I think this is the most difficult part, distilling the idea into a short sentence or two. Maybe not, we shall see. I love our first session. I am looking forward to comments, edits, and improvements on my first log line.
Gerry, I see two main points here: the first sentence is the milieu, the second is the story. Try switching the order of information for more of a storytelling delivery. Consider this kind of Beginning (B), Middle (M), End (E) structure: (B) [Main character] + [has to undergo this change] + (M) [in this kind of environment] + (E) [which suggests this kind of outcome]
[I copied your text below to make it easy to see together]
Greg and his fellow officers were engaged in a guerrilla war their department was both politically and operationally ill-prepared to fight. Greg’s purpose was turning from a legal, keeping-the-peace role into a mission of extralegal war-making.”
I changed my log line to better fit the 25 word limit before I read your critique of my first log line. Would you give me a second look at my second effort? Thanks again. Gerry
Gerry, this is already tighter. May I make the following suggestion as an edit (just rearranging components as an example of what I spelled out earlier):
Greg, Special Operations Commander, is charged with a mission to turn from law enforcement to extralegal warfare just as his agency is engaged in a guerrilla war they are ill-prepared to fight.
Now I have a clear expectation of the story, a suggestion of what the adventure and ultimate conflict may be. I like the premise you have set up for the main character and what he’s challenged with at the outset. One question I have is, how does Greg feel about this? What can you hint at about his personality that might give a sense of how his mission will be colored by this detail?
I think I’ve got the structure down now. I’ll post the new one tomorrow. A little longer, about 42 words, but clears things up, I think?
Gerry, I agree with Monique so far, and my main recommendation is also to include some suggestion of the main character’s personality, his feelings about the operation, and/or how he might be changed by involvement with it.
I’ve introduced a conflict in Greg’s mind about going the extralegal route vs. the normal law enforcement path which is not working. I would like to portray he his thinking “outside the box” even if his options are “out of bounds.” Doesn’t mean he’s going that route, but he’s thinking about it.
Gerry, the new details are great! Now I really have a sense of the main character, and I already see his conflict and get a clear sense of what the adventures will be. I love that he’s been demoted and goes rogue. I am still curious about what the “guerrilla war” is: is this urban gangs or something larger, like international cartels, or something else? Is there a way to hint a bit more at “who” the enemy/antagonist is?
A few minor editorial suggestions for tightening:
-tighten “changing from…” to “abandoning”
-“wage” should be “waged”
Deborah, it’s much stronger with the specific details you’ve added. I think it can be tightened even more and made more powerful by cutting straight to the chase with sentence #2. (The Jane Eyre reference is a good character window into Annie, but for economy of words in a Log Line, far less important to your overall story or pitch.) For example, “Raped and impregnated, Annie was suddenly catapulted out of her childhood onto a journey that would take her from … to … in order to restore all that was lost.” Consider also a way to be more specific with “all that was lost”. Think of a word that really gets at the greater theme of your work. What is it *really* that Annie restores?
Raped and impregnated, Annie was suddenly catapulted out of her Victorian childhood into a lifetime journey to restore her fearless spirit, ambushed dreams and family intimacy on the rugged California frontier.
Deborah, this is great. It’s way better than the first draft. Short, punchy, inviting.
Could you write my log line for me? Yours is great!
The revision is excellent! I think you have crafted a really strong log line here. I also think “fearless spirit” tells us so much more than “identity”; the first is specific, the second vague. Nice word choices!
Yuba Almanac: Is it stronger if the word “residents” has some qualifier or different descriptive, since they are essentially the authors? What about “voices”?
Bill: I really like the names you chose for both characters. With the age of the protagonist, the ghost element, and historic mining, I get a sense of place, genre, audience and adventure. A couple things jump out for me that I can’t quite visualize: “grapples with injustice” and “confronted.” Can you hint at what kind of injustice, or to whom, and perhaps why or how Starr is affected by it? I also wonder what the adventure of the story is, or what the ultimate conflict might be. Is there any way to hint at that?
Bill, I think the conflict is implied as having to do with injustices experienced by the miners, including Isamu who “confronts” the protagonist – but those injustices could be further emphasized here, perhaps specified. Also, yes, the adventure or movement of the story, where does it go?
I’d also like to know a little bit more about what kinds of injustices.
Jeff: I like the flavor that’s coming through and I think the last three words really give me a sense of what I’m about to discover. Now I know who the author is by what he does, but I don’t quite have a sense of his personality. Any way to put a spin on what you do/who you are that may also be a clue to the voice/style of the book? Likewise, any way to hint at what kind of participants (besides famous/little-known) that makes them stand out?
Writer-musician-broadcaster Jeff Wright digs deep into the rich musical l(ore) of Nevada County, California, through the personal narratives of participants, famous and little-known, in the evolution of this Backwater Musical Mecca.
Jeff: Your additional details give us so much more of a sense of what kinds of stories and personalities we can expect. Nicely done! Now this really makes me want to learn more.
Monique, I think your line works well, makes me want to learn more about this story. For instance, what sort of world-setting is this, and what is an “evolutionary musician”? Might these details be stated or suggested here?
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