Just Write Cat

One Writer, One Journey

Boiling it Down… March 28, 2010

Filed under: Write — justwritecat @ 4:14 am
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Loglines.  Hate ’em, can’t write ’em.  Not at all.  I think it requires a different kind of talent, or maybe someone who is less chatty.  I’m a native Texan – Texans like to chat.  We like to see just how long we can make a sentence, and then we string along as many of those sentences as we can and make a really long paragraph. We’re verbose, alright?  Which is interesting, because when I write fiction I tend to write ‘small’.  Short, snappy sentences are my goal (don’t always reach my goal, but I try).

My academic writing (in my previous life I’ve been a grad student, college instructor, and academic chair for an online university) is verbose.  But, most academic writing is….graduate students are trained to write lengthy, involved papers that are rarely read for pleasure. 

My very first attempt at writing fiction was academic in nature – meaning, drawn-out and boring.  I quickly realized I had to learn how to write fiction!  Not that fiction can’t be all long and flowing, but for me – it has to be short and sharp.  I think that’s my voice.  I’m not sure, because I still don’t quite understand the whole concept of voice in one’s writing.  When someone tells me my voice really comes through or they love the voice in my writing, I nod and say why, thank you.  But inside – I really have no idea what my voice is.  Some day, perhaps.  But I digress…

Even though I aim for conciseness in my writing, my natural tendency is for verbosity.  And that’s why I have so much trouble writing loglines.  A logline is essentially one sentence that tells your reader what your story is about – a hook or premise, but also something about the overall feel of your story.  Querytracker posted a fantastic article on loglines.  According to the article, loglines should convey three things – the plot, the genre and the tone.  If you can boil down your story to one sentence that effectively covers those three things – you’re in business.

Sounds simple enough, but it’s darn hard to strip away everything until you have one line.  Writing a synopsis is hard enough, a query even moreso….but the logline (I like to call it the hook’ em line)….fuggedaboutit.  There are so many aspects to any story, and trying to find that one key element is challenging.  It forces you to give serious thought to the point of your story – what it’s about, why anyone should read it, why it’s unique. Tough questions to answer.

I’m entering yet another opening paragraph contest, which requires a hook ’em line.  The past couple of days I’ve been trying to improve mine.  Here’s what I came up with:

Booze, blood, and broads – three things medical examiner Joe Cooper can never get enough of, but it’s his hunger for justice that fuels the hunt for a gang of rogue vampires hell-bent on breaking all the laws that govern his kind.

I like the first part, but I’m not sure if the last part is specific enough.  Here’s another one, with a slight variation:

Booze, blood and broads – three things that medical examiner Joe Cooper can never get enough of, but it’s his hunger for justice that fuels the hunt for a gang of rogue vampires on a killing spree during Baltimore’s peak tourist season.

This one offers more detail – that bad vampires are killing people, but I’m not sure it flows.

Here’s one more:

Booze, blood and broads – three things medical examiner Joe Cooper can never get enough of, but it’s his hunger for justice that fuels the hunt for a gang of rogue vampires leaving a trail of human – and vampire – blood through the streets of Charm City.

I like the flow of this one – but again, not sure if it is clear enough or has enough tension.

 And finally, my original logline:

Joe Cooper’s a vampire with a lust for booze, blood and broads, but as Charm City’s on-loan medical examiner, it’s his hunger for justice that fuels the hunt for rogue vamps hell-bent on breaking all the laws that govern his kind.

I like any of the four loglines convey genre and tone, but I’m still unsure as to the plot.  Do any of the loglines really tell someone what’s going on in the story?

I’m open to your thoughts on my hook ’em lines – do any hook you?

Oh, and the contest also calls for your opening paragraph.  Mine is short, so I’m consider combining my first two paragraphs.  What do you think?

     Just me, a bottle of Oban, and Pamela the bartender.  Hard to tell which was smoother.  I’d just had Pamela, so I reached for the scotch.  I poured a double, leaned back in my bar stool and watched as

she started to close down the place.

     She shelved all but the bottle in front of me, wiped down the already gleaming bar, and then turned her attention to a few remaining dirty glasses.  She washed each one, and then began to dry them

with a glaringly white towel.  Her work was quick and focused, and she seemed eager to be done with it.  I knew the feeling.

So this would become:

     Just me, a bottle of Oban, and Pamela the bartender.  Hard to tell which was smoother.  I’d just had Pamela, so I reached for the scotch.  I poured a double, leaned back in my bar stool and watched as 

she started to close down the place.  She shelved all but the bottle in front of me, wiped down the already gleaming bar, and then turned her attention to a few remaining dirty glasses.  She washed each

one, and then began to dry them with a glaringly white towel.  Her work was quick and focused, and she seemed eager to be done with it.  I knew the feeling.

UPDATE – after much appreciated help by fellow tweeters, here’s what I’m going with…

Booze, blood and broads – three things medical examiner Joe Cooper can never get enough of, but when a mutilated corpse is left steps from his favorite bar, it’s Joe’s thirst for justice that fuels the hunt for rogue vampires hell-bent on breaking all the laws that govern his kind.

     Just me, a bottle of Oban, and Pamela the bartender.  Hard to tell which was smoother.  I’d just had Pamela, so I reached for the scotch.  I poured a double, leaned back in my barstool and watched as she started to close down the place.

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