Monday, April 30, 2012

Logline Tips--And a Call to Action!

Call to action first:
Elizabeth Norris's UNRAVELING (featured last week) was placed in the children's section of Barnes and Noble (instead of YA). Please go to your local B and N and ask that this be rectified immediately (don't bash B and N--just politely ask for a relocation).

Feel free to spread the word! (Twitterers: use hashtag #unraveling when doing so.)

On to logline tips (and other ephemera):
I just returned from the Desert Dreams Writers' Conference in Scottsdale, AZ.  If Desert Dreams is any indication of what writing conferences are like, I will be attending many, many more!

Here's an overview of some nuggets I learned:
  • Write not only because you love it, but to make others' lives better.
  • Learn the rules--of writing, of querying, etc. But then customize to what works for you (a formula for one person won't work for everyone!).
  • You can be a squeaky wheel without being an obnoxious one (don't be afraid to put yourself out there, and be smart about it).
  • How to compose a logline that's more likely to land (see below).

For my logline, I originally I had this:

When fifteen-year-old Marnie Sayebrooke is given a magical bracelet and transported to the endangered realm of Anderli, she must use her ancient powers to save the land before it disappears.

At the conference, a gem of an author pulled me aside and said something that changed my entire plan: Your logline needs to convey what your book is about without someone having to read it. 

For some of you, that may mean completing the following formula
, borrowed from Donna Newton's blog:

An ADJECTIVE NOUN (protagonist) must ACTIVE VERB the (Antagonist) before SOME REALLY HORRIBLE THING HAPPENS (stopping the protagonist from reaching her goal).

For others, it may be finding your "Hollywood tagline." Here's the formula for this:

       (A book/movie similar to yours) + (another book with an angle similar to yours) 
        = marketing audience for your book

Do not say, "My book is like_________." "My book is the next Harry Potter!" That will give an agent the impression you think you are the cat's bananas. And believe me, no one likes that guy. Choose two books that are well-known (but not off-the-charts huge). 

Here's the Hollywood tagline I came up with: "A YA version of OUTLANDER mixed with A WRINKLE IN TIME."

An advertisement I saw recently helps exemplify how helpful it is to change around words in a logline to convey a clearer meaning:

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