Anybody remember the Brady Bunch movie and that line – “Marcia Marcia Marcia”? Well, that’s what writers should be saying about loglines.
Logline! Logline! Logline! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the logline is a key tool for any writer. Any writer? Sure. It works for non-fiction as well. Traditionally, loglines have been the one-sentence rendition of your work you use to sell it to an agent or publisher.
But they are so much more than that. By writing one first – before you even begin writing content – you have to hone your thoughts. Figure out what you’re going to do. First.
What’s a logline? Typically, for novels, it has the form ‘[Named hero] has to [action, usually involving character growth] in order to [another action] and so [achievement].’ For instance, ‘Cinderella has to learn confidence in order to attend the ball and so win the heart of the handsome prince.’
In non-fiction, that one-sentence rendition is known as a thesis – in fact, that one line is what a thesis actually is. Everything else in the 90,000 word doctoral dissertation or non-fiction tome is proof of that thesis. Often it is a simple assertion: ‘First World War military experience provided a mechanism for rescue organisation when earthquake struck Hawke’s Bay in 1931.’ (The book I wrote to prove it was Quake – Hawke’s Bay 1931, now out of print).
The thing is that it performs the same function as a logline – hones the thinking.
Do you use loglines in your writing? How have they worked for you?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013