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How to Write a Logline to Draw in Readers for Books
When you’re writing a book, one of the most critical tools in your promotional arsenal is the logline. This one-to-two-sentence summary can make or break a reader's decision to pick up your book or leave it on the shelf. Though originally a term from the film industry, loglines have also become indispensable for authors. Crafting the perfect logline may seem simple but requires careful consideration and craft. Here's how to do it.
What is a Logline?
A logline concisely summarizes your book’s plot, highlighting its central conflict and stakes. The purpose is to intrigue potential readers without giving away the whole story. Think of it as a teaser that encapsulates your book's essence.
The Ingredients of a Successful Logline:
Protagonist: Clearly define who the main character is.
Conflict: What is the primary challenge or obstacle they face?
Unique Selling Point: What makes your story stand out from others in the same genre or category?
Stakes: What's at risk if the protagonist doesn’t succeed?
Start Broad: Begin with a basic summary of your story. This can be several sentences long but should encompass the main events and characters.
Narrow Down: From your summary, distill the essence of your story. What is absolutely crucial for someone to understand its core?
Revise for Clarity: Remove any jargon or details that are too specific. You want your logline to be understandable by anyone, even if they aren’t familiar with your book’s particular sub-genre or setting.
Test It Out: Share your logline with friends, family, or writing peers. You're on the right track if they're intrigued and want to know more.
Real Loglines with Book Examples:
"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
Logline: In a dystopian future where children are forced to fight to the death on live television, a defiant teenager must outwit sadistic organizers and fellow competitors to save her family from poverty and starvation.
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Logline: Amid the jazz-soaked decadence of the Roaring Twenties, a mysterious millionaire pines for a love lost, leading to tragic consequences in the world of New York’s elite.
"The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins
Logline: A troubled woman, entangled in a missing person's investigation, must confront her own dark secrets while unraveling the truth behind her daily glimpses from the train.
"Moby Dick" by Herman Melville
Logline: Obsessed with revenge, a relentless captain leads his crew on a perilous sea hunt for the white whale that maimed him, pushing all to the brink of sanity and survival.
"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
Logline: In a society where marriage is currency, an independent-minded young woman clashes with a proud, wealthy bachelor, only to discover that first impressions aren’t always lasting.
Tips for Perfecting Your Logline:
Keep it Concise: Brevity is your ally. A logline should never be more than two sentences. If it is, it's probably not focused enough.
Make it Emotional: Readers are drawn to emotional experiences. Whether it's tension, romance, horror, or excitement, ensure your logline delivers an emotional punch.
Avoid Namedropping: While it might be important to you that your protagonist is named Esmeralda, in the logline, she might simply be "a determined young witch."
Be Honest: Your logline should represent the tone and genre of your book. Don’t sell it as a romance if it’s a thriller.
Iterate: Don’t get discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t feel right. Crafting the perfect logline takes practice. Keep refining until it resonates.
Loglines are powerful tools that can spark a reader’s interest in just a few words. By focusing on your protagonist, their central conflict, what sets your story apart, and the stakes at hand, you can craft a logline that represents your book and makes it irresistible to readers. Remember, the ultimate goal is to entice, intrigue, and invite readers into your created world.