Tag Archives: first chapter

Batter Up!

Batter Up!

How To Pitch Like A Pro Baseball Player

Oh, wait! This isn’t baseball. But I am talking about different types of pitches today. So, this title should be…

How To Write A Logline To Pitch Like A Pro Author

Now, I have to ask, what is with all these pitches? Haha! No, but on a serious note, you may have probably heard the term logline, or pitch. Right? Here is the difference:

  • Logline, according to this, is defined as ‘a brief (usually one-sentence) summary of a television program, film, or book that states the central conflict of the story, often providing both a synopsis of the story’s plot, and an emotional “hook” to stimulate interest. A one-sentence program summary in TV Guide is a log line.’ Check these out for examples, and further explanation:
  • Pitch, according to this, is defined as ‘a form of words used when trying to persuade someone to buy or accept something.

So, first, you will need a logline, only then it will be pitched to sell.

There is no one single way to write a logline. There are several different ways, and I will share what I have learned here over the past few years. I will give examples from the most recent books I have read.

First, let’s jot down some notes about your story on a sheet of paper, if you are currently stuck on how to present your logline, and we will see if we can use any of them:

  1. Who is your protagonist?
  2. What is the inciting incident?
  3. What is the external problem your character faces? (or, what is your character’s external goal?)
  4. What is your character’s internal problem? (or, what is the internal problem your character faces in attempts to confront her external goal?)
  5. What is the theme of your story?
  6. What are the stakes your character faces, or will face, if goal is not obtained. (stakes: love, loss, death, life, etc).
  7. Where/when does your story take place?
  8. What is your character’s basic desire?
  9. What is the rising action?
  10. Vaguely describe the ending in a few words.

Now, I will give examples below of the various logline styles. Yes, I say, “Styles”. Because, there are many different types of loglines I have seen or read, and they are never built the same. Each one, in some way or another, varies from one after the other. But, not too much. There are only so many certain combinations in the world, and some are bound to be noticed, or repeated.


Logline Style #1

In (town/era/place), (main character) struggles to (overcome/kill/save/stop/etc.problem) in order to (solution).

Example: (one I came up with just now) In Ice Point, teenager Trinity Michaels struggles to pull herself together in order to prove her father’s inexplicable existence.

Logline Style #2

Main character and their emotional state who wants a basic desire discovers/learns something new, but there is something different/odd about it and tries to find the solution while facing problem.

Example: (From E.T.) A shy, young suburban boy who wants to be noticed discovers a strange, but friendly, alien living in his shed and tries to help him get home while keeping his existence a secret.


Logline Style #3

When external story quest(or internal story quest) forces character to confront her internal problem(or external problem) she faces (stakes/plot/theme).


Other Logline Styles:

  1. Use an excerpt/sentence from the actual story that relates to what your story is mostly about.
    The Obsession by Nora Roberts uses “She stood in the deep, dark woods, breath shallow and cold prickling over her skin despite the hot, heavy air. She took a step back, then two, as the urge to run fell over her.”
  2. Use a mind puzzling statement, that makes you wonder, not confused.
    Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben uses “You think you know the truth. The truth you know nothing.”
  3. Use a belief the character has, and turn it into a statement that signals a type of truth he/she learns.
    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah uses “In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.”
  4. Or, make a promise.
    The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins uses “This debut psychological thriller will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.”
    However, this is not typically recommended. A lot of publishers shy away from such a promise, because many people have used this and failed to deliver costing them money out of pocket just to make up for the difference. And, it kind of sounds arrogant and pushy.


Here are some other key points used:

  1. As Time Goes By by Mary Higgins Clark uses character, goal, turning point in it’s logline.
    …a news reporter tries to find her birth mother just as she is assigned to cover the high-profile trial of a woman accused of murdering her wealthy husband.
  2. The Martian by Andy Weir uses date, character, inciting incident, and then stakes in it’s logline.
    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
    Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.


Well, I hope this helps you out. Also, if you have anything to add from your observation feel free to share below. It’s nice to gain perspective from other stories I have not read yet.

**update**10/17/16: I found a way to quickly come up with a log line on the spot. Try googloing, or pretend you are, about related stories to yours. If you’re unsure if your story can be compare to something try-“is there a story about…(insert big picture of what your story is about or the kick that starts the story then vague resolution)”. Not only will you find relateable stories, but you will have also unknowingly created a logline minus the “is there a story about” part.

Be sure to check out my post: Notable Sites For Writers




Posted by on October 1, 2016 in Logline Styles, Posts by Author, Tips


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In The Beginning…

In The Beginning…

I wanted to know, what most of us wanted to know: What do all the best sellers have in common? What makes a winning first chapter? and Where do I start? These answers, however, are not found on google, nor any other search engine site. They are found by reading. (I know, I know, heard that one before!) But it is true.

Well, here, I have pieced together how the first chapter typically plays out. There is a trend amongst the best seller list, I will share with you, if you haven’t already figured it out.

Now, by no means, should this be used as a definite guide. Your true guide, which should be followed to the core, is your gut and instincts. They will guide you to wherever you need to be, and will tell you what is right and what is wrong, or what works, and what doesn’t. This is only meant to show you what I have noticed.

For example, here are two stories that use this format, that I have just recently read last week: Betrayal in Death by Nora Roberts Writing as J.D. Robb, and Colourless by Elena Salvatore.

This can be broken up, or rearranged however you see fit. 

Tip: Writing with simplicity reaches a more broad range of audience, and increases audience readability and retention. If people wanted to read technical, or complex, jargon they would have picked up a textbook, not a novel.

Let’s start with the first paragraph. The most important part when it comes to gaining the much needed attention you deserve as an artist. I recommend How To Be A Better Hooker and 6 Ways To Hook Your Reader to better understand what is expected when using hooks to reel in potential fans.

Also, check out: Stephen King On Writing and Dean Koontz’s 7 Best Seller Tips.


Keep in mind that each numbered point I make will closely represent 1-2 paragraphs each, or more if you desire.

  1. In this section/paragraph we will start with a hook, statement, or a vague description of what M.C.(Main Character) does, is going through, or irritated by, but either hopeless, or hopeful about changing her situation.
    • Should be succinct, yet vivid, that provokes imagery an can be questionable in a way.
    • Opening with time, dialogue, overuse of adjectives, or weather tends to be greatly ignored by all.
    • Take something old, then put a new spin on it.
    • Starting with a dramatic feel is a sure-fire way of being gripping and exciting.
    • Or, have it where there is a juxtaposition between normal life and the horrific.
    • Or, underline a fact then vaguely show the truth of a lie.
  2. In this section/paragraph we will begin with a subtle occupational goal, a desire, a belief, or some form of a trigger that provoked the above section/paragraph.
  3. In this section/paragraph we will begin with a small intro about what she is missing, what she might be doing, what is going on, where she is, and if she is alone or not. (Typically the M.C. will have a sidekick).
  4. In this section/paragraph this is when something new, out of the norm, or special occurs, or will occur that will eventually lead into the major turning point of her life. Sometimes this section/paragraph includes a reoccurring annoyance, date, or time and is typically intended for naming a goal/destination/change M.C. either wants or does not want to happen. This is when her humdrum life is thwarted into action before the real action.
  5. In this section/paragraph we will mention a person(new or known), small detail, idea, or object the M.C. either absolutely desires or despises about, or as the result of, #4. Sometimes the mention of another character here will typically result in that person being M.C.’s lover/foe/friend later in the story.
  6. In this section/paragraph we will show how despite how she appears/plays out M.C. is truly something(or someone) else, or feels/thinks/knows that she is something completely different than from what others may think/view/assume her as. Sometimes its not always obvious to M.C. but something deep inside her will echo her darkest truths she has yet to realize.
  7. In this section/paragraph we will describe the current area and what all is happening(like if people are all doing the same thing such as awaiting for a child to rip open presents, or everyone standing in a line for something), and what M.C. knows about this situation outsiders, otherwise, would know nothing about, and her working theory on what might happen next, or what will definitely occur after her destination is reached.
  8. In this section/paragraph we will evaluate/explain what brought her here in the first place, and/or what lead up to her being here. Was it a promise? Was it part of her plan? Or, did it happen all by chance?
  9. In this section/paragraph we will evaluate/explain her motive/happenings as to why she is headed to her #4’s planned destination/goal and if M.C. was expected to be in that spot(or hold up her end of the bargain) or if it was a place/goal she was never supposed to be in, or have in the first place.
  10. In this section/paragraph we will describe an oddity, person(if no person in particular, or important, was mentioned in #5 this person would be considered particularly important), in the M.C.’s viewpoint and her assumptions on it/the person, and what would happen if something were to occur right there, or not occur and why it wouldn’t happen.
  11. In this section/paragraph we will discuss how M.C. feels about this situation/place and triggering an extremely short descriptions/self-evaluation about herself.
  12. In this section/paragraph we will introduce the 2nd M.C. if there was no sidekick in the beginning. or 3rd M.C. if there was. And if the 2nd M.C. was presented in the beginning and found to be the antagonist, then this character will be “friend”. If the 2nd M.C. was found to be the “friend/family” then this character would be the “enemy” or “lover”. Then, filter through the M.C.’s  senses and generalized vague assumptions about the person and probably their scent and her physical reaction to said scent. (M.C. 2)
  13. In this section/paragraph we will describe in a short, concise, way about the 2nd/3rd M.C.’s eyes and mouth, and if that person’s scent triggers the M.C.’s hatred or desire towards them. A lot of times its desire, if he becomes “lover”, hatred if he becomes “enemy” or was a past “enemy” if they knew each other in the past and still holds resentment towards one another, or no mention of scent again if he becomes “friend”.
  14. In this section/paragraph we will describe/show the relationship between M.C. and #12’s M.C., if they even have a past together, or if placed under the same category by some force or compatible attributes.
  15. In this section/paragraph M.C. and #12’s M.C. exchange short pleasantries(or criticisms). Depends on if they can tolerate each other, or if they love each other, or absolutely hate each other even if they have never met before this.
  16. In this section/paragraph  we will describe, subtly, the hair/body/clothes about #12’s M.C. in a way that reflects your M.C.’s lifestyle or attitude towards this whole ideal. Then, subtly slip in a rhetorical “What If?” after a more direct assumption about this new character.
  17. In this section/paragraph M.C. and #12’s M.C. are exchanging words pertaining to the other side of #2. Such as, their hopes, dreams, or aspirations about their desirous outcome after it is all over and done with.
  18. In this section/paragraph we will write a short description of this new M.C., copying #10’s style in 1/3 the amount of words in a more refined, physical, concise, filter through your M.C..
  19. In this section/paragraph M.C. 1 and M.C. 2 will continue their conversation, this time pertaining to their opinions about #4 (whether its the destination, or current place they are in) and its potential outcome. Such as, their fears, dislikes, and short comings. And M.C. 1(or 2)will divulge something menial about what she/he hated/feared the most way before #4 came into play.
  20. In this section/paragraph this part is the end. The false hope, or “obvious” demise/outcome. This is where intended destinations go awry, or unintended destinations become even more unexpected than usual. Where good things go bad, and bad things get worse. This is the turning point where anything could happen. This is the commencement of #4.


If you liked this post, I strongly encourage you to hop on over and take a quick peek on my post of Notable Sites For Writers. These may help feed that hangry muse that pouts sullenly inside your striving soul.


Posted by on September 29, 2016 in Start Your Story, Where To First?


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