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:
- Who is your protagonist?
- What is the inciting incident?
- What is the external problem your character faces? (or, what is your character’s external goal?)
- What is your character’s internal problem? (or, what is the internal problem your character faces in attempts to confront her external goal?)
- What is the theme of your story?
- What are the stakes your character faces, or will face, if goal is not obtained. (stakes: love, loss, death, life, etc).
- Where/when does your story take place?
- What is your character’s basic desire?
- What is the rising action?
- 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:
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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:
- 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.
- 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