A word about log lines…

…they are supposed to be catchy little things. Tidbits that make your mouth go all watery and make you scream for pages. A hook. If they’re dull and lifeless, then why bother? Here’s one that fits in the “why bother?” category.

For the first time in his life a police Chicago police Lt. faces the “world of Absolute Depravity” (the title of the book is Absolute Depravity – so the author was going for a play on words – #loglinefail)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but what cop in Chicago doesn’t face some form of depravity? Rather than making an impact with this log line, I want to snerk. And that isn’t the author’s intention. The author didn’t realize this was supposed to be a hook.

So right out of the shoot, the author is facing an uphill battle because I’m underwhelmed and trying to swallow a snerk. It would have been better if the author had simply not used one – well, definitely not this line. And that’s just fine – we don’t need log lines. Log lines are for movies and books during the publicity phase. Publishers put them on the covers of their books, their media kits, their cover letters and tip sheets. Why? They’re teasers to pique the readers’ interest.

For example, we have a log line for Chris Baughman’s exciting new book, Off the Street“Prostitution is not a victimless crime.” We put it there to set up the reader – to hook them. Go look at the link and check out the cover. With that one sentence, readers know what the book is about. It’s a play on the oft-used line, “Prostitution is a victimless crime” by those who don’t see what the “big deal” is. That little log line puts forth the message that this kind of thinking is dead wrong, and Chris’ book shows the reader why. It’s there to deliver a message. It has a purpose. It has a hook.

Now, would that same log line been effective in the query? Nope. Not all by itself. But if Chris’ fabulous agent had put it in the first line of the pitch, it would have been perfectly fine.

The thing is, don’t expect one line to do your work for you. The author of the Chicago cop query had the line sticking out there, all alone, like a wet booger,as if he wanted to say, “Ta da! Isn’t this fabulous??” And no, it wasn’t. It fell flat because there was no hook.

Unless you’ve got something really clever and riveting, consider leaving it out. If you do have a cool hook, think about making it your first line. I want to know about your story, and a single line isn’t going to accomplish that task. All it can do is reel me in, like a fish on a line.

Another purpose for that log line is to use it at the bar when someone asks what your book is about. You will need to have that one-liner handy that will entice someone to put their drink down and say, “Tell me more.”

And that’s what it’s all about, hooking someone in to say, “Tell me more.” Thatsa log line, baby!

One Response to A word about log lines…

  1. NinjaFingers says:

    And they’re so, so hard…

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