Hey, gang! Over the past couple of months, we've looked at how to create a one sheet and how to write an author biography. Today I'd like examine how to write a great "Logline" or "Elevator Pitch" as it is sometimes known.
First, let's define terms. A Logline is a SHORT, 30-50ish word description of what your story is about. It's sometimes called an "Elevator Pitch" because you can deliver it in the time it takes you to ride an elevator from one floor to the next (if you are ever in an elevator with an agent or editor or movie producer. 😀 ) A logline can also be known as the "Hook." Don't you love how there are so many words to convey one thing? Good thing we're writers and we like words!
The goal of an elevator pitch is to grab the attention of your listener/reader with something that will make them say 'Oooh! I want to know more!' (It's also useful when you're being interviewed on the Today Show and the interviewer asks, "So, what's your book about?"...hey, dream big!)
But, you say, how can I encapsulate my entire 90,000 word novel in just 50 or so words? That's impossible!
Naw, you can do it. I believe in you!
But it can be a daunting task, especially if you've never done it before.
Let's break down the essentials of a good elevator pitch, and tackle creating yours one bite at a time.
There are three 'must haves' in a good pitch, the who, the what, and the why...not. These can come in any order, and with varying complexity, but all good pitches contain at least a form of these elements. Let's look at them individually, and then we'll put it all together.
The WHO. This is where you mention your protagonist. Don't just say "Suzy Smith." In fact, you don't have to use the main character's name at all, because it doesn't give enough information. Use a descriptor instead, something that makes your character unique, interesting, or memorable. This can be an unusual occupation, ability, disability...the possibilities are endless.
- "The first female SWAT team commander...
- "A blind-from-birth photographer...
- "An impoverished prince...
Think about your protagonist. What about them is unique? What makes them different from every other police officer, shutterbug, or royal out there? If you can't think of anything, then your character might be falling short of being captivating and memorable. Give them something that makes them distinct.
The WHAT. What does this character want or need. What is their goal? And make it big. Bigger than they are. Not something that everyone wants or needs. And nothing boring!
- ...wants to be the first female Chief of Police of St. Paul, MN...
- ...holds the dream of exhibiting his work at the MET...
- ...agrees to become TV's "Mr. Available" to boost the economy and tourism of his tiny nation...
Lofty goals only need apply here. These goals imply why they want what they want. Career advancement, lifelong dreams, a financial need...And these goals need to set up the next part, the WHY...NOT If the goal has nothing to do with the conflict, it's the wrong goal!
The WHY...NOT. This is what is keeping them from reaching their goal. This is what tells you what's at stake and why you should care. This is the "oooh!" that will have folks wanting to know more about the scenario you've set up.
- ...but to take the top job, she must hide her past...a past that would send her straight to jail.
- ...but when he accidentally photographs a serial killer committing a murder, his dreams and his life could be gone in a flash.
- ...but though there are many rich, gorgeous women candidates who would be more than willing to become his Princess Bride, he finds himself falling for the show's a-dork-able caterer.
There are lots of things at stake here: personal and professional freedom, life and death, true love, a nation's prosperity. What's at stake in your story? What's keeping your character from getting what they want, and what is at risk if they don't get it? Can you put it into a few words that pack a punch?
Start with this framework and see where it leads you:
TOTALLY INTERESTING AND UNIQUE CHARACTER wants LOFTY BUT NOT QUITE IMPOSSIBLE THING but BAD THING WILL HAPPEN IF THIS MAJOR CATASTROPHE IS NOT AVERTED OR OVERCOME.
This is a basic, streamlined version of a logline, a sort of fill-in-the-blank that can get you started, but you don't have to follow precisely this order or format to write a great elevator pitch. Lots of the best elevator pitches, while they state or imply the major conflicts, have interesting characters, and great goals, don't employ just this formula. When you get yours into "Who, What, Why...Not" shape, then start massaging/tweaking/working it over and see what you can come up with that will make it sound like YOU.
My current WIP is The Accidental Earl, book one in a new Regency series that debuts with Kregel Publishing in 2019.
Here's my current Elevator Pitch for the story:
A war hero suffering from partial amnesia is granted an earldom, an aristocratic bride, and a dilapidated manor to repair in anticipation of a royal visit, but his new bride is keeping secrets, and what he can't quite remember could put the Prince Regent in his grave.
Have you written an elevator pitch before? Share! I'd love to read them!
Look what landed Sept. 1st! Nine Christmas Stories set during the Victorian Era! You can get your copy at:
Barnes and Noble: https://bit.ly/2QjP3Zq
Or wherever Barbour Books are sold!
Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she is married to her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!