The logline. The so-called “elevator pitch.”
I think in writing novels, the logline maybe claims more importance than it really has — some folks paint a world where you have to sharpen this short blurb of your own work to an atom-splitting point, keeping the weapon in your back pocket because at some point you may find yourself at a coffee counter with an agent or editor and have a sudden chance to pitch them. (Which I’m sure is awesome for the agent or editor. Particularly if they haven’t had their coffee yet. Pro-Tip: never pitch an agent or editor before they have consumed at least one cup of their daily caffeine. You may lose a hand, an eye, a few toes.)
Still — I like it as an intellectual exercise because it helps you distill the work you’re doing down to its manageable essence. You’re figuring out what lies at the core of the work and you’re also helping figure out how the work can be mentioned and brokered without taking people on a ten minute snooze-worthy journey — because, man, I’ve been the guy who gets cornered by an “aspiring” novelist who wants to tell you about his book. It takes forever, and it makes me want to rip your trachea out and shove it in my earholes.
Plus, you’re keeping me from refilling my drink.
(Pro-Tip: never keep a writer from refilling your drink. We won’t just take a hand, eye, toes. We’ll go for the soul. We’ll write you into our next book as a possum-molesting Neo-Nazi who gets thrown into a wood chipper as everyone else laughs.)
Clarity and conciseness are powerful skills for the writer.
So, let’s practice.
You’re working on something now, I take it?
Give us the logline.
Meaning, hook us into the story with a single sentence.
Then: feel free to discuss everyone’s logline with them. How’d it work? How’s it sound? Did it hook you? Did it compel you in some fashion? Was it both clear and concise?
518 responses to “Logline It”
The magician’s spell locked the beast away for a century. Now beauty has broken the spell, but the world around them has moved on. Can the beast convince the magician that the change is more than skin deep?
I am a sucker for beauty/beast retellings. This sounds great, but I don’t understand the question in relation to beauty breaking the spell & the pair’s subsequent displacement.
Trying to work in the concept that the POV character is the magician who cast the spell. But I also have this thing about actions have consequences; have a spell that locks down a major fiefdom for a century, it creates a power vacuum.
The stakes aren’t at all clear. Say what you said in your reply, only more engaging. Tell me a mini story.
The Beast, locked away by the Mage for a century, lost everything but gained Beauty’s love. Now he must convince the Mage, the King, and Beauty that his transformation is genuine and that he cannot backslide into his old ways.
That’s better. Now I only want to know why it is important to convince them of this. What makes this his priority at this particular point in time?
The Beast lost everything but gained Beauty’s love. Now he must fight to regain his birthright but keep from backsliding, lest the spell become permanent.
Much improved! I like that one 🙂 And I’d read on.
It got much easier once I internalized some of the other feedback and realized that the point of the log-line is not the introduce or explain the complexity of the story. Things like POV character, twists, etc. are good for the story, but clutter the log-line. The log-line is the arrow to the reader’s curiosity. One shot, one chance to set the hook and reel them in. It’s the main thrust of the story, told so as to hint at the complexity, but phrased so that it gets the reader asking questions they can only answer by reading.
Or at least, that’s the philosophy I used in crafting this one. Thanks for the feedback!
Exactly! You got it! Now keep working on it. Sometime after you get what you’re supposed to be doing–usually on your 20th or 30th draft–you’ll write the perfect one 😉 So don’t settle for this. Keep working at it. And this goes for every logline you’ll ever do. Trust me.
“Two years ago, every superhero in the world died in a massive explosion. Was it simply bad luck…or something more? When three people accidentally gain super powers, they vow to find out the truth, but get more than they bargained for.”
Yes, this fires up the imagination … so many interesting possibilities … though could it be one massive explosion? Where they gathered in place or did they all just go splat where they were at the time?
Yeah, they were all lured to an island and everyone on the island (good guys and bad guys) was killed.
Magic-handling apathetic 20 something Mala finds herself a pawn and then a key player on the front of humanity’s historic battle between a central power and the periphery–in Mala’s case, between the massive companies that rule humanity, and their interstellar colonies.
This goes all over the place and manages to not say much. There’s something interesting in there, but you have to commit to it. For example: ‘Mala, the (whatever she is-magician, warlock etc), is caught in the battle between the massive companies that rule humanity and their interstellar colonies.’ Then tell me why this matters, what is the problem you hope to resolve by the story’s end, and ideally, hint at how she’s going to attempt to do it. In other words, what is unique about Mala and her story that will make me want to read it.
A young girl with a talent for finding lost things stows away on a spaceship, which turns out to be a travelling carnival run by a group of misfit aliens, some of which are jealous of this newcomer’s ability – perhaps jealous enough to want to get rid of her permanently.
That sounds promising to me. I’m a sucker for misfit aliens!
Melbourne, Australia. Annual murder rate is 58. 2014, the count is 60 and it’s only April. Lisa Mooney is a veteran of five homicide cases. The next will be her last.
Any pointers are appreciated!
I’d certainly like to know why the next one is here last but I wonder even more–is there significance in the number of murders? something special about the timing of them; it’s only April, there are already 60. Why is this unusual? And why will it matter to Lisa in particular? I don’t know if those are questions best answered in a logline or if those are the book questions.
I’d dump the statistics altogether, add in a bad guy/organization, and leave her future open to possibility rather than stating outright that she’s going to die. Something like this, maybe?
“Melbourne’s police department is crushed under a skyrocketing surge in murders, but when veteran homicide detective Lisa Mooney discovers the conspiracy behind the crime spree, the syndicate behind it all makes her its next target.”
After she’s kicked off a murder case, a homicide detective must work outside the bounds of police work with an unstable failed writer in order to solve the crime and unravel its connection—and the writer’s–to her father’s murder 30 years earlier while trying not to compromise her career or lose another love one in the process.
Hi Eva! I saw that you kindly gave feedback to others before posting your own logline so I wanted to do the same–hope you don’t mind!
First of all, you idea sounds cool and like it would appeal to a really broad audience. Kudos!
My suggestions are to shorten your logline by eliminating all unnecessary words and ideas that distract from the main story. Also, make sure your verbs are WORKIN it for you! “Must” isn’t as strong as “Forced”…”Unstable” is more interesting than than “Failed”…etc!
If there is one, you might include some sort of time limit (builds suspense). Does she only have a few days/hours/weeks to solve the crime before she gets her ass canned/a dear family member dies/she gets brutally murdered, too?
I took the liberty of shortening it down in the way I would if it were mine:
[Unjustly?] Kicked off a murder case, homicide detective X must work with an unstable writer to solve her father’s [sickening/brutal/etc] murder.
(maybe use something other than the word ‘murder’ to describe the case to avoid redundancy.)
Hope this is remotely helpful, and best of luck!
Thanks very much, Georgia! It does help. I’m adding it to my notes.
You’re very welcome! Hope all goes well.
Best friends with opposite personalities – one of them is about to propose to his girlfriend, the other is the world’s sloppiest womanizer – start producing a webcomic about soccer after being fired from ad agencies.
(A friend suggested finishing my logline with “hilarity ensues”. Frankly, I didn’t like it. Seems like people only use this phrase ironically nowadays.)
A couple of supervillains fall in love while fighting to reluctantly free a city from the tyranny of superheroes.
I want to read this! Fun perspective 🙂
Are they reluctantly fighting, or is the city reluctant to give up the superheroes? The wording seems a little odd.
Anything in particular the superheroes are doing that’s tyrannical, or just “enforcing the law” that supervillains don’t like?
I’m sort of flipping the script here. They are thought of as classic supervillain archetypes – mad scientist’s kid and an engineered supersoldier/assassin. Everyone thinks of them as bad, themselves included. But in this one city, the superheroes are almost just as bad as the villains. The only difference is, the superheroes are seen as good and helpful. Basically I’m saying they can be the same thing, depending on your viewpoint.
The nature of “villains” are the antagonist, but if you are going to turn this on its head, how are the super heroes tyrants? Plus, how are the super villains going to stay villains if they are freeing the city? Do they change from their villainous ways? What made them villains in the first place?
See above. 😀
And I don’t think the city is ever aware they are freeing the city. They’ve been dubbed villains, and will remain ever so. Some labels just stick.
Flying in the face of her sensible nature, Atlanta native Anna Reynolds decides to say ‘au revoir’ to a career in programming and ‘bonjour’ to a life in the kitchen. With nothing but her wits and a well-turned ankle to aid her, she cashes in and jets off to cooking school in Paris, France. But it takes more than wits for Anna to resist the allure of Chef Sebastian Duval, and when Anna’s wits get Sebastian fired and herself tossed out of school, it’s up to Anna’s sensible nature to reverse catastrophe.
What I’m getting from this l- she’s sensible, but she’s stupid enough to get Seb fired? She doesn’t know when to keep quiet? Not a heroine I’m interested in. You say sensible nature twice.
does the programming matter? And why does she turn to cooking? Is she thinking that seducing people with her well turned ankle is enough? Does it matter where she comes from?
Two sentences, no more than 25 words each. Then cut it to one 25 word sentence.
Hey Lynne! Thanks for commenting–I appreciate it. You know that idea about happy coincidences in books being annoying, but unfortunate coincidences being believable? That’s what I’m going for when, in spite of being smart, Anna gets her rear end booted.
But I do understand what you mean, and I do agree that it needs to be shortened (yep, I guess programming is irrelevant. It’s amazing how short-sighted this kind of stuff makes a person). Thanks for helping!
Sounds like a fun read.
Agreed, this is more like a blurb than a logline. I think you could fit this into one sentence.
The ‘nothing but her well-turned ankle’ and ‘cashes in’ seem like contradictory wording. Also, programming is generally a lucrative career — what’s she been spending her money on? Maybe student debt? I can’t see a sensible person frittering away years of pay on foolish purchases.
Is it important she’s from Atlanta? Something about her character might be more relevant to share given the tight word count.
Yep. You’re totally right about the contradictory wording. And the programming. Now you’ve got me thinking! And I’ll nix Atlanta. Thanks so much for your help!
I agree that it is hardly “sensible” to trade in a career in programming for life in the kitchen, but I applaud your writing so don’t get discouraged. Sensible characters are not as much fun as the ones that screw up, so I would drop the sensible. Give her a reason to go to France. Maybe she didn’t finish her degree in programming, because of this pressing reason to go to France and she cooks to keep ahead of her student loans and pay the rent. Is she good at cooking? Perhaps her lack of talent gets Sebastian fired. Good luck.
(lovely name, by the way). Super critique, really got me thinking in a new way about character motivation. And the commercial merits of using ‘sensible’ in a pitch–though I might disagree about whether or not sensible characters are interesting. I’m pretty tired of characters that constantly have egg on their face (particularly female MCs in any kind of writing even remotely related to romance).
But the ‘pressing reason’ part of your comment really resonates. And thanks for the compliment, it’s very nice of you. Best of luck and thanks again!
hmmm. If that is the sound of money, consider me flattered. Or perhaps you’re commenting on the quality of the critiques, in which case I heartily agree.
Thanks to everyone who gave their input! Much appreciated. Here’s my second go-round, with an eye on the comments received:
With nothing but her determination and a dash of Southern charm to aid her, Anna Reynolds jets off to Paris to realize her dream of becoming a classically trained cook. When she falls for the wrong chef and gets herself booted out of the world’s most famous culinary school, it takes every ounce of determination Anna’s got to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
I’ve been reading along here, and although my skill at creating loglines is non existent, as a reader a few things strike me.
When you do the lines, ask a few questions. At the end a “So what?” puts a lot of things in perspective. Some are far too vague. And “why?” is a good question, too.
It’s the near-future and Moore’s law has spawned an AI Foom, holding governments and people in terrifying uncertainty – the perfect time for a deranged geneticist to team up with a stolen sentient algorithm to create blood thirsty monstrosities using 3D printers – but one man and his AI counterpart stand in their way.
It’s a pretty good hook. The only thing I might change is to split it into two sentences…everything up to “uncertainty” is the first sentence, then something like “When a deranged geneticist teams up with…only one man and his AI counterpart stand in their way.”
Hey thanks, I was trying to make it one line, but you’re right, it’s a run on, I should break it up if I were to pitch it.
A group of misfit teens have one thing in common: they all signed up late for their engineering apprenticeship program, landing them in a semi-relevant woodworking course where they learn more about growing up than about building birdhouses.
‘Signing up late for their program’ throws me for a loop — I’d expect a bunch of them to drop the irrelevant class, or at least be bitter about it. Or I start thinking I’d be more interested if they were secretly denied entry to the engineering class because they’re misfits. Is this an important aspect of the story? If not, I’d drop it and just say they compromised on woodworking because they engineering was full.
‘Misfit teens’ relies on stereotype too much to be very interesting — what about these kids is unique / interesting? Why should I read a story about them? How does them being misfits affect the story, or what they get out of the woodworking class?
A bit confused between apprenticeship on one hand and a course on the other — wouldn’t they fall under a woodworking apprenticeship instead?
Thank you! This is helpful. I struggled with the word misfit, I don’t think it’s right here. They aren’t even really misfits, they’re just teens who, upon reading, you discover are interesting in their own ways.
I think mentioning the main character might help in my log line, though as the story changes this will as well. The reason these students signed up late is for one reason or another (they didn’t think they would need the scholarship rewarded at the end, their parents are not invested in their schooling enough to remind them of the deadline, etc.) but I think I will remove since ALL of them didn’t end up in this woodworking apprenticeship that way.\
Plus I may have left out a bit of vital information like that it is a summer program open to all students who want financial aid for college.
Thanks so much for the feedback!
Travis has been bullied his entire life. Hector thinks his missing father is still alive. Leona needs to put an end to an insane cargo cult. The answer to all their problems is outside their time-lost city, through hundreds of miles of dinosaur-infested wilderness.
Nice. I’ve been trying to work out my own logline with two POV characters who may not meet until the very end of the first book. Your approach may be the key.
Thanks, this one has been a pain in the butt to describe.
It’s the breakfast club of the new generation–only, the breakfast club never formed a metal band.
Meet The Delinquents: Kazuya, Jacen, Lysandra, Callum and Domenic. Each troubled in their own ways. During their senior year of high school, their troubles overflow to levels that threaten not only their futures, but their success. Get to know them as individuals and as a collective on their journey to fame–and self-destruction.
It’s cool (but maybe I’m biased because Breakfast Club is one of my favourite movies). I might cut the last sentence (“Get to know them…”) and replace it with the opening sentence about the breakfast club, just to cap off the “troubled teens” theme.
A black ops assassin atones for his brutal past by helping an alien abductee escape her fate.
I like it, I’d read it! SImple and to the point. You already have me wondering what kind of fate an alien abductee could be facing. Trouble with the Aliens? With the government? How does an assassin meet up with an alien abductee anyway? You said a lot with a little. =)
I think I found the video you’re talking about. Is this it?
Dammit! I swear I hit reply to someone else’s post way up-thread, but for whatever reason, the comment gets shifted to the end.
This trailer mashup was in response to someone mentioning how well the movie trailer voice overs that (usually) start with “In a world where…” can show you how a well-done logline can be structured. I’m on the fence about how well this video helps, since it’s spliced sound-bites instead of whole movie trailers back-to-back.
Mine’s a standard messianic/quest plot twisted substantially. I’m not very good at this but here goes.
All The Pan of Hamgee wants is a quiet life but destiny has other plans.
When your very existence is treason, what do you do? Getaway driving is a start.
These two sound like very different stories to me. The first sounds like fantasy, the second is obviously more modern. The first one doesn’t hook me because I don’t know who or what The Pan is, where Hamgee is, or what destiny has in store for The Pan. The second I find more intriguing, but would like some more details.
I agree with Tracy, these don’t seem like they could be the same tale. If you have a substantial twist to your method of presentation, or to the melding of themes, I’d mention it. And maybe start with a question, something like this:
When your name is synonymous with treason, but you just want to live in peace, what can you do? The Pan of Hamgee knows- you get in the car and drive.
Hmmm. I feel your pain. I have trouble nailing this down too. I think your logline may have more punch if you change “destiny” to something more specific. I like the pluck of your second line, but again, it doesn’t tell much. Why is your MC existence treason? This could tell us a bit about the world. Cheers!
An apostate magician is dragged into a conspiracy to overthrow her order.
We’ve broken the fourth dimension and it’s crumbling faster than we think.
I like it! Sounds like some kind of time travel story.
Kate’s not the chosen one–that’s her sister–but she’s a damn good thief and she’ll do whatever it takes to get home, even if it means leaving an entire city vulnerable to the soul-consuming Shadows.
It’s interesting…it works because it makes me ask questions (Why does Kate need to get home? What does her sister have to do with it? Who/What are the Shadows?) I’m assuming all those questions are answered in the book itself.
I like this because I always want to know the story of the NOT chosen one. I think you do a good job of providing a sense of tension and mystery. I’d probably read this 🙂
Four small-town teenagers escape to a universe protected by comic book superheroes. Little do they know that a criminal conspiracy threatens to enslave all humankind.
It’s like a bizarre buddy picture when a Suicide Faerie who’s very good at her job meets a Life Faerie who’s suddenly become excellent at hers.
It’s like a buddy picture through Bizarro Land when a Suicide faerie who’s very good at her job meets a Life faerie who’s excellent at hers.
I like the second one…I think it flows better. I’m curious to find out what a “suicide faerie” is.
Curiosity is good! I hope 🙂
I agree, the second one is fantastic! Never heard of a “suicide faerie”! Nice!
Thanks! Question, though: from that logline are you expecting there to be a literal “Bizarro Land”?
Did I really believe so? No. But by having Bizarro Land capitalized I could see lots of Superman fans being completely let down. 😛
I like the second one too- nice conflict tease. I am confused by the buddy picture reference, but maybe that’s just me…I confess to being out-of-touch on occasion!
I was thinking like 48 hours, Midnight Run, Lethal Weapon or Bad Boys or Stake Out…you know, those “action-comedy” flicks where two disparate dudes team up on some mission and end up bonding through their differences. I don’t want to give the impression that it’s an actual film, nor that there is a literal “Bizzaro World,” though…
The directives fail. Cracks in the void. The nine divide. A breacher looks to the orange, dusty sky.
I like the style of this. It seems to be telling me that this story is very terse, fast, and high stakes. However, I’m horribly confused. I would need more detail–or at least some hints as to the world–in order to really want to read the story.
Thank you. It is definitely terse, fast, and high stakes. I will work on hinting at the world and setting.
The fragile balance between the two worlds of Terravis and its spiritual counterpart is thrown off when a madman discovers the secret to immortality. A young girl and her squabbling spirit guides are the last hope to keep the two worlds from falling apart.
This sounds a little bit like Avatar: the Last Airbender. Intriguing enough on it’s own, but you don’t want your logline to immediately all to mind something that’s already been done. I don’t know exactly what your story is about or how it’s different from Avatar, but I would try to capitalize on one element of this and expand it to differentiate. For instance, how is the world falling apart? Is it literally falling apart (i.e. being torn up by asteroids) or is there war between the different bending nations or is the spirit world overtaking the real world or what?
A brother and sister travel back to their hometown to lay their family ghosts to rest, only to find that their family’s killer is still hunting them. It’s a werewolf sibling rivalry interspersed with heart-wrenching angst.
Piles upon piles of daddy/god issues being dealt with by young adult/teenagers who have been turned into small cat-bird-creature things. Also the world ended at some point after they were turned and buried underground, making them the only “humans” left alive.
You forgot to put in the zombies.
No zombies. I hate the things. But there is a group of animals that are trying to become human/like humans through supernatural means.
This is one of those stories that’s so hard to explain that I’ve long since given up making sense. And I’m often fully aware of how dumb it sounds. If I have to explain it, (and I usually avoid it), I say, ” Kinda like Narnia, but darker and more for adults.” And if I’m feeling cheeky I mention the climactic fight between a dragon and a seven eyed giant dog golem or anything else that sounds doofy because that’s what symbolic things made manifest do.
So whenever I see a challenge to write a summary or the like as short as possible I’ll always try. Still not satisfied.
I don’t know why I’m writing this now, I’m pretty sure you were just being snarky.
Actually, yes, I was being snarky. But I thought I was replying in kind.
Your pitch, unfortunately, sounded like a send-up of some of the popular tropes in speculative fiction, particularly among self-published works. Daddy issues. Young adult/teenage protagonists. Shape-shifting The last of humanity living underground. It came across as sort of a buffet-style plot (put a bit of this on your plate, add a bit of that…).
One of the difficulties with pitching is trying to both make an idea sound like something popular, and make it sound -different- from what’s already available.
(Way, way back in the early 1990’s, when I had a couple of opportunities to pitch story ideas to ST:TNG producers, I heard “We’re already doing a story like that” more times than I ever wanted to.)
No, I wasn’t trying to snark, but I do try to have a sense of humor about how bad it sounds most of the time. I have yet to cut the “pitch” down in a way that makes sense. At the core it’s about daddy issues paralleling with god issues. After that there’s a lot of old Babylonian/Hebrew symbolic imagery on top that sounds nutso and immature and I know, I know what it sounds like.
But these kids aren’t special, they don’t shape-shift or live underground. They were “killed”, turned into something else decidedly not awesome, and buried. They wake up some thousand years later in a dry dead world and it hasn’t even gotten really bad for them yet. After most of them die we’re left with two young men who’s pasts and awful choices have so affected them that the rest of the story is answering the question of whether or not they’ll be able to move on. One does. One doesn’t. It’s one of those where the outer stimuli serves the internal plot. I didn’t just pile things on to sound cool, they’re there for actual legit reasons.
So, I guess we have opposite problems, eh? ( I have a feeling that once I finish this it’s going in a shoe box because I can’t figure out how to pitch the thing, even if it isn’t complete garbage. I’m always hoping it isn’t, buuuuuuut….)
Sometimes I wish I could say, ” A bunch of dudes get together, go on a journey and, after many battles, throw a ring into a volcano”. Only I guess mine would be ” A couple of dudes go to a mountain and then one kills the other before dying himself. The other guy gets better.”
Having given this some genuine thought, how about this: “At the end of time, on a devastated world, the last of the once-were-human clash in a struggle for final survival.”
That could work. It is rather true, especially past the half way point.
Oh wait… there is a zombie kind of sort of. Demonic possession of a decaying wolf, does that count?
How about: The world ended for humanity, except for three/five teenagers, but they aren’t really human anymore. Can they become human again? Do they even want to?
” The world has long since ended and humanity is dead, all save for 8 young men. But then, they aren’t really human anymore.”
But that makes it sound like we’re dealing with mutants, which we aren’t. I do like the ” Can they become human again? Do they even want to?” bit, but I don’t know if it fits. I do know that the main two don’t want to go back to their old lives. But becoming human again isn’t the focus, so I’d have to think of something else.
So late to this game…but here goes.
In trying to escape the past, Merrill is screwing up the present, and when an unexpected visitor enters her life in a most unusual way, she must discover if he’s an extension of her problems or the one to forever change her future.
I would like to know some specifics. What is she escaping; some hint of how she is screwing up her present and who is the unexpected visitor?
I need to know a wee bit more. What time period are we dealing with? Merrill is a person right? Is the unexpected visitor a love interest or her long lost mother? I can’t tell what kind of story it is.
After the death of one of Osprey’s best friends, humans, werewolves and vampires are called together to find the killer. When Osprey’s younger sister begins to fall for the vampire prince, Osprey does everything in her power to save her sister from certain death. But can Osprey save someone who doesn’t want to be saved?
*this is the same story as I have in the first line challenge, in case anyone’s wondering.
You say Osprey a little too much, try to cut that down a little. ” When Osprey’s younger sister begins to fall for the vampire prince she does everything that she can to save her sister from certain death.”
Also, since factions are brought up, what is Osprey? Human? Werewolf? Vampire? Something else?
Osprey is a witch. Her family are sort of like the law-keepers of this society. so when her freind is killed, it’s her family that calls together all the factions to get to the bottom of it, which is how her younger sister meets said vampire prince.
[…] he had a fun challenge about loglines and I posted my own and had loads of fun reading others. After that, he asked everyone to post the […]
Having attempted to renounce his position as heir to his estranged father’s pornography empire, a somewhat prudish young man learns that his conniving uncle is attempting to take it over, thus cutting his elderly mother and brother out of their rightful shares, and leaving them penniless. Now, in order to keep it from his uncle’s greedy hands, he must, as leader, maintain the spirit of the business as well as bring new ideas and development to it.
When Payne finds out that the Assassins Guild he’s working for is conspiring with the Government, he has no choice but to break it out from within. What he doesn’t know, is that he is all part of it, together with thousands of others.
I find this logline confusing. “Assassins Guild” makes me think of fantasy, with cloaks and swords, but “the Government” (instead of “the Empire” or whatever) makes me think it’s present-day Washington-DC type stuff.
I have no idea what “break it out” is supposed to mean. Break it up? Go public with the conspiracy, as in “breaking news”?
The last line is also confusing. If he belongs to the Assassins Guild, and he learns the Guild is involved in a government conspiracy, doesn’t that automatically make him aware he’s part (even if unaware until now) of that conspiracy?
And, Assassins Guild stories, and government conspiracy stories, are a dime a dozen. (Actually less than that, nowadays, since a search among Amazon’s free book offerings will find plenty of examples of either subgenre.) Sorry, but I don’t see anything in this pitch that makes me think THIS book is going to stand out or be different from all those others.
Out of all the loglines I’ve read this far down the page, this is the one that grabbed me. I love your voice, your lightning-fast pace, and your extremely minimalist style.
I also really like “looks to the orange, dusty sky”– firstly, because it appeals to my curiosity (why is it orange and dusty? Was there a disaster? A nuclear apocalypse?). Secondly, because I’m very fond of how you reversed the comfortable order of the adjectives. It forced me to linger a little longer on that phrase, and the extra second spent pausing and thinking about the words slowed it down and subtly reinforced the logline’s overall feeling of bleakness.
However, like Jules, I’m lost when it comes to what’s going on. I don’t think the problem is so much hinting at the world or setting, as finding a reference point for the reader so that they can imagine what’s happening.
Essentially it’s like the difference between “Jalianta sets out on a Mizintsi to find the Reneptika of Glorb and defeat Virzinzas” and “A fierce young warrior sets out to find the one object which can save her world from an invading demon lord”.
I’m not saying that story in itself would necessarily be any good– just that as the author of this story, I’d know that Jalianta is the hero’s name, that the Reneptika of Glorb is a powerful ancient artefact, that Virzinzas is a demon overlord, and of course a Mizintsi is a traditional hero’s journey in the protagonist’s culture!
However, the audience has no way to know this so these out-of-context names just lose their attention. There’s no way to visualise whatever a Reneptika of Glorb or a Mizintsi is supposed to be, and what’s Virzinzas– a person? A disease? A race of alien chipmunks?
Back to your logline, I think this is the problem that Jules is talking about. I have no idea what the directives are. What is the void in this context, and how can it crack? Who are the nine? What is a breacher?
I don’t think that this could be solved by adding anything to explain the world or settings. Adding padding to this logline would ruin it, because it’s the bare-bones minimalism that makes it stand out from the others.
I think the solution is to get rid of the technical language and make it plainer. Are the directives a set of rules? If so, maybe “the rules fail”? Who are the nine– a government body? What does a breacher do? More importantly, who is this breacher, how is she/they/he important to this story, and why should we be emotionally invested in her/their/his story?
Still, I can definitely say that if I were browsing blurbs, this would catch my eye right away. I would love to read some of your writing!