Finding the Core of Your Story: How to strengthen and sell your story in one essential sentence (How to Write a Logline Book 1) 2nd Edition, Kindle Edition
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Jordan Smith's book was a fun two-hour read that quickly covered the structure and elements that go into a good logline. His writing is funny and there is no padding, it's all just important stuff you need to know and very helpful examples.
It takes time to do a good logline, but it is so, so worth it. About a day and a half after reading this book, I have a sparkling logline that has re-energized me about the story I am revising, and that makes my logline attempts before reading this book kind of laughable. Definitely time and money well-invested.
1--It explains what a logline is. Not knowing what a logline is makes it very hard to write a good one. But Jordan clears all that up quickly and coherently in the opening chapters.
2--It addresses all the common logline problems. There are several pitfalls writers are prone to trip over when crafting loglines. Jordan addresses all of these point-blank so you can save yourself from looking like an uneducated amateur.
3--It classifies various logline formats. Jordan helps you identify what type of story you have so you can write a logline that empathizes your story's strengths. Fascinatingly, this also helps you improve the story itself by identifying strengths and pinpointing weaknesses.
4--It details a process for loglining series. Jordan can help you figure out how to logline your series as well as the individual books. And guess what series he used as an example! (Um, mine, heehee. Little biased here.)
5--It's funny. You don't think that's important enough to be on this list? Go find a really dense nonfiction book, like a college textbook. Read that and then read Jordan's book. Then you'll understand why a light-hearted, clear, and concise writing style is important.
And if that's not enough reasons for you, allow me to back up my review with my credentials. I am a professional screenwriter and self-published author, and there are two things I never do. One, I never write a story without loglining it. And two, I never write a logline without getting Jordan's help on it.
And neither should you.
I'm an aspiring author, and on a forum for like-minded fellow authors, a few years back I noticed a lot of members spending a lot of effort to write and refine loglines for their stories. I'd run across the concept, in its original context, a few times, and this seemed like nothing more than yet another gimmick, like taking a personality test "in character" as the protagonist. After all, as Kipling wrote in a famous poem, "There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays / And every single one of them is right!" Why, I reasoned, should I put time and effort into creating a one-sentence summary of a story I'm having trouble condensing into an outline? Especially since loglines were invented for feature films, which are about equivalent in content to a short story?
And then I got the book when it was on sale for 99 cents, and read it. And pretty much immediately I made creating and polishing the logline a central part of my iterative-outline-based writing process. If I can't condense a story into a single sentence, that's a sign that I don't understand it well enough to write it properly. Just like it's better to find a problem with the plot when the story is a six-page outline than when it's a six-hundred-page draft, it's best of all to find and correct these problems when the story is a sentence or a paragraph-length summary.
You can probably get enough of the central idea of this book from the free sample Jordan Smith offers on his website (or probably even the Kindle Preview) to see the value of creating a logline and learn the basic method. But this book also goes on to cover variations (one standard formula does not fit all stories) and other uses for the concept (such as seeing the story from other characters' perspectives to check that their actions are consistent with their motivations).
Even now, three or so years after reading it for the first time, I still go back and reread some chapters to refresh my memory on the finer points of loglines, and to renew my motivation for writing them. (And I'm looking forward to reading his forthcoming sequel to learn some of the finer finer points.)
This book helped me to take a step back and look at the big picture. What is my book about, really? What is the main storyline? How do I explain the main storyline in 1-3 sentences (preferably just 1)?
I was able to pinpoint not only the weaknesses in the story as a whole, but in each major character's motivations and actions. This is not just a book about writing log lines or book blurbs, it is a brainstorming wizard with the purpose of helping you find the core of your story (whether it be novel, screen play, or short story), with a dash of humor and a whole lotta wisdom!
It may not be as fabulous for everyone as it was for me, but it is definitely worth checking out - it just may be the push you need to take your story where it needs to go. It definitely was for me.
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