After a break to write some short pieces, I'm back to my work-in-progress, The Superhero Murders. The break has done some good--I've gained more confidence--but I also felt the need to start over in a sense. I'll explain: without reviewing my notes, I'm writing the loglines for the characters and story first. I did this early, but now that I've had some time and have gained some familiarity with the characters, the loglines feel much tighter now.
A logline comes from script writing, but it's useful in any writing. It's a short summary (the word length varies, I aim for around 30) of a character or story. You could also apply it to a scene, a chapter, a relationship or just about anything else.
The benefit of a logline is that it lets me boil the subject down to a simple thesis statement. It gives focus and clarity. I can fall back on it whenever I'm uncertain about how a character would react or how a scene should unfold.
But a logline is more than just a summary. There are some requirements. A logline should hint at character, situation, goal, obstacle, risk and sacrifice.
Here are some example loglines of well-known movies, taken from here. That links also gives more detail on loglines. I recommend it to anyone interested in the writing process.
I find it surprising how well some of those loglines encapsulate their stories. I know plenty of stuff has been left out, but remember: the point of a logline is to distill an element down to its most basic summary.
Over at Scribophile.com, there is a logline group that workshops loglines together.
Once they are published, I will post my loglines on this blog.
Writer of speculative fiction. Current work in progress is an untitled dark fantasy novella.