Tag Archives: loglines

Loglines in the Wild Is Here!

Loglines in the Wild coverLast month, I let you know that my new book would be launching on June 8. Well, that day has rolled around and Loglines in the Wild is now available!

Several years ago, after the I released my first book about loglines (a logline is single-sentence story pitch), Finding the Core of Your Story, I worked with many authors to create story pitches for their novels. While helping people write great loglines, I kept getting questions about how the process really looks in practice. The examples in Finding the Core of Your Story were largely drawn from finished films and books, which means that it’s easier to see how a logline comes together, but more difficult to see the process.

That’s where Loglines in the Wild comes in. In this new book, I’ve written eight case studies using real in-progress stories that you aren’t familiar with, which lets you see the whole process of loglining from start to finish. Looking at these case studies can help you a get clear look at how you might logline your own story. Plus, I’ve also included six new chapters of logline tips that weren’t in Finding the Core of Your Story.

Loglines in the Wild is available today on the Kindle store for a special introductory price of $2.99. Next week it’s going up to $4.99, so grab your copy now!

Also, to celebrate, Finding the Core of Your Story is on sale this week for $0.99.

Get a Free Copy of Loglines in the Wild

Finding the Core of Your StoryEveryone likes a free book, right? Until June 30, I’m offering a free Kindle copy of Loglines in the Wild to anyone who leaves an Amazon review on my first book, Finding the Core of Your Story. Once you’ve done your review, send me a link using this form and I’ll get back to you with your free book. (Already reviewed it? Cool, and thank you! Send me a link and I’ll give you a free copy.)

More Loglines from the 2014 Edition of The Black List

Eight Loglines from The Black List

Last time, I walked you through the process of refining and critiquing seven loglines from The Black List 2014. Today, I have eight more instructive loglines to show you, along with my thoughts on how they could be improved.

Once again, remember that most of the time when I recommend changes to a logline, I am guessing at story details the author has left out. Because I’m not working with the writer on these loglines, I often can’t create a final version. However, I can make the first round of suggestions that would then go back to the writer for further rewrites. Continue reading More Loglines from the 2014 Edition of The Black List

Loglines from the 2014 Edition of The Black List

Seven Loglines from The Black List

Each year, The Black List is made of Hollywood executives’ favorite unproduced screenplays, complete with title and logline information. Back in 2013, I discovered these lists and also found out that some of the loglines could be instructive cases of how to improve a pitch. I ended up writing three blog posts with details on how I would improve 15 of the loglines from the 2012 edition of The Black List.

Well, it’s back again for 2015. Here are some instructive loglines from the 2014 edition of The Black List, with my notes on how each could be improved.

It’s important to note that most of the time when I recommend changes to a logline, I am guessing at story details the author has left out. Because I’m not working with the writer on these loglines, I often can’t create a final version. However, I can make the first round of suggestions that would then go back to the writer for further rewrites.

With that out of the way, let’s jump right in. Continue reading Loglines from the 2014 Edition of The Black List

Thesaurus to the Rescue

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Although I often tell people to come up with a great adjective for each character mentioned in the logline, I don’t often have a ready supply of good adjectives. And that’s okay, because this is the 21st century and anybody reading this blog post can easily go to Thesaurus.com and find words.

But perhaps you’re skeptical, or you’d just like a few more details about my process. Very well. Step this way. Continue reading Thesaurus to the Rescue

A Synopsis Is Not an Information Dump

Every now and then, I come across a synopsis that feels like an information dump. It seems to happen most often when the story in question is a fantasy or science fiction tale that involves a lot of world-building. Unfortunately, these types of synopses often leave me with a spinning head. The synopsis feeds me a lot of names, places, and so on with very little to relate to. It’s a deep world, which means for me to get it, you’re going to need to take the time to explain it like you would in the actual story. And therein lies the problem.

You see, you can’t take your carefully planned introductions to five nonhuman races, a few magic properties, and a land that is decidedly not earth and put them into the five or so paragraphs you get on the back of the book. Instead, you need to get us interested right now. If you try to tell us all about the world in that little space, you’re going to both confuse us and not have room left for the story. There’s a reason you have more space in your book to introduce all those world-building elements.

How do you fix the synopsis? Bring out your logline! Continue reading A Synopsis Is Not an Information Dump

When Series Types Overlap

In my book Finding the Core of Your Story, I talk about how to write a logline for a series. I note that there are a couple different kinds of series. One is “Continuing Adventures” and the other is “Serial.” The first is the idea of episodic installments, where you could pick up anywhere and understand what’s happening. The second is a series where each installment builds on the last, creating an overarching story.

Soon after my book was released, I received this question from Katie Daniels:

You say there are two kinds of series – serial series and continuing adventures. But what about series that are both? Actually, this being the 21st century and all, most continuing adventure shows also have an overall arc. Often times the first season will be all standalones, but the more sure a show gets about it’s viewership the more they’ll bring in longer storylines, and oftentimes they turn into a serial series. Should these simply be considered a Serial series? But what if they’re still standalones?

My answer turned out to be instructive, so I thought I’d share. Continue reading When Series Types Overlap

Help Me Write Another Book!

It’s time I gave you a glimpse into my plans for an upcoming book. As I worked on Finding the Core of Your Story, I consulted on loglines for many people’s stories. Those experiences started to make me think that you might want to see how some of those sessions went. After all, it’s great to read a set of logline rules, and examples are helpful, but what if you could read a start-to-finish logline critique session?

What if you could read a bunch of them in one book?

That’s precisely what I have in mind. I’m planning a book that will be a series of logline case studies, if you will. You’ll get to see where the real-life logline began, what steps were taken to improve it, and what it looked like when it was done.

But I need your help to get this started. I need stories to consult on!

Here’s the deal: You contact me with the form below and tell me about your story. If I pick your story, I’ll get in touch with you and we’ll talk. I’ll endeavor to take you from whatever you’ve got now to a decent logline and perhaps a pitch plan. It will be similar to the recent series of breakdowns I did, but better because you’ll actually be able to talk back to me about your story.

Practically any story will do. I don’t care what medium you’re working in. Novel, short story, stage, film, poetry, or anything else you can throw at me. Bring it! Status doesn’t matter, either. Brainstorming, first draft, completed, published, or anything in between. I want to include a wide range of stories in this book to maximize its usefulness.

What do you get out of this? A few things:

  • A logline consultation for free!
  • Your story’s appearance in the book and/or on the Fix My Story blog. (Not your story story. The case study and logline. You keep your story to publish as you see fit and make money for you. 🙂 )
  • A free e-book copy of the final book, plus a discount coupon for a printed copy.
  • Maybe other stuff if I think of something cool while writing the book.

(And no, even though those four points start with letters that spell “A YAM,” you’re not getting one of those.)

So what do you say? Want to be in one of my books? Use this handy little form. (Submissions now closed.)

Brief hiatus in March

I’m taking planning to take the month of March off from blogging while I’m shooting the upcoming second season of my Month of the Novel web series. If you want to keep up with what I’m doing on this very cool project, check out the official production blog, where my team and I are planning to post updates throughout the shoot.

I’ll be back in April, so don’t go anywhere!

Conflict and Consequences

When I’m helping people write loglines, I often run into a little problem. Someone will hand me a logline for an epic story that just doesn’t quite feel compelling, usually for a very simple reason: they haven’t told us about the consequences.

Loglines and stories need conflict, as I’ve said in the past (and explained in my book), but sometimes it’s not enough to just include a situation with conflict. You need to make sure that we know what’s going to happen if the hero doesn’t succeed.

This is often more of a big epic story thing. When the story is huge and involves the fate of the city, the world, the galaxy, or the universe, it can often fall flat on its face without a little tiny bit more.

And yet for some reason, this is a sticking point for so many people. They figure they have a bad guy and he’s in the logline, so that ought to be plenty, right? Nope. And worse still, when pressed for more details, many writers panic and say, “I don’t really know what should go in there!”

Luckily, there’s a simple, powerful question you can ask yourself to figure out what consequences belong both in your story, and also help your logline: Continue reading Conflict and Consequences

Even More Loglines from The Black List

Back by popular demand, here’s part three of a series breaking down (and often fixing) loglines from The Black List. For ten more loglines, check out part 1 and part 2.

Story of Your Life: Based on the short story by Ted Chiang. When alien crafts land around the world, a linguistics expert is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. As she learns to communicate with the aliens, she begins experiencing vivid flashbacks that become the key to unlocking the greater mystery about the true purpose of their visit.

Those who have read my previous logline breakdown posts or who have had my help with loglines before will know right off the bat what I’m going to say here: A logline is one sentence, not three. Other than that, though, the bones of a good logline are here. Let’s make it follow the rules.

“When aliens land and she is recruited to communicate with them, a linguistics expert begins experiencing vivid flashbacks that hold the key to learning the purpose of the extraterrestrial visit.” Continue reading Even More Loglines from The Black List

More Loglines from The Black List

My post about loglines from The Black List only covered five out of the enormous list of choices. I’ve decided it would be good to see more, including some that I think are excellent loglines (can’t be negative all the time!). So, without further ado, here are five more loglines from the 2012 Black List.

Americatown: In a China-dominated near future, a former LAPD officer attempts to save his family from destitution in Los Angeles by working for a crime lord in the American ghetto within a thriving Hong Kong.

While I don’t find this logline compelling to me personally (not my kind of story), it is a well crafted one. We have a setup (“In a China-dominated near future”), a main character who is well described (“former LAPD officer”), and a good grasp of the situation (“working for a crime lord” to “save his family”). All of the necessary elements are here, and this is pretty much perfect. Continue reading More Loglines from The Black List