Friday, August 26, 2011

I Stink at Log Lines

I should probably rephrase that before it becomes a self-fufilling prophesy.

I have not yet excelled at log lines. You know, those TV guide descriptions of a show that tells you what it's all about. "It's about ____ who wants to ____ and _____ but _____ and ____."

Log lines are the writer's soundbite. Like the corporate elevator speech, they should be compelling enough to capture your attention but long enough to cover the subject. Similar to a woman's skirt...but I digress.

Log lines are the one pithy sentence that represent months, perhaps years of work and I continue to struggle with them. I recall when I was pursuing my screenwriting I had a reservoir of them for my spec scripts. I had to be prepared to pitch them to my agent at the time. His side of the conversation went something like, "Pass....Pass....Um, yeah Pass...Send me that one."

It's important to be able to synthesize your work into something succinct. Twitter helps with this discipline. If you can't fit it in on your mobile phone's screen, who's gonna be interested? Remember, the average American now has the attention span just a touch longer than a goldfish. ... You still with me?

Wow, you're above average. Thanks for hanging in there.

This business of crafting a log line has always given me pause in my fiction pursuits. With non-fiction the topic is pretty well laid out, usually in the title. That should be true for fiction too, but often there's real or imagined nuance that as a writer I feel compelled to protect. Also, for better or worse, my fiction tends to be slice of life character driven.

So what? You still gotta be able to answer the question, "What's it about?" with something intelligent and intriguing. I don't claim either with what I have so far for the small novel I'm currently working on. It's called "Three Blinks and a Sigh" and I penned the first draft as part of the 2009 NaNoWriMo. Now I've dusted it off, rolled up my sleeves and am editing it into something comprehensible.

What's it about? I still struggle with that question. Right now, it's about a divorced poet who unwittingly redefines himself under the influence of his ex-wife, his socialite friend and his alluringly addictive online muse.

Whatcha think?