A log line is a one sentence description that gives an appealing and succinct summary of your story. Think of the blurbs in TV Guide or Publisher’s Lunch.
A log line is meant to share the story basics but also to provide an emotional hook.
An easy formula for a log line for fiction is this:
Name of story is a word count + genre about a main character who must Story Question before consequences if Story Question is not solved.
For non-fiction, try this:
Name of story is a word count +genre that verb such as explores, uncovers, explains, investigates the subject of book.
Because a log line is so short, each word is important and should perform multiple tasks. Let’s take a look at a sample log line:
“BAD SALE is a 94,000 word thriller about a farmer whose life falls apart after he is tricked by a boyhood friend into buying bomb-making supplies at the hardware store.”
The characters are Farmer and Boyhood Friend. The noun “farmer” tells this person’s job, but it also implies he’ll be a hard-working, honest, family man because that’s the general perception of farmers. “Boyhood friend” implies loyalty and history between the two. It’s not known if this friendship has been steady or if this is a friend from childhood who has reappeared in Farmer’s life.
“Tricked” implies deception, but the intent is not clear, so it leaves something to the imagination. It’s stronger than “fooled” but not as blatant as “coerced”.
The phrase “life falls apart” is vague but conveys the idea that havoc will fall upon the main character and he will be unable to stop it. This is the emotional hook. We should care when a good person is damaged by a supposed friend.
A log line is used in written queries and verbal pitches. It’s also a handy answer to the question, “What are you writing?”
Do you have a log line you’d like to share or show off?