LOGLINES

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By Betty Kuffel

Welcome to the Montana Women Writers Blog. Winter doldrums are behind us. Spring is in the air. Soon fruit trees and flowers will be in bloom.  spring fruit treesI recently finished a thriller and was struggling with writing a logline so decided to share my research with you.

A logline is a concise single-sentence summary of your story.

Novels begin with an idea that stimulates an author to write the story. The concept is the logline. Your initial description may be too long, but as the story flows, the logline matures. By the time you write, The End, it will solidify but require wordsmithing to convey the exact message.

Loglines are used when marketing your work, whether a book or a screenplay. It must be snappy and precise to capture attention. If you are writing comedy, try to get a laugh from the reader. For your thriller, your logline should build suspense. Use terms that convey tension.

Developing a logline sounds easy, but most of us find it more difficult than writing a synopsis. Relating the full story in 25 words is challenging. There are many ways to approach writing a logline.

Barbara Schiffman presented at the Flathead River Writers Conference a few years ago and gave a helpful talk on developing loglines. Her notes included a formula as follows:

“IT’S A (genre) STORY ABOUT A (main character – include what he/she does or something significant about him/her, like “a struggling attorney” or “a widowed single mom”) WHO (describe what happens or what they do: “battles a ruthless corporate law firm” or “fights to save her dying son’s life” AND LEARNS (what they and the audience learn in the end, like “that David can beat Goliath in court” or “she knew more than the doctors after all”).

Key concepts from the Rain Dance website include:
Increase stakes to add urgency. Ticking time-bomb concept.
Use a setup scene.
Show action.
“Don’t tell the story. Sell the story.”

Don’t use a character name in either a logline or tagline. For the logline, describe the protagonist as: an ex-con, a sheriff, a rodeo queen. Add a description such as: an ex-con turned preacher, a crooked sheriff, an alcoholic rodeo queen.

Example – Jaws: When a swimmer is killed by a great white, a bureaucratic sheriff must take responsibility, protect the people, and kill the shark. (21 words)

What is the difference between a logline and a tagline?

A logline must contain: the protagonist, the goal, and the antagonistic force.
A good logline is helpful in writing a query letter and is essential when pitching. In a blog by story analyst Karel Segers, he presents key elements to successful logline construction.
When a major event happens
The main character must overcome the event (or flaw)
And pursue the goal.

A tagline is a few key descriptive words designed to grab attention.

Example – Alien: In space no one can hear you scream. (8 words)
 The logline is often a component of the description on your back cover. Hone your logline and memorize it so when someone asks about your latest work, you’ll have it ready.

Have a good summer and keep writing. 

Betty

Sources:
https://www.raindance.org/10-tips-for-writing-loglines
https://thestorydepartment.com,
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WRITING WITH FEELING

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Author: Betty Kuffel

Through the Lens of a Writer

Writers have a special way of looking at things. Envisioned scenes are painted with feelings, smells, sounds and touch. Delving into a character’s thoughts with interior dialogue adds depth, revealing desires and motivation.

Smells are a strong part of memory storage. A recalled odor conjures up acute memories of time and place. If the wind blows from the wrong direction across a Montana landscape, the smell of a nearby feedlot might drift to a beautiful outdoor wedding and overwhelm the sweet smell of flowers carried by the bride. When her marriage turns bad, she may recall the smell of manure on that fateful day. Or the sweet smell of pipe tobacco may instantly bring to mind the image of your loving grandfather.

Using comparisons and stark contrasts enhance description:

+My pet rat’s sandpaper tail wrapped beneath my chin as her silky body snuggled against my neck like a miniature kitty.

+Moonrise inched over the Rocky Mountains slashing the black slate of Flathead Lake.

Coloring your writing:

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Cinnamon hair

fiery sunrise.med (2)

A fiery sunrise

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Pomegranate jewels

Unique colors descriptions produce immediate images in the reader’s mind.

Using background music when you write adds to setting and feeling:

Many writers use music to set mood when writing scenes. Free internet sites allow you to choose specific songs, genres and themes to write by (Pandora, Spotify). Novels set in a certain era bring popular songs to mind and can be used to solidify and enhance a setting. Playing the songs can get you in the mood to write about the period in your novel.

“Without music and dance, life is a journey through a desert.” ― Pat Conroy

Additional quotes from Beach Music written by Pat Conroy, one of my favorite authors:

Touch and feelings:

“The water was pure and cold and came out of the Apennines tasting like snow melted in the hands of a pretty girl.” ― Pat Conroy

“My own tears seemed landlocked and frozen in a glacier I could not reach or touch within me.” ― Pat Conroy

 

Write scenes as if painting a picture. Happy reading and writing.

Thanks for stopping by.

Betty

Amazon Author Page  

 

ACTION PACKED SCENES

911DR - 2BAll of us are risk-takers. Just getting out of bed in the morning sets us on the road to making hundreds of decisions each day. What a character eats and wears aren’t very interesting unless they’re enjoying exotic foods in faraway places. No one really cares if the character brushes her teeth, we just assume she has. A reader wants to experience life by living vicariously through the activities of others.

Choices have consequences. Our characters get themselves into terrible predicaments. It’s those crises readers like. They experience being stalked by a madman or chased by zombies from the comfort of a Barcalounger. Driving too fast, mountain hiking without bear spray, driving while drunk, aerobatic flying, firing someone and getting pregnant are all potentially dangerous common experiences from choices made and sometimes regretted. When characters get themselves into dangerous situations the events must be realistic.

We like to read exciting books about complex characters who keep us awake long after the lights should be out. How do we write action scenes about risks and make them compelling? Conflict drives a story. The character is often in deep trouble because of poor choices that carry risk to lives, safety, lovers, finances, family or world. If you are writing an action scene, reading how other great authors do it can save you time and angst.

The event must be appropriate to your genre and characters. Accuracy is also important. If you are writing a gun scene and have never fired a weapon, research online and handling the type of weapon used in the scene along with interviewing a reliable shooter will make your scene more accurate and believable. If, on the other hand, you’re writing a memoir, you have the emotion, circumstances and scene embedded in your brain forever, but can you write it effectively?

Be sure the scene reveals your character accurately? Having someone critique your work is important to assure validity and readability. Being factually correct is essential in nonfiction. In fiction, we just make it up, but this doesn’t mean you don’t have to be accurate. Each of us has expertise in varied areas and when scenes are factually incorrect, readers will notice, and reviews may be negative.

If you have questions about specific aspects of your scene, ask another writer with expertise in the area, or interview someone in that field. My history of flying, marksmanship, and practicing ER medicine frequently generates questions from authors who are writing related scenes. A law enforcement crime scene evaluation course I took has proven valuable when writing about investigation processes.

Here are a few thoughts on constructing action scenes:

  • Remember, each scene has a beginning, middle and end.
  • Building tension with conflict begins with simmering emotion that accelerates and foreshadows the event. Include mood and setting.
  • Action verbs are key to sweeping a reader into the scene. Example: He ran quickly… is not nearly as effective as: He bolted through….
  • Clarify the characters’ needs and emotions. What is at stake? What if she/he loses?
  • Use time-lapse to intensify the scene. Is time running out?
  • Be sure actions are shown and dialogue is short. Intensify a visual of emotion by few words and a descriptive action. Examples: He yelled, “You can’t go. Please stay. I love you so much.” More effective: He pulled her back in an embrace. “Marry me.”

 Take some risks in your writing, join a critique group. Contact Authors of the Flathead.org to join a group of writers helping writers.

Be safe and enjoy life.

Happy Thanksgiving from my yard to yours.

6027.cropped Turkey

Betty Kuffel

Dr. Kuffel’s books on Amazon

Finishing

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Do you have a few unfinished projects lying around? I don’t mean an unfinished sweater you started knitting years ago or clothes to wash. I mean writing projects. For a writer, life is complex. Traveling and going off on a hike with friends are important. Experience is the basis of good writing, but writers must take the time to write. Prioritizing is part of getting things done.

Last year, I set a goal to finish four novels I had written over the past two decades. While writing the novels, I felt compelled to complete three nonfiction books first and published them on Amazon. I edited the novels numerous times and received helpful edits from my critique partners. Then, hired a professional editor. Once she returned them, it meant more editing. So, for the past year I focused on finalizing the novels.

Writing The End of a first draft was a great achievement but then the real work began. If you consider a novel in the 80,000-word range, writing 350 words a day for 228 days would bring you to The End of the first draft. If you are aiming for 100,000 for your genre, you’d finish in a year. That is less than one page of single-spaced manuscript per day.

Some days are more productive than others. I am often up before dawn writing because mornings are my most productive time of day. Find your best time. Most writers can’t write every day, but on days they don’t put words on paper, the stories evolve and solidify in their thoughts.

Rewriting and editing are tedious but must be done to perfection before you query an agent or indie-publish on Amazon or one of many other platforms. After all your personal focus and hours, you may be blinded to serious problems in the storyline or unclear word choices. It is still essential to enlist beta-readers who are voracious readers in the genre and not family members. The hope is to identify problem areas you have not recognized before you proceed to publication.

Whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, your job is to never bore the reader. Information in a nonfiction work or the story in your novel must be engaging and keep the reader reading. Attending writer conferences, taking classes and participating in online writing skills webinars can be valuable. Many are free, but usually, in the end, will try to sell you something.

Each year, November is National Novel Writing Month; NaNoWriMo for short. If you need a push to finish a project or start a new one, this may be for you. Locally, at Flathead Valley Community College, Kathy Dunnehoff is presenting Novel Challenge. Beginning October 30 for five sessions. She will discuss the craft of writing and how to keep words flowing for the month of November. With concentrated effort you can finish a first draft during the class.

Dennis Foley is teaching Writing the First Novel during fall semester. Check out the online brochure at FVCC, Creative Writing. Authors

The annual Flathead River Writers Conference is September 22 and 23 at FVCC where you can learn from both Kathy and Dennis along with other publishing industry professionals. The brochure and online registration are available: https://www.authorsoftheflathead.org.

Happy writing and reading. Hope to see you at the conference.

Betty Kuffel

September Book News

 

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Join Author Susan Purvis Tuesday October 2nd

for her official book launch of Go Find.

It’s going to be a festive affair with book signing, music, snacks.

 Reading and Discussion.

A free drink to book purchasers.

Where: Casey’s Whitefish 101 Central Ave. Whitefish, Montana

Time:  6 pm doors open-Book signing, music. 

 7:15 pm Discussion with Susan and Whitefish Review editor Brain Schott and Keith Liggett about her memoir, the writing process and life and love. Q &A for audience.

8:30 pm Book signing and music.

 

NEWS! ANNOUNCING: Go Find will be released early for Flathead River Writers Conference Sept 22nd.  Ten days before general public. On sale at the conference.

Betty Kuffel, Author

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Deadly Pyre is book one of the Kelly McKay  medical thriller series. It will be available as a free Kindle on Amazon September 28, 29 and 30th. Please take advantage of the free book and share the information with your friends.

Amazon link

In this book, Dr. Kelly McKay struggles to complete her ER residency at Seattle’s Harbor Medical Center. Ferocious competition, burnout and an unpredictable lover complicate her life. Besides unexplained deaths of patients under her care jeopardizing her career, a sudden increase in stabbing victims points to a serial killer stalking women near the hospital. Will Kelly be next?