writing the 'loglines'...

by Judy Shone
(Oakville, Ontario, Canada)

Question: Is this the appropriate place to put a question for 'Step by Step Novel Planning Workbook' question?


Following in your workbook pages I have written loglines in both your formats #1 and #2...but have no idea if I have them right.

I like the prompts you supply. They help me outline in more detail, sort out in my mind what is actually going to happen.

The problem for me is understanding if I have chosen to word them correctly. To identify correctly. If it is appropriate for me to to ask here, I have done so. If not, please delete this question. Thank you kindly.

FORMULA #1
An older retired woman, recalls her rape 40 years earlier,
and struggles against believing love is sex, sex is love, hating sex, in order to find what she believes love must be so she can have an attitude of love for her partner of 22 years who develops Alzheimer's the year she was considering leaving him to find real love before she ends up thinking she has not experienced love in her lifetime.

FORMULA #2
After being raped, an older retired woman attempts to learn/discover what real love must be, hating sex, love is not sex, love is not body related, love is a special caring
by going through discovery process in psychotherapy sessions in order to prevent spending the rest of her life in a relationship that has no love, thinks she will have remaining life without real love, which means caring, without feeling love, for her partner who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the months surrounding the period she was considering leaving him to ‘find love.’ Meanwhile, the plan is threatened by the limiting beliefs that she has about importance of what she is giving up to spend caring for this person rather than to be elsewhere finding what she believes love must be.

THANK YOU.

Answer: The purpose of writing a logline is to clarify your story idea and make sure you are on sound footing before you write a draft. As you are discovering, it can be a challenge to figure out what your story will really be about. It often takes several tries before the ideas gel, but getting such clarity will make the writing much easier.

For example, you will have to decide what the real goal of this story is. Is it for her to learn to love her husband (first logline), or to leave him and find a new relationship (second logline)?

Once you know what your goal is, you can figure out what must happen for it to be achieved (requirements), and what will occur if it fails (consequence).

Another approach is to start with consequences. Ask yourself what the main character doesn't want to happen, what an unfortunate outcome would look like. The opposite will be the goal.

Note that it's okay for her to fail to reach her goal and suffer the consequence. For instance, if her goal is to leave her husband, but she finds she cannot, the consequence may be that she has to care for him in his final years. However, that could turn out all right if, as a result, she falls in love with him. That would be a tragi-comic ending.

Regarding forewarnings, it's okay if the memory of the rape is what prevents her from forming loving relationships, but it is better if you show how the memory causes her to make choices or take actions that undermine her efforts.

Also, note that you often need to play around with the wording -- perhaps put the elements in a different order. The formulae are there just to show you possible ways to arrange these elements.

Best of luck.

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