Monday, October 27, 2008

A false start -and a lighthouse

The logline is probably my single best take-away from Save The Cat. It's that bit that you say when someone asks, "What's it about?" It's the narrator's voice at the beginning of the trailers you see in theatres.

I first used it in my novella I was writing and it really helped clarify things. Then I wrote one for Sold to the Highest Bidder.

I recently started Rescued by the Rancher and something kept feeling off. I wrote a whole first chapter and it was all wrong. I have started in the wrong place. Today it's my job to decide what the RIGHT place is, and so I thought perhaps a logline would give me a clue.

The first one I wrote down was this:

Veterinarian Andrew Laramie is back in Larch Valley to make amends, but how can you make things right with a dead man and a woman who doesn’t want to be rescued?

Well, well. It's rotten. It told me right away what part of the problem was with my chapter one. Number one, the focus is on the hero. Which works with some books but not this one and generally not in the Romance line (there are always exceptions). Maybe my logline isn't just WHAT'S it about, but WHO is it about? Is it about Andrew making amends? Or is it about his relationship with Jen??? AHHHHH. DUH. It doesn't have the right focus. So I thought, let's put this from the heroine's point of view.

This is what I came up with:

Jennifer O’Keefe has lost everything, and will do whatever it takes to get her business back. Until Andrew Laramie arrives back in town, and she realizes the one thing she won’t do is be rescued by the man who broke her heart in the first place.

I think this works much better. I'm focused on the heroine - right where I should be. I've set up the problem, and I've also set up the conflict between her and Andrew.

The logline needs to be something I can go back to when things get fuzzy. It needs to be an anchor. It needs to be something that solidifies what the book is about at it's core. And it's about Jen losing her own business, Andrew providing a way out, and whether or not she'll swallow her pride and accept help from her childhood sweetheart.

There are always lots of twists, turns, layers of conflict and developing of the romance. But the logline really does provide a lighthouse when the fog creeps in.


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  2. Thank you for posting your logline, Donna. :)

    When I read Save The Cat,I was a bit puzzled about creating a logline for a romance novel.

    I kept wondering if in a romance novel we have two protagonists (each with their own logline) or we write a logline just for the heroine (because the story is mainly hers )and make the hero our antagonist.

    Now I have my answer!

  3. You see this is where I prefer to leave things fuzzy and not read too literally. For me, in a straight romance where the internal conflict is the antagonist, the logline structure becomes a bit of "who is she, who is he, and how are their immediate goals in opposition to each other"????

    So in my one for Sold to the Highest Bidder, it's "When Ella McQuade buys her husband at a charity auction, all she wants is for him to sign the divorce papers. But cowboy Dev McQuade has other ideas..."

    I think with my first example, the focus was just off, and so I was trying to write something that wasn't what I needed to be focusing on. I need to put myself in the shoes of my heroine, and jump start the conflict. When I started I had already had Jen lose everything. Now I've restarted slightly earlier, with the threat of losing everyhting imminent.

  4. I've heard so many good things about "Save the Cat" I must track it down, Donna.
    I'm also finding the Michael Hauge notes on Susan Wiggs's blog very helpful.

  5. I was just over at Susan's blog yesterday!

    I love her pics too...she is a woman after my own heart!

  6. Nina in Ohio9:48 a.m.

    Great tip Donna - thanks for all your help to aspiring writers.

    PS Big Susan Wiggs fan myself!