A NaNo Novel & More

Planning: Loglines

If you check out most novel-writing books, or even some of the better websites out there (including Tami Moore’s), you’ll see that one of the things everyone recommends for preparation is what’s commonly called the Log Line. It’s a two-sentence description of your entire novel, formulated in a very specific way. The first two years I did NaNo, I essentially refused to do a log line. Or maybe I just couldn’t do one, which should explain a lot about why those first two novels failed as badly as they did.

Now I do one for every novel (and for some longer short stories as well). It’s an incredibly easy premise and an incredibly hard thing to do.

David Macinnis Gill has a really nice layout of how to build a log line here, if you’re looking for step-by-step instructions.

In essence, here is a very simple logline, borrowed from Holly Bodger:

When [MAIN CHARACTER] [INCITING INCIDENT], she [CONFLICT]. And if she doesn’t [GOAL], she will [CONSEQUENCES].

Now, I say ‘simple’ with some tongue-in-cheekness. Writing a logline is perhaps the most important — and most difficult — part of planning a novel. The difficult part is why I skipped it for so many years, not surprisingly.

I’ve been working on my logline for two days already. And it keeps changing, which is a sign that I don’t quite know my novel as well as I thought. But I WILL have it nailed by November 1st, and will post the final here (along with its various incarnations) for you to see.

Do YOU have a logline yet?

Walking the moonlit path that leads to a novel, s.



4 responses

  1. ❤ Thanks for the shout out!

    And I couldn't agree more – those loglines are slippery buggers, but a novel without a logline is MUCH more likely to be even slipperier (spellchecker says "slipperier" is actually a word, so don't blame me if it looks funny!).

    I'm curious to see if my NaNo novel fulfills its logline or dives sideways off a cliff to create a completely different story, but I definitely feel much better about my chances of finishing with a coherent plot!

    October 25, 2010 at 10:07 am

    • Oh, my pleasure! I love the way you’re outlining and planning. I think it’s super helpful! And my logline often starts to veer off the rails. But I agree — just having one makes me think more clearly about consequences.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:22 pm

  2. Pingback: Planning: Logline 2 « What the Moon Saw

  3. Pingback: And… we’re off « Annette's Musings

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