help me or you'll never know what happened to XYZ" and use that as leverage to get what she wants? I mean, this isn't like saying, Hey, I found your watch, you know what I mean? You're talking about a missing child. It makes me look at her sideways and for that to be the heroine I'm supposed to like?

I think, to answer Theresa's question, it's getting the label of blackmail because it's a "if you don't help me, I'll never tell you what happened to the boy." And if that's the case, the hero would have my permission to throttle her. ;)


Laura Hamby said...

I'm not sure inappropriate sexual advances from a stepbrother constitutes the label "incestuous." I thought the term only applied when the parties (willing or not) involved had an actual blood relation? This word has an "ew" connotation for me that my eyes actually stopped on it before I went on, and I think if I heard it, I'd hear nothing else. Suggest a different word---"nefarious" maybe, because the point isn't to disgust the reader/listener, but intrigue them into wanting to hear/read more. This comment is only meaningful if Murphy intends to use "incestuous" in the log line, so feel free to disregard at will...

Like Theresa, I'm wondering how blackmail applies here, I don't think that it makes the heroine very sympathetic to withhold info about a missing child in return for something else, so I'd be tempted to rephrase so that it reads that 'Terror' agrees to help her with her own problem because she's helped him find the boy... perhaps something about how 'Terror' doesn't like owing anyone any kind of debt and always makes a point to repay those he owes?

Was any of that coherent?

Riley Murphy said...

Yes it's historical.
As for how is this blackmail?
Well, the hero has made a promise to God that he will have no children of his own. The anguish and grief over the loss of the boy he came to love so well - caused him to make this promise and yet, once the heroine arrives on his doorstep looking to first barter (because the guy literally offered a king’s ransom in coin to anyone who had information in this regard - so why wouldn’t he agree to her terms?), she quickly comes to realizes (given his promise) that she will have to resort to blackmail to get him to agree to what she wants. She forces him to break his vow and agree to give her a healthy live born child from their union - insisting that he swear in front of witness to this - before she will tell him of the news she has of the missing boy (she knows ultimately her life depends on this). The hero’s left feeling like he’s been stolen from twice - first by unknown abductor’s and now a woman ready to commander his seed (Ah, probably a better phrase for that but you get the idea, right?)

Threat against the principled lady?
Well, for starters her step-brother plans marrying her off to an old lecher who is incapable of siring a child so that he may see to the task himself, which would have his future bloodlines secured to inherit the only two properties he really wants out of their vast holdings (because of location). Once he has children in place he intends to kill the heroine.

Is the hero made dangerous by grief?
Yes. He is distraught and distrustful. He isolates himself and his people in a fortress type home that welcomes no strangers. This is why the heroine thinks that her prayers have been answered the evening she discovers not only what her step-brother has planned for her but, the means to thwart him when she learns that he was the one who ordered lord Terron’s ward to be taken and secreted away in France, all those years ago. She sees this discovery, as a way into the protective circle (that the most feared man in England) has built around his home and lands. A place where she knows that even her step brother’s cruelty can’t reach. Determined to live behind these protective walls for a time with the understanding that this most influential man’s first born child (illegitimate though he/she may be) will be granted rights to inherit the two properties, that solely belong to the heroine one day, because he has the clout and power to make this happen. And with the prospect of the hero in the wings she feels sure that her step-brother will no longer be a threat.

To answer Jordan’s question about that. The heroine (thanks to her step-brother, is on track to marry an old man with no ties - who can’t get it up). The step- brother plans on siring a couple of kids and long range plan? Eventually, he won’t need either of them once he has the children of his bloodline that he desires( he will kill them both). With only him, the children’s closest male relative, there will be no one to dispute his/their rightful claim. (Did I mention that it is rumored that he prefers men so um, he probably would never get married himself?)

And all I can say in defense - because as you see, that is precisely what my heroine does out of desperation. She is a woman who is tired of being brutally controlled in a man’s world. She sees an opportunity to save herself and she goes for it. Unfortunately, she doesn't understand all the consequences that she may have to face, but hey, when you’re desperate, do you stop to reason everything out logically? It would be really nice if life were like that but it's not and seeing everything all tied up in a neat bow from the very beginning? Not a big fan. I like a heroine who makes a bad decision on purpose (for what she may think is a legitimate reason at the time) and not only discovers something about herself when the s**t hits the fan but learns something about the person/hero she is coming to respect and admire as the story progresses. Do I worry that readers won’t like her? How could a sympathetic reader not like her, when she learns at the same time as they do, what a mistake she’s made threatening a guy who has all the power and clearly takes the time he needs to wade through the consequences before he wields it against her?:) And keep in mind, that she withholds this information that she knows is going to bring him joy - the boy is alive and well and she knows where he is - the reader knows this too - the only one who doesn't, until he agrees, is the hero...and by the time he’s told about this - you’re actually feeling sorry for her - not the other way around!

Crap, so many questions!

You guys are awesome! Thanks for doing this! I see now that I need to keep the main plot and sub plots seperated. All your questions about the boy (sub plot) and why the heroine has two properties she is to inherit (sub plot) - even why the hero was given a child to protect (sub plot) contribute to the main plot but don't have to be mentioned in the logline itself.
Thanks again!

Babs said...

Sounds like an epic Murphy!
So, she starts off trying to bargain with him and when he won't deal she finds it necessary to blackmail him? I like the idea that she and the reader know the news is good about the boy:), and I can see a lot of things can come into play once she tells him. Wouldn't he want the step brother to pay for taking the boy? And a bigger question here, why did the step brother take the boy to begin with?

Jordan McCollum said...

I had the same reaction to "incestuous" and "step-brother" that Laura did.

I agree with Babs--it does sound like an epic!

And I think you're right, you might want to just stick to the main plot and the hero/heroine. Maybe one subplot, too, if it's necessary to explain their motivations.

I still don't know if blackmail is the word I'd want to use. Extortion, maybe? Blackmail calls to mind something very specific--he has a secret and she knows it and she wants hush money. It sounds like a woman coming forward to admit she'd fornicated with him would stand to lose more, reputation wise, than he would.

Also, if the brother's just going to kill her anyway, why doesn't he kill her now and be done with it? You never can trust women, after all ;) . This might be going kind of far afield, though, since we're just here for the log line.

Laura Hamby said...

**And keep in mind, that she withholds this information that she knows is going to bring him joy -**

Okay, question here, forgive me if I'm asking you to repeat something you've already said... is it her stepbrother who has the boy and can she guarantee the boy's continued safety? If she can, how is she able to do that? At point A, for example, she knows he's fine... At point C or D somewhere down the line, how much time has elapsed? How can she be certain the boy is still fine? Sorry if I'm being too picky.

I'm all for character growth, it's one of my favorite things, actually. :D

Julie Harrington said...


Thanks for taking the time to type all that up and explain things. :) That definitely helps clear up a lot of the confusion, I think.

I still hit a snag with the heroine being willing to use a child (and the torture anyone feels when a child goes missing and you're left imagining a thousand horrile fates) to their own advantage. But that's just my opinion.

I think I'd be more sympathetic if she knows where the kid is, she shows up answering the guy's ad or well-known standing reward offer, to collect. Only she doesn't want the money. She wants his word that he now owes her a debt of honor. One favor. And when she collects it... he can't say no. He could then label it blackmail all he wants but we'll know she knows the child is safe, knows that really (deep, deep down) even if he rejected it, she'd probably still tell him.

Of course the hero being all guilt-ridden and bitter and probaly seeing the ugly side of people looking to score cash during the time this kid is missing (false leads, lies, kids pretending to be this missing kid, etc) he'd really think she meant it.

Again, just my opinion and take on things. But as I was reading your explaination, that's what popped into my head.

Oh and one more question. The subject of inheritence. I'm still not sure on this point. Is all the land and stuff her stepbrothers or hers? Because if its hers? She can totally tell them all to go to hell and reject any offer as she is a lady in her own standing.


Riley Murphy said...

Ah, there’s a reason for everything and in the end it all makes shocking sense. Really. And if you guys had an hour I run through it for ya! lol
Now, in my logline? I was trying to be provocative with the words I chose to use...incestuous? How else would you succinctly get the point across that your step-brother wants to knock you up? And, as for whoever said 'Ew'? Hell, yes! Big time! That's why she's desperate to get away from the filthy creep.
I'm more concerned about the term 'blackmail' myself. Did I miss something with this word? After the hero will not agree to what she wants for stated reasons, she comes right out and tells him that she will not give him the information that he desires without agreeing to her terms first. That's blackmail, right?
Man, I thought this was gonna be a piece of cake!

Laura: Just saw your other question before I posted this. Good question. Again taken care of in a logical manner. The idea here, without getting too involved cause it's only information given in a logline, she knows where the child is, that he is safe and she also knows how the hero can get him back without bloodshed.

Crap, JT just saw your post before I posted this - yes the reader knows that she will bend if he doesn't and tell him everything but he cracks before she does because he believes the horrible rumors about her (which turn out to be false) trust me, there are so many things you go at first, are you kidding me? How can that be? But then, I pull the rabbit out of the hat and in the end it all makes perfect and surprising sense -- and guess what there's no 'ew' factor...well, maybe there is. It depends how you look at it.(hehehe)
On the reward idea? You kind of hit on a point there - you see the hero is used to women showing up demanding money or marriage in exchange for info they say they have on the child - but every lead so far has turned out to be false - so when she turns up demanding his (for lack of a better word) seed, you can see how amused he might be because she's not hard to look at -but when he learns who she is he knows (for he has long suspected her step-brother was behind the adduction) that she is telling the truth about the information she has to trade and he is furious but believing what he does about her, prompts him not to push her too far because he doesn't think she'll give up the info without his agreement. As for her inheritence? (that was funny btw) She only wants the entitlements that came to her through her Mother as they are coastal (yet another reason why the hero should have jumped at the chance to have even an illigitmate child with her)-but at this initial stage it is more about being kept safe from her step-brother and trying to build a future for herself where she will be protected from him.

I appreciate you guys asking such pertinent questions. I haven't thought about all the why's for a long's scary!:D

Anonymous said...

This sounds like an interesting premise. Incestuous and blackmail are good words and if you've written it the way you outlined where the heroine refuses to give over information until he agrees to what she wants that it is blackmail. I do like the earlier terms of violating and moral code. Tell me, is the main focus the missing child? From your log lines it would appear as if there is something else going on. Has the step brother done something worse than threaten to create a child with the heroine? Do the rumors you mention have to do with him? Are people already assuming the worst of the heroine? Now that you mentioned the end making surprising sense I'm wondering what that is? Are you going to leave us hanging on this point? I'd like to hear more. For instance, does the boy get returned and the step brother get what he deserves in the end?
Kathrine AK

em said...

Wow! Murphy, after all this do you have a logline? And I hate to ask another question but I do have one more. This ones an easy one:). Is there humor in your book? After some of you’re previous comments I’m curious or this a serious ‘epic’ story. Either way, I’m sure it’s great.;)

Riley Murphy said...

Um, I feel like I’ve crashed and burned here. Giving too much information - bringing in the matter of the child that is missing and the need for an heir got everyone all fired up. (And, yes for those of you who emailed me I endeavored to answer your questions without giving up a lot of the story...and it’s great you want to know) but this is all about the logline not about how I stack a story up, right?

So, I’m thinking of something less provocative - taking out the word ‘incestuous’ which freaked a few of you out - and taking out the missing child and the reference to the heir. These are all things integral to the story but not needed in a logline, I suppose. And if I were going to pitch this story to an editor? I would use a different tact altogether. Summing up what is assumed to be happening, against what is really happening, is the most interesting aspect of the story and when you pull it altogether, with all the other stuff that you guys are questioning? And it makes sense and may even surprise a few people? That’s all that matters, right? Now, to get a logline that can make someone interested enough to want to hear more...instead of making them want to shudder in revulsion.:D Let's see?

(Note: If I were going to continue to use all the previous words I originally chose (I like all of the suggestions btw) but Anon’s logline and Theresa’s - are both short and to the point - I like that!) but if not how about:

When Genevieve is threatened by a cruel and twisted relative who’s in control of her future, she unwisely chooses to blackmail an extremely powerful man and coerce him into giving her the one thing she needs to thwart her step-brother before it’s too late, and he succeeds with his nefarious plans for her.

You see? I even worked in nefarious since incestuous had the ‘ew’ factor.

And to answer Em:
Yup, serious though the ‘epic’ may be at times (It’s 93,468 words- so is that an epic?) there are lots of laugh out loud moments - especially when she figures all she has to do to get what she wants is to show in the old bedroom...but um, as you can well imagine, he has ah, other thoughts about what it’s gonna take to get him there...;).

Thanks guys for all the help! I really do appreciate all your ideas! And who would have thought that I'd inspire an 'Ew'? That cracks me up!

Jordan McCollum said...

I'm liking this latest log line! I still might trim it a bit:

When a highly principled lady is threatened by a cruel and twisted relative who controls her future, she unwisely chooses to coerce an extremely powerful man into giving her the one thing she needs to thwart her step-brother's nefarious plans for her.(also clears up the ambiguous antecedent issue that the end)

I might also pick either cruel or twisted, or another single word along those lines.

Nefarious probably is a better match for the situation (the definition of incest is sexual relations between those too closely related to marry; are step-siblings actually legal forbidden to marry?).

I'm still meh on blackmail, since the dictionary definition (ie not just the connotation) is "Extortion of money or something else of value from a person by the threat of exposing a criminal act or discreditable information" not "in exchange for desired information." Plus it's a little repetitive this way.

And, one more time, I guess her dad (yes?) must have rewritten the will to include his step-kids--or is this why the step-bro wants her to have his baby?

Anonymous said...

I like the new attempt, but it seems a little repetitive to me.

'Blackmail' and 'coerce' are essentially the same thing here as are 'too late' and 'succeeds with his nefarious plans'. 'control of her future' isn't the same as 'nefarious plans' but here they do refer to the same thing.

Also, is there a single word to encompass both 'cruel and twisted' to keep it more succinct? The best I could come up with is 'malevolent' which I like (it's a favorite word) but I'm not sure it fits. 'Churlish' might be more period but it may not be strong enough. 'Incestuous' was ew, 'lecherous' might make it sound like melodrama. 'Sadistic' is cruel and twisted but also means other things. Other ideas?

Is there a better term than 'extremely' which is non-specific emphasis? Something which indicates the type of power (influence? wealth?) might be better.

For some reason mentioning relative and then step-brother in that order makes me wonder if they aren't the same person.

When Genevieve's future is threatened by her malevolent step-brother, she unwisely chooses to blackmail a dangerously powerful man into giving her the one thing she needs to save her inheritence.

Note - You might want 'tries to balckmail' depending on emphasis

Jordan McCollum said...

I like Anon's suggestion of "dangerously powerful" and "sadistic," since that seems appropriate thus far. Looking at it again, I might trim it further:

When a sadistic relative gains control of her future, a highly principled lady unwisely chooses to coerce a dangerously powerful man into giving her the one thing she needs to thwart her step-brother's nefarious plans for her.

I should mention, too, that this brings up a lot of good story questions (rather than just "uh, what??" questions): what is the one thing she needs? What are her step-bro's plans? And who is this dangerous guy, and why is he so scary?

Anonymous said...

I think extortion is the more correct term for what is happening then blackmail since the lady isn't trying to expose the illegal activities of the "Terror". Not sure if that helps.

Babs said...

Murphy, I like your new version. I had the same thing about the cruel and twisted aspect of it. I think if you picked one or the other, it might be clearer.
Otherwise, great.

Julie Harrington said...

Murphy said:

yes the reader knows that she will bend if he doesn't and tell him everything but he cracks before she...Ooooooh okay, okay, that totally solves that problem for me then. :D

And Murphy, you've done a great jo untangling all the questions. There does sound like theres a lot going on, but not a darned thing wrong with that. I'm sure it all flows very well in the actual book.

I think the debate over blackmail vs. extortion is kind of hair-splitty/nuance/perspective based.

Blackmail, by legal definition, is the extortion of money or something else of value from a person by threat of exposing a criminal act or discreditable information. Something of value extorted in this manner.

Now, granted, the heroine doesn't have THAT kind of leverage over The Terror -- give me your sperm or I'll tell the world you..... are a grief-stricken man in search of a lost boy. Hm. Not exactly "discrediting" material.

Extortion, on the other hand, is the act of demaning of levying by force or authority. So yeah, I think extorition is the more correct term, but I think most people (imo) wouldn't really know the difference and would accept blackmail as an overall shortcut term.


Jordan McCollum said...

Is it kind of picky to be strict on definitions and usage? Maybe. But I believe it's Janet Reid who springs to mind here: words are the tools of our trade. We have to use them properly in our marketing materials, our first impressions for the people who will ultimately judge these short materials to see if our command of the language is good enough to take a risk on publishing us.

Misuse a word—a preposition!—here and it's a big red flag to people who are so pressed for time that, yes, they do tend to focus on errors and excuses to dismiss queries.

Riley Murphy said...

Well, suck me dry and call me dusty. You guys remind me of the energizer bunny! I'm not married to blackmail - although, I would have to say, that if she/he were intending to push legal issue over it - I'd be more concerned (you gotta know that I looked it up too. Not that I don't trust you guys BUT...) and it seems other than a lawyer's/legal definition - it's anyone's guess. Another BUT here, Jordan, I get your point, loud and clear. Better to be safe than sorry...Hey, I keep telling you guys I’m easy to get along with;).

So, now that I am close to having my very first logline, can someone tell me what the hell I’m supposed to with it? I mean, do you blurt this out before you begin to pitch your book to an editor at a conference? Or, do you write it at the top of your queries? Or, do you obsess over it until you can’t freaking think straight and it keeps you up at night?...Man, I guess this last one is a given, right? WELL, COME ON PEOPLE! What do you think I was doing while all of you were snug in your little beds last evening? I was trying to come up with something that wouldn't have the 'ew' factor!!!! hahaha - still cracks me up.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I love it when I learn something!:)

Babs said...

LOL Murphy! Yes. I know I had a good night's sleep last night.;)

Julie Harrington said...

LOL Murphy! I used my pitch line when I got to have a face to face with an editor. It started off with the pitch of the book and expounded from there. I had 10 minutes to talk to her and she was handing me her card saying "send it to me" in about 1.

You can also use your pitch line when you publishers offer pitch chats (where you are given a time to actually go into a chat room and pitch your novel to the group of editors there at that time).

So conferences, conventions, face to face meetings, chat opportunities, etc. It's always handy, I think, to have it around in case you bump into an editor who asks that dreaded question. Then you're not left fumbling and "um, uh"ing all over the place. Plus I think it helps to narrow your focus and give you a direction when you're sitting down to write a query. It helps identify hook material, I think.

And Jordan, I get what you're saying, and proper word choice is absolutely critical in writing. I agree, but I was thinking more in terms of Murphy's answer, which smacked of emotional blackmail to me. Yes? No?


Riley Murphy said...

JT - what a great response! And emotional blackmail? Man, I should have come up with that. Well, I'm using it now...(imagine Lilian Gish tied to the train tracks and I'm leaning over her - but, turned and facing the camera, twirling my mustache and waggling my brows at you). You don't mind do ya?

And, you are right about helping to narrow down what's important - it's great of Theresa and Alicia to be doing this. Thanks again.

Jordan McCollum said...

LOL, emotional blackmail to me is something completely different! It involves grown men sulking into getting their way, LOL. But yeah, that's definitely just me.

I was in the same place as you once we were all done with my log line, Murphy. I was like "Great. Now what?" It was especially tough because the logline so encapsulated the basic plot that it was kind of hard to figure out where to start the next sentence of the pitch without sounding a little reptitive.

em said...

Murphy, you crack ME up! The things you say?! You're very funny.
I hope you got a good log line out of all of this.
The best on this one, Em.

Riley Murphy said...

Jordan, there's a next sentence? Drat, I knew I should have had my husband mix enough for two martini's!:( What did you think I'd let him have one?) After all the emotional blackmail he puts me through? NEVER! LOL...Um, is there a way to password protect this blog? Not that I'm worried - I'm just wondering...

Boy, you guys are fast. Em, just saw your comment before I posted this. I did get a great logline out of this and not only that, I know how to use it so it's all good.

Anonymous said...

Heard about this one. Coming in a bit late to the party. Can I still get in on this?
Great content. Does this group do this kind of thing often?

em said...

Good for you! This was fun. I've been working on mine. It will be ready someday:?.

Edittorrent said...

To me,
Blackmail = "You did a wicked thing. I know about it. Pay me, or I will reveal it."

Extortion = "Pay me, or I will do a bad thing to you."

Ransom = "I have your stuff. Buy it back from me."

All three involve a criminal negotiation of sorts. It's not hair-splitting. It's finding the term that best describes the truth of the story.

Anon, we do things like this from time to time. Sometimes we do teaching posts, sometimes we do group activities. It's pretty free-wheeling.


Riley Murphy said...

How about: Let's make a deal. You give me what I need and in exchange, I'll give you what you want?

For me, this was more about the process. I understand what a logline looks like, what to do with it and how many freakishly smart people there are out there to catch you when you try to slip a crappy one by them! Yeah, and you all know who you are:).

em said...

MURPHY?! You look a little different today than you did

I like the 'new' you.:)

Riley Murphy said...

It must be the new 'do' you're refering to. I don't see much of a difference, myself.

Edittorrent said...

Murphy, you're a good sport. Thank you for being so gracious through this process.