From The Write Life Lessons in The Art of Writing
4 Elements of a Logline – One line plot description by Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, Summary of Chapter One – What Is It?A log line is a movie/screen writing term for a one or two line description of the story. Snyder says screenwriters can sell their screen play if they have the following 4 elements.
1) Irony. A good story will have a twist. Identify the conflict. Mention the protagonist
(Hero/Heroine) and the antagonist to involve the reader’s emotions.
2) Target Market. For the author of novels this would be the publisher and genre. Does the description provide an idea of the reader/market? A bookstore is divided by genre to engage the target market. Readers that enjoy romance, young adult section, mystery, sci-fi, etc. head to the labeled section. A blurb on the back, though longer, tells the reader what the story is about.
3) Create a mental picture. Does the description give the potential reader a visual idea of what the book/movie is about?
4) Killer Title. Snyder says if the logline has these elements your pitch will be successful. Even better condense the movie for the marquee and – voila!
So we may not be screenwriters, but as authors if we heed Snyder’s advice we have a better chance of selling our book to the publisher and the reader. I thought a look at some well-known books would be interesting.
I love all the following books but if someone hadn’t recommended Outlander I never would have read Gabaldon’s work. To Kill a Mockingbird is an intriguing title and Guilty Pleasures means you must buy the book. Fahrenheit 451? It would intrigue but I am not certain the book would sell today on the title alone. Unwind by Neil Shusterman doesn’t work on the title but the one line plot description of “what if your parents could unwind you….” hits the target market. What book titles SELL the book? Do these titles also meet the one line plot description? Do the elements of irony, target market and creation of a mental picture help make the killer Title?
I think the following books may well meet all 4 criteria:Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris and Undead and Unwed by Mary Janice Davidson. What do you think?