Thursday, October 15, 2015

Writing the Perfect Logline by Alison Henderson

Loglines were developed to sell movie and television scripts in one intriguing sentence. In the book world, we’ve taken that concept and melded it with the marketing idiom of taglines, which are more like verbal logos and not intended to convey much of the story. The result is something like a mini blurb, suggesting just enough of the story to grab a potential reader. You can read numerous articles rigidly defining both terms and insisting on the “correct” form for any given situation. But what’s the point? For our purposes as popular fiction writers, we’re going with a hybrid you can craft however you need to, depending on the use.

The perfect logline can definitely help sell a book. You might use it on the cover, in a Tweet or other promo, in online catalogues, etc. However, for me, writing a logline for a new book is an exercise in torture. Some writers hate writing synopses. Those have never been a problem for me. And unlike many, I actually enjoy writing blurbs. But distilling the essence of a story into a sentence or two? Nearly impossible.

So, to get some practice and challenge my creativity, I decided to try writing loglines for the ten short stories in my new collection Small Town Christmas Tales. Here goes:

If Wishes Were Fishes
            She forgave him for her brother’s death years ago, but can he learn to forgive himself?

Mistletoe and Misdemeanors
            Locked in a cell on Christmas Eve, and only the town’s former bad boy has the key.

Let it Snow
            When she’s sent to evict Santa Claus, can a lawyer turn the tables on her Scrooge of a client?

The Brightest Jewel
            There’s a handsome stranger in town, but has he come to save Black Bear Creek, or destroy it?

Penguins, Pucks, and Pumpkin Pies
            When the food bank catches fire the week before Christmas, it takes Pumpkinseed Lake’s former golden boy and his team of peewee Penguins to save the day.

Liza’s Secret Santa
            Someone is leaving tiny treasures on Liza’s doorstep, but who?

No Room at the Inn
            A carpenter named Joe, a pregnant teen named Maria, and three Jersey Wise Guys converge on a harried innkeeper in a mélange of mix-ups and misunderstandings.

Second Hand Hearts
            A burned-out tech entrepreneur gets more than he bargained for when he returns to his grandmother’s seaside home to lick his wounds and finds himself the object of a matchmaking scheme.

A Hard Luck Christmas
            Are a handsome rancher and the chance to set a teen’s life on the right course enough to keep a dedicated social worker in an apparent wasteland like Hark Luck, Wyoming?

Christmas 2.0
            A college professor faces a big decision when her video-gamer ex-boyfriend re-appears as a changed man with a new purpose.

So what do you think? There’s quite a mix here. Would these lines entice you to read the stories?

Small Town Christmas Tales is available in paperback and ebook exclusively from Amazon. For more info, click here.



Jannine Gallant said...

Those are exactly the sort of taglines I write! My pub changed all of mine to shorten them. "You can run from the past, but you can't hide..." and "A promise can follow you to the grave..." That sort of thing. I guess it's more dramatic, but your way gives you a better idea of what the story is about.

Alison Henderson said...

I've tried to write them shorter, but I haven't mastered it yet. Probably never will.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Not my favorite thing to do. I always need help.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Still LOVE the names of those towns, Alison. You'd think shorter would be easier, but it's not. Those tag lines of yours hooked me, I'm off to get my copy.

Alison Henderson said...

It's tough, isn't it, Brenda?

Alison Henderson said...

Thank you so much, Margo! I'm doing a guest blog post at WordWranglers on Monday about how I came up with the town names, if you're curious.

Leah St. James said...

I love your log/tag lines...whatever they are...Alison! I am really bad at it and thought you did a terrific job!

Diane Burton said...

Alison, I love them all. I think my favorite is the one for No Room at the Inn.