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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2019.04.23 The Newbie gets to work

 

By Diane E. Bokor

Hello again from the Newbie Writer, who a few months ago decided to get serious and develop professional habits.  I am happy to report that I have been chipping away at my essay project, producing lots of words on the page. Hooray!

I write to you from Camp NaNoWriMo (the thirty days of April).  My days here at the (virtual) Camp have been significantly rearranged.  Well before dawn’s early light, well before the first bird sings, I wake to the inner trumpet call, the reveille, the call to the keyboard.  

A Writer told me, “Write before your inner critic wakes up.”

That advice seems to work.  

Work. The word keeps coming up.  When I discuss my project with non-writer friends, I often get,

“Oh, that sounds like a lot of work,” as they shake their heads, no-no-no-not-for-me.

Work, as in that school essay they were assigned.  

Another Writer told me, “Give yourself space and time to really wander, to really enjoy the process, especially of the first draft.”

So daily, here at Camp NaNo, I get lost each morning, playing in the woods of words, writing only about things that interest me. It is becoming a habit.

I have a strong work ethic. I admire those with a strong work ethic. But the work of creative writing versus the work of chores on the mundane to-do list…Aye, there’s the rub. I’ve been trained to get up before the birds to keep my household running smoothly.  It comes naturally to me to start a day by tidying the house, responding to emails and calling customer service about yet another situation that needs to be resolved.

Here at Camp, I get the writing done first and go about the day with this funny virtuous feeling in my heart.  I fed my starved inner Artist (who has been hiding in the dark for decades). I worked toward my Goal.

As James Brown would say, “I feel good!”

A new way to live.  Writer with a capital W. Thank you to the women of Montana Women Writers, who show up to share and support and show the way.

Your new friend,

The Newbie

Arbor Day Connections

By Karen Wills

Climate change thrusts us into a heightened awareness of nature. Oceans, lakes, meadows and trees are the living matrix of which we are a part.  Trees in particular have figured in much fiction and nonfiction of late. Of course, poets have long written about and concerned themselves with trees. overstory treesAmerican poet Robinson Jeffers planted about 2,000 seedlings on his sea cliff property near Carmel, California in the first half of the 1900s.

There is a kinship of us humans to trees. Tree deprivation became as real for me when we lived on the Alaskan tundra as it was for settlers living on the virgin prairies of America. I loved the big, empty tundra with its miles of tiny wild cotton, but trees have always meant shelter, the promise of something to lean against, and shade in the glare of summer. I missed them.

In a recent blog on my website I quoted from Joanna L. Stratton’s, Pioneer Women, which tells of a woman whose husband took her along on a journey to bring home wood. She’d not seen a tree for two years. “…when they arrived at Little River, she put her arms around a tree and hugged it until she was hysterical.”

That reminded me of when we lived on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. We explored the countryside, often peering into abandoned settlers’ houses. One was a stone cottage with a small grotto beside it sheltered by trees. The woman who pioneered there had walked nearly ½ mile each way every day carrying buckets of water to keep her seedlings growing. They flourished. She is gone, but her trees remain, providing homes for birds, being natural wind instruments, and soothing the prairie with their sighing leaves and branches.

An insightful novel about those who plant, nurture, and preserve not just trees, but whole forests, is The Overstory by Richard Powers–winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. One of its most interesting characters is a Vietnam veteran who finds his purpose in life replanting clear-cut, logged-out areas for a living. But he learns that replanting rows of trees earns his corporate employer permission to clear cut more and more forests at a greater profit. That knowledge drives the veteran to desperate, reckless acts.

Another character in The Overstory is Patricia Westerford who devotes her academic and personal life to the study of forests. According to Patricia, everything that happens in nature happens for a purpose. “The environment is alive—a fluid, changing web of purposeful lives dependent on each other.” She also concludes, “We’ve been shaped by forests for longer than we’ve been homo sapiens.”

To return to Jeffers, in his poem “Ghost” he imagines himself as a spirit revisiting the new owner of his former property.  He has the following exchange with the startled man:

“I see you have played hell
With the trees that I planted.” “There has to be room for people,” he
answers. “My God,” he says, “
That still!”

This Arbor Day, enjoy the forests if you can, plant a tree if you’re able, and take a deep breath. Feel your connection to the earth of which you are still a part.

WHAT EVERY WRITER NEEDS TO KNOW

 

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by Catherine Browning

Writing novels didn’t start for me until after my teaching career came to a successful close. That’s when I purchased a Kindle and started reading everything I could find of interest. In judging the merit of novels, one of the major criteria is grammar. It was a shock to find that many modern day writers didn’t know the rules of English grammar or word usage. Here are some recent examples:

. . . or whomever he was.

He indicated she was to proceed him into the room.

What were you thinking of?

My brother came between Carlos and I.

You may be thinking, what is wrong with those quotes? Allow me to explain. The verb to be is a grammatical equal sign. Subject and object are the same, so the first example should read:  

. . . or whoever he was.

The second example is confusing the two verbs proceed and precede. Proceed means to continue or move forward. Precede means to go before. So, that example should read:

He indicated she was to precede him into the room.

In the next example, the basic rule is to never end a sentence with a preposition. There are multiple ways to fix this example.

  1. What were you thinking?
  2. Of what were you thinking?
  3. What were you contemplating?
  4. What were you considering?

In the last example between is a preposition and requires the object form of the pronoun I.

The example should read:

My brother came between Carlos and me.

Numerous books on grammatical usage are available. Chicago Manual of Style is one that many editors use. Another that I have found helpful is Essentials of English by Hopper, Gale, Foote, and Griffith. Or go to your local Community College and take a basic class. No matter what your answer is, using good grammar can only enhance your writing.

Thanks for reading my thoughts . . . and may your next novel be a bestseller!

 

 

 

 

Tally the Writing Dog

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By Kathy Dunnehoff

I have a writing friend who calls his muse Becky. Sure, it made us all smile when he said it, but whatever works for a writer is nothing but good!

I thought what worked for me was silence. It was in very short supply when I began writing novels. My daughters were young and fun and noisy. I would set a timer when I needed to go into my home office, and when it was about to go off, I would hear them breathing at the door. Needless to say, I did my most productive writing away from the house. On Saturday mornings, for years, my husband Thom would shoo me out the door to a nearby café, and I would get several productive hours in.

When our girls were older, there was less need for leaving the house to write and wonderful silence during the day to get my work done. So, when the idea of getting a puppy was raised, I was reluctant, to say the least. Sure, I wanted one, but I was afraid the “company” during the day would slow me down.

What I found when that little Yorkie came into my life, was a muse, a writing companion. Tally would sit at my feet when I wrote, and her warmth and quiet sleep made me feel like I had just the right kind of company for the lone work of writing.

Five years later, we’ve gotten into the habit of writing first thing in the morning in bed. As soon as Thom leaves for work, I fire up the laptop, and Tally moves from my lap to curl up beside the computer screen.

My muse isn’t named Becky, but I have been thinking about getting another puppy…