What’s a Logline?

I heard the word logline for the first time about a week ago. No, I don’t live in a cave or under a log. But somehow I missed it until now anyway. I was emailing with a fellow writer. I don’t know her, but my one cousin does and had introduced us by email. In the fellow writer’s email, she had written, “The logline for my novel is………….” I noted the new word and went about my business.

Yesterday I went to my writer’s group monthly meeting. A published novelist gave a talk on High Concept Fiction. At least I had heard that idea before, thank goodness. During the talk, the term logline came up! The definition of logline is, as I understood it, a one line sentence that explains your novel. It should tell who the protagonist is, what they are up against and what the stakes are.  And it should make anyone who hears it want to read the book.

I was left wondering why I never heard the term before and where it came from. So this morning I did a search on the internet. The first nine hits indicated that a logline has to do with a movie script or a television show. Hmmmm. The tenth hit was “What’s your novel’s logline?” And the first sentence of that article says that loglines are usually associated with movies but that the novelist would be wise to write one.

Somehow, without my realizing it, the elevator pitch, or hook, has turned into a logline. An elevator pitch is short enough, in my opinion. It is supposed to last no more than two minutes. You need one for attending writer’s conferences in case you run into an agent or editor on the elevator.

A logline would be how long, I wondered. So I went to the internet again and found sample loglines for novels and read some, timing myself. Good grief! We’re down to ten seconds. How do you boil down your 300+ page novel into ten seconds? It’s easy enough for me to understand the idea but I’m sure it’s difficult to write. Write well, I mean.

Apparently it’s what we need to do these days. Yikes. So if we only have one sentence to get an agent or editor’s attention, how short does the book have to be is what I wondered next. A novel now has to be described like a script. Does that mean our novels will soon need to resemble scripts, too, with only the bare bones of a story?

What is happening to the world, anyway? Communication, due to texting, has changed a lot. Kids today have shorthand for everything and use as few words as possible in their texts. And now we get one sentence to describe our novel.

I can’t even imagine what’s next. I guess this is why I don’t write science fiction. I can barely keep up with today.


About Vee

I'm a writer working on my fifth novel.
This entry was posted in agents, author, literature, logline, writer, writer's conferences, writer's rejections, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to What’s a Logline?

  1. Steven says:

    Vee, this was new to me, too – people at the SFWC were talking about these one-line pitches and I was like “what? It took me a long time to get to a paragraph!” Pretty soon the pitch will be one word like “Fight!” or “Sex!” and that’ll have to stand for your book.

    • Vee says:

      Hi Steven,
      Thanks for your comment. I think you’re right. One sentence will go down to three words, two words, one word. We’ll have to think up new words, though. “War” will not be enough. Like the eskimos with many words for “snow”, we’ll have to find a way to differentiate those single words.

  2. Elevator Pitch plunged from her lofty throne when Mr. Logline appeared. I tried to resuscitate Ms. Pitch, but she was gone–murdered–without a proper investigation into her death.

  3. Nice post. If it makes you feel any better, I’d never heard of logline in the context of writing either. Obviously I need to start working on that….

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