Logline, part III- back to the salt mine

Russ J. Fellows tossed in some opinion here  where he said,

“Just a bit confused – is the “newly discovered family” doing the galactic takeover, or is the protagonist saving them from one? What is a “galactic takeover” anyway? Some alien corporation looking to pad their margins? It has some intrigue to it, and it piques my interest, but too many questions that might stop me from reading further. (Just my $.00002 worth).”

The logline I’d submitted was this:

“An orphan who joined the military returns to her home planet to stop her newly discovered family from a galactic takeover.”

I think Russ spotted a huge weakness. So back to editing it to get it really right. I’ve got only 22 words there, so I can potentially add another 18 to total it out at 45, though that might feel wordy. So, I’ve got the protagonist: An orphan who joined the military
Antagonist: her newly discovered family
Active Verb: returns
Active Goal: stop her newly discovered family from a galactic takeover
Stakes: a galactic takeover

Jaime pointed out that the stakes, which I had thought not really present, were the galactic takeover. But then Russ pointed out that it’s not compelling. Why isn’t it compelling? I used boring terms. Galactic takeover.  (Galactic makeover? Story idea.)

So I shall hack away at it some more.

“An orphan who joined the military becomes marooned on her home planet and must decide between her duty to protect the Imperium or fighting her newly discovered family to take the reins to the highest office in the solar system.” (38 words)

I’ve got the protagonist: An orphan who joined the military
Antagonist: her newly discovered family
Active Verb: decide
Active Goal: protect the Imperium or fighting her newly discovered family to take the reins to the highest office in the solar system
Stakes: duty vs. taking the highest office

Better? Worse? Ideas? It’s up to you, peanut gallery. My logline is in your hands. Sort of. I mean, if you came up with something totally ridiculous, I’d blow raspberries and ignore it. Or maybe I wouldn’t.

Edit: Yeah, reins vs. reigns. Sorry.

Next stop: Synopsis. But the logline is broken.

Assuming that 198 random strangers treasured followers of this blog plus the random guy from Sudan who wandered in here don’t give my logline the big thumbs down, the next step in this process is to create a synopsis.

The logline (so far) is:

An orphan who joined the military returns to her home planet to stop her newly discovered family from a galactic takeover.

We break that down as follows:

An [orphan who joined the military] (protagonist) [returns] (active verb) to her home planet [to stop her [newly discovered family] (antagonist) from a galactic takeover] (active goal). It’s lacking stakes. It’s LACKING STAKES!

As you know, or don’t, the logline is the pitch, the sales of your book or movie. It is succinct and provides enough information so you could, say, describe your book to a stranger who asks, “what do you write?”

(Or you could do a Bob Mayer, who is a former Green Beret and I think I read likes to carry around extra copies of his books. When someone says, “what do you write?” he hands them a book. At least, I think it was Bob. If it wasn’t you, Bob, then someone else and I don’t remember where I saw it and I apologize because this is a fantastic idea. End parenthetical.)

And I’m not doing this because Kristin Lamb said to do it, nosir. Though I totally hope you look at that post if you haven’t, because it’s all about this.  Though, after re-reading that post, I may have to go back and redo my logline, because it’s gotta have protagonist, active verb, active goal, antagonist, stakes. Yeah, stakes. Bleh. See above.

Mine is a bit short for a logline – by about 9 words, but I’m not sure it needs more than that. The ideal for movies is 35-45, I think, based on mumble mumble I’m Not Sure Where They Came Up With This Number but Douglas King Said So Here. I found that link because it had that fabulous logline for the Wizard of Oz picture, and then I read the excellent article following it. Thanks Douglas!

Where was I?! Ah, yes, synopsis. Randy the snowflake guy says I’m to take a day, or a week, or a subjective period of time that fits my schedule and write four sentences scratch that, make that a paragraph about my entire story. Logline (expand it a bit to include the ending), three disasters, and the ending. That’s going to be my synopsis… which I haven not yet written. I will post my attempts at a paragraph synopsis in the next relevant post, though all my posts are relevant.

But what about the stakes in your logline, Pontius, you say?

That is, once I decide on the stakes and stick those in there. The gist is that the protagonist has to make a decision: Help the family or remain loyal to the Empire she swore an oath to? If you could assume total power by going back on your oath, or remain a nobody and be loyal to your oath to a collapsing power, would you do it? That’s the question. And that needs to be fixed in the story, so how to write that in to the logline?

You may comment at length about this. Have you done a logline? Will you do a logline? Do you even care about it?

Logline – comments gladly accepted, please skew the averages

image
It’s a good logline, really. From https://screencraft.org/2014/11/10/how-to-write-effective-loglines/

Yesterday, I wrote out my process for establishing the logline for my novel (which is 26k already written. Better late than never).  I figured for the folk out there who’ve never done a logline, watching my tortured process might be helpful. I had a short logline which I liked, but it was still lacking. I ended with this:

“A marine orphan must stop her family from a galactic takeover.”

I submitted it to the peanut gallery after some handwringing about wanting to say something about orphan who joins the marines but not wanting to imply the story was about the process of joining the marines, and darn if Mister Cool Hand Boyack didn’t just nail it.  He said:

An orphan who joined the military returns to her home planet to…

Boom. That’s what I need. Let’s cobble that together with my semi-final from yesterday.

An orphan who joined the military returns to her home planet to stop her newly discovered family from a galactic takeover.

I added “newly discovered” because that’s important, otherwise the orphan/family part doesn’t make sense.

What do you think? Opinions, comments, etc. gladly accepted. Go ahead and comment to throw off the averages and help me out. Even if you’re one of them there Romance novelists and this isn’t your cuppa, comment to say “it’s not my cuppa but it sounds good as a logline” or “I hate it, I hate it, I hate it” or whatever it is you have to say. Or promote your book. Or your editing services. Comment. Yes. Go, you masses of readers. Your work here has begun.