The elevator pitch. The tagline. The logline. Does it matter? Is it essential to have one at your fingertips?
I’m undecided. I’m currently reading a book on writing that advises you start with your one-line statement before actually writing the story itself. I can kind of see why: getting ‘this is what I’m writing’ front and foremost in the brain will aid focus, keep bringing you back to what really matters.
And then, of course, there’s the sell. A good logline will form the basis of your back-cover blurb. It’ll help you craft a strong, attention-grabbing letter to an agent or publisher (although gimmicky, over-dramatised ‘yelling’ is of course to be avoided) and make it easier to explain your market and sum up the ‘feel’ of your novel.
It’s also good training. To say something coherent, intelligent, mood-setting and intriguing in one or two sentences is a little like writing flash-fiction. Every word matters. Laziness is a sin. The punctuation must be perfect, the hook must reel in the fish.
With that in mind, then, here’s my loglines for my back-catalogue, hastily knocked-out for shits and giggles:
The Ballad of Lady Grace
When a cocky musician is accused of the worst of crimes, the only person he can turn to is the person who’s always hated him. Can they get to the truth – and get their own act together?
In the heat of the city it’s riot season once again. With religious tensions building, a disturbed man stumbles upon a group of gamers who might just help him find himself. But just what are they working towards? Will they find safety, or will they bring about the end of nations?
In the freezing wastes of Antarctica a killer walks. It’s down to the inexperienced security chief to find the culprit – and to find himself – before the crew all freeze beneath the night shift.
They come through our dreams; now they walk amongst us and the war we never knew we were fighting has been lost. It’s down to society’s dregs to face their worst fears before the world becomes an endless nightmare.
I’m still not convinced that a good logline is essential but it’s a fun little challenge. For me it remains a work in progress; just how do you distil your magnum opus into a single line? To get it right takes a lot longer than the fifteen minutes I’ve spent on these.
I’d welcome your thoughts – and feel free to share your loglines in the comments.