Saturday, June 26, 2010

Loglines for review

Do you remember Rachelle Gardner's one line summary contest? Here was my submission and her comment.

When a lonely scientist’s nightmares become reality, she must embrace her magical abilities to save her planet from an invading alien force.

"I don't know what the nightmares are about, there is no clue as to the nature of her magical abilities, and the alien force could be darn near anything. Just a few carefully chosen words could make this more visual and draw my interest." R.G.
So, I've been trying to improve my logline using her advice. I want to pull my hair out. The new sentences feel clunky, overly wordy. Do you think I'm choosing words that make it more visual? Any critique and advice will be appreciated. Here are two rewrites.
Ostracized for her violet eyes, a lonely scientist struggles to embrace her magical abilities in order to save her world from destruction by an alien race that turns out to be a human-dragon hybrid from Sendek’s forgotten past.
Or...
As a lonely scientist’s nightmares of an invasion by scaly humanoids become reality, technology fails to save her people and she must embrace her magical ability of focusing energy in order to save her planet from annihilation.
Ack! Reading them again makes me gag. My brain is seriously fried, but I need to keep making some progress. I like the first one better. The second one just bugs me. Talia's magical talents are...complex. "Focusing energy" doesn't work for me, but I have no idea how to describe them in such a short space. Do you think I can just leave out a description of what the abilities are?

Thanks in advance for any and all constructive criticism. 

12 comments:

  1. I see what you mean about the third one. Unless energy control/focus is the main aspect of her abilities it is quite limiting and doesn't do them justice. Other than that, I kind of liked that one since it did explain the dream and aliens a bit without too many words added.

    Do have some thoughts on the second one. For the aliens, "that turns out to be" isn't really needed and the description of human-dragon could be moved before the alien race part. Just an idea. Is Sendek the planet? Just curious on that point.

    I see what she means about the first one but it didn't seem that bad to me. I don't know much about loglines with my limited exposure but it seems some ask for more detail when the point is to have a short sentence summary.

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  2. I'm no expert, but I keep reading agents and editors say it's the vague language that doesn't work. So "magical abilities" is vague. I see what you're striving for but it isn't working yet.
    "violet eyes" and "lonely" scientist mean nothing if that doesn't say it's because she's outcast due to her magic talent.
    Cutting some unnecessary words might help the last one. Here's a suggestion:
    A scientist's nightmares of an invasion by humanoids becomes reality and she must use (forbidden, disdained, outlawed???) magic to save the planet when technology fails.
    Good luck. I hate writing pitches, too. It is sooooo hard.

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  3. I think I agree with RG on the original. I'm not really sure what it's about. The second and third give a lot more visual imagery.

    I find the second one bulky. I think a little rearrangement might make it better. How about this: ?

    Ostracized for her violet eyes, a lonely scientist struggles to embrace her magic to save her world from destruction by an alien race--a human-dragon hybrid from Sendek’s forgotten past.

    I also like the third one a lot. The couple of things I would mention are: 1) What is the technology. This is also vague. 2) Why use "magical abilities" and not just "magic"? I'm sure you have your reasons, but it's hard to know why in such a short space. 3) Cut "in order" to save a couple of words. Maybe you could use these to help better describe "focusing energy."

    May I ask, if you were to describe Talia's magic in, say, 20-30 words, what would it be? Maybe we can brainstorm some other two or three word descriptions from that (?).

    I think that these are much stronger than the original. Nice job!

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  4. Personally, I 'd like you to name Talia instead of just calling her a lonely scientist; it provides more of a connection and draws me in.

    I agree with the others: I think your second and third attempts provide more detail, but are still a bit vague. And I'm with Dawn, is Sendek supposed to be the planet?

    I'm curious about her violet eyes, if they're tied to her magic and magic is what's frowned upon you might mention the connection if you think the description of her eyes is important, otherwise I don't think it helps.

    You might try something like this:

    Talia's violet eyes give her away as being more than a lonely scientist, and when technology fails she must embrace her magic in order to save her planet from annihilation at the hands of an invading alien race.

    Regardless, you're making progress, these two are definitely better, and I'm highly intrigued! Thanks for being open to suggestions, it's always nice to work on something other than my own stuff for a minute. Good luck!! :)

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  5. Personally I like your first one . . . which means mine's pretty vague too. ;)

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  6. First one is good. Maybe too long? Maybe divide into two sentences?

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  7. Thanks everyone for your thoughts and comments. I have lots to work with when I get home and work on this some more.

    I hope you know how much I appreciate you taking the time to help me out. :) There is some great advice in here that is really going to help me.

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  8. Hey Charity. Loglines are tough. Keep at it.
    Here's my two-cents. LOL

    A scientists ability to focus energy must save her planet from dragon-like aliens.

    ps: Thanks for entering my contest.

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  9. Charity,

    This almost feels like a blogfest. What a great idea. Maybe we should all do that for our books. So, here's my "Charity's Impromptu One-Line Pitch Blogfest" entry. (And know that I'm having the devil-of-a-time trying to do my own and it always seems easier helping a friend clean her kitchen than to clean my own.)

    "When scientist Talia (last name) wakes to find scaly humanoids invading her planet, she must decide which is worse; fighting them with forbidden magic, or being dead."

    Okay, so I don't know if that has anything to do with your book, but I actually had fun writing it. Thanks and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you'll come up with just the right one.

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  10. I agree with Mealine. This is a fantastic way to get help and feedback, and I'm pretty sure that my logline is pretty awful at the moment (but I have to focus on other things like, oh, rewrites :)

    Anyway, I wanted to throw one observation out there and see what people think. I went back and forth on the name issue when I was writing my logline for RG's contest. I noticed that, of the 5 examples she gave, none of them actually used a name, and only one of the winners did.

    I think you can glean a lot more information about a character if you know who they are (a boy wizard, a spider-throwing superhero, a crippled woman, a young doctor...). In light of this, I think you should stick to "a lonely scientist". If you think this is vague, what KIND of scientist is she? A lonely biologist? A lonely chemist? I get a lot more sense of who she is this way than from her name.

    I'm excited to see what else you come up with after you get home. Safe travels :)

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  11. Thanks RosieC, Melanie and RaShelle! The month of July is devoted to polishing my query letter and summary, so all this advice is being put to use.

    I finished the last round of revisions the end of May and took June off to let my brain recover. I agree with Rosie on using the name for the 1 line pitch. All the stuff I read on it didn't use the name. I plan to use this logline as my first paragraph in the query and then introduce Talia in the next paragraph.

    When I have something workable, I'll post it for critique on the blog. I hope you all come back to help then as well. You guys are awesome!

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  12. Having not read the other comments, this may sound redundant--why would she be ostracized for violet eyes? Are they a sign of something on her planet? (And I just got that she's not from earth. I'm sure that's obvious to people who know more about your WIP than I do.)
    Are these "magical" abilities a latent racial trait that her people have tried to stamp out or ignore in favor of rational Science?
    Hey, guess what! Your single sentences obviously got me thinking, that's a good sign.
    In summary, here's what I think you said--
    A lonely scientist from the planet Sendek tries to suppress her magical talents and ignore her disturbing nightmares--until the day her visions prove prophetic and her strange gifts are the only thing standing between her people and annihilation by a vengeful alien horde.
    Bah! Too wordy! But did I understand what you were saying? If so, then you're on track. And I'm getting so excited to read your novel!

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