Writing a One-Sentence Summary

Sharp pencilsLet’s discuss the one-sentence summary, also known as a logline, a hook, or a one-sentence pitch. (It is not a tagline, however.)

What: About 25 words that capture your novel, memoir, or non-fiction book.

Why: To get someone interested in reading your book.

When to use it: The start of a query, book proposal, or anytime someone asks you, “What’s your book about?”

What it does: A one-sentence summary takes your complex book with multiple characters and plotlines and boils it down into a simple statement that can be quickly conveyed and understood, and generates interest in the book.

What it should include:
→ A character or two
→ Their choice, conflict, or goal
→ What’s at stake (may be implied)
→ Action that will get them to the goal
→ Setting (if important)

Tips:
→ Keep it simple. One plotline, 1 or 2 characters.
→ Use the strongest nouns, verbs and adjectives.
→ Make the conflict clear but you don’t have to hint at the solution.

In your one-sentence summary, try not to pitch a theme. Pitch what happens. Examples of themes (what not to do):

This book explores forgiveness.
This book looks at the thin line between right and wrong.
This book explores the meaning of independence, and asks if it’s really possible.

Here is Nathan Bransford’s simplified formula for a one-sentence pitch: “When [opening conflict] happens to [character(s)], they must [overcome conflict] to [complete their quest].”

An example:

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
A boy wizard begins training and must battle for his life with the Dark Lord who murdered his parents. (Thanks Randy Ingermanson for this one.)

→ Character=boy wizard
→ Conflict=battling the Dark Lord
→ Stakes=his life
→ Setting=none
→ Action=wizard training; avoiding the same fate as his parents

Want to give it a try? Leave your one-sentence summary in the comments. Then feel free to offer feedback on other people’s summaries. (Constructive comments only!)

Sharpen those pencils and get to work!

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!

652 Comments

  1. Ellie Baker on July 22, 2015 at 5:01 AM

    I’m stuck between two sentences for my novel. I read that it’s better for the sentences to be no more than 15 words. Here’s what I have:
    “A young agent, a dangerous bad boy, and a gang back for revenge.”
    or
    “Her unique agent abilities are the only hope she has left to saving him – her beloved.”
    so which do you think?



  2. maurene merritt on July 20, 2015 at 4:10 PM

    A well educated, middle aged, single woman gets rid of all of her worldly possessions to find out how her life will be different now that she knows all of who she is.



  3. Mickey Dee on June 14, 2015 at 12:20 PM

    I need help… 🙁

    “An attendant of hell seeks to uncover the dark secrets kept by visitors from the pearly gates by infiltrating heaven itself.”

    I just know something’s missing… but what? 🙁 Please help.



  4. Malcolm Sheridan on May 25, 2015 at 2:20 PM

    First book and first one-sentence summary so any input would be very much appreciated.

    50 year old successful family man looks online for some stimulation resulting in impossible battles with sex, drugs and gambling addictions whilst all around him falls apart.

    or

    On his 50th birthday, this wealthy and successful family man takes advice from an old friend sending him on a downward spiral of online gambling, drugs and sex addictions.

    or

    Advice from a friend on a wealthy family man’s 50th birthday opens him up to a world of online gambling, drugs, sex and murder.

    or

    A year after his 50th birthday finds this successful and happy man behind bars with his family asking where is this mysterious friend who brought gambling, drugs and sex addictions into their lives?

    Sorry but I couldn’t help putting in a few. One sentence is so hard especially when ideally it should be under 15 words.

    Thanks in advance



  5. cody on April 15, 2015 at 11:04 AM

    this is fucking stupid



  6. […] or two, the conflict or goal, what’s at stake, and the action the characters will take (see Rachelle Gardener’s post on the subject). Nathan Bransford’s template for this: “When [opening conflict] happens to […]



  7. escence on February 17, 2015 at 3:41 PM

    a young girl with the title of “gothic” must finds a way to save her little brother from the dangers of her cruel reality



  8. justin on January 3, 2015 at 12:17 PM

    I need to know what i should do with this.

    A passive narcissist travels home to indulge in the glories of life; he leads a path of sex, drugs, rock and roll, and chasing down the “Great White Buffalo”.



  9. Concept VS Plot | C.J. Haynie on September 11, 2014 at 11:45 PM

    […] how to narrow your concept down to one sentence can be done. While Ms. Gardner over at this blog here gives a slimmed down version about the why’s and how’s with many great examples in the […]



  10. jayanti on June 18, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    Shattered after her father’s sudden death a small town girl must persuue her higher education to fulfill her fathers dream despite heavy odds
    (pls advise on this one sentence summary )



    • justin on January 3, 2015 at 12:35 PM

      I would end it after dream



      • jayanti on January 4, 2015 at 3:10 AM

        thanks for your reply ….

        i have rephrased it to
        “Shattered after her father’s sudden death, a small town high school girl is married to a feudal family only to realize that education is the key to empowerment which she achieves with her husband’s support subsequently fulfilling her fathers dream despite heavy odds. “



  11. Juli Török on May 20, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    A fistful of heroes unite against a freshly elected King who turns out to be a tyrant upon discovering a magical item.



    • Elise on January 21, 2015 at 10:18 AM

      The use of the word “freshly” struck me a little odd. For some reason, it made me think of vegetables, but that might just be me as a fruits/veggies lover. (: (: (:

      But other than that, try mentioning what the magical item is or what the item can do.



      • dvdprincess on March 9, 2015 at 3:39 PM

        Maybe “newly” would be better?



    • dvdprincess on March 9, 2015 at 3:38 PM

      How are they heroes?
      And I think you would benefit from saying something like, “[the freshly elected king] becomes a tyrant upon discovering a powerful magic item,” or, “turns into a tyrant upon discovering a magical item.” Either way I personally think you should take out the wording that makes it sound as if he had always been a tyrant (“turns out to be”), when he only became a tyrant once he found some powerful object. 🙂



  12. Callie on April 4, 2014 at 8:09 PM

    When a teenage girl with extraordinary powers is captured by an alien species, she must work with her fellow survivors to find out what their captors are hiding, or suffer in unimaginable ways.



  13. Tom Losey on March 12, 2014 at 8:14 PM

    A teen determined to train vultures for search and rescue must overcome the limitations of Asperger’s Syndrome and the bully that wants him to fail.



    • dvdprincess on March 9, 2015 at 3:42 PM

      So I am just wondering: do you actually know what it is like to live with Asperger’s?



  14. starry speedway on February 13, 2014 at 8:48 PM

    Which sounds more appealing?
    “A handful of scarred and bruised rebels band together to fight against a rogue cult leader.”

    “A handful of scarred and bruised rebels must band together to fight a manipulative cult leader.”

    “A handful of scarred and bruised rebels challenge a manipulative cult leader, risking their status and morals.”



    • Tim on May 18, 2014 at 8:05 AM

      The first one sounds better because being a cult leader already implies that they’re manipulative. Maybe naming the main character and what happens if the rebels fail would strengthen it too. Sounds cool though!



    • Xena WP on November 13, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      The Last is best, it tells what’s at stake besides the over predicted. 🙂



    • dvdprincess on March 9, 2015 at 3:20 PM

      last one 🙂



  15. Craig on December 8, 2013 at 7:25 AM

    A young, Elven Shapeshifter with a fear of following his father’s footsteps into madness and the demonic bastard of a noble Human King looking for answers about his dark past, must overcome their obsessions in order to unite the free people of Arc
    in an attempt to hold back the relentless march of an infinite and deadly, undead
    army.



  16. Beth Parker on October 31, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    After his children are killed by a terrorist’s bomb, Mitch Hansen sets out to deliver justice—only to find that the terrorists are merely pawns in a plot that threatens the entire country, maybe even the world.



    • dvdprincess on March 9, 2015 at 3:22 PM

      I suggest taking out the “maybe.” It makes the hook seem a little unsure of its own plot.
      It sounds like a very interesting book! 🙂



  17. Alex on October 13, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    Requesting an input(or two:).

    – A messiah leads a band of ordinary citizens against the progeny of Satan during end times.

    I realize it doesn’t include what’s at stake, but considering the universality of the theme, I figured it would speak for itself.

    Thoughts?

    Thank You



    • dvdprincess on March 9, 2015 at 3:26 PM

      What is the messiah like and what kind of things are they fighting against that satan does? And you may want to actually include what is at stake since saying what is at stake makes the reader want to know how the book turns out. 🙂



  18. Brooke on August 24, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    A genius
    with amnesia pieces together his past while adjusting to life as the unscrupulous
    head of a billion-dollar company; a depressed coffee shop owner struggles to
    make something more of her life while coming to grips with a maze of
    disconcerting memories.



    • Brooke on August 24, 2013 at 4:04 PM

      Pardon the weird formatting, I don’t know how that happened…



  19. Elaina Eireland on August 16, 2013 at 1:52 AM

    My one-sentence summary:

    I left the asylum at 16, determined to forget my bizarre schizophrenic episode—until a divorce and a PTSD diagnosis sent me on a Madness Marathon in search of answers.

    The working title of my book is: GOING CRAZY, a true story of horror, hope, and healing. Critical feedback will be greatly appreciated.

    Blessings,
    Elaina



    • Tim on May 18, 2014 at 8:07 AM

      Sounds interesting. I don’t know what a madness marathon is and what happens if the character fails to find the answers? What’s at stake?



  20. Audra Cava on June 4, 2013 at 2:46 AM

    Which do you like better? Tony Pizzano’s family unravels; he
    escapes to Slider’s Golden Island where he’s thrust into rescue operation leadership
    and realizes he can help save his family. OR Tony Pizzano, here. Lotsa changes lately, starting middle school, really
    hard family stuff… I’m thinking going through “La Porta” fixes things, only
    problem, it’s forbidden.



  21. Danny Barnett on May 6, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    a third grader has a dream in which he must face nine adventurous challenges, fail and be trapped for all time. unknown to him, he is being taught a technique that helps him memorize the times tables in just a few hours. enemies are confronted, friends are made, and a secret is discovered. Technique is real with educators endorsments.



  22. SEANDRA JOHNSON on April 24, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    Little miss goody two shoes stumbles into forbidden love and discovers her inner beauty, purpose and power as she faces ridicule in her desperate attempt to live an ordinary life in the shadow of a great legacy.



    • susan on July 2, 2013 at 10:53 PM

      it sounds awesome!



    • Elaina Eireland on August 16, 2013 at 1:59 AM

      I agree with Susan, this sounds awesome. I think your hook might be even more effective if you stopped about halfway through, like this:
      Little Miss Goody Two Shoes stumbles into forbidden love and discovers her inner beauty, power, and purpose.
      ~I switched the word “power” to come before “purpose” because I think the hook is a little more intriguing when it ends with the idea that she will find her purpose through this experience.



  23. Arthur Hart on April 11, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    An innocent child, trapped inside a man’s body and a dark world,
    learns of a hidden path that leads to the greatest discovery of his life.



    • kzmlol123 on October 10, 2013 at 5:12 AM

      what book?



      • mm2233 on October 10, 2013 at 5:16 AM

        idk



        • John Kohlbrenner on October 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM

          A young boy discovers that monsters are real and so he enlists his best friends to help save his town from the dangers of Halloween night.
          One Dark Halloween Night by John Kohlbrenner



    • Escence on February 17, 2015 at 3:06 PM

      that is one cool plot dude



    • dvdprincess on March 9, 2015 at 3:28 PM

      You might want to add a bit of something about what that discovery is, not necessarily saying exactly what it is but giving some kind of idea for the reader to hypothesize about. Right now the reader has no point of reference as to what the child has already discovered in life, so for all we know the path could lead to a lolly pop. Other than that it sounds great!



  24. Animaster21 on April 6, 2013 at 2:13 AM

    34 words, a bit longer than suggested but I’m not sure where to cut it down.

    “After an explosive rescue at the hands of a planetwide resistance movement, former Guard Emini Turk has no options remaining but to join her rescuers in opposing the crushing grip of the Larque Government.”



  25. Blythe on March 24, 2013 at 6:36 AM

    When an elf and a dwarf of noble decent fall in love they struggle with their secret while battling the prejudices of their races as well as an ongoing war against a foe that seeks only to destroy their peoples.



  26. Beth on March 17, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    Does this sound good?

    In an overpopulated world, a teenage girl is one of the first chosen to kill off the unneeded.



  27. Larry Hoffeditz on February 27, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    Daily Devotional Series called “God’s Promises Personalized”

    Summary Sentence:
    “God’s Promises Personalized” is a one-a-day devotional vehicle making God’s precious Word come alive in a personal and practical way.



  28. Larry Hoffeditz on February 27, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    Article I wrote: “Talking Turkey” Pitch: “A reporter’s whimsical interview of a turkey teaches him more than he ever thought possible, ending with the greatest news he’s ever heard.”

    Any suggestions?



  29. Dena on February 25, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    I’m way behind but am willing to give this a try. This is a non-fiction.

    This book is about my journey as the parent of an addict whose story has already impacted millions of lives around the world, and how I’ve found treasures on this dark road.



  30. Aaron on February 21, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    When a church in turmoil turns on their young pastor charged with saving it from ruin, he must journey inward to find forgiveness before bitterness and rage overtakes him.



  31. Perfecting Your Pitch « Hugs and Chocolate on February 18, 2013 at 3:06 AM

    […] The next is a website written by agent, Rachelle Gardner. Her post isn’t very long, but it does give a good overview: http://rachellegardner.flywheelsites.com/2012/11/writing-a-one-sentence-summary/  […]



  32. D'von on February 11, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    An inspirational story that captures a young mans journey to break the cycle through sports and become the positive figure male figure he lacked in his own life.



  33. VisionWriter on February 5, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    Alright, I know I kinda missed the party on this one, but I’m finally catching up on emails.

    I’m really bad at this, but here it goes:

    When the rift of the Civil War leads to her brother’s death and her father’s madness, a refined southern belle must accompany her father to the front lines to uncover and expose the terrible secret that will set him free from his prison of mad grief.



  34. how many days does it take to get pregnant on January 29, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Hmm it looks like your website ate my first comment
    (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your
    blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any recommendations for rookie blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.



  35. One-Sentence Summary | Pen to Paper on January 19, 2013 at 1:02 AM

    […] talk about why you need a one-sentence summary (or, as Rachelle Gardner points out, you may call it a logline, hook or one-sentence […]



  36. Bill S. Preston on January 17, 2013 at 4:47 AM

    Here I sit, all broken hearted, tried to poop, but only farted.



  37. […] You may want to include a one-sentence summary before the brief description, and agent Rachelle Gardner did a fine post on this. […]



  38. Jose Anes on January 8, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    “Here I am; a Defeated, bruise, and battered father, alone in this new town, kids are gone and people are dying because they took them and I will make them all pay.”

    Is this a weird way to do a one sentence summary? Please critique.



  39. Jacob on December 29, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    Here’s mine. Please critique.

    When John awakens from a coma with amnesia, he struggles reconnecting with his family only to discover his dark past.



    • D'von on February 11, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      Nice, This will definitely catch any readers attention.



  40. Karen A. Wyle on December 7, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Reunited with her family in the afterlife, Eleanor struggles to understand why she abandoned the daughter she loved. Will the strange and paradoxical memories that haunt her provide the answer?



  41. […] Writing a One-Sentence Summary […]



  42. Jaimie on November 28, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Any tips on how to do this for a non-fiction book (that does not have a main character)?



  43. […] post received 580 comments!   See Rachel Gardner on “Writing a One Sentence Summary.” A very good post for anyone who attempts to […]



  44. Jennifer L. Oliver on November 23, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    Fighting for her sanity, a regional federal investigator of paranormal crimes delves into the world of dark magic to find her daughter’s killer.



  45. John Malik on November 19, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    Amy Sommers is prepared for the multi-faceted challenge of turning around a failing four-star retirement community with its share of mischievous octogenarians yet is she prepared to mend the broken heart of the most challenging member of her staff?



  46. N. Lee Wynn on November 18, 2012 at 8:58 PM

    After a broken contract, Sin must travel the dimension to learn why he now owns his lovers’ soul.



  47. Richard New on November 18, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    Sent too soon on a CIA mission, Dodge must use his God given talents to execute Iranian leaders—then come to term with his abilities.



  48. […] agent Rachelle Gardner allowed writers to post in the comments section of her blog one-sentence story pitches which […]



  49. Tycie on November 16, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    After slavers invade Sudas’ camp and take her prisoner, she must find a way to get free from tyrant masters who think she’s the secret to absolute power.



  50. Dixie Jarchow on November 15, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    Friar uses his skills as a former elite army scout to solve a murder in the small town to which he is assigned

    Sounds kind of bland. Any way to pop it up for that elevator pitch?



  51. […] an agent’s attention is key for traditional publishing. Rachelle Gardner has the formula for writing a one sentence summary for fiction, while Jane Friedman shows how to write a non-fiction book […]



  52. Rebecca Fields on November 14, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    Not sure if anyone is still posting on this topic, but wanted to try 🙂 I welcome and appreciate any and all comments.

    Abbey shared a kiss with a stranger, unaware someone saw and now wants her dead, but with the help of her best friend, maybe she can survive the night.



  53. C.R. Anderson on November 14, 2012 at 10:46 PM

    16 year old Jade Casteel and her friends don’t like rules very much. When a joyride spirals out of control, Jade finds herself in a mental hospital, and no idea how she got there.



  54. sibilant on November 14, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    When humans have finally destroyed the Earth, Allistaire Crowe Pratt must ensure humanity’s survival by working with the sentient plants that are taking over the landscape.



    • sibilant on November 14, 2012 at 5:28 PM

      I don’t know if it says enough! Looking forword to any feedback.



  55. M. G. King on November 13, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    Trying again:

    Colin Colbeck sneaks into the deep to rescue his grandmother from murderous, modernizing trolls, and discovers their plans to invade his world.



  56. Kathy Sloan on November 13, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    HINDSIGHT has intertwining stories of two women: A career driven mother and a stay at home mom/daycare provider who are connected by a boy who will change everything.



  57. Jean Murray on November 13, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    When Bridget Larkin finds herself traveling alone on a passenger wagon train in 1846, she must find the courage and strength to keep going and reach Oregon.



    • M. G. King on November 13, 2012 at 4:39 PM

      Would love to know what’s at stake — why does she need to reach Oregon?



    • sibilant on November 14, 2012 at 5:32 PM

      Jean, I’m definitely curious about your character’s journey, but I do think you need to include some conflict. What is she up against? who is holding her back?



  58. Rhonda Brooks on November 13, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    I posted my monster of a hook several days ago and have since whittled it down within normal parameters. Any feedback is appreciated!

    Lured with memories of his father, Eslan Scarian is recruited to an elite school where he enters the lives of others to help in times of need.



    • Emily R. on November 13, 2012 at 11:38 AM

      Sounds like an interesting book!

      I think you could make your hook stronger by making more of a connection between the memories of Eslan’s father and his being recruited to the school. Also, entering the lives of others to help doesn’t feel like conflict. Your earlier statement made it sound like he was being coerced/forced to help. If you could bring that back in and tell a little more clearly what the stakes are, I think that would make your hook more compelling.

      For example:

      “Lured to an elite school by memories of his missing father, Eslan Scarian finds himself suddenly expected to become the school’s hero or [stakes here].”

      Hope this is helpful! 🙂



  59. Chris Schumerth on November 12, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    Memoir:

    A Teach For America teacher navigates racial tension, the dilemma of failing students, the pressures of standardized testing, state intervention, changing administrations, his own firing, and transitioning into a new school in Jacksonville, Florida.



    • sibilant on November 14, 2012 at 5:53 PM

      Hi Chris,

      Sounds like a good memoir! I would try to include a hint of the internal conflicts that occur in the main character – does he face racism he didn’t know he had? Does she learn something the hard way?

      To make room for this, I think you don’t have to list all of the pressures. “… the pressures of standardized testing, state intervention, changing administrations” could be summarized a “beurocracy”.

      Maybe:
      A Teach For America navigates racial tension, the dilemma of failing students, and government beurocracy,only to find himself fired and forced to transition to another school.

      Just my $0.02!



      • Chris Schumerth on November 14, 2012 at 6:00 PM

        Thanks for the feedback! I will play around with it a bit more.



  60. jack Stecher on November 12, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Undercover DEA agent Charlotte Harris must pose as a swim suit model to solve the disappearances surrounding closed Frying Pan Shoals Light Station, as murder, betrayal and ruthless drug dealers force her to fight to stay alive on the unforgiving high seas.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 13, 2012 at 4:22 AM

      An undercover DEA agent poses as a swimsuit model to solve disappearances at a light station, but must fight to stay alive when she uncovers murder, betrayal and ruthless drug dealers on the high seas.



      • jack Stecher on November 14, 2012 at 6:05 PM

        Thank you P.J. C. that was a big help



  61. Lillian on November 12, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    As her life crashes down around her, Anita’s spirits are buoyed by a secret admirer whose identity will have her questioning the desires of her heart.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 13, 2012 at 3:44 AM

      As her
      “life crashes down around her” <- that's a bit of a cliche. Perhaps some element of the crash would be better?

      Anita’s spirits are buoyed by a secret admirer whose identity (passive)

      "will have her" <- I'd keep it present tense

      After (her divorce, the death of her mother, etc.), a secret admirer buoys Anita's spirits, but their identity leaves her questioning the desire of her heart.



      • Lillian on November 19, 2012 at 4:47 PM

        You are really good at this. Thank you for the advice. Here it is again reworked.

        When Anita, a shy, quirky, metalhead, housewife, looses favor with her husband, she accepts the advances of a secret admirer who forces her to question her own identity.



  62. jack Stecher on November 12, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    Charlotte goes undercover to solve a 30 year old mystery at sea, and finds herself fighting for her life against murder, betrayal and ruthless drug dealers.



  63. Anita Strawn de Ojeda on November 12, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    “After the Miracle” chronicles two caregivers’ journeys as they explore why they feel blessed, yet depressed.



  64. […] Gardner, with Books and Such Literary Agency, blogged last week about writing one-sentence summaries of your book. These ultra-short summaries, or “loglines,” are what you use to pitch a story to an editor or […]



  65. Dana Brown Ritter on November 12, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Mine is a memoir:

    The story of a successful, goal-achieving, Type A TV news producer who finally found something she couldn’t just check off a list – her husband’s disability. Dana finds herself simultaneously on top of the professional journalism world – covering the White House, and caregiving full time for her new quadriplegic husband, secretly wondering if she bit off more than she can chew.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 13, 2012 at 4:03 AM

      The story of a goal-orientated news producer who finds something she can’t check off a list – her husband’s disability.

      While Dana stands on top of the journalism world, she provides full-time care for her quadriplegic husband, but is it more than she can handle?



  66. Bret Draven on November 12, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Kick us to the curb at the street corner of Pregnancy & Fatherhood without a “master” to guide us, and we will without doubt run amok in feverish circles, scratch our “junk” relentlessly, and beeline our way to the nearest liquor store!



    • P. J. Casselman on November 13, 2012 at 3:30 AM

      This isn’t a pitch sentence. It’s the tagline from your book “Goodbye Hooters.”

      A pitch would be more like:

      A humorous and informative take on what every expectant dad needs to know before and after he’s been handed a bundle of responsibility.



  67. » Bookmark Monday! R.S.Sharkey on November 12, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    […] Writing a One-Sentence Summary Let’s discuss the one-sentence summary, also known as a logline, a hook, or a one-sentence pitch. (It is not a tagline, however.) […]



  68. M. G. King on November 12, 2012 at 8:27 AM

    Thanks, Heather. Will definitely look at this again . . .



    • M. G. King on November 12, 2012 at 8:51 AM

      Oops! Don’t know how my reply got separated here . . . .



  69. Isaazetta James on November 12, 2012 at 6:06 AM

    When the enemies of a reincarnated god prevent him from coming into power and reclaiming his throne, Shámin-Wil must travel the universe in search of him.



  70. […] My post last Friday received the highest number of comments I’ve ever had on a single post (over 500). It was not because it was such a great post. Rather, I think it was because: […]



  71. John Malik on November 11, 2012 at 9:37 PM

    When the ten foot-high front porch light bulb of her parent’s house inexplicably burns out, Dorothy must overcome her fear of heights and her mother’s lack of incandescence in order to help Ray find his way home.



    • M. G. King on November 13, 2012 at 3:04 PM

      Sounds like a wonderful idea for a picture book! Not sure about the phrase “The Mother’s lack of incandescence.” It makes me worry that the mother might be the burned out light bulb.



      • John Malik on November 13, 2012 at 4:01 PM

        Well I’m just practicing this technique before I post the one detailing my novel 😉



  72. Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    And one of the most helpful summaries for writing these kind of things came from Holly Bodger, a frequenter on Miss Snark’s First Victim blogspot. Here’s how she says to setup a hook. Works for almost ANY book–keeps it simple and concise:

    “When (main character) (inciting incident), he (conflict). And if he doesn’t (goal), he will (consequence).”

    Fill in the blanks and enjoy!



  73. P. J. Casselman on November 11, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    When a timid entertainment lawyer accidentally kills a teen heart-throb and becomes the most hated man in the world, he has to prove his perseverance to stay alive.

    When a timid entertainment lawyer accidentally kills a teen heart-throb (This is good)

    and becomes the most hated man in the world (inflated phrase, could be cut or taken down a notch.)

    has to prove his perseverance to stay alive. (prove makes me wonder if he’s being put through a test by someone like the Jigsaw Killer.)
    Is he going to prison or is he out on the streets, by the way? It would have a bearing on the rest.

    Without knowing more, here’s a tosser-

    When a timid entertainment lawyer accidentally kills a teen heart-throb, he must find a way to evade ten thousand fans who want him dead.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 11, 2012 at 6:54 PM

      Whoa, I put this one in the wrong place. Sorry! Just trying to make sure everyone is helped. Woops!



    • Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 7:38 PM

      I like the very last one you did, PJ–maybe just re-word “who want him dead.” I can’t even think of how to do this right now, however. My mind is shot–trying to write a book by December…



      • P. J. Casselman on November 13, 2012 at 3:00 AM

        Thanks Heather, I was trying to help someone else out and put my post in the wrong place. 😛

        I have occasional fingers faster than brain syndrome.



  74. Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    Independent Aurora has it all: beauty, brains, and a loving family. But she might just throw it all away to unmask the ghost next door.

    (This is a book I’d be revising now if anyone were looking for spec fic!)



    • Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 6:51 PM

      And OH my word, I need to reword that last sentence. Maybe “But in her escalating obsession with the ghost next door, she might decide to throw it all away.”

      Or something like that. Or maybe I’m just spittin’ in the wind, since I’m not really focused on this book right now…



      • Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 6:53 PM

        And that’s horrible too! So sorry for plastering this one about…ah, well. Will accept any and all pointers, in case I ever pull this book outta the deep-freeze of my hard drive.



        • M. G. King on November 12, 2012 at 8:50 AM

          I liked your first version — nice and punchy! Would make me want to read more, to know why the ghost matters so much.



        • P. J. Casselman on November 13, 2012 at 4:11 AM

          Aurora has it all: beauty, brains and a loving family, but her obsession with the ghost next door could jeopardize everything.



  75. E. Kaiser on November 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    When young Fia stumbles on a royal secret, she is sent away as apprentice to a reclusive mountain jeweler, and straight into adventure; spies, thieves, fabled jewels, and what is the stable boy hiding?

    Any thoughts are appreciated, though I do know I’m “late to the party” so to speak. Thanks anyway!
    Have a good one,
    Elizabeth



    • Elizabeth on November 11, 2012 at 3:29 PM

      I’m no expert, but first thoughts are
      1) I’m not clear why she’s sent away?
      2) I want to know more context, i.e. “When young Fia stumbles on a royal secret at Henry VIII’s court”
      3) instead of “and straight into” I would use another verb like “she is sent away as apprentice to a reclusive mountain jeweler where she uncovers a spy ring, joins a group of thieves…” etc. etc (you would know context better, obviously
      4) I’m not sure it’s a good idea to end with a question – maybe a statement like “most intriguing of all is the secret that the stable boy seems to be hiding would be better…



      • E. Kaiser on November 11, 2012 at 3:50 PM

        Wow! Thanks for the reply!
        I can see what you’re saying…

        How about:
        “When 16 yr old Fia stumbles into the Lorsian princess’s secret tryst, she is diplomatically packed off as apprentice to a reclusive jeweler; more intrigue, thieves, refugees, a burning town and a fabled jewel later, she begins to understand that life is complicated… much like the secretive stable boy.”

        Again, it has become too long! Grr.
        (And yes, that’s a made up country, Fia’s homeland.)
        Many thanks for the help!
        Elizabeth



  76. Elizabeth on November 11, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    What fantastic critiques! I would love any feedback or advice on my summary…

    No foreigner had ever been invited to dance at the Bolshoi Ballet Theater, but when a 15-year old Texan ballerina leaves her home to go study ballet in Moscow, Russia, she is determined to beat culture shock, one of the world’s most difficult languages, a frozen city awash in oligarch money and corruption, and a cast of insane-genius ballet teachers on her way to achieving her dream of becoming the first American woman to dance behind the red velvet curtain.



    • Emily R. on November 11, 2012 at 3:36 PM

      Hi, Elizabeth!

      I like the sound of your book! Very interesting. Here are a couple of things I thought of:

      1) Consider cutting the reference to the protagonist leaving her home. It’s understood since she is a Texan in Russia.

      2) What did you mean by “insane genius”?



      • Elizabeth on November 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM

        Emily, thanks so much for your helpful feedback! It’s not the first time I’ve had someone comment on the term “insane genius” is it offensive? confusing? I mean to say that the teachers are excellent and smart, but a bit crazy in their pursuit of dancing perfection. Maybe “relentless” or “exacting” would be better…?

        What about:

        No foreigner had ever been invited to dance at the Bolshoi Ballet Theater, but when a 15-year old Texan ballerina goes to Moscow, Russia to study ballet, she is determined to beat culture shock, one of the world’s most difficult languages, a frozen city awash in oligarch money and corruption, and a cast of exacting ballet teachers on her way to achieving her dream of becoming the first American woman to dance behind the red velvet curtain.



        • Emily R. on November 12, 2012 at 6:03 PM

          Hello again. 🙂

          I think “insane genius” is confusing, not offensive. It made me think “Are these teachers insanely talented, or are they so talented that they’ve literally gone crazy?”

          I like the way you describe your story, but if you’re looking to get the word count closer to 25, you might want to only bring out one source of conflict for your protagonist.

          Here’s an idea of a possible rewrite. This one is 27 words.

          “A teenage, Texan ballerina moves to Moscow, battling exacting Russian ballet instructors for an invitation to become the first foreigner to dance at the Bolshoi Ballet Theater.”

          Hope that’s helpful! 🙂



  77. Lauren on November 10, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    Rosa doesn’t want a baby, especially not one synthesised by the Superiors who are hell-bent on creating a ‘raceless’ race, but when she discovers her child is part Joseph, they flee the regime together and the future she could never have begins with a perilous journey across the Russian wilderness.

    I know it’s too long. 🙂

    Rosa is kidnapped by the Superiors, obsessed with creating a ‘raceless’ race, and impregnated with a synthesised baby that is half Rosa, impulsive and wilful with a smart-mouth and part Joseph, the boy she loves but never thought she’d see again.



  78. M. M. Nicodemos on November 10, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    Don’t know how many people are reading this now but here I go!

    After witnessing the death of his father, Jacob meets a mysterious girl who claims to be his guardian angel, promising to take him to the kingdoms of the heavens, but never doing so until he finds a book that teaches people the joys of being evil.



    • Deborah on November 11, 2012 at 2:56 PM

      I would replace gerunds with verbs to add vigor and immediacy to the writing. “promising” to “who promises”, etc.



  79. Deborah on November 10, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    Here’s another: Devi, Tara, and Sam, three mischievous little girls, discover a secret world of witches in their haunted town of Summerland, and embark on a magical apprenticeship with disasterous consequences.

    I’m actually writing this as a series, targeted to young readers – 9-10 yr olds. Fwiw, I live in Summerland and the town is haunted – its famous for it.

    Anyway, your feedback is truly appreciated.



    • M. M. Nicodemos on November 10, 2012 at 10:33 PM

      Character = Devi, Tara, Sam
      Conflict = Discover a secret world of witches…?
      Stakes = ?
      Setting = Secret World in Sumemrland
      Action = Embark on a magical apprenticeship.

      Again, what do the girls want, what is preventing them from getting what they want, and what do they have to lose?



      • Deborah on November 11, 2012 at 2:41 PM

        Thanks M. They just want to have fun, like girls everywhere. 🙂 they manage to cause a lot of trouble along the way, so how they get out of it is each stoy’s conflict. I can see from your feedback I need a persistent antagonist, beyond the boys. getting found out and accidentally revealing the secret world is the only thing now. “How do we fix this mess before some finds out!”



  80. Deborah on November 10, 2012 at 9:41 PM

    The Underground: The true story of Laura Lange, a wealthy widow and socialite turned spy and espionage agent when she is forced to quarter four Nazi officers.

    Thats 25 words. I have a 50 word version too. All your feedback is much appreciated!

    Thank you, Rachelle, for your always useful advice and exercises!



    • M. M. Nicodemos on November 10, 2012 at 10:29 PM

      The Underground: The true story of Laura Lange, a wealthy widow and socialite turned spy and espionage agent when she is forced to quarter four Nazi officers.

      Character = Laura Lange
      Conflict = turned spy? Or forced to quarter four Nazi officers…?
      Stakes = ?
      Setting = Most likely WWII Europe
      Action = forced to quarter four Nazi officers?

      Not sure what is at stake. What does Laura Lange have to lose? What does she want and what is she trying to do? What is preventing her from doing so?



      • Deborah on November 11, 2012 at 2:51 PM

        Thanks M. I am assuming people know that the Nazis were in WWII, and that the price of being found out a spy was to be tortured to death, as well as her children, which I didn’t mention in the short version. The conflict is whether to risk your life and your family’s to torture, or try to overthrow an oppressor against all odds.



  81. Cindy Dwyer on November 10, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    When a lifetime of running isn’t enough to escape my genetic predispositions, I rely on observational humor to accept the inevitability of becoming another deranged monkey dangling from my family tree.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 8:36 PM

      Is this a book proposal or a confession? 😛

      I’m unsure as to the nature of the book, but those are good lines in general.



      • Cindy Dwyer on November 10, 2012 at 9:17 PM

        LOL, a little of both. It’s observation humor, non-fiction, I should have stated that!



    • Deb Atwood on November 11, 2012 at 11:49 AM

      Hi Cindy,

      I like all the ideas here, and I think you make clear the premise of your book. My suggestion would be to tighten the word count and replace weak verbs such as isn’t, accept, becoming.



      • Cindy Dwyer on November 11, 2012 at 4:12 PM

        I’m glad the premise comes through. Thanks for the suggestions on the wording. 🙂



  82. Jamie on November 10, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    Michael is pulled from his life of leveling characters when he is bitten by a vampire. When it’s kill-or-be-dead can good guy Michael do what needs to be done?

    Why am I incapable of summarizing? Someone help me, please.

    Roll for initiative,
    J. Wahl



    • Cindy Dwyer on November 10, 2012 at 8:09 PM

      This would be stronger if you were more specific than “do what needs to be done.” Explain exactly what needs doing. Killing other vampires? Finding a cure to vampire-ness?



  83. Phyllis Still on November 10, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    Thirteen-year-old Mary Shirley’s childhood ends the day she leaves her home in Virginia to traverse Daniel Boone’s cleared buffalo trail into Kentucky.



    • Cindy Dwyer on November 10, 2012 at 8:07 PM

      Great start – I’m intrigued. I think it would be stronger if you can hint to WHY she is leaving home to traverse the trail. Since she (obviously) needs to leave home in order to traverse the trail, you could consider cutting that part of the sentence to make room to add other details.



      • Phyllis Still on November 11, 2012 at 1:41 AM

        Thirteen-year-old Mary Shirley’s childhood ends when Papa accepts a surveying job and her family traverses Daniel Boone’s cleared buffalo trail into Kentucky.



        • Cindy Dwyer on November 11, 2012 at 4:17 PM

          LOL your first version had me thinking she was trekking alone!

          This gives me a better idea of your story, but kids move all the time. I think you need to give the reader an idea why this particular move is traumatic enough to “end her childhood”.

          For example, is it the dangers of the traveling, other responsibilities the move brings her, or simply up and leaving her normal life?

          You’re almost there!



          • Phyllis Still on November 11, 2012 at 11:04 PM

            New angle:
            Shawnee raids in Kentucky threaten the life of thirteen-year-old Mary Shirley and her family as war with King George III encroaches upon her future.



          • Phyllis Still on November 12, 2012 at 5:06 PM

            Thank you for the encouragement 🙂



  84. Bo Henley on November 10, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    When a storm traps guests inside an isolated inn, Doctor Albert Finemore must solve the mystery behind an ancient curse to hunt down a murderer.



    • Cindy Dwyer on November 10, 2012 at 8:12 PM

      This is REALLY close to the mark. I assume the murderer is trapped among them? And if Albert doesn’t solve the curse he and others risk death? Clarify this point and I think you’ll have a winner.



      • Bo Henley on November 11, 2012 at 3:00 PM

        Thank you! I can’t quite do it in 25 words, I can in 30:

        When a storm traps guests inside an isolated inn, Doctor Albert Finemore must solve the mystery behind an ancient curse in order to track down a killer – if he is to survive.



  85. Zita Consani on November 10, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    A former pre-school teacher lands in a psychiatric clinic after being accused of child molestation. Is she a helpless victim or trapped in a sticky web of her own making?



    • P. J. Casselman on November 11, 2012 at 7:14 PM

      Well, it does make me want to read more to find out what you’re talking about. So it works.



      • Zita Consani on November 12, 2012 at 3:00 AM

        thanks muchly for this feedback, P.J. 🙂



  86. Deb Atwood on November 10, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    When a 16th century ghost demands help, Kendra JinJu MacGregor must risk her love and her life to prevent murder.



    • Cindy Dwyer on November 10, 2012 at 8:15 PM

      I feel like I need some connection between the ghost and the murder. The 16th century was a long time ago, so it’s hard to imagine what the connection would be.

      Also, could you hint to why helping the ghost would put her love on line?

      You’re off to a good start though!



      • Deb Atwood on November 11, 2012 at 11:42 AM

        Hi Cindy,

        Thanks for the comment. Here’s another attempt:

        When a 16th century ghost seeks her help, Kendra JinJu MacGragor must time-travel to a Korea on the brink of war, risking her love and her life to prevent murder.



        • Cindy Dwyer on November 11, 2012 at 4:38 PM

          That’s good! Clarifies the points nicely.



          • Deb Atwood on November 11, 2012 at 6:59 PM

            Thanks for checking in again; I appreciate the feedback.



  87. The One Sentence Summary | Vincent A. Alascia on November 10, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    […] saw this on Rachelle Gardner’s blog and thought I would continue with my own ideas on crafting the perfect one sentence summary. […]



  88. Abigail Stokes Palsma on November 10, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    An influential psychiatrist sees his lifelong practice linked by the intersecting lives of one of his first patients–a derelict who escapes a mental hospital in 1951–and one of his last patients who is the only survivor of the derelict’s serial attacks.



    • Cindy Dwyer on November 10, 2012 at 8:18 PM

      This sounds interesting. Can you include what the conflict/stakes are? You’ve established the link between the two patients, but not the stake that the doctor faces. Is he trying to save the victim, or perhaps himself? Is he trying to find the missing patient? We need just a little more and you’ll be in good shape.



    • Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 7:44 PM

      This sounds like a VERY interesting story, but somehow it’s not worded in a way that draws me in. Maybe “Dr. _____, famed psychiatrist, has to figure out the link b/t ______ (old patient) and _______ (new patient) before someone else winds up dead.”

      Sorry I can’t write more–can’t see your original sentence in front of me here. But I really like your concept.



  89. Linda on November 10, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    It’s 1964 and neither the turbulent times nor the people in Elizabeth Leigh’s life make a Cinderella ending possible—least of all, a quicksand character like Mark Laughing Hawk.



    • M. G. King on November 10, 2012 at 2:50 PM

      NIce! Would love a hint about the main source of conflict for the character.



  90. Karen W on November 10, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    P.J. you are amazing! Thank you! It’s perfect.

    Now I have another one because my novel has multiple story lines:

    Having escaped slavery and seeking refuge in Mexico, a young negro man is conscripted by the Mexican army to fight against the men who enslaved him.



  91. Rhonda Brooks on November 10, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    I know I’m coming in late but I would really appreciate your help. Reading the comments above, I see some great things coming from the advice being given. I started with a longer hook, revised it and now feel like too much is getting lost. Any suggestions are appreciated!

    First, the original so you’ll have the basis of the story.

    When bullied, young Eslan Scarian decides to leave his troubled, grieving mother by accepting a scholarship to an elite, private school, he discovers the academy used the hope of finding his missing father as a means of getting him to become their hero by entering the Realms of other people’s lives in order to help in their time of need.

    Now, the revised version…

    When Eslan Scarian leaves his grieving mother to accept a scholarship at an elite school, he must overcome his fears once he discovers the academy expects him to become their hero by entering the Realms of other people’s lives in order to help in their time of need.

    Thanks in advance for your help!
    Rhonda



    • M. G. King on November 10, 2012 at 2:58 PM

      The fatherless Eslan escapes to the Academy where he’s faced with a daunting challenge. He must enter the Realms and help others in desperate need.



      • Rhonda Brooks on November 13, 2012 at 10:24 AM

        I posted this in a new comment but thought I would reply here to see if you had any suggestions this time around. 🙂

        Lured with memories of his father, Eslan Scarian is recruited to an elite school where he enters the lives of others to help in times of need.

        Feel like I am missing the conflict. Had no clue this would be so hard! Thanks for your help



        • M. G. King on November 13, 2012 at 2:54 PM

          Lured with memories of his father, Eslan Scarian is recruited to an elite school where he enters the lives of others to help in times of need.

          What if you were more specific about how he enters the lives of others (is this dangerous? potentially irreversible?) or what kind of needs they might have. Lots of potential to build tension/curiosity with those elements.

          Good luck — sounds like a great story!



  92. josey bozzo on November 10, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    That actually sounds too romantic. It is not a romance. The mysterious stanger is really and angel from God who helps her to open up and really live for the first time in her life.

    See why it needs help?



  93. josey bozzo on November 10, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    I also have a fiction one, but it is way too long and I’m not sure how to convey the heart of the story.

    After dreaming of her dead husband nightly, Carrie decides she prefers the dream world to reality. As she plans her suicide a mysterious stranger befriends her and helps her to see that her dream world can be real if only she opens her heart.



    • Daniel on November 10, 2012 at 10:52 AM

      that sounds very interesting! I would read further … hooked me



    • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 8:26 PM

      How about:

      Carrie’s incessant dreams of her late husband leave her longing to be with him in death, but a mysterious stranger helps her open her heart to loftier dream.



  94. josey bozzo on November 10, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    Ok, so far it’s been mostly fiction here, but Rachelle did say memoir or non-fiction to, so here’s mine.

    Blockbuster Inspiration
    A devotional that fuses peoples love of movies with insight and inspiration about God.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 8:17 PM

      Ah, sort of like Matt Kinne’s book “Reflections for Movie Lovers”



  95. Debra Chapoton on November 10, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    Five troubled teens confront demonic forces and deal with their problems in different ways; paranormal meets psycho meets budding love.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 8:10 PM

      Five troubled teens confront demonic forces and deal with their problems in different ways; paranormal meets psycho meets budding love.

      Five “troubled” <- vague teens confront demonic forces and "deal with" <– could use a more descriptive word "their problems in different ways" <– don't we all? I wouldn't suggest leaving this. It weakens the pitch. "paranormal meets psycho meets budding love." <– That's not showing off your grammar and prose.

      What about something like:

      When demonic forces threaten their town, five unlikely companions must join forces to defeat them.



      • Debra Chapoton on November 11, 2012 at 8:25 AM

        Thanks, P.J. How’s this?



        • Debra Chapoton on November 11, 2012 at 8:25 AM

          When demonic forces descend upon the residents of a rooming house, five outcast teens use both human and supernatural powers to fight back.



  96. Kate Michael on November 10, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    When 17-year-old Genna discovers what she is-one chosen by the gods to bear an Immortal Season-she is immersed in the dangerous, glittering realm of the Winter Lands where she must risk her soul to save those she loves from eternal darkness.



    • Marilyn on November 10, 2012 at 7:40 AM

      I am confused by “bear an Immortal Season.”



      • Kate Michael on November 10, 2012 at 2:43 PM

        Gotcha! Will revise 🙂



  97. nuku on November 10, 2012 at 12:08 AM

    You might’ve started something big, given all these responses.

    I’d write one, but I’m of the paranoid lot that thinks advertising their story before it’s ready to be published is a sure fire way to get the idea stolen. And I mean seriously paranoid, I don’t even tell family. You cannot add enough seriously’s to this phobia. Or emphasis on the seriousness. Okay, I’ll shut up about that now.

    But, just a question. What do you do for the bit when your story encompasses 6-7 books and has more than 2 main characters?
    One of the characters dilemma gets fixed near the last book, then the side second character gets more of his story told… I’m not making any sense am I? I know it’d be better if I filled you in on the story line, but…

    That’s why it’s a good thing, that you do your best to instruct us on how to compose our thoughts better in tiny spaces. (Notice I fail with that…)

    Anyway, thank you. I had wondered how to sum up a story, and that example made it clearer than saying “Look at your favourite books. Do that”. Which is literally what one guy wrote.



    • Karen W on November 10, 2012 at 12:15 PM

      The main thing to remember is that each book must have their own plot arc (inciting incident to the climax). You can have your character’s BIG resolution where you planned it but in the meantime each novel has to have their own endings that are important in their own right.



      • nuku on November 10, 2012 at 11:33 PM

        So I take it you mean I should find out what plot(of the side arcs as opposed to the main plot)pulls at the reader the strongest and do a 25 word bit about that for the back cover kinda thing.

        I had thought of that before, but I wasn’t sure if that’s what these people (who write books on getting published)meant.

        Thank you for making it clearer! (^_^)



  98. Emily R. on November 9, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    Here’s mine. Any suggestions to improve it would be appreciated! 🙂

    “When a juvenile delinquent and a lonely foster teen meet, the girls’ struggles to control their own lives force them to do the thing that scares them most – seek the past.”



    • Marilyn on November 10, 2012 at 8:06 AM

      I would like to know more about the book. The sentence is quite vague. I can’t tell whether or not I would want to read it.



      • Emily R. on November 10, 2012 at 9:33 AM

        Hi, Marilyn.
        Thanks for the suggestion. This sentence describes my story better, but it’s too long. Any thoughts? 🙂

        “When a delinquent and a lonely teen are thrown into new foster homes, the only way the girls can escape their disappointments and fears is to work together to find a way out – but working together is a challenge in itself.”

        It’s hard to describe the “way out” without giving too much away …



        • Emily R. on November 10, 2012 at 9:57 AM

          Pardon me if I’m commenting too much, but I worked on my sentence some more, and here is an improved version.

          “When a delinquent and a lonely teen are unhappily thrown into new foster homes, together the girls must relive their worst nightmares for a chance to escape.”



          • Marilyn on November 10, 2012 at 3:23 PM

            A delinquent and a lonely teen in new foster homes struggle to confront their pasts in hopes of a brighter future.

            I would still like to see what their pasts were–molestation, poverty, neglect.

            I think “new” could also be replaced by something much clearer, such as “abusive” or “repressive.” It would tell us what the conflict actually is. “New” is not enough for me.

            P.S. You can never comment too much when you are working on your writing.



          • Emily R. on November 10, 2012 at 9:47 PM

            Ran out of reply room … hopefully this will appear in the right place. 🙂

            I decided to take out the reference to their new homes. The conflict has more to do with the past than the present; their new foster homes are safe and supportive.

            How does this sound?

            “Andrea, a lonely foster teen, and Cassandra, a juvenile delinquent, must untangle their neglected and violent – but sometimes beautiful – pasts to gain control of their futures.”



  99. Susan on November 9, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    A baby’s arrival usually brings joy, but for Braeden it means only trouble—especially when he tries to return it.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 1:37 AM

      Who is Braeden? Is he the older sibling? Was the baby found on his doorstep? Did he kidnap the child?

      It’s catchy, but needs just a few words of detail.

      Example-

      A baby’s arrival usually brings joy, but for (five year old) Braeden it means only trouble—especially when he tries to return it.



    • Peter DeHaan on November 12, 2012 at 7:28 PM

      Brilliant!



  100. Kira on November 9, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    This is harder than I thought it would be! Here’s my attempt:

    “When a friend reveals the existence of a world called Cora, mage Sita Newbury and her college roommates find they must protect both Earth and Cora from soul-stealing magical terrorists or risk their souls and their secrecy.”



    • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 1:48 AM

      I like it. Perhaps you could drop “find they.”

      Also, if they don’t protect Earth and Cora, they risk losing their souls and secrecy? What about “or face the destruction of both.” ? It sounds nobler and is implied.



  101. Ruth Taylor on November 9, 2012 at 10:06 PM

    This was the hardest part of preparing for the ACFW conference in September. I used these verbally for pitches, and got 2 requests, so they worked! I didn’t use them for my proposals, though.

    An Israeli mother has one reason to go on living after her husband has been murdered by Palestinian terrorists: to protect her child from suffering the same fate.

    Trudie Carlyle forfeits her life in England to follow her husband to the United States, but after a man suffers a fatal heart attack during the flight, she believes that leaving her homeland will lead to a death trap.



  102. Karen W on November 9, 2012 at 10:05 PM

    All these loglines are awesome! I’ve been thinking about mine all day so here goes:

    When the Texas Revolution erupts, an independent minded young woman who divorced her husband, dresses as a man and enlists as a scout in only to encounter her ex-husband who wants her back.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 1:56 AM

      Just a thought on revealing the protagonist’s trouble–

      When the Texas Revolution erupts, an newly divorced, strong-willed woman dresses like a man to enlist as a scout in the army, but finds herself torn when she encounters her ex-husband who will do anything to win her back.



      • Karen W on November 10, 2012 at 12:09 PM

        So I thanked you but it went to the bottom of the comments instead of right here so here it is again.

        P.J. you are amazing! Thank you! It’s perfect.

        Now I have another one because my novel has multiple story lines:

        Having escaped slavery and seeking refuge in Mexico, a young negro man is conscripted by the Mexican army to fight against the men who enslaved him.



        • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 1:25 PM

          Perhaps removing the passive:

          A young Negro man escapes slavery and flees to Mexico where the army conscripts him to fight against the men who enslaved him.

          If your novel has several story lines, you’d want to create an over-arching sentence.

          “North and South” (for example) is loaded with characters and story lines, but the tag line reads “Two friends, one northern and one southern, struggle to maintain their friendship as events build towards the American Civil War.”



          • Karen W on November 10, 2012 at 8:40 PM

            I like it! Thank you!

            I’ve been struggling with creating an overarching logline for some time now. I have three story lines: the woman who dresses as a man joins the rebel cause to prove herself, the slave who escapes from slavery to be free yet gets conscripted and a tejano character who sees the impending breakup of his country and does everything he can to stop it, including turning traitor to his family, friends and neighbors.

            The woman knows both men but the men don’t know each other. What do you think?



        • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 8:51 PM

          No room to reply, so I’m doing it here. Yes, the book sounds good. You could build your “elevator pitch” on the woman or an overarching story. I’d streamline to the main character for the pitch.



          • Karen W on November 11, 2012 at 12:10 AM

            Thanks. I’ll work on that.



    • Bob Stewart on November 10, 2012 at 7:15 AM

      I like this one



  103. Daniel on November 9, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    Fear has tormented and kept its victims locked in pain; this book will help set them free as it inspires them to find courage for every challenge.



    • Daniel on November 9, 2012 at 10:04 PM

      Fear has tormented and kept its victims locked in pain; this book will set people free as it inspires them to find courage for every challenge.



    • Daniel on November 10, 2012 at 10:51 AM

      Hey guys! My book seems a little different than most others, but what do you think about the hook line?



      • Deborah on November 10, 2012 at 9:53 PM

        I think you need to review the bit about themes vs action. Try following the recommended format and see what you come up with. Good luck!



  104. Bob Stewart on November 9, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    A cat switches bodies with his mistress’ boyfriend, only to discover the boyfriend is a serial killer/mob enforcer.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 1:19 AM

      And this is a problem for the cat?

      You’re kitten us, right?



      • Bob Stewart on November 12, 2012 at 1:23 AM

        No, P.J. that logline got the book epublished as Alias Thomas A. Katt.



        • P. J. Casselman on November 12, 2012 at 2:50 AM

          Too funny. Being a dog person, I think cat’s want to annihilate humans anyway, so I figured becoming a serial killer wouldn’t cause an existential problem. GRIN



          • Bob Stewart on November 12, 2012 at 9:12 AM

            I agree P.J. I was a dog person for years and when my wife’s teacup poodle died we decided to try for a cst since any new dog would be constantly compared to the poodle.
            We rescued Schyler from the pound and he declared my wife the queen and me the manservant in his kingdom.
            One night while watching Casablanca I wondered if Schyler switched bodies with Humphrey Bogart would the cat retain the film noir persona. Thus was born the book, a blend of fantasy, thriller, mystery, film noir, cozy with a touch of romance and a dollop of horror.
            Since you like humor, you might find it interesting that I call it “feline noir”
            Along the way he finds out he can’t dog paddle when thrown into the Mississippi and loses two of his nine lives.
            Thanks for your comments, I’ve enjoyed them.



    • Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 6:24 PM

      When you say “his mistress’,” it just takes my mind to bad places. I don’t think I’d word it that way. Maybe “his owner’s?”



      • Bob Stewart on November 12, 2012 at 1:22 AM

        Interesting observation the way words affect people.
        Mistress is a common term for the title of a woman’s ownership of an animal or as it appears you suggest, it could mean prostitue or white slavery but saying it’s an animal (cat) points to one particular situation describing a relationship between human and animal. I’m sorry it takes your mind to bad places.
        I really appreciate your thought and will give it due consideration; perhaps I’ll reword it as I don’t want to offend anyone.
        The logline was good enough to get it epublished by a publishing house. You can sample a chapter on Amazon by going to Alias Thomas A. Katt.



        • Heather Day Gilbert on November 12, 2012 at 12:46 PM

          Aha! Soooo, we now know your logline doesn’t need a critique! Just disregard what I said, since your logline obviously already worked. Sorry that my mind tends to think the worst before thinking the best, so “mistress” just didn’t work for me (though I do know what it means in that sense–it just threw me off). Congrats on being published!



  105. Jennifer Major @Jjumping on November 9, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    Holy frijoles, Rachelle!
    This is even crazier than the St Patrick’s haiku festival back in March!

    Speaking of which, is there going to be a limerick contest for Hanukkah? Think of it! EIGHT DAYS of questionable poetry!

    You’re welcome.



  106. Eric Hanson on November 9, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    An inspiring tale of a young man on a journey in pursuit of truth and God – and the search for significance.



    • Eric Hanson on November 9, 2012 at 8:58 PM

      It would be helpful to note this is a travel memoir.



      • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 1:24 AM

        It needs more meat.

        An inspiring tale of a man’s journey (through the snake infested jungles of India) in his struggle to discover truth and draw closer to God.



        • Eric Hanson on November 12, 2012 at 7:29 PM

          Hey thanks PJ!
          How bout: An inspiring tale of a man on a dangerous journey around the world in pursuit of truth and God – and the search for significance.

          Also, your contributions throughout this post have been excellent and have added real value. So, thank you!



          • P. J. Casselman on November 13, 2012 at 2:56 AM

            Thanks, Eric, I’m just paying it forward. 🙂

            Would this streamline it?

            An inspiring tale of a man on a dangerous journey around the world in pursuit of truth, significance and God.



  107. Evelyn on November 9, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Here is one for my memoir. Should it be in first-person?

    A 36-year-old retraces her failed relationships since 16 to find closure and reach happiness with her husband and two sons.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 1:26 AM

      First person would help and a bit more information. How is this trip through memory lane unique and gripping?



      • Evelyn on November 10, 2012 at 4:11 AM

        Thanks! How about:

        At 36, as a wife and mother, I retrace my failed relationships only to discover the love of my life never really loved me at all.



        • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 4:33 AM

          Yeah, it’s better in first. Now to give it some zing. To do that, I’m going to guess, but it might spark an idea for you.

          As a 36 year old wife and mother, I struggled in my marriage until I retraced my failed relationships and realized the man for whom I wasted years pining never loved me at all.



          • Evelyn on November 11, 2012 at 9:22 PM

            Thanks a lot for your help!



  108. Michelle Rhyne on November 9, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    Vampire Kellan Donnolly, son of Simon the Apostle,must choose between saving his race from extinction or true love.



    • Lisa on November 9, 2012 at 8:40 PM

      Holy! I’d like to see you pull this one off! It’s intriguing, that’s for sure! But you don’t have a clear antagonist – perhaps the conflict could be more specifically defined?



  109. Rebecca Vance on November 9, 2012 at 7:45 PM

    A young widow, while renovating an inherited parlor house for resale, finds herself aiding a brazen ghost in a centuries old murder.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 1:27 AM

      She’s aiding the ghost in committing a murder?



  110. Stacy on November 9, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    On the day of his promotion, Officer Wesley Emerson’s dream life becomes a nightmare that leads him to question himself and his past choices.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 7:45 PM

      Stacy, this is almost perfect. I just find myself wanting to finish the phrase “his promotion to.” Otherwise, the pitch is an excellent hook.



      • Evelyn on November 9, 2012 at 8:27 PM

        I think it’s a little vague at the end. The beginning is great!



    • Marilyn on November 10, 2012 at 6:45 AM

      I would like to see more information. The “nightmare” is vague.



      • Stacy on November 10, 2012 at 11:24 AM

        Thank you for the feedback….how about this,

        a)On the day of his promotion to Detective, Wesley Emerson’s dream life unravels forcing him to return home and confront the life he didn’t choose.



        • Marilyn on November 10, 2012 at 3:07 PM

          I would still like to see more detail. Take at the most recent one by Karen W.



          • Stacy on November 11, 2012 at 1:09 PM

            I read hers, it was really good. How about…

            Officer Wesley Emerson’s dream life shatters forcing him to return home and face his life choices and the woman he once left behind.

            Thanks.



  111. William Pipes on November 9, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    The novel, Darby, is named after a small community in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. It is a story of humor, danger, suspense, and intrigue with the Appalachian dialect of that era spoken.
    Darby begins in 1895 when George Walsh, a rocky soil farmer, dram drinker, father, and husband is murdered. Floyd Caldwell, also a farmer found Walsh standing in Elk Creek where he appealed to Caldwell saying, “Floyd I’m stobbed and stobbed bad.” Caldwell rescued him but was later blamed by the Walsh family for his murder.
    This blame developed into a feud, and a duel in which Floyd Caldwell killed Virgil Walsh, George’s brother. This drew their eighteen year old sons, Andrew Walsh and William Caldwell, into the feud. Andrew was pretty much of a hothead and he took up the feud where Virgil had left off by holding a grudge against the entire Caldwell family.
    In a bar fight, Andrew killed a man and was sentenced to ten years in prison. While in prison, he killed a fellow inmate and his sentence was increased to life in prison. Even though the inmate he killed admitted to killing his father, Andrew refused to believe him. He continued blaming the Caldwells and threatened to break out of prison and kill them all.
    Andrew’s sister, Deborah, married William Caldwell. This angered Andrew so much that when his mother visited him in prison and told him about the marriage, he attacked her for allowing Deborah to marry, “one of them murdering Caldwells.” Andrew disowned his mother and sister.
    During these more than twenty years, William and Deborah attended college where he became a doctor and Deborah became a school teacher. They had two children.
    Andrew, in a high security prison, feigned insanity and was assigned to an insane asylum from which he broke out and headed for Darby and the Caldwells. This time he was caught before reaching Darby, but not before he murdered three people.
    Another time he was thought by hospital psychiatrists to be rehabilitated, and was given unsupervised probation. He, again, went after the Caldwells plus his mother and brother.
    During this probation, he was unsuccessful in several attempts to kill the Caldwells. However, when he tried to kill his brother and mother, he was killed by his mother.



    • Shitsureishimasu on November 9, 2012 at 11:58 PM

      Dude, all I’m sayin’ is, 25 words or less. Not 25 sentences. This is your outline.



      • William Pipes on November 10, 2012 at 6:37 AM

        First, I sent it as 25 words, but someone wrote and ask for more. What I then sent was my synopsis.

        Sorry

        But, since I sent it how did it sound?

        William



        • Shitsureishimasu on November 10, 2012 at 11:56 PM

          Well, I really don’t know anything about your subject, so I don’t know if there’s a market for it.

          If you are using “Appalachian dialect of that era”, you would probably do well to include a small dictionary or some such containing words or sayings that non-enthusiasts could flip to. I’ve read a couple of books where the author used terms and such that weren’t well know, or in any dictionary I could find, (including ones on the internet)and it ruined the whole experience since they never thought to clarify.

          Just try and make sure you’re not to in your face with Appalachian dialect as that will irritate some people. (It’s one thing to know and love these kinds of things, but it’s another to force it on others.) If you have anybody proof reading your book, make sure to ask them what they thought of that.

          But, as I’m not particularly fond of books of that genre, I won’t comment on the plot and content. I just hope that there are many people out there who will enjoy your work.

          Sorry if I wasn’t very helpful.



          • William Pipes on November 11, 2012 at 6:56 AM

            Thanks for the comments. The dialect isn’t hard to read and understand, but is instead rather amusing.

            Example: “It would be good ‘nuff for the man who kilt my husband.”

            Thanks again. I’ll certainly take you advice. My wife has edited it once with no problems, but it is now in the hands of an editor. I’ll ask him if any of the dialect is confusing.

            William



        • Shitsureishimasu on November 12, 2012 at 12:59 AM

          (If this shows up in the wrong spot, blame it on my browser, it didn’t load the right reply button)

          I wouldn’t know if you’d call that “amusing” dialogue, it could be fine so long as it’s used right. But like I said, you don’t want to be ‘in your face’ about it. I understand that you would want to steer clear of anything sounding too modern, but the use of this kind of thing can either make or break a story.

          Remember to always ask yourself “Am I using this too much? Is this needed here? When read (out loud or otherwise)does it flow properly, or halt me when I read it?” You might want to ask your wife and editor these questions too. And, if you can, get some other people, that you know you can trust, to read your work and see what they think about the dialogue. (It will definitely help if they know you well enough to not shrink away from saying anything that might offend you.) It will also help if they aren’t into your genre, so that you know that if they say they like it, you have a real winner.

          Now, I’m not trying to offend you with my comments, but when it comes to your ‘baby’ you might not always be as objective as you’d like. (Trust me, I know:) I just want to make sure you have all your bases covered.

          Hope everything goes well.
          Shitsureishimashita. Jaa, na.



          • William Pipes on November 12, 2012 at 6:38 AM

            Thanks. I certainly take your advice.

            William



  112. M. G. King on November 9, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    Colin Colbeck sneaks into the deep to rescue his grandmother and stop a troll war that threatens an epic earthquake.



    • Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 6:21 PM

      I don’t think the “threatens an epic earthquake” QUITE works somehow. But this sounds interesting. Maybe re-word a little? And I hate typing these comments b/c I can’t see your original sentence as I do it! Sorry.



  113. Laura Hurlburt on November 9, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    Teenager Bree Albina is horrified to discover she is an elf Changeling, but her journey to understand this new identity reveals her vital role in an ancient conflict between good and evil.

    MAN! 25 words or less is hard!!

    Thanks for looking, guys!



    • M. G. King on November 9, 2012 at 7:22 PM

      Bree Albina reluctantly accepts her new identity as an elf Changling and faces X in an ancient conflict.

      Eight words left to describe X!



      • Laura Hurlburt on November 9, 2012 at 10:45 PM

        Thanks, M.G.

        I’ll play with that. 🙂



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 7:42 PM

      You’re right, Laura. It is a tremendous challenge. Having said that, I think you did a great job and I would LOVE to read a book about an Elf Changeling. The only think in your pitch that I have a question about is the word “reveals.” Reveals to whom? To Bree? To her world? Here is a revision based on the idea that it’s Bree who discovers her vital role:

      Teenager Bree Albina is horrified to discover she is an elf Changeling, but through her journey to understand this new identity, she learns she has a vital role to play in an ancient conflict between good and evil.



      • Laura Hurlburt on November 9, 2012 at 10:47 PM

        THANKS, Christine! I appreciate the encouragement and the revision. You nailed what I was aiming to do.

        I hope I can find an agent who’d appreciate a Changeling story. I’ve got a completed manuscript to oblige!!

        All the best!
        Laura



  114. Susan Bernhardt on November 9, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    Murder comes to Sudbury Falls, and so does a recently retired nurse, whose tenacious nature tells her that city officials are not only attempting a cover up, but it is up to her, and a handful of friends to uncover the truth, or possibly die trying.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 8:46 PM

      Perhaps a streamline version?

      When a retired nurse arrives in Sudbury Falls, she uncovers a ghastly truth–the town’s leaders are covering up a murder.

      The rest of the information can be added into the query.



  115. Jennifer Wilck on November 9, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Thrust together as lead characters in their temple’s Purim play, Nathaniel, a single dad, and Samara, a choir director, must learn that their love can only flourish when they reveal their true selves.



  116. Tara Goodyear on November 9, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    When Mr. Oliver goes missing from Charlie’s neighborhood and his family discovers newspaper clippings about different local missing person cases, the precocious twelve year old and her best friend get wrapped up in a deadly game of whodunit.



    • M. G. King on November 9, 2012 at 9:42 PM

      When Mr. Oliver goes missing from Charlie’s neighborhood, the precocious twelve year old and her best friend get wrapped up in a deadly game of whodunit.

      I think this is enough for the logline. Maybe add one intriguing adjective for Mr. Oliver.



    • VisionWriter on February 5, 2013 at 8:55 PM

      Okay, I know I kinda missed the party on this one, but hey, at least I’m finally catching up on emails!
      I am terrible at this, so here it goes.

      When the rift of the Civil War leads to her brother’s death and her father’s madness, a refined southern belle must accompany her father to the front lines to uncover and expose the terrible secret that will set him free from his prison of mad grief.



  117. Shannon Huffman Polson on November 9, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    After a grizzly bear kills her parents, Polson faces a wilderness of grief navigating the year after their deaths, memories of family, and ultimately the remote Arctic river where they died. Wrestling with her faith in the midst of grief, Polson finds her way to the possibility of hope.



    • Tara Goodyear on November 9, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      I think the first sentence is all you need…

      After a grizzly bear kills her parents, Polson faces a wilderness of grief navigating the year after their deaths, memories of family, and ultimately the remote Arctic river where they died.



      • MK Becker on November 9, 2012 at 7:26 PM

        Shannon, what about dropping “ultimately”? It’s a weak word. I like the navigation metaphor.



        • Shannon Huffman Polson on November 11, 2012 at 9:25 PM

          Thank you for the suggestions- dropping weak words and tightening is exactly the inout that is helpful. I appreciate it!



  118. Elizabeth Ann Grace on November 9, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    As Elizabeth read the words, “You Are Being Sued”, at the top of the divorce papers,she would have screamed in fear, realizing her known world then crumbled, and she must finally face the truth about God.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 11, 2012 at 7:07 PM

      This seems like lines from your book as opposed to a pitch statement.
      OK, we know she is getting a divorce and her world is falling part, but what truth about God and how is it connected?

      When Elizabeth’s husband filed for divorce, her world crumbled, but will she turn to God or the half empty bottle of scotch?

      It’s probably not about that, but is there something that might fit?



  119. N.Yost on November 9, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    When a timid entertainment lawyer accidentally kills a teen heart-throb and becomes the most hated man in the world, he has to prove his perseverance to stay alive.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 11, 2012 at 6:55 PM

      When a timid entertainment lawyer accidentally kills a teen heart-throb (This is good)

      and becomes the most hated man in the world (inflated phrase, could be cut or taken down a notch.)

      has to prove his perseverance to stay alive. (prove makes me wonder if he’s being put through a test by someone like the Jigsaw Killer.)
      Is he going to prison or is he out on the streets, by the way? It would have a bearing on the rest.

      Without knowing more, here’s a tosser-

      When a timid entertainment lawyer accidentally kills a teen heart-throb, he must find a way to evade ten thousand fans who want him dead.



      • Nyost on November 11, 2012 at 9:11 PM

        Your tosser is pretty close, but there’s a backstory which is more of the main story in which our hero makes a pact with his assistant to make a go at living life to the fullest, something he’s never been able to do, then killing themselves if it doesn’t work out.



      • N.Yost on November 12, 2012 at 11:13 AM

        When Jacob accidentally kills a teen heart-throb, he must find a way to evade revenge-seeking fans while trying to stay alive due to an unconventional pact he makes.



        • P. J. Casselman on November 13, 2012 at 2:48 AM

          I like the idea. Would this be smoother?

          When Jacob accidentally kills a teen heart-throb, he must find a way to evade revenge-seeking fans and the consequences of a lethal pact.



          • N.Yost on November 13, 2012 at 1:07 PM

            Spot on…thanks!



  120. Julie Weathers on November 9, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    Ok, I couldn’t resist.

    With an approaching genocidal Civil War, Gentyl’s desire to be a Far Rider with her aunt’s elite cavalry unit is more important than ever, but a senile wizard, a demon lord and her mother all have other plans.



    • Lisa on November 9, 2012 at 8:38 PM

      I like it! I want to read it! But…you have the demon lord in the same sentence as the mother and the senile wizard, lending it equal strength as an antagonist to the reader. Is that the case? You don’t have a clearly defined antagonist here – is there one in the book?



      • Julie Weathers on November 10, 2012 at 12:33 AM

        That’s a good catch. The senile wizard is trying to help her, the wizard lord is trying to kill her and her mother is trying to send her to a healing school to be protected. I need to hone the antagonist better.

        Thanks so much.



        • Julie Weathers on November 10, 2012 at 2:57 AM

          oh of course that should be demon lord.



  121. Paul Holte on November 9, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    When airline pilot John Nash falls for aspiring psychologist Joy Hill, nothing can get between them, except 1,800 miles and his marriage to somebody else.



    • MK Becker on November 9, 2012 at 7:24 PM

      Paul, this is so catchy that I’d love to see it perfected. Something is just slightly off (besides the unneeded comma after “between them”) about the word “except.” What about “other than”? I don’t know if it’s rhythm of what, but “except” seems to me to break the flow just as it’s getting to the good part! (Minor thought – “airline pilot” is almost redundant. “Transamerica pilot” or whatever the airline is? I like the two-word rhythm.)



      • Paul Holte on November 9, 2012 at 7:58 PM

        MK~That is fantastic advice. Thanks for looking at it! Hopefully it’ll help down the road. 😉



    • Evelyn on November 9, 2012 at 8:28 PM

      I would read this book!



  122. R.A.Savary on November 9, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    My apologies to everyone. I have very recently decided that I am tired of playing around with kid gloves and going after a few things full force instead of with quiet patience.

    I read Rachel’s blog and had to post something and I have gotten some good feedback.

    But I am not interacting with the rest of you, only taking the time to read the posts and comments which I deem relevant to me, in this moment, although a part of me knows that everything here is relevant. Too bad.

    I am working on another project and am only returning when I get a message relaying a comment.

    Today it’s all about me; me, me, me, me, and still more me.

    Wishing great things for everyone here, but I “gots to go.”



  123. Cortez Law III on November 9, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    Got in kind of late with this post. We’re talking ballpark here via Rachelle’s statement (“about 25 words”), so here goes:

    Edgy Atlanta Homicide Sergeant Malcolm Hobbs and his revered Detectives known as, ‘The X-Men’, must find a kidnapped victim who might prevent a mafia war between the Organizatsiya and La Cosa Nostra and a sleeper cell of al-Qaeda and Hamas terrorists from exploding a WMD?



  124. Aubrey Honeycutt on November 9, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Dorianna, Bonded to the most powerful dragon in Magid, discovers his plot to kill her and Bond with her unborn child.

    Or,

    Dorianna, Bonded to the most powerful dragon in Magid, not only discovers his plot to kill her and Bond with her unborn child, but that she is also Bonded to a woman from an alternate plane of reality who is prophesied to save her.



  125. Mandi Lynn on November 9, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    I’m going to cheat and do two sentences:

    When Emma becomes haunted by a pull that calls her to the forest, she fights to maintain control as the pull tries to overtake and deprive her of her family.

    Hmm..I like it. I’ll probably change it later, but this is a good base 🙂



    • David Jón Fuller on November 9, 2012 at 5:02 PM

      I might recast it a bit:

      Pulled by a mysterious force that calls her to the forest, Emma must fight it as it tries to overtake and deprive her of her family.

      Though the “pull” or force is vague — what is it? Can it be made more specific? How does she/can she fight it?



      • Mandi Lynn on November 9, 2012 at 9:18 PM

        I’ve had the hardest time trying to describe the pull without going into to much detail. Thank you though, I’ll work on it.



    • Julie Weathers on November 9, 2012 at 6:35 PM

      When Emma becomes haunted by a pull that calls her to the forest, she fights to maintain control as the pull tries to overtake and deprive her of her family.

      The “pull” bit is a bit confusing.

      Perhaps “Emma must (do some action) to overcome a growing desire to enter the (whatever) forest and deprive her of her family…and perhaps her life” Whatever would fit there.



      • Mandi Lynn on November 9, 2012 at 9:23 PM

        Thank you for your opinion. I’ve been trying to find a way to describe the pull without going into to too much detail, but obviously little to no detail isn’t doing the trick.



  126. David Jón Fuller on November 9, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    A teen werewolf who can’t stand the sight of blood seeks revenge on the vampire who killed his best friend, and must survive long enough to take his girlfriend out on their first, actual date.



    • Lisa on November 9, 2012 at 5:24 PM

      Hmmm…”take out” could have sinister connotations here – do you mean “kill”? or just “take out”? Either way you should probably reword it….

      Lisa



      • David Jón Fuller on November 9, 2012 at 5:26 PM

        Yeek! Good point, Lisa. How about a minor tweak then, to remove the word “out”:

        A teen werewolf who can’t stand the sight of blood seeks revenge on the vampire who killed his best friend, and must survive long enough to take his girlfriend on their first, actual date.



        • Lisa on November 9, 2012 at 5:31 PM

          That is better – also wondering about the “must”. I take it you are trying for humour here? Is the novel a comedic one?
          I like the “werewolf afraid of blood” concept!



          • David Jón Fuller on November 9, 2012 at 5:38 PM

            Yes, I wanted to get some of the humour/offbeat tone of the novel in the logline. I realize it’s ridiculous to equate a grim revenge with going on a first date, but that’s part of the interwoven conflict of the novel. I’m not sure it’s working in the logline, though.



          • David Jón Fuller on November 9, 2012 at 5:39 PM

            How about this:

            A teen werewolf who can’t stand the sight of blood seeks revenge on the vampire who killed his best friend, and totally has to survive long enough to take his girlfriend on their first, actual date.



    • Julie Weathers on November 9, 2012 at 6:29 PM

      I like this, but as others have said “take out” could be very negative. It has kind of a quirky, Buffy The Vampire Slayer to me, which is a good thing.



      • Lisa on November 9, 2012 at 7:18 PM

        How about this?

        A teen werewolf who can’t stand the sight of blood seeks revenge on the vampire who killed his best friend, but will he survive long enough to go on his first date?



      • David Jón Fuller on November 10, 2012 at 10:02 PM

        🙂 That is high praise! One of the things I like about Buffy is the way the show balances genuine horror with laugh-out-loud humour, a balance I am definitely going for in the novel. Thank you very much.



  127. Martha Ramirez on November 9, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    EXCELLENT!



  128. Kristin Laughtin on November 9, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Crafting these is a fun challenge, and very useful when one needs to boil down a work’s “aboutness” for purposes of querying, etc.

    The book I wrote most recently:
    “After an alien gives Earth the technology to voyage to the stars, an expedition is sent to visit his planet–only to discover that it is empty.”

    (Yes, this cuts out a major story arc/thematic element about memory. Ideally I’d want to work that in somehow, but this is the core of the plot. I could probably do it with a second sentence easily, such as “But a woman engineered with his biological memory starts to hear voices trying to guide them, and must contend with the crew’s growing skepticism and despair in order to finish their mission and get them all home.” Hard to fit it all into one sentence that would work as a brief hook, though.)

    The book I’m revising now:
    “A secretive nun who may hold the cure for a world-wide plague hires a skeptical mercenary to escort her through the demon-infested, future ice age mountains of Cambodia.”



  129. David Todd on November 9, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    An American couple’s troubled marriage is further strained when their family becomes embroiled in a 1980s CIA extraction operation while they tour China.



    • Lisa on November 9, 2012 at 5:28 PM

      Like this one, but perhaps something like…. “…when during their vacation to China they are embroiled in a CIA extraction operation”? Not sure if you need the year, either.



  130. Jo Murphey on November 9, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    When young Jacqueline witnesses her stepfather murder her brother, she looks for someone to believe her, and all he wants to do is silence her permanently.

    One line summary for “The Sacrificial Lamb.”



  131. Jennifer Major @Jjumping on November 9, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    Will Sarah Monroe, freed after twenty years of her husband’s abuse, allow a Navajo widower to love her back from her darkest nightmares or will her secrets push her to destroy not only the man she loves, but her own life as well?

    I’ve got a better version somewhere, but whatever. (I’m editing and am going insane!)
    Go for it Jim! And Christine. And Andrew. And Cherry. And whoever else wants a go at it.
    Where the heck is TOSK? And Pote?

    I leave town and look what happens!



    • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 3:26 PM

      Will Sarah Monroe, freed after twenty years of her husband’s abuse, allow a Navajo widower to love her back from her darkest nightmares or will her secrets push her to destroy not only the man she loves, but her own life as well?

      I like it. I might change it a bit for flow-

      After her escape from twenty years of spousal abuse, will Sarah Monroe allow a Navajo widower’s love to bring her out of her nightmares or will she cling to her secrets until they destroy both her and the man she loves?



      • Jennifer Major @Jjumping on November 9, 2012 at 3:28 PM

        Not bad, Casselman, not bad. I might just use this.

        It would appear that you have an almost bionic ability at crafting these things.



        • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 3:32 PM

          Beth K. Vogt taught me how to craft these. If I help anyone on here, they can thank her.

          Well that and our bantering back and forth as we were trying to figure them out. 🙂



          • Jennifer Major @Jjumping on November 9, 2012 at 3:38 PM

            Does Beth like Canadian chocolate? Cuz I need some formatting done…



      • Julie Morrill on November 9, 2012 at 3:33 PM

        P.J., I like your tagline suggestion, but let me condense it a bit more:

        Escaping years of spousal abuse, will Sarah Monroe allow a Navajo widower’s love to heal her heart or will her hidden secrets destroy them both?



        • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 3:38 PM

          Nice!



        • Jennifer Major @Jjumping on November 9, 2012 at 3:38 PM

          Thanks Julie!



        • Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 6:18 PM

          This is very good and concise. And you know this sounds like a book I’d like to read, Jennifer…



          • Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 6:19 PM

            And oops, I was referring to Julie’s sum-up sentence on your book! It’s very concise and active.



          • Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 8:10 PM

            AAAND I just said “concise” concisely TWO times in the last two comments. Can you tell I’m procrastinating on what I’m SUPPOSED to be writing?



      • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 7:27 PM

        I think you’ve nailed it, P.J. 🙂



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 7:30 PM

      Thanks for the invitation, Jennifer, but P.J. and Julie have done such an excellent job, there is nothing I can do to improve upon their revisions.

      BTW, neither you nor PJ commented on mine. Is it a case of “if you haven’t got anything nice to say…?” 🙁

      And 2nd BTW, where IS Beth?



  132. Roxanne Sherwood Gray on November 9, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Y’all are writing a lot of books I’d like to read. Best of all, the community here has tweaked good pitches into great ones!

    Here’s mine:

    A missionary doctor on a forced sabbatical delivers a widow’s baby and begins a relationship that threatens everything he believes is God’s will for his life.



    • Jennifer Major @Jjumping on November 9, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      Okay, I want to read this NOW.



    • Julie Morrill on November 9, 2012 at 3:28 PM

      Your tagline is already so concise and intriguing, I can’t imagine what to add to make it better!



      • Roxanne Sherwood Gray on November 9, 2012 at 5:23 PM

        Thanks, Jennifer and Julie!

        Originally I focused on the widow’s conflict but couldn’t boil it down to one sentence.

        So for others who are stuck, try looking at another character’s conflict for a hook.



    • Julie Weathers on November 9, 2012 at 7:00 PM

      Sorry, I can’t help here. It looks perfect to me.



  133. Lisa on November 9, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    These books all sound intriguing!
    Here’s my attempt:

    Thomas McCadden’s mixed up life gets worse when he accidentally Travels through a Thin Place to Britain in 643 AD where he discovers he is a wilding Fey and the key to another Traveller’s plot to disrupt history.

    Not sure i have nailed it but it’s a start…



    • Julie Morrill on November 9, 2012 at 3:16 PM

      How about…

      When Thomas McCadden slips through a “Thin Place” and ends up in 643 AD Britain, he discovers another time traveler’s evil plot to disrupt history.

      This is my kind of story! I love time travel books!

      I don’t know how “evil” the plot is, but “plot” sounds nefarious!



      • Lisa on November 9, 2012 at 5:21 PM

        Thanks – that is great! And of course the plot is “evil”!!! 🙂



        • David Jón Fuller on November 9, 2012 at 5:31 PM

          I might add what he has to do:

          When Thomas McCadden slips through a “Thin Place” and ends up in 643 AD Britain, he discovers another time traveler’s evil plot to disrupt history — which only Thomas can stop.



          • MK Becker on November 9, 2012 at 7:41 PM

            Intriguing. Take out the extra words and explain why it means something to McCadden.
            Perhaps: When Thomas McCadden slips through a Thin Place into 643 AD Britain, he alone can stop another Traveler’s plot to disrupt the future, and thus his own existence. (Question – McCadden is a Scottish name, but Scotland was a separate kingdom back then. Does that play into it vis-a-vis the other Traveler? Maybe it’s just me, but Mc/Mac and ancient Britain call up the idea of complex feudal issues.)



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 7:24 PM

      Lisa,

      I would love to read your book!



      • Lisa on November 9, 2012 at 8:31 PM

        David – I love it! Getting better and better all the time! Question, though – the pitch has lost an important element, the fact that Thomas discovers he is a wilding Fey. Should this still be part of it? It’s a big part of the novel.

        MK – yes, Thomas’ heritage definitely comes into it! And you are right – the fact that his own (future) existence is threatened is part of the driving force for Thomas to fight against the antagonist but it’s bigger than that – what the antagonist is trying to do back then would have huge implications for our “now” so Thomas has to stop him.

        Christine – thanks! Good to hear someone would be interested in it!

        These are fun, aren’t they?



        • David Jón Fuller on November 13, 2012 at 6:01 PM

          I think ideally you would want to work in the fey and the heritage aspects of it, without adding too many words — is there a way to take out the “Thin Place” reference (which I did not realize at first was tied to the fey/fairy realm), and instead add something about Thomas’s heritage/feyness that drags him back to the time story is set? So it reads as integral to the story (which I gather it is)?



  134. Jenna C. on November 9, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Emma Johnson just came back from a summer vacation with her family. But when a tragic accident occurs leaving her parents in a coma and her brother half paralyzed, she feels there’s no use living any longer. And when she finds out the new stable hand at her uncle’s ranch is the new stable hand, she struggles with forgiveness.

    🙂



    • Lisa on November 9, 2012 at 2:34 PM

      Don’t need your first sentence. You could take out the “her” in the second sentence and insert your character’s name. And there is confusion here – the last sentence doesn’t make sense. I assume the “new stable hand” is the one that caused the accident?



      • Jenna C. on November 9, 2012 at 3:42 PM

        Oh!! I meant to mention that the new stable hand was the guy who caused the accident..yeah… 😛 Thanks! 🙂



    • Julie Morrill on November 9, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      I need a little more information here, but here’s an attempt to rework your tagline:

      When a tragic accident leaves her parents in a coma and her brother paralyzed, Emma Johnson stays at her uncle’s ranch in … But in a life no longer worth living, will she learn to live again…and forgive?



    • Julie Morrill on November 9, 2012 at 3:21 PM

      Jenna, I had too many words in my last suggestion, so here’s another attempt:

      When a tragic accident leaves her parents in a coma and her brother paralyzed, Emma Johnson must learn to find a reason to live…and forgive.



      • Jenna C. on November 9, 2012 at 3:43 PM

        Okay! Thanks! 😀 I will work on this!



  135. Julie Morrill on November 9, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    An elopement, an annulled marriage, a single pregnant girl in 1890s California. Can Victoria hide her pregnancy and find a husband before it’s too late?



    • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 3:53 PM

      I like where this is heading. An agent would want to see it in a sentence.

      When Victoria’s elopement is annulled in 1890’s California, can she hide her pregnancy and find a husband before it’s too late?



      • Julie Morrill on November 9, 2012 at 7:24 PM

        Oh, thanks! I really need to keep it to only one sentence? I didn’t realize that.



  136. […] where the one-sentence summary, or logline, comes in. Rachelle Gardner’s (@RachelleGardner) Writing a One-Sentence Summary provides an excellent—though not one sentence long—guide for how to construct it (courtesy of […]



  137. R.P.M.G. on November 9, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Christina and Jude thought they were inseparable when deceit and betrayal had shattered what could not be broken,leading Jude onto a thirty year journey searching for his true love in a quest to mend the love that was torned from them…



    • R.P.M.G. on November 9, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      I know needs trimming and mispelled…”torn”



      • R.P.M.G. on November 9, 2012 at 1:55 PM

        here I go again… misspelled 😉



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 7:19 PM

      Hi, R.P.M.G.

      Good job, but here is a suggestion to help clean up the grammar issues:

      Christina and Jude thought they were inseparable, but deceit and betrayal shattered a love they thought could not be broken, propelling Jude into a thirty year quest to find Christina again and mend the love that had been torn from them…



      • R.P.M.G. on November 10, 2012 at 1:20 AM

        Thank you Christine! I love the revision – Randy



  138. KarenM on November 9, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    I’m amazed at the outpouring of creativity and support here today! Excellent job, everyone! I decided to throw in mine as well-been tough to think of a oneliner, so I appreciate this exercise! Here goes:

    Twenty-five year old Jessica Hartley goes undercover with a handsome local cop to save her hospitalized best friend from a maniacal co-worker…and discovers love along the way.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 7:21 PM

      Hi Karen,

      It’s a good pitch. I just have one minor suggestion:

      Twenty-five year old Jessica Hartley goes undercover with a handsome local cop to save her hospitalized best friend from a maniacal co-worker and is surprised to discover love along the way.



      • KarenM on November 9, 2012 at 7:43 PM

        Thanks, Kristine! Great modification.

        You’ve been busy today 😉



  139. D.L.L. on November 9, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    “A devious CEO in Seattle embezzles millions from investors only to squander it on the ultimate lifestyle.”



    • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 2:04 PM

      This is more of a newspaper headline. What’s at stake here? Does the embezzler have an existential crisis? Who’s the protagonist? Does the man get caught? Do his victims come to him as ghosts on Christmas?



      • D.L.L. on November 9, 2012 at 2:20 PM

        P.J. – Thanks for your reply!

        Rachelle mentioned to make the conflict clear, but that we don’t have to hint at the solution. I didn’t want to tell the whole story.

        The CEO is the antagonist, but I could easily revise this to include the protagonist, who is a young stock broker:

        “A young stock broker uncovers a CEO’s devious plan to bilk millions of dollars from thousands of investors. Once they learn that their money was wasted on the his lavish lifestyle, they seek harsh retribution.”



        • D.L.L. on November 9, 2012 at 2:23 PM

          Without typo:

          “A young stock broker uncovers a CEO’s devious plan to bilk millions of dollars from thousands of investors. Once they learn that their money was wasted on his lavish lifestyle, they seek harsh retribution.”



          • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 2:42 PM

            The protagonist is the POV from which to work. Is it his CEO by the way?

            OK, let’s say his name is John Smith.

            When John Smith discovers the CEO of his company is bilking millions of dollars from investors,

            OK, now his personal crisis. What is a stake for John Smith?

            he must choose between destroying his career or keeping his integrity.

            Maybe that’s not the conflict, but put the pressure on the protagonist. Ask what’s at stake for him and those he cares about.



      • D.L.L. on November 9, 2012 at 2:59 PM

        We ran out of reply room – here is your last reply:

        The protagonist is the POV from which to work. Is it his CEO by the way?OK, let’s say his name is John Smith. When John Smith discovers the CEO of his company is bilking millions of dollars from investors,OK, now his personal crisis. What is a stake for John Smith?he must choose between destroying his career or keeping his integrity.Maybe that’s not the conflict, but put the pressure on the protagonist. Ask what’s at stake for him and those he cares about.

        Working from the POV of the protagonist is a better approach – thanks. The CEO (Keith Larus) is not his boss. The young stock broker (Trent Willams) is selling stock on behalf of the company and discovers the fraudulent activity. Trent now has to find a way to expose Keith, resolve the embezzlement issue from his clients (investors) and obtain retribution against Keith. This story is actually based on true events where the CEO ended up getting a 20 year sentence. Wouldn’t that be letting the cat out of the bag to put that in the summary sentence?

        How about:

        “Trent Williams, a young stock broker, uncovers a devious plan that Keith Larus, a megalomaniac CEO, concocted to bilk millions of dollars from unknowing investors – only to squander it on his lavish lifestyle. Trent has to find justice before his client’s, friend’s and family’s money is lost forever.”

        It’s a bit wordy, but it does describe more of what is really happening in the story.



        • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 3:14 PM

          Yeah, that’s much better. It gives us a sense of what’s happening and gives a sense of urgency to the Trent. What do you think of cutting some detail in the sentence and building around that later in the synopsis?

          When stock broker Trent Williams uncovers a CEO’s plot to bilk millions from his family, he must beat the CEO at his own game or his family loses everything.

          You can build more detail in the overall query. The idea is, what can you say on an elevator between floors one and three to a person who asks, “What’s your book about?”



          • D.L.L. on November 9, 2012 at 3:28 PM

            Awesome – thanks!



  140. Jennifer Major @Jjumping on November 9, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Steve Austin, a man barely alive and harbouring a love of slow motion just wants to see if PJ notices this, he’ll be back later with the real deal.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      LOL, Jennifer! 😀



      • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 2:00 PM

        When bionic scientists transform astronaut Steve Austin into a half man- half machine, will he choose his former love, Jamie, or fall to the flirtations of a lawnmower that him to cut all ties with humanity?



        • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 2:00 PM

          “that beckons him to cut” <–woops 🙂



        • Jennifer Major @Jjumping on November 9, 2012 at 2:43 PM

          AHahahaha!! I had to read that twice!!! VERY funny!



  141. Claude Nougat on November 9, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    When Robert retires, he decides to become an artist but his old-fashioned paintings appall his young artsy wife, and that is only the beginning of Robert’s troubles…



  142. John on November 9, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Rex discovers his destiny when unimaginable events send him on a collision course with love, otherworldly forces and dark revelations about ancient mysteries that threaten his very existence.



  143. Ann Bracken on November 9, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    When Mary, a widow, finds a wounded Revolutionary War soldier on her doorstep as the winter snows trap her on her farm, she must learn to compromise and forgive before she learns to love.

    Thirty-four words, it needs trimming…suggestions?



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 1:21 PM

      First, Ann, I love the concept. I’m assuming this is a romance, yes? If so, focus on the relationship. “As snow traps Mary on her farm for the winter, the wounded Revolutionary War soldier she finds on her doorstep teaches her about compromise, forgiveness and finally, love.” It’s still over by three words, but hopefully this helped.



      • Ann Bracken on November 9, 2012 at 1:44 PM

        Wow! That’s great! Thanks so much.



  144. Sam Beringer on November 9, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    “When his stepsister gets kidnapped by Witchkin planning a deadly ritual, a young man joins a group of hunters to find them.”



  145. Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Westlin Beck, daughter of the increasingly detached local pastor, and new-to-town Silas Hart must orchestrate a summer rescue of Silas’s mysterious twin sister Laurel, who believes she is living in a dream.



    • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 12:30 PM

      This was way harder than I thought it would be. I need help, friends!!! Suggestions? (The story is about West learning to navigate her father’s detachment from her family and Laurel’s detachment from reality, all while questioning her faith and falling in love.)



      • Sam Beringer on November 9, 2012 at 12:46 PM

        First, to cut down on words, don’t mention characters by name. Give a brief description of them. (The only exception is if a character is famous, like Albert Einstein or Elizabeth I). This is also important because people listening to/reading your logline will have to keep track of which character is which if you give names. By taking out names, not only do you cut down your word count

        For example, if Tolkien had to write a logline for “The Lord of the Rings,” he wouldn’t write “When he discovers the ring left to him belongs to the Dark Lord Sauron, Frodo Baggins, a hobbit, must take it to Mount Doom to destroy it.” He’d write. “When he discovers the ring left to him belongs to the Dark Lord, a hobbit must take it to Mount Doom to destroy it.” Okay, it’s not the best. But it gets the point across.



        • Sam Beringer on November 9, 2012 at 12:47 PM

          Sorry, I forgot to finish a sentence.

          By taking out names, not only do you cut down your word count, but you also make it easier for readers/listeners to get an idea of who the characters are.



        • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 12:50 PM

          The teenaged daughter of the increasingly detached local pastor teams up with the gorgeous new guy in town to rescue his mysterious twin sister, who believes she is living in a dream.

          Grrr, there are still so many characters in this! Confusing? I’m not sure how to cut any of them out, since they are ALL essential to the story.

          Help??



          • Sam Beringer on November 9, 2012 at 1:05 PM

            Not terribly confusing, but why not cut down on adjectives? I don’t think audiences need to know that the new guy is gorgeous or that the pastor is getting “increasingly detached” (maybe detached, but not increasingly). Is it essential that readers know that the pastor is detached? For that matter, what about the twin sister? Is her belief that she’s living in a dream important to the plot?

            Forget subplots, just focus on the main plot for your logline.



          • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 1:10 PM

            Yes, the plot is that West is learning how to deal with Laurel’s disorder and her dad’s detachment.



          • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 1:11 PM

            Jackie, who is your protagonist? I’m assuming it’s the Westlin, but you say all of the characters are essential. If the teenage daughter is the protagonist, focus on her main conflict. Is it to help Laurel return to reality? Is it to win the love of the “gorgeous new guy” or is it her faith crisis. Your main character and her main conflict are the heart of your novel, so make them the heart of your pitch.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 1:08 PM

      Hi Jackie, there are a few questions on this one. Why is Silas new to town and is the twin sister new to him as well? Also, are we talking depersonalization disorder, autism or does she just daydream?
      They are rescuing her over the summer- so it’s a process?
      I’d take a stab at it, but I keep locking up on details and erase. That information would help.



      • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 3:55 PM

        Yes, West is the protagonist, and it’s about how she meets these mysterious twins one summer, one of whom (Laurel) has a dissociative disorder (solipsism syndrome), where she doubts reality is real. The story is about West and how she handles her summer with the twins, grieving for and frustrated with one, falling in love with the other, and all while her “perfect” family life is falling apart.

        Sigh. Who knew it would be harder to write one sentence than a whole manuscript??

        When West encounters the mysterious Hart twins the summer before her senior year, she must learn to question love, family, and the nature of reality itself.



        • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 6:36 PM

          When twins, Silas and Laurel, move next door to high school senior Westlin Beck, Laurel’s mental illness complicates Westlin’s blossoming romance with Silas, forcing Westlin to rethink her preconceptions of family, love and reality.

          I don’t know. Does that ring any better? It’s a tough one, but it sounds like a good story.

          Perhaps-

          When her new boyfriend’s mentally ill sister complicates Westlin Beck’s life, she must discover how to connect with the girl or risk losing her newfound love.



          • Jackie on November 11, 2012 at 6:00 PM

            Thanks PJ! That gives me a good start!!! Appreciate you!



  146. Blair B. Burke on November 9, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    When Tarya’s family is killed by agents of Lord Falton, she vows to avenge their deaths and for that she must turn herself into a weapon.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 1:04 PM

      Really good, Blair. Here’s my suggestion to make it a little tighter:

      “When Tarya’s family is killed by agents of Lord Falton, she must turn herself into a weapon to avenge the deaths of her family.”



      • MK Becker on November 9, 2012 at 7:51 PM

        When Tarya’s family is killed by agents of Lord Falton, she must mold herself into a weapon to avenge their deaths, becoming the very thing she seeks to overcome.

        It’s sloppy (“seeks to overcome”, “thing”), but you might try it as a concept to build on. Why is it important to Tarya? Not that family isn’t important, but the intriguing become-a-weapon concept suggests there is more at stake. And look for strong words (despite my rushed and weak clause!) – mold instead of turn into, for example.



  147. Brooke on November 9, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    When Nicole battles Russian terrorists to avenge the murder of her husband, she must find her own identity while seeking justice for crimes she didn’t commit.



  148. Adelle Gabrielson on November 9, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    I’d really love to see some non-fiction pitches here! I’m still working on mine…but surely I’m not the only one? The fiction stuff on here though – wow. Can’t wait to see some of these in print!



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      Adelle, there was one other non-fiction pitch earlier today. I’d love to see yours. 🙂



      • Adelle Gabrielson on November 9, 2012 at 2:12 PM

        We’ll never measure up to the Pinterest-perfect life, but when we allow ourselves, we can find freedom in our flaws and see that really, our broken places are how the Light shines through.



        • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 7:08 PM

          I really like this, Adelle (the wording and the concept). I would suggest just a minor change:

          We’ll never measure up to the Pineterest-perfect life, but if we allow ourselves to, we can find freedom in our flaws and discover that our broken places are where the Light shines through.



  149. Katie on November 9, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    When freed from captivity, Rhian, the Keeper of the Dead, enters a world she doesn’t remember to kill the King but an abundance of unveiled secrets threatens to change everything.



    • Juturna F. on November 9, 2012 at 12:59 PM

      This is really interesting. I think a tweak in the first part would help (I’m assuming it was the king who held her in captivity; otherwise, you need to explain why she wants to kill the king).

      When freed from captivity, Rhian, the keeper of the dead, enters a world she doesn’t remember to kill the king who enslaved her, but (….)

      The last part isn’t as strong. Change everything how? What sorts of unveiled secrets? These are complete shots in dark, but hopefully will give you some ideas:

      … but discovers he’s the key to keeping her freedom.

      … the king she thought enslaved her, but discovers he was wrongly accused.

      … but discovers his death will unravel the world.

      Sounds like a great concept, and I can’t wait to see it on the shelves!



      • MK Becker on November 9, 2012 at 7:53 PM

        If she’s the keeper of the dead, does she enter the world of the living? And is it utterly alien to her? If so, I’d bring that idea forward.



  150. Jeff on November 9, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    When his village is overrun by Saxon barbarians, a young man must overcome his addiction to hallucinogenic herbs and rescue his childhood love.



    • Lisa on November 9, 2012 at 2:29 PM

      Saxons?? Yesss!!

      I liked this one but I wonder a bit about the “addiction to hallucenogenic herbs”. If you are writing a strict historical, these words seem too modern to the concept of the story. Also your protagonist’s name would help.



  151. Marcus DeHart on November 9, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    How Deep Lies the Shadow
    When Sean Glynn gets a phone call from his dead father, he must unravel the schemes of the Neverborn to stop them from releasing an ancient darkness.



  152. R.A.Savary on November 9, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    This is kind of long and I threw it together kind of quick – forget the “kind of.” I had pitched the hell out of “Special” last year and have reworked some things, including several different approaches to the pitch and synopsis. I seem to hook everyone but agents. I couldn’t pass on this “hands-on” opportunity for feedback.

    Accustomed to arranging life to suit himself, psychopathic Jack Coal makes the biggest mistake of his life when he abducts a young mother and her daughter, imprisoning them in the underground tunnels near Burlington Wisconsin, and gets to experience the caustic results of his own Karma as he is hunted and tracked by the woman’s most recent, unknown admirer, enlisting the aid of a black Chow possessing a myriad of intuitive abilities.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 12:59 PM

      R.A., you’re trying to pack too much into the pitch. While I love details, yours need trimmed back a bit. For example, although the black Chow is an interesting detail, it’s not necessary in the pitch unless the unknown admirer is the protagonist. From the way you wrote the pitch, it seemed to me that you were telling Jack Coal’s story. If I have misinterpreted that, you might want to consider re-writing your pitch so that the focus of the sentence is on the protagonist (and his dog).

      If Jack Coal is the protagonist, here is a possible revised pitch:

      “When psychopath Jack Coal imprisons a young mother and her daughter in underground tunnels, Karma finally catches up with him and the hunter becomes the hunted.”



      • R.A.Savary on November 9, 2012 at 1:41 PM

        I knew it needed to be cut and I am glad I left it long. Your comments about the protagonist hits the nail on the head, as far as my complications with the pitch. I had uncertainties about the protagonist, and treated the issue as having several, with one taking more priority over the rest, just as I also have several p.o.v.’s, depending on the action in a particular scene. While I thought at first the main protagonist was the woman, I came to realize that it is the two men only who share the protagonist role, with the others building up steam for protagonist roles in possibly future stories.

        I tend to pack too much in everything I write, and while I work hard to cut, chop and simplify, I do not wish to totally discard what I have come to see as using one of my weaknesses or faults as a tool in establishing my uniqueness as a writer. Granted, I am not entirely unique in my wordiness and longevity, but most people just do not try to transform their defects into assets, because it is too much work – and risky, as their are an infinitive number of people out their saying, “naughty, naughty, naughty.”

        Thanks; I do not take anything lightly.



        • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 4:19 PM

          You’re welcome, R.A. and I understand what you mean. One of my WIPs is a complex psychological mystery with two main characters. It’s difficult boiling it down to one sentence.



          • R.A.Savary on November 9, 2012 at 5:45 PM

            Yes, and with mine, I knew it was complicated, that’s why I’ve concentrated on other projects while I sort out the best approach to a new query.

            Your comments helped me to see that I just need to stick with what I know, regardless of whether it is the way it’s usually done; I have two equal protagonists. It is still a great story.

            At one point I had thought about dividing the manuscript and making it two separate tales, but the two men’s stories are too dependent on each other as they unfold.

            A scarier but more real bottom line to this is that I have two different voices, telling two different tales, with the resulting conflict within myself.

            I began to see this when I worked on my first query letter and shared it with some friends, but it was more along the lines of the old me and the new me.

            Now I am seeing that it is just me.

            Thank God it is fiction, right? … Right? (just kidding)

            I know this is why I keep returning to SK’s “On Writing,” and his admonishment to “tell the truth,” and “get on with the story.”



        • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 7:03 PM

          I’m glad that I could help R.A. Based on what you’ve written here, it sounds like writing two separated stories would be a mistake. I like the idea of setting up two equal and worthy adversaries. It may just take perseverance and timing to get the right agent and / or editor for your manuscript. Blessings!



  153. Martha Bechtel on November 9, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    Gah! One word over and I can’t figure out what to cut–

    The Clockwork Sorcerer’s missing his heart and Wendy fights to finish the story her daughter started before the land of Velanon unravels into the Story Beneath.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 12:48 PM

      Martha, I’m not sure being one word over will matter that much. Having a pitch that is concise and effective is more important.

      I am intrigued by your pitch but I don’t really understand enough about your story to help you with the rewrite. The only thing I can do is give this feedback. “The Clockwork Sorcerer’s heart is missing and…” I expect someone to be working on that. I assume that that is what Wendy is doing by trying to finish the story, but the sentence really doesn’t draw a clear cause and effect relationship. I don’t know that we need to know yet that her daughter started the story, so if I am interpreting your pitch correctly and the conflict is that Wendy must find his heart and finish the story before Velanon unravels, then toss the daughter overboard and focus on Wendy. For example, “The Clockwork Wizard’s heart is missing, and Wendy must find it to finish the story before the Land of Velanon sinks into the Story Beneath.” I love the verb “unravels” but I can’t picture how something can unravel into something else.



      • Martha Bechtel on November 9, 2012 at 5:29 PM

        Thanks for the feedback! 🙂

        I was trying to chop down a much longer ‘story blurb’ and was tripping over what to leave out. It’s an important plot point that it’s not Wendy’s story (or world), but I think you’re right that it can be left out.

        I used unraveling because I use the metaphor that the stories her daughter and late-husband tell are just fabric overlaid on the Story Beneath; they mask the underlying archetypes, but don’t truly change them.

        Hmm… *plays Tetris with the sentence*

        The Clockwork Sorcerer is missing his heart and Wendy must help finish his story before the land of Velanon unravels into the Story Beneath.

        Amusingly I could also use:

        With the help of a unicorn with no horn and The Cat That Walks Alone, Wendy sets out to vanquish an evil sorcerer menacing Velanon.



        • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 6:57 PM

          Martha, I like both of your revised pitches. I’m not sure which one I like better. Obviously, go with the one that best communicates the heart of your story. The second one pulls me in more. It intrigues me (if nothing else, I want to know why the unicorn has no horn and meet The Cat That Walks Alone) and makes me want to read the story. Even so, I think your new version of the original is fantastic.



  154. Bonnie Ferrante on November 9, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    When the environmental cascade brings humanity to its knees, Anastasia must decide if she can save her family and friends without giving up all her values. DAWN’S END OUTWORLD APOCALYPSE (Now available on Amazon.com)



  155. Meghan Carver on November 9, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Third year law student Dana Muhlenberg possesses a sound mind, but would she be allowed to use it if she said, “I do”?



  156. Kathleen S. Allen on November 9, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Here’s mine: After suffering a concussion, fifteen year old Iris can sense when someone is about to die. When she tries to prevent the next death from happening she is stopped by Zac, who just happens to be a boy with a secret of his own.



    • Juturna F. on November 9, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      Interesting! I think you can reduce your words by cutting out the concussion (we don’t really need to know how she got the ability). Also, from his name and the use of the possessive pronoun “his,” we know Zac is a boy, so you can cut that out. And you can make “stops” an active verb. That leaves you with:

      Fifteen year old Iris can sense when someone is about to die. When she tries to prevent the next death from happening, Zac, who just happens to have a secret of his own, stops her.

      Why is Zac stopping her? What’s his secret? Without knowing why he’s stopping her, the conflict isn’t clear.



    • Kathleen S. Allen on November 9, 2012 at 11:59 AM

      I wanted to leave in the concussion part because it’s her defining moment but maybe it’s not necessary. I’ll have to think about how to describe Zac more. Thanks for the help!



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 12:35 PM

      Kathleen, consider eliminating “who just happens to be….” It’s wordy and a bit awkward. Consider this: “…she is stopped by Zac, a boy with a secret of his own.” I don’t know that you need to say anymore about him. Not knowing his secret makes me want to read the book to find out.



      • Kathleen S. Allen on November 9, 2012 at 1:04 PM

        After suffering a concussion, fifteen year old Iris can sense when someone is about to die. When she tries to prevent the next death from happening she is stopped by Zac, a boy with a secret of his own.

        Yes, I agree. I like it! Thanks for the help. Next step is the query and synopsis.



        • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 4:15 PM

          Great work, Kathleen. Blessings on your next steps.



        • Kathleen S. Allen on November 9, 2012 at 4:55 PM

          New version:
          After suffering a concussion, fifteen year old Iris can sense when someone is about to die but when she tries to prevent the next death from happening she is stopped by Zac, who harbors a secret of his own.



          • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 6:51 PM

            “Harbors” is an excellent verb. I think you’ve nailed it now, Kathleen. 🙂



          • Juturna F on November 12, 2012 at 10:16 AM

            Love this new version! You nailed it. 😀



  157. Juturna F. on November 9, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    The plot of bastard daughter seeking revenge against her nobleman father requires coercing a wizard to kill her, but when she poisons the wizard’s muffins to anger him, he decides it’s love at first assassination.

    (Technically has 3 characters, is that a problem? It just didn’t sound right to have revenge without mentioning who the revenge was against…)



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 12:32 PM

      “He decides it’s love at first assassination”–I love this phrase! Your plot also sounds great and I definitely want to read your book, Juterna. 🙂

      Your pitch needs a little bit of tweaking grammatically. I stumbled over “The plot of bastard daughter” a couple of times before realizing that it was the plot she had hatched. Perhaps change the wording to “A bastard daughter’s plot to get revenge against her nobleman father….”



      • Juturna F. on November 9, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        Hm, that does read better. Thanks! (retypes for memory…)

        A bastard daughter’s plot for revenge against her father requires coercing a wizard into killing her, but when she poisons the wizard’s muffins to anger him, he decides it’s love at first assassination.



  158. Rose Gardener on November 9, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    A doctor who confessed to a murder she didn’t commit must convince the prison psychiatrist she is both honest, and innocent.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 12:26 PM

      Hi Rose,

      Your pitch is good, but here are a couple of suggestions that I think would make it stronger. Add the word “now,” and eliminate “both honest and,” so that the sentence reads: “A doctor who confessed to a murder she didn’t commit must now convince the prison psychiatrist that she is innocent.” Also, I wondering about motivation. Why did she confess to a murder she didn’t commit? Was it out of love? Out of fear? Perhaps getting a short phrase of motivation in there–“who confessed out of love to a murder she didn’t commit” will help. Alternately, you could insert what impels her now to convince the psychiatrist of her innocence. If it’s just because she doesn’t want to suffer the consequences of her actions (choosing to confess), in all honesty, I wouldn’t feel any sympathy for her. If she now needs to convince the prison psychiatrist of her innocence before the date of her execution, that’s different. Suddenly, there is a sense of urgency. If she is not faced with execution, then definitely get her motive for confessing into the pitch in order to win the reader’s empathy. Naming her would help as well to get readers to care about her.



      • Rose Gardener on November 9, 2012 at 1:50 PM

        Many thanks, Christine. 🙂 You’re right, it’s not about escaping consequences and the reader should feel sympathy for her. But what motivated her to confess is complex, so I’ll have to consider how best to summarise that. Thinking cap back on!

        So many interesting loglines here, I wish I had time to reply to everyone.



  159. Cheick Ahmed on November 9, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    A prince must regain the trust of his people. In the course he must overthrow his own brother; who has become the most powerful being of the galaxy.



    • Juturna F. on November 9, 2012 at 11:28 AM

      Your grammar’s a bit off, and you could probably make these one sentence. Would this describe the story?

      To regain the trust of his people, a prince must overthrow his own brother, the most powerful being in the galaxy.

      If that’s not entirely accurate, at the very least your semicolon should be a comma. I think this sounds very interesting!



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      Cheick,

      Your story sounds like something I would want to read, but please note Juturna’s re-write of your pitch. It not only turns the pitch into one sentence, it also makes it stronger.

      It might help, as well, if you named the prince and the galaxy. When I read “the most powerful being in the galaxy,” my mind immediately flashed to Darth Vader. Naming the galaxy would eradicate that knee-jerk reaction.



  160. J. M. Tompkins on November 9, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    A woman, separated from her sister and her husband, is trying to survive after global economic collapse.

    There are many fascinating one sentence summaries on here, I hope I get to read them all!



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 12:10 PM

      J.M., your novel sounds intriguing and I would like to read it. Your pitch would be stronger, though, if you added a couple specific details. I think the most important detail to add is the woman’s name. It will help readers connect with her and care about her.



      • J. M. Tompkins on November 9, 2012 at 2:29 PM

        How is this?

        Audrey, a woman barely surviving after a global economic failure, is desperately searching for her newlywed husband, Patrick, after a violent riot separated them.



        • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 4:13 PM

          It’s great, J.M. The only problem is that now you have a parallelism error at the end of the sentence. Maybe say, “…after being separated from him by a violent riot.” That way, you stay in the progressive tense throughout.



  161. Gdub on November 9, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    The son of the mercenary who assassinated JFK sets out to extort and inflict pain on those conspirators still living who killed his mother and aunt.



    • J. M. Tompkins on November 9, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      This sounds intelligent, and that makes me desperately want to read it.



      • Gdub on November 9, 2012 at 5:03 PM

        Thanks. I’m hoping it is, and also hope you’ll get the chance to read it in 2013.



  162. Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Siobhan, a teenage Faerie, defies her culture, risks alienating her mother, and journeys through treacherous Dragonsword Forest to fulfill her secret longing to become a Dragon.



    • Juturna F. on November 9, 2012 at 11:35 AM

      Oooh, I like this one! Love your strong verbs. 🙂



    • J. M. Tompkins on November 9, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      I also like your verbs!



    • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 6:56 PM

      This is good, Christine. It describes the conflict well and falls out of traditional patterns of these types of sentences.

      Would tension be added by saying “in the quest (or in hopes) to fulfill her longing”

      I’m only saying that because it’s implied she got there. Or, I’m just bug-eyed after reading so many.



      • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 7:49 PM

        Thank you, P.J. I love the addition of the word “quest,” since it is such a good fantasy genre word. How is this:

        Siobhan, a teenage Faerie, defies her culture, risks alienating her mother, and journeys through treacherous Dragonsword Forest in a quest to fulfill her secret longing to become a Dragon.

        And yes, you must be bug-eyed by now. You did a fantastic job, though, in revising pitches. You may have a new part time job! 🙂



    • Jennifer Major @Jjumping on November 9, 2012 at 8:09 PM

      This is great! I didn’t comment earlier because I’m armpit deep in edits.
      And seriously, giving you tips is like telling Yoda how to use a light saber.



      • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 11, 2012 at 8:28 PM

        Thank you, Jennifer. That’s is really sweet (and I love the simile).

        Blessings on your editing work. 🙂



    • Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 6:17 PM

      EXCELLENT! Active and hooks me in!



    • Julie Morrill on November 11, 2012 at 10:30 PM

      Hi, Christine! I’m honored that you would want my input. This is my first time at this website and I didn’t think I had any idea what I was doing. Reworking other people’s taglines is good practice, as well as fun!

      I couldn’t think of anything better to write, but I do like P.J.’s suggestion of using the word “quest.”

      Happy writing!



      • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 12, 2012 at 1:15 PM

        Hi Julie! Thanks for your feedback. Yes, P.J. is great at this.

        I hope you will continue to follow the blog and get involved in the conversations. It’s a wonderful community of writers and you fit right in.

        Blessings!



        • Julie Morrill on November 12, 2012 at 2:52 PM

          Thanks, Christine!



  163. Freda Cameron on November 9, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    When widowed FBI Agent Amelia Candler’s colleagues suspect she scammed millions for a bogus Alzheimer’s cure, Amelia must uncover egregious family secrets and survive a deadly deceiver to prove her innocence.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 12:04 PM

      Freda, I love your concept and the pitch is basically quite good. I think you have a usage error, though, with “egregious.” You might want to reconsider the adjective.



      • Freda Cameron on November 9, 2012 at 4:58 PM

        How about heartbreaking family secrets? What Amelia discovers about her family is devastating. Devastating family secrets?

        Thanks.



        • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 6:32 PM

          Devastating is a great word, Freda. Heart-breaking works too, but I think devastating is stronger.

          Blessings! 🙂



  164. Melinda Viergever Inman on November 9, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Tess always longed to find Jesus, but after getting drunk at a frat party, being raped, and discovering she’s pregnant, she doubts he’d want her.



    • Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 6:16 PM

      Hi Melinda, this sounds like an interesting concept. But it sounds like things are happening TO Tess (I know they are). I’d recommend using more action verbs. And now I’m so low on the screen I can’t re-read your sentence and elaborate more!



      • Melinda Viergever Inman on November 12, 2012 at 12:26 PM

        Thanks, Heather! I’ve worked it over a bit. I don’t know if it has more of what the lead character DOES, but it might be a better descriptor:

        After a sensitive young woman is devastated by a sexual assault and its consequences, a kind, chivalrous man helps her heal and find peace with God.



        • Heather Day Gilbert on November 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM

          That sounds good…but maybe throw the stakes in there as something to overcome…Do you see the formula I wrote at the very bottom? Like “When ________ survives sexual assult, she has to __________ or she’ll never ________.” That kind of setup–ups the drama factor.



  165. Jeanne on November 9, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Mine is probably a bit weak, but here it is:

    When a woman wins dance lessons and chance to help foster children, she must learn to trust her husband’s lead while dancing with another man.



    • Sarah Thomas on November 9, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      Hmmm. What’s the conflict? Is she tempted by the other man? Does he threaten her marriage? I like the play on lead and dancing, but I want to know what’s at stake. Oh, and maybe use her name.



      • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 12:26 AM

        Agreed. We can’t tell what she’s trusting her husband to do. Is the dance teacher symbolically teaching her to follow her husband? Is her husband unable to dance?



  166. Sarah Thomas on November 9, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    When drought strikes 1954 Wise, WV, it takes an unwed mother’s miraculous ability to feed the town to teach Casewell Phillips what love and forgiveness mean.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      Hi Sarah,

      First of all, I love that you named your town Wise.

      Your pitch is good, but I think it could be a little stronger. The current sentence structure is passive “It takes….” Consider making it more active: “an unwed mother’s miraculous ability teaches Casewell Phillips…” And I would omit saying exactly what her miraculous ability is. Make people read the book to find out. 🙂



    • Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 6:14 PM

      Sounds like something I want to read. WEST VIRGINIA is going to come into its own in the literary world!!!



  167. Greg Levin on November 9, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    Helping a terminally ill family friend kill himself was supposed to be a one-time favor — Eli never suspected euthanasia would become his true calling.

    (Okay, so I cheated a bit by using an m-dash.)



    • Melinda Viergever Inman on November 9, 2012 at 10:04 AM

      That’s intriguing! I’m hooked -em dash or not.



      • Lisa M. Airey on November 9, 2012 at 4:19 PM

        I like it too. Interesting story idea.



  168. Jay Faubion on November 9, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    An orphaned teen is drawn into a twenty-first century web, trapped by an ancient evil.



    • Juturna F. on November 9, 2012 at 11:37 AM

      What ancient evil? What’s unique about this teen? What’s the web? I think you need to be more specific with at least one of these, to make your summary stand out.



  169. Stacey Thureen on November 9, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    When several deaths and a cancerous growth happens to one young woman, she must overcome severe pain and loss to come to terms with her childhood and raise up the next generation.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 10, 2012 at 12:24 AM

      Hmm, it’s a bit awkward.

      After the death of (whom?), a young woman learns she has a cancer and must overcome her debilitating pain to nurture her children.



  170. Jeanne Rogers on November 9, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    Thanks Dannie! How about this;
    When Cynric, a tormented fox, gains control of a powerful sword, three heroes forge an unlikely friendship and find they must lead a rebel army of forest creatures to reclaim the Kingdom of Sunderland from him.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      Jeanne, honestly I liked your second pitch better. But that’s just my opinion.

      I’m sorry that I misspelled Cynric’s name in my last comment.



  171. Brendan O'Meara on November 9, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    26 words for my memoir “The Last Championship”:

    A son watches his father play senior softball and learns to reconcile the bitter end of his baseball career by playing again after ten years away.



  172. Jen Kohler on November 9, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    When flying trapeze artist Lulu Young suffers a tragic injury, she must find a way to rebuild her life and her father’s ailing circus.



    • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      Fascinating! I’m intrigued. Could you add some descriptor of Lulu? Is she super talented (which implies that the tragic injury is even harder to take)?

      I trip up on the word “ailing.”



      • Jen Kohler on November 9, 2012 at 1:09 PM

        Thanks Jackie! How about:
        When elite flying trapeze artist Lulu Young suffers a tragic injury, she must find a way to rebuild her life and save her father’s bankrupt circus.



        • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 1:11 PM

          I LOVE IT.



          • Jen Kohler on November 9, 2012 at 1:23 PM

            Yay, thanks for the feedback and encouragement!



  173. Jeanne Rogers on November 9, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    A tormented fox has gained control of a powerful sword and three unlikely heroes must lead the forest creatures to reclaim the Kingdom of Sunderland.



    • Dannie Morin on November 9, 2012 at 8:50 AM

      I feel like I want a little more character here. What’s the fox’s name? Is he one of the heroes? Give me someone to whom I can anchor myself and thus bond to your story. Sounds really cute!!



      • Jeanne on November 9, 2012 at 10:03 AM

        Thanks, Dannie. How about this?

        When Cynric, a tormented fox, gains control of a powerful sword, three heroes forge an unlikely friendship and find they must lead a rebel army of forest creatures to reclaim the Kingdom of Sunderland.



        • Dannie Morin on November 9, 2012 at 10:22 AM

          Better, I think. 🙂

          It might be too wordy for a logline but I wonder if you could show the unlikely friendship, rather than tell?



        • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 11:54 AM

          Jeanne, I love this! First, I was intrigued from the moment that you said, “A fox finds a powerful sword….” A fox is an unusual protagonist even in a fantasy. (Thank you for not making your protagonist a mouse.) I’m glad that you took Dannie’s suggestion and named the fox. Cenric is a fantastic name, indicates your writing style and immediately helps the readers connect with and care about the character. I am ready to read your story. Best of luck with it. 🙂



        • MK Becker on November 9, 2012 at 12:54 PM

          Intriguing. I want to learn more. You could tighten it, I think.

          When Cynric, a tormented fox, gains control of the powerful Magalunian sword, three heroes must forge an unlikely friendship to muster an army of forest creatures that can reclaim the kingdom.

          In these books, swords tend to have names – and that fact that it’s a named sword matters more, I think, than the name of the kingdom. Also, I’ve tried to make the main clause more imperative and urgent. Does it help? Right track?

          BTW, “forest creatures” sounds MG – is that the audience? Or is it older fantasy? That said, I can’t off the top of my head come up with a one-word noun to replace it. And I still have too many verbs there – forge, muster, reclaim. Does it actually need the reclaim part? I guess that’s what’s at stake, but the interesting part is the friendship and the army, to me.



          • Jeanne Rogers on November 9, 2012 at 9:30 PM

            @MK, Christine and Dannie – Just wanted to say thank you so very much for your feed back and advice. This is a middle grade fantasy, which will soon be released. The title, The Sword of Demelza, will introduce kids to animals that are very unusual, many of which are endangered. Most of the anthropomorphized characters are animals found only on the continent of Australia.
            I do hope you will look for it in the near future.
            Thank you again for your kind help and words of support!
            Jeanne
            https://facebook.com/australianfantasyadventures



  174. Eve Harris on November 9, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    A millionaire’s illegitimate son signs a bethrothal contract to save his father’s life, and sets to find his spouse’s missing ex to win his heart.



    • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      Sorry, but I’m confused. How does a betrothal contract save a person’s life? Is he being threatened by somebody? A threat is always more powerful when we know who is doing the threatening and why. And how does his finding the ex help?



    • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 1:04 PM

      Wait, hold on. I got confused about whose ex and whose spouse we’re talking about. Make the characters’ connections to one another clear.



  175. Dannie Morin on November 9, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    When her rock star father is murdered, Skylar Benson, a sixteen year old girl with cystic fibrosis must do the one thing she never expected–survive.



    • Juturna F. on November 9, 2012 at 11:38 AM

      Why must she survive? To find his murderer, to get revenge, to keep his band going?



    • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 1:03 PM

      She never expected to survive? I’m guessing what you actually mean is that she never expected to have to fight for survival, is that right?



    • Dannie Morin on November 9, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      No, I mean survive period. Cystic fibrosis is a terminal disease.

      My two sentence logline is: Sixteen-year-old Skylar Benson has cystic fibrosis and one certainty: she’s going to die first. When her rock star father is murdered, she must do the one thing she never expected–survive.



      • Juturna F on November 12, 2012 at 10:13 AM

        With that two-sentence logline, I’d replaced “die first” with “die before her father.” “First” is a comparative term and does you no good unless you know to whom she’s comparing her lifespan.

        Again, I need to know why she suddenly needs to survive (or why she didn’t need to survive before). I have no sense of what’s at stake. It’s a great concept and ordinarily surviving would be a goal in and of itself, but when you say she expected to die, I need something stronger and more specific to explain why she suddenly needs to live. Maybe she’s living to carry on her father’s name? Throw in a “to” clause (“When her rock star father is murdered, Skylar Benson, a sixteen year old girl with cystic fibrosis must do the one thing she never expected to [honor his memory/find his killers/find fulfillment/prevent the zombie apocalypse]–survive.”) It’s a great one-sentence summary, but I really need that motivator before I’m hooked enough to want to pick the book up.



  176. Meredith Mansfield on November 9, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    When they sail to that part of the map labeled “Here be dragons”, normally shy Astrid must use her gift for telling the right story at the right time to help her people build a new home.



    • Dannie Morin on November 9, 2012 at 8:53 AM

      I’d cut the “normally” out. I think it’s implied and also your logline shows greater conflict without it. I’m also not sure you need the “at the right time.” I don’t think it adds anything in the vacuum of a logline and for me it makes the sentence feel a little clunky. Sounds like a great tale!



    • Jeanne Rogers on November 9, 2012 at 8:54 AM

      Very interesting. Only one question; why did they sail to that part of the map?



      • Meredith Mansfield on November 9, 2012 at 1:33 PM

        Hmm. Well, that’s where one-sentence pitches get difficult. With three sentences, I could tell you more. 🙂

        They’re starting from Greenland ca. 1350, where the Norse colony was slowly starving. They’re going to Markland (North America)–uncharted territory, which was commonly labeled “Here be dragons” on the maps of the time. And they will encounter things that look to them a whole lot like dragons.



        • Marilyn on November 10, 2012 at 6:35 AM

          I would like to see the time period in the sentence.



  177. R. S. Jacob on November 9, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    In the world of the Gifted, two powerful forces work together to stop the deadly workings of a scientific researcher gone evil, while battling their own unclaimed feelings.



    • Meredith Mansfield on November 9, 2012 at 8:16 AM

      The first thing that’s missing completely is any hint of the main character or characters.



    • Dannie Morin on November 9, 2012 at 8:48 AM

      I think the more specific you get here the more opportunity you have to showcase your manuscript’s uniqueness. What can you tell us, more specifically, about these two powerful forces and the characters through whom they are conveyed?



    • Jeanne Rogers on November 9, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      The world of the Gifted is very intriguing, but I would like to know a bit more about it.



    • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      Does “unclaimed feelings” indicate a romance? I guess I’m not sure what you mean by “unclaimed feelings.”



    • R. S. Jacob on November 9, 2012 at 4:36 PM

      Hey guys thanks for the feedback. Here is another shot at it.

      To stop the evil machinations of a Gifted Scientist, a librarian hiding her own powerful gifts works to uncover the truth behind the killings, however will working with her unclaimed love proves to me be a trial that she can overcome?



  178. Diana Harkness on November 9, 2012 at 8:11 AM

    Eli is beaten, betrayed, burned, and accused of murder on his quest to find his calling and to know YHWH.



    • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 12:40 PM

      I like the concept, but on any worthwhile quest, someone will be beaten down, etc. I want to know why he’s on this quest and what will happen if he doesn’t succeed.



      • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 12:41 PM

        Oh, and what the quest is. (forgot to add that)



        • Diana Harkness on November 9, 2012 at 1:27 PM

          It is the same as anyone’s quest to find their calling and to grow close to God. What happens if he fails? What happens if anyone fails? As Mordecai told Esther, “If you do not do this, God will raise up another.” (paraphrase) Maybe the better question is: what happens if he succeeds? Will life be easy or will trouble continue to follow?



          • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 3:42 PM

            That’s all fine and good, but what is the inciting incident that makes him leave his comfort zone to find himself? Why now?

            The point of fiction, even character studies like yours, is to watch people grow against the odds. Show us who he is before he finds God and what he aims to become after he finds God. Then you have a pitch.

            But, this is all just one persons’ opinion. Feel free to take it or leave it – which ever helps you grow as a writer.

            Good Luck.



  179. Robin Gilbert Luftig on November 9, 2012 at 8:07 AM

    When it is discovered that I have a brain tumor and only ten days to prepare for what could be the end of my life, I use those ten days to reflect over the different types of brokenness I experienced and realize that God’s, love, grace and protection was always there and available for me.



    • robin gilbert luftig on November 9, 2012 at 11:12 AM

      Too long, let me try again.

      When I am diagnosed with a brain tumor, I have ten days to face and accept my brokenness I determine if God was ever there for me.



      • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 11:47 AM

        Hi Robin,

        You have a powerful story here and your second pitch is almost perfect. I think that you may just have a typo (which is really easy to do when writing these comments). I’m thinking that you meant to write “I have ten days…to determine if God….” Is that right?



    • Evelyn on November 9, 2012 at 8:33 PM

      Glad to see another memoir on here. I just pitched mine. Should they be in first-person? What’s the standard?



      • Robin Gilbert Luftig on November 9, 2012 at 8:46 PM

        What does your editor suggest? I’m working in first person. It makes it easier to engage the reader.

        Thanks.



        • Evelyn on November 9, 2012 at 8:54 PM

          Here’s mine in 3rd: A 36-year-old retraces her failed relationships since 16 to find closure and reach happiness with her husband and two sons.



          • Robin Gilbert Luftig on November 9, 2012 at 9:12 PM

            When I read a story, I am more drawn in when I experience it, not just hear it. Good luck with this.



          • Evelyn on November 9, 2012 at 9:24 PM

            So are you suggesting I change it to first-person, or start over?



  180. Debra Chapoton on November 9, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    When seventeen year old Jessica suffers a brain injury the only two friends who can see her splintered soul must help her before she gets stuck forever in her rival’s body.



    • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      Who is the protag of your story? Jessica or her two friends? And if Jessica’s soul is split, does she realize and is unable to fix it? You have an interesting concept here, but I just have too many questions to be hooked.



    • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 12:59 PM

      Very interesting concept! I’m intrigued!! Is Jessica the main character here? The brain injury in the intro does not prepare me for the ending “in the rival’s body.” That concept should be introduced earlier.



  181. William Pipes on November 9, 2012 at 7:38 AM

    Darby is a novel of danger, mystery, and intrigue set in the Appalachian mountains of Western North Carolina.



    • Debra Chapoton on November 9, 2012 at 8:11 AM

      Name the danger, mystery, and intrigue.



      • William Pipes on November 9, 2012 at 10:48 AM

        Darby is a small rural community. The novel begins in 1895, when George Walsh is murdered and Floyd Caldwell, a neighbor and farmer was blamed by George Walsh’s family for the murder. This developed into a feud,and later a duel between Caldwell and the brother of George Walsh. The duel won by Caldwell drew Walsh’s son and Caldwell’s son into the feud. This controversy lasted over twenty years. It involved Walsh’s son seeking revenge.



        • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 11:43 AM

          Good synopsis, William. Your concept sounds good. But you haven’t got a pitch yet. Your original pitch was too general. Your synopsis is much more interesting. Even so, I’m not clear on who your protagonist is and what that protagonist’s conflict is. Looking again at Rachelle’s formula and try writing the pitch again with a clear protagonist and conflict.



          • William Pipes on November 9, 2012 at 1:38 PM

            The novel, Darby, begins in 1895 when George Walsh, a rocky soil farmer, dram drinker, father, and husband is killed. Floyd Caldwell, also a farmer found Walsh standing in Elk Creek where he appealed to Caldwell saying, “Floyd I’m stobbed and stobbed bad.” Floyd rescued him but was later blamed by Walsh’s family for his murder.
            This blame developed into a feud, and a duel in which Floyd Caldwell killed Virgil Walsh, George’s brother. This drew their eighteen year old sons, Andrew Walsh and William Caldwell, into the feud. Andrew was pretty much of a hothead and he took up where Virgil had left off by holding a grudge against the entire Caldwell family.
            In a bar fight Andrew killed a man and was sentenced to ten years in prison. While in prison he killed a fellow inmate and his sentence was increased to life in prison. Even though the inmate he killed admitted to killing his father, Andrew refused to believe him. He continued blaming the Caldwells and threatened to break out of prison and kill them all.
            Andrew had a sister, Deborah, who married William Caldwell. This angered Andrew so much that when his mother visited him in prison he attacked her for allowing Deborah to marry, “one of them murdering Caldwells.”
            During these more than twenty years, William Caldwell and Deborah attend college where he became a doctor and his wife a school teacher and they had two children.
            Andrew, in a high security prison feigned insanity and was assigned to an insane asylum from which he broke out and headed for Darby, North Carolina, and the Caldwells. This time he was caught before reaching Darby, but not before he murdered three people.
            Another time he was thought by hospital psychiatrists to be rehabilitated and was given unsupervised probation. He again went after the Caldwells plus his mother and brother.
            While he was unsuccessful in killing the Caldwells, he did try to kill his brother but was himself, killed by his mother.



  182. Michael Seese on November 9, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    Tommy should be doing something normal, like studying or making out with a cheerleader, instead of staring into the eyes of the monster he created.



    • Debra Chapoton on November 9, 2012 at 8:12 AM

      I love this! You got my attention!



    • Jeanne Rogers on November 9, 2012 at 9:14 AM

      I like it too. I would certainly want to read more.



    • Kathleen S. Allen on November 9, 2012 at 10:01 AM

      Instead of the word “normal” try taking it out so it reads: Tommy should be studying or making out with a cheerleader, instead of staring into the eyes of the monster he created.

      I’d read it!



    • Melinda Viergever Inman on November 9, 2012 at 10:07 AM

      This is great! The character of the lead is captured, and I want to find out what happens next.



    • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      Haha, love it!!



    • Michael Seese on November 9, 2012 at 6:56 PM

      Thanks to all who offered their kind words and suggestions. Truly, I am touched.

      So…um…any of you know an agent looking to represent a YA thriller?



      • Evelyn on November 9, 2012 at 8:32 PM

        I teach high school and my students would love this.



        • Michael Seese on November 10, 2012 at 12:59 AM

          Evelyn, OK. So it’s not published…yet. What can we make happen? If interested, please write me mail(AT)MichaelSeese(DOT)com



  183. Lisa M. Airey on November 9, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    When Julie Hastings, abuse victim, accepts a veterinary position in South Dakota, she ends up falling in love and healing herself.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 11:36 AM

      Lisa, I feel that you have tied this up too neatly. It’s as if you’ve told your story in a sentence. Hint at the ending without completely giving it away. For example, “In her new position as veterinarian, Julie Hastings loves and heals animals, but can she find love and heal herself of an abusive past?”



      • J. M. Tompkins on November 9, 2012 at 2:34 PM

        I agree, the story sounds great but I do feel like I already know the ending. Maybe mentioning what she battles internally when she falls in love? It certainly sounds like you are writing a book that can help so many. I wish you luck!



      • Lisa M. Airey on November 9, 2012 at 4:08 PM

        Thank you so much! Great feedback!



        • Lisa M. Airey on November 9, 2012 at 4:13 PM

          How’s this?

          New veterinarian, Julie Hastings, has been taught by her stepfather that not all beasts run on four feet, now she must face another truth: some beasts are good.



  184. Taz Lindsay on November 9, 2012 at 6:13 AM

    Take two (this is going to take a while)…

    Hunting down the lifelong friend who betrayed his father leaves Fletch out of time, discovering you can’t kill a man twice.



    • Suzanne on November 9, 2012 at 12:05 PM

      This ending is interesting! I’d read more, Taz.



      • Taz Lindsay on November 9, 2012 at 11:11 PM

        Wow, thanks 🙂 It’s a test to pack in the info but only in 25 words. Journalists would have a field day with this. It’s like the first sentence in an article.



    • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 12:56 PM

      Very intriguing!



      • Taz Lindsay on November 9, 2012 at 11:11 PM

        Thank you. My one-sheet is even better 😉



  185. Taz Lindsay on November 9, 2012 at 6:07 AM

    Racing against time to hunt down his father’s betrayer, Fletcher must uncover long-kept family secrets before it’s too late to save those he can’t live without.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 11:27 AM

      Taz, your pitch was great up until the end. The sentence becomes awkward at “to save those he can’t live without.” See if you can find a way to rephrase just that part.



      • Taz Lindsay on November 9, 2012 at 11:13 PM

        Onto it! Thank you!!

        PS~ Wonder what Rachelle thinks of all these comments flying fast and free. Bet she loves watching the interaction. It’s like a mini conference.



  186. Dina Santorelli on November 9, 2012 at 5:42 AM

    When the governor’s infant daughter is kidnapped as part of a plot to delay the execution of a mob boss, a down-on-her-luck writer is abducted to care for the child and must find the strength to protect her and save them both.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      Hi Dina,

      It sounds like you have an action-packed story! One suggestion: perhaps start your pitch with your protagonist. That way, the hearer / reader cares about her. Currently, she is taking a back seat to the infant and the governor.



  187. terri patrick on November 9, 2012 at 4:49 AM

    A Romeo and Juliet in reverse, the friends and family want the wounded warrior and the reluctant healer tied together before she flies off, and he sails away, in three weeks.



    • Juturna F. on November 9, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      Not sure I’m hooked on “A reverse Romeo and Juliet”–unless you really are the next Shakespeare, it sets up some pretty tall expectations. I think this would be stronger without the reference.

      Maybe “Friends and family want a wounded warrior and his reluctant healer…”? Also you don’t need to set off “and he sails away” with commas.



      • Marilyn on November 10, 2012 at 6:27 AM

        @Kate, you are absolutely right about the commas. Extra commas are my pet peeve.



        • Marilyn on November 10, 2012 at 6:28 AM

          @Terry, you sensed two pauses, but dashes would be more appropriate than commas here.



          • Marilyn on November 10, 2012 at 6:31 AM

            I like it better with neither dashes nor commas.



  188. Kerrie Price on November 9, 2012 at 4:19 AM

    Be inspired and motivated to live your Christian life to the full, as you work through 40 short, relevant and practical How-to topics.



    • M. G. King on November 9, 2012 at 9:33 PM

      Instead of being told it’s relevant, I’d like to come to that conclusion on my own by having more specifics: who’s the target audience (working moms? teen girls? retirees?), what is the nature of the topics (spiritual disciplines? relationships?), and how am I going to work through the topics (is this a fill in the blank workbook? do you give real life assignments? or simple meditations for the day?)

      I’m ready to be inspired!



      • Kerrie Price on November 10, 2012 at 12:16 AM

        Thank you for your help M. Here is my second attempt.

        Christians of every age with a desire to serve God, will be inspired and motivated as you practice the practical How-to’s following each of 40 short topics.



  189. Camille Eide on November 9, 2012 at 3:31 AM

    Coming in off the ledge for a minute to play, then back to work dodging pigeons:

    “While Josie poses as Kennedy’s mommy to protect him, she finds unexpected love, until the birth mom’s appearance threatens all she loves with the truth.” (25 wds)

    (Hmm…Am I the only one writing romantic relational drama?)



    • Jeanne on November 9, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      You’re not. 😉 I just haven’t dived in with mine yet.



    • M. G. King on November 9, 2012 at 9:09 PM

      Try simple active verbs for more punch:

      Josie protects (baby?) Kennedy by claiming him as her own. Then the birth mother appears with the truth, threatening everything Josie loves.

      Wonder if you could replace “threatening everything” with something more specific?

      Good luck with those pigeons!



  190. Patti on November 9, 2012 at 3:28 AM

    When zealots steal a religious manuscript explaining how to start Armageddon, Polly must uncover the origins of the manuscript in order to prevent it.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 4:26 AM

      Good description, a bit clinical.
      Suggestion

      When zealots steal a religious manuscript that unlocks the door to Armageddon, Polly must uncover the origin of the document to prevent world destruction.

      Meh, mine’s not great. Yours is good, I just think it needs a punch, because it sounds like a good book.



      • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 4:51 AM

        Thanks for the critique. How about:

        When zealots steal a religious manuscript needed to begin Armageddon, Polly must uncover the origins of the manuscript in order to stop them.



        • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 4:59 AM

          Sounds good. I hope it makes it to print. I’d read it!



          • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 12:16 PM

            Thanks! Have to finish writing it first. ;-D



        • Charmaine T. Davis on November 9, 2012 at 7:43 AM

          Hey, Patti!

          I am always puzzled as to why evildoers (books, movies) would want to start Armageddon–it is only a quicker way to Hell, according to the book of Revelation. Thanks!



          • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 12:15 PM

            Short answer:

            Because they believe everything that is physical (Earth, humanity, etc) was created by the devil and only by destroying it can we all be saved.

            For more info you’ll have to read the book 🙂



    • Johnnie on November 9, 2012 at 8:55 AM

      I’m going to give the same advice I gave PJ — instead of a name, tell us something defining about Polly. Who is this girl?



      • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 12:30 PM

        Here’s a different take:

        While investigating her mother’s death, Polly finds a religious manuscript needed to start Armageddon only to have it stolen by her mother’s murderer who plans to use it.



        • gwen on November 9, 2012 at 9:53 PM

          While investigating her mothers death Polly uncovers the key to unleashing Armegggedon and now the killers have her in their sights.

          rough- but taking the basic structure and key info on- the language can be smoothed out.

          all Polly wanted was answers to her mothers death, instead she uncovers a manuscript detailing how to unleash Armeggedon, and some people will do anything to get their hands on it.

          This stuff is hard 🙁



  191. Evie McLaughlin on November 9, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    Captive in ancient Albia, deep beneath Antarctica’s ice-sheets, Gus finds first love and the courage to escape with a mission to avert global climate crisis



    • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 3:31 AM

      This is too general for me. Tell us more about the mission and less about how he finds it.

      Good luck



      • Marilyn Groves on November 9, 2012 at 7:48 PM

        Thank you so much for that advice. I shall ponder how to follow it :-). Good luck to you too 🙂



  192. P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 3:15 AM

    When the holy men of Boston become victims of a psychopathic murderer, Detective Adam Stein must delve into the elusive killer’s mind to stop the slaughter of priests and pastors.



    • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 3:31 AM

      I like – good job!



    • Dannie Morin on November 9, 2012 at 8:42 AM

      This is probably personal bias, so take it with a grain of salt but the work psychopathic stuck out to me. (I’m a therapist.) I think what you mean is sociopathic. Psychopathology applies to anyone with any sort of mental health condition from depression to schizophrenia. Sociopathology is when someone’s behavior deviates from what is socially acceptable i.e. murder. Again because of my bias, the word psychopathic as used implies that mentally ill people are violent murderers and can be construed as offensive. Otherwise, well done. Great energy and tone.



    • Johnnie on November 9, 2012 at 8:52 AM

      PJ, you have a clear and focused pitch. If you replace your character’s name with something like “embittered detective” or “burnt out detective” or “detective of the year” (okay, maybe not that one), but something that tells us who this guy is, it’ll be even stronger.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 11:19 AM

      Really excellent, P.J. I love your strong verb phrase “must delve.” The phrase “When the Holy Men of Boston…” tripped me up. I had to read it twice and I didn’t quite know what you meant until I saw “priests and pastors” at the end of the sentence. On reading the sentence a few times, I think that the problem may be that it is passive. They “become the victims.” Consider switching the sentence construction so that it’s more active: “When a sociopath [to use Dannie’s suggestion] begins killing the holy men of Boston….” I think that might make the sentence stronger.



      • MK Becker on November 9, 2012 at 12:45 PM

        A mass murderer is by definition a sociopath; the word is redundant. Also, become victims is passive.

        How ’bout:
        When detective Adam Stein spots the thread connecting the murders of Boston’s priests, he must find the key to the killer’s mind before he strikes again.

        Not quite it, but something like that…? I know you said priests and pastors, but “religious leaders” lacks punch. Unless the next victim on the list is his rabbi? (Just thinking of the name Stein and Boston’s long and troubling religious struggles. Depends whether its set in Southie or Brookline… but if it is in either of those communities, be specific, since they have resonance.)



        • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 3:04 PM

          Oooh, I like that MK!



        • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 7:03 PM

          Thanks MK. Some things about the book require that no rabbi is killed. 🙂
          You and Christine are right, the passive has to go.



        • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 7:17 PM

          How about:

          When a sociopath murders priests and pastors in Boston, a Jewish detective must delve into the elusive killer’s mind to stop the carnage.



          • Johnnie on November 11, 2012 at 7:01 PM

            I like it, PJ. Good job!



  193. Daniel on November 9, 2012 at 2:36 AM

    When a hypnotist is challenged to turn a woman with low self esteem into porn star/ dominatrix, he uncovers evidence of a childhood abduction and traumatic sexual abuse. He must help the girl overcome the trauma and help the FBI track down the pedophiles that abused her.

    Okay, that’s 2 sentences and 47 words, but I don’t see how I can condense it any more.



    • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 3:03 AM

      How about:

      When a hypnotist accidentally uncovers his patient’s latent memories of sexual abuse, he must ….

      I stopped there because I don’t see the conflict for the protagonist. What will he lose by helping this woman? Is this an example of systematic abuse by people of power? Is he struggling against a greater force?

      Answer these questions and I think you’ll have a better pitch. Good luck



      • Natalie on November 9, 2012 at 4:06 AM

        Yes, I really wonder why he “must”. Why has he become so involved?



      • Daniel on November 9, 2012 at 2:09 PM

        The hypnotist’s motivation comes from the women in his life. His girlfriend’s sister was abducted and is currently missing (previous novel). His publicist said that if he could give the girl enough confidence to leave an abusive relationship she would provide her publicity services for free. Also he feels an obligation to an FBI agent because he’s partially responsible for her best friend’s PTSD (previous novel).

        So his motivation is complicated.



    • Rose Gardener on November 9, 2012 at 12:04 PM

      @Daniel. Perhaps give away less of the plot. Consider,
      A shy woman challenges a hypnotist to turn her into a porn star, but secrets are uncovered that instead turn him into a detective, chasing down the men who abused her in childhood.



      • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 12:46 PM

        Oooooooooooooh, I like!



      • Daniel on November 9, 2012 at 2:20 PM

        Thanks for the suggestion, Rose. But as I state above, it’s not the subject who issues the challenge, it’s his girlfriend and a concerned friend.



      • Daniel on November 9, 2012 at 2:29 PM

        How about:

        Challenged to turn an anorexic co-dependent girl into a dominatrix, a hypnotist uncovers repressed memories of a childhood abduction and a ring of pedophiles. He must track down the girl’s abusers in order to discover the girl’s true identity and reunite her with her family.



        • Rose Gardener on November 9, 2012 at 3:12 PM

          Daniel, now that version I really like! There’s a book I’d read. Well done. 🙂



        • Patti on November 10, 2012 at 4:01 AM

          Much better. Good job!



        • Daniel on November 10, 2012 at 3:29 PM

          Thanks, Rose and Patti.



  194. Dee Bright on November 9, 2012 at 2:35 AM

    As a mother fights to overturn her son’s life sentence, he uncovers a deadly and far-reaching conspiracy that threatens to destroy them both.



    • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 3:05 AM

      @Bree:

      Too vague – tell us what the conspiracy is. In the example from Harry Potter, we know the man who killed his parents is after him. Specificity will make your pitch stand out.

      Good Luck



      • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 3:06 AM

        Sorry – I meant @Dee. 🙂



    • Rose Gardener on November 9, 2012 at 11:33 AM

      @Dee. Consider,

      While in prison, (Name) uncovers a deep-rooted conspiracy which puts the one person striving to overturn his life sentence in mortal danger.



      • Julie Morrill on November 9, 2012 at 2:55 PM

        Question: About whom is this story? The prisoner himself or the one trying to get him out of prison?

        Not knowing exactly what the story is about, I made up a couple of taglines that could be for either character:

        Option A: In prison for …, (Name) discovers a deep-rooted conspiracy that could overturn his life sentence, but put his life in danger.

        Option B: Striving to overturn a friend’s life imprisonment for a crime he didn’t commit, (Name) uncovers a deep-rooted conspiracy that could put him in mortal danger.



  195. Kate Larkindale on November 9, 2012 at 2:34 AM

    When Sacha finds herself playing second fiddle to her rocker boyfriend’s newly acquired drug habit, she realizes that despite what all the songs say, sometimes love isn’t all you need.



    • Natalie on November 9, 2012 at 4:12 AM

      I think no one has commented on this one yet because it is really good. A very clear pitch.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 4:17 AM

      “finds herself playing second fiddle” seems a bit passive.

      Suggestion:

      “When her rocker boyfriend plunges into drugs, Sasha learns that, in spite of the songs, love isn’t all you need.”



      • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 11:04 AM

        Great rewrite, P.J.



      • Kate Larkindale on November 9, 2012 at 1:35 PM

        The second fiddle bit is a reference to the fact Sacha is a violinist….



        • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 1:53 PM

          Ah, OK, we didn’t know that. Without that information, it seemed like a cliche. It kind of clashed–rocker-second fiddle (I don’t know, Dave Matthews uses fiddles, right?)



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 11:10 AM

      Katie, it’s a good plot concept, but please do take a look at what P.J. did with the pitch. The phrase “playing second fiddle” is cliche. “Love is all you need” is fine because you’ve connected it with the song lyric, but having two cliches in one sentence might lead agents and editors to think that you’re writing will be riddled with them. I suspect that you were going for a music-resonant phrase when you used “second fiddle,” but I’m sure you can come up with one of your own.



  196. Gabrielle Meyer on November 9, 2012 at 2:20 AM

    A headstrong bride-to-be arrives in town and finds the groom is missing, but a hundred eager bachelors wait in line to take his place.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 4:02 AM

      Needs a bit more conflict or detail. I’m thinking she’s a flake if she doesn’t ask what happen to the guy. Is he dead? Who cares about these other guys, John is missing!! (or whatever his name is)
      It’s not a mystery, is it?

      A hundred bachelors? Is it Alaska during the Gold Rush?

      When a headstrong bride-to-be arrives in a town devoid of women, she discovers the groom has abandoned her, forcing her to choose between a hundred eager bachelors or starvation. <– i have no clue what I'm talking about here. 🙂



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 11:03 AM

      Gabrielle, I agree with P.J. that more detail is needed. I don’t feel I can give an example of an alternate pitch because I don’t have a real sense of what the story is about. I’m intrigued in regards to why there are a hundred guys ready to take the groom’s place, but like P.J., I have no sense of what the conflict is or why the bride seems unconcerned that the groom is missing. Is this an arranged marriage? Is the town (as P.J. suggested) composed solely of men? Perhaps giving a setting would help.



    • Gabrielle Meyer on November 9, 2012 at 11:38 AM

      Yes, the town was comprised mostly of men (they actually put out an advertisement saying there were a hundred bachelors for every “good-looking woman”). My book is set in 1857, Minnesota Territory, and the bride is VERY concerned that her fiance has disappeared – one of the conflicts she had to deal with is the hundred eager bachelors, when all she wants is the one who’s gone. 🙂

      In 1857, a bride-to-be arrives in Minnesota Territory, but discovers the groom has abandoned her, leaving her at the mercy of a hundred eager bachelors, ready to take his place.



      • Suzanne on November 9, 2012 at 12:01 PM

        Your revised statement is more interesting! I’d read further.



      • MK Becker on November 9, 2012 at 12:32 PM

        When a mail-order bride arrives in the Minnesota Territory and discovers her perfect groom has vanished, she must [something] a town full of men who’ll stop at nothing to take his place.

        My problem: I don’t know the [something]. Fend off? Choose from? Audition? You’ve given a great setup, but I’m not sure what the conflict is after Chapter 1.



      • Patti on November 9, 2012 at 12:33 PM

        much better – and as a Minnesotan, I’d love to read it one day. 🙂



    • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 12:40 PM

      I’d love some names here; it would help me to immediately connect with the characters.



    • Gabrielle Meyer on November 9, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      I thought it had to be under 25 words, but now I look back and see it should be “about” 25 words.

      In 1857, bride-to-be Kathryn Westbrook arrives in Minnesota Territory, but discovers the groom has abandoned her, leaving her at the mercy of a hundred eager bachelors, ready to take his place.

      Question: Kathryn starts to fall in love with William, who is one of the bachelors and a man committed to ridding the town of outlaws who threaten his investments and the future of the town, but when her fiance shows up again, and she discovers he’s become one of the outlaws, she must choose between him and William – who is determined to bring her fiance to justice. How would you fit that into a one sentence hook – along with what I already have?



      • Heather Day Gilbert on November 11, 2012 at 7:40 PM

        Gabrielle, I kinda like it w/out the deets on the men she has to choose between. I think if you stick w/your main character and his/her conflict, that’s your hook. The other stuff can go in the synopsis. And even then, stick w/the how she deals w/the two guys (not the whole town o’guys…hee).



  197. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 9, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    Mary Connolly was killed by a terrorist bomb, but when the last empty seat on a long flight is next to a woman who could be her twin, Mike Trainor has the chance to face the past from which he’s fled – and reach for a future for which his heart yearns.



    • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 3:50 AM

      Perhaps too much detail in the sentence for an elevator? Not sure.

      After a terrorist’s bomb kills Mary, Mike Trainor’s true love, a woman, who could be her twin, comes into his life, forcing him to choose between suppressing the past or reaching for the future.

      Just a thought, bro.



      • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 12:40 PM

        P.J., you’ve really got a knack for this. I hope you’ll take a swing at mine (below)! Pleeeeease? 🙂



  198. MK Becker on November 9, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    When Jonah is exiled as a cursling, a youth with a special gift, he must find a way to stop the schemes of the man who condemned him – if he can first survive the lethal Threeland nights. (“Threeland,” MG novel)



    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 9, 2012 at 2:15 AM

      Great, but I’d lose the ‘first’. It tripped me when I read it.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      MK, I think the phrase after the dash makes your logline. That was the part that captured my attention. I agree with Andrew in part. The word “first” is a bit of a stumbling block. However, instead of eliminating the word, consider reconstructing the phrase. Perhaps: “–but first he must survive the lethal Threeland Nights.”



      • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 12:39 PM

        I like that, Christine! Good idea!



      • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 7:22 PM

        Yeah, that works, Christine. Overall, it’s a good pitch, MK.



        • MK Becker on November 9, 2012 at 7:55 PM

          Thanks, everyone. Appreciate the help (and encouragement).



  199. KatieP on November 9, 2012 at 12:59 AM

    A recovering bulimic’s reawakened sexuality has unexpected consequences when her estranged husband kills himself leaving her struggling to understand what love really means.



    • MK Becker on November 9, 2012 at 1:11 AM

      @KatieP: I know comments are usually written quickly, but you might want to fix the grammar (comma after husband, period at the end). That said, I’d be curious to learn more about how suicide connects to “understand what love…”; I’m not getting the connection (though I doubt I’m the target audience either).

      @Natalie: I love “lack of magical ability”; it promises an interesting series of clear challenges on what is probably a Hero’s Journey. I’m not as excited about low self-esteem; it feels like a secondary problem, not necessarily worthy of the big-bang first sentence. What about an adjective or adjectival phrase preceding Seyune – “chambermaid Seyune” (low status), “ugly duckling Seyune” (outcast, bullied), etc.



    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 9, 2012 at 2:12 AM

      I’m not sure that ‘sexuality’ is the best word – perhaps ‘passion’ of ‘passions’ would be better?

      Sexuality is kind of limiting, and to some degree pigeonholes the narrative arc. My feeling is that the awakening is more complete for the protagonist, and a word like ‘passion’ would cover that.



    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 10:47 AM

      Katie, I like the concept but I’m not clear on how her “reawakened sexuality” could result in her husband’s suicide. I realize that it’s a complex story and that so little can be told in the hook, but the lack of even a hint of a logical connection troubles me. But I may the only one who doesn’t get it. If I am, please ignore me. 🙂



    • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      Katie, sounds fascinating! To avoid confusion about what is CAUSING what vs. what FOLLOWS what in time, maybe start with, “After her estranged husband’s suicide …”



  200. Natalie on November 9, 2012 at 12:44 AM

    When dragons enslave her town, Seyune must overcome her lack of magical ability and low self-esteem to defeat them.



    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 9, 2012 at 2:23 AM

      Interesting premise, and I love the name, but there’s one thing that needs to be addressed – why is it up to Seyune? The lack of magical ability is clearly a handicap in a society in which there are people with that gift, so I think it has to be explained – here – why the task falls to her.

      “Low self-esteem” might also be replaced…maybe something like “…knowing she lacks the magical ability to defeat them, Seyune must nonetheless meet in battle the dragons which enslave her town.”



    • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 3:21 AM

      When dragons enslave her town, (good) Seyune must overcome her
      “lack of magical ability”–Perhaps something positive would be more compelling. “Must learn the secret of the chicken curse <–silly, but just an example

      "and low self-esteem"–kinda pop psychology meets fantasy. Conquer her fear before she can defeat them.

      This is off the cuff, but I'd look into those two elements.



      • Natalie on November 9, 2012 at 4:10 AM

        When dragons enslave her town and wipe out the powerful magic users, Seyune must team up with the arrogant archmage’s apprentice to fight them despite her own lack of magical ability.



        • P. J. Casselman on November 9, 2012 at 4:40 AM

          Yeah, better. How about:

          When dragons enslave her town and slaughter the powerful magicians, Seyune must face her inadequacies and join forces with an arrogant archmage’s apprentice to free her people.



          • Jackie Lea Sommers on November 9, 2012 at 12:37 PM

            PJ, I really like that! I think a combination of this and Natalie’s revision would be perfect!



          • parisbreakfast on November 12, 2012 at 3:04 AM

            When dragons enslave Springfield, Seyune jumps into the fray to lead the forces of good to save her town.
            Name names pls.



        • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on November 9, 2012 at 10:41 AM

          Wow, Natalie! Much stronger. Great job! I’m ready to read your book.



        • Suzanne on November 9, 2012 at 11:57 AM

          This revised summary really drew me in! (I’m actually looking up your book now…)



          • Natalie on November 9, 2012 at 7:28 PM

            Thanks heaps everyone! Now maybe I’d just better actually finish the book …



    • Brenda on November 13, 2012 at 10:00 PM

      An orphan girl fights the small town bully, united with her alcoholic mother while trying to stay alive in the big city with her newborn baby.



      • Natalie on November 13, 2012 at 11:20 PM

        So are they in the small town, or a big city? How is she an orphan when she has an alcoholic mother? And did she have her newborn baby when she was 12 or 13 if she is still a “girl”? It seems a bit contradictory.



    • Tom on November 21, 2012 at 5:17 PM

      When his parents die in a tragic car accident, Tommy Slattery struggles to find happiness after he is forced to leave school to raise his deformed sister and run his father’s failing business.



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