I’m breaking out in hives.

For the past nearly two months, I’ve been sweating in solitary confinement over writing a log-line for my book.  The solitary confinement has been self imposed because, per my usual ridiculousness, I hate the idea of trying something, sucking at it, and then looking stupid in front of all you lovely people.

But sometimes (okay, really, probably all the time), a girl needs feedback.

Some basics first, for those of you reading my blog who aren’t writers – a log-line is a single sentence that tells what a book or story is about.  Kristen Lamb has a frigging fabulous post on writing log-lines – one I’m a little embarrassed to admit I can pretty much recite verbatim.  (That’s embarrassing because I still have this sneaky suspicion that I’m failing miserably in my log-line writing attempt.  Hence this post.)

When I first began writing three years ago, I was clueless.  Everything about my start in writing was @$$ backwards.  My pants were in charge and I was flying by the seat of ’em.  All I knew about the story I was writing was that I was trying to get my character to a specific destination.  The why’s for getting there weren’t important to me when I began.  *cringe*

Several months after I started writing, I somehow realized (among a plethora of other smack-myself-in-the-forehead-I’m-going-to-be-lucky-if-this-thing-is-salvageable epiphanies) that I needed to figure out where the story was going.  So I stopped and began my first feeble attempt at plotting.  At that point, the book became three books.  After the drafts of those three books were finished, I realized that the story hadn’t tied up as neatly as I would have liked, and so a fourth was born.  Now, three years later, I’ve got four books drafted, all tightly knotted together, the first book nearly polished enough for beta-readers, and I’m trying to figure out how to go about this log-line crap.  Do I write one log-line for each book?  Or do I write one for all four?

(And let it be known to the writing-deities of the universe that I am well aware of how @$$ backwards it is to work on the log-line after the story is written.  I see my folly now.  It will not be repeated when I start a new book, I swears…)

I’ve been working on one for all four, partly because I’m being lazy (shut up, I know – writer’s aren’t supposed to be lazy.  I’m playing my third trimester card here), and partly because while each book definitely has its own story to tell, in the end, all four books come together as a very solid whole.

But the problem with writing one log-line for a four-part series is that I’ve ended up with what I’m sure is the world’s longest run-on sentence.  And also, I’m not sure if a log-line for the whole series is the best way to represent a single book.  I don’t know; maybe I need to do both – one log-line for each individual book, and one for the series as a whole.

Oh, lordy.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve got so far – one log-line for the entire series.  Have a looky:

Abandoned in the woods as an infant, and brought up in a family that despised her, a teenage girl places her trust in an other-worldly stranger hoping to discover what she really is without being caught by either of the two men who claim to be her father: one, who wants to kill her for what she’s not; the other, who’s intent on using her as a weapon because of what she is.

Thoughts?  Does it catch you?  Does it make you want to read?  Or does it drone on and on to the tune of more YA white noise?  Perhaps I ought to throw a vampire in there for good measure (*giggle, snort*)…

I would heart, heart, HEART your feedback, lovelies – from all of you, writers or no.


60 thoughts on “Hives

  1. mgmillerbooks says:

    It’s really more of a blurb, but I think you should have a log-line for each book. Off the top of my head from what you wrote:

    Two men claim to be ____’s father: one who wants to kill her for what she’s not, another intent on using her as a weapon for what she is. But can an other-worldly stranger help her discover the truth of her mysterious heritage before it’s too late?

    Hope it helps the focus a little.

  2. Sandra says:

    It does seem quite long for a log line (& for a single sentence). However, it also really makes me want to read the book(s). Sorry, I’m not much help. 😦

  3. Natalie Hartford says:

    Wow. I loved it! Seriously amazing and made me want to read your books immediately.
    Personally, I think you could go either way – one log line or four. I think if you look at how you’ll use your log lines, that will tell you more what you need.
    If you are going to release each book one at a time, it would stand to reason you’ll need/want a log line for each as you publish them. Then your all-in-one log line could be used when they are finally all released to the world and are selling perhaps as a bundle.
    That being said, some suggestions to perhaps tighten up what you have:
    Abandoned in the woods as an infant and raised by a family that despises her, a teenage girl places her trust in a stranger hoping to discover what she really is without being caught by the two men who claim to be her father: one, who wants to kill her; the other, who intends to use her as a weapon.

  4. Lisa Hall-Wilson says:

    It’s more of a pitch than a logline. When I think logline I think – that one tiny sentence on the front of a DVD case that makes you flip over and read the back. For instance – did you see the movie “Real Steel” with Hugh Jackman? The logline for that movie was: “Rocky meets Transformers.” Short, pithy, descriptive, high concept.
    When I was in New York last weekend, Marcy came up with the logline for our novel (which we have planned as the 1st in a trilogy but were advised to only pitch the first book) and it caught every agent’s ear and made them lean forward. “Xena warrior princess meets Game of Thrones”
    Good luck 🙂

  5. Gene Lempp says:

    Hi Myndi. The line is well…long. I’ve had the same issue in the past and thanks to a my Warrior Writer team mates I think I can answer your question. You need one for each book. Having a series one is fine if you plan to tie them together in a 4-pack, otherwise, each book should be a stand alone story, with its own log line, “BBT”, etc. As it stands, the one you have, is a good blurb but not a log line.

    Hope that helps out. Best of luck 🙂

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      What he said.

      Plus, I know you don’t want to give away the hook of what her powers are but you’ve got to give more and say it with less. What’s at stake and how does she fix it.

      Instead of “abandoned as an infant and raised by a family who despised her,” say: “Orphan raised by hateful foster parents”

      Or “An orphan is reluctantly raised by foster parents who fear her power to realign the universe. They betray her to an evil dictator/worst enemy (pick something) who must find her before his (pick something).”

      Do you see where I’m going. Incidentally, I HATE doing log lines!!!

  6. Ginger Calem says:

    I concur with what the others have said. You have a blurb here for your series. (And I love it!!) But each book needs that shorter ‘pitch’ sentence, the hook. So examine the theme of book one and zero in on that.

    example–a bad one but just off the cuff:

    Abandoned and despised, ‘Jane’ is torn between two potential fathers, one means becoming an evil weapon, the other, sure death. No option three.

  7. prudencemacleod says:

    Hi Myndie, this is a bit long. It’s a great pitch, hooked my interest, but you need one log line per book. Short and catchy. Focus on the log line for the first book.
    Looking forward to reading the series.

  8. EllieAnn says:

    “My pants were in charge and I was flying by the seat of ‘em.” LoL!
    Your book sounds really good. You have an awesome pitch up there. But your log line would sound something like this:
    A teenage girl must discover what she is before two men capture her and [stakes] use her powers to destroy the world.
    I don’t know what your stakes are, but your log line should be:
    Protagonist must [goal] before antagonist [stakes]

  9. Fabio Bueno says:

    First of all, I can’t wait to read your book. It sounds very intriguing.
    As people pointed out, it should be one logline per book, and it should be shorter. I like Mike Miller’s above. Ellie Ann has a great template too.
    The most important thing you already have: a clear grasp of your story and its main conflict. Good luck, and count on us!

  10. Gloria Richard Author says:

    I agree that the series sounds VERY intriguing. I didn’t know (and am glad Gene clarified) that each book in the series needs a log-line.

    The villain was unclear, because there seemed multiple primary villains. I suspect that writing a log-line for each book will shine the light on the Goal, the viliian and the consequences should your protag fail to [take whatever action].

    Know that you are not alone.

    In my writing world two words– “synopsis” and “log-line”–send me to the freezer for ice cream. Oh, wait! That’s three words! I’ll need another scoop.

    • Myndi stray sock away from insanity. says:

      Hi Gloria! Thanks for popping by. In all honesty, it’s so easy to become blind to flaws in this kind of thing because the story is so ingrained in my own mind…I’d never even thought about making the villain more clear-cut than that.

      And just between you and me, the freezer has been cleared of any and all ice cream. *wipes melty-chocolaty-goodness from face*


  11. Marcy Kennedy says:

    Lisa already told you the log line we’ve used for our book and that we were advised to pitch only the first book regardless of it being a series. The idea behind that is you want to show that this book can stand alone as a complete story. Glad to know she thought my idea was inspired 🙂

    I agree that what you have is a little long for a logline, but I think the bones of the logline are there. How about . . .

    “An orphaned teenage girl must trust an otherworldly stranger to discover who she is before she’s caught by either of the men claiming to be her father.”

    That gets you closer to the 25 word limit for loglines and gets the reader thinking and asking questions.

    It might help to also replace “orphaned” with a better descriptor. Something that immediately gives the listener/reader a mental image of her, but since I don’t know your story, I couldn’t really suggest anything 🙂

  12. Tameri Etherton says:

    Fabulous replies, Myndi. I also like mgmillerbooks’ logline above. I think it was short, snappy, and said what it needed to say.

    What you have is more a pitch, so you need to focus on what really needs to be said in those 25 words. EllieAnn’s template and idea was great, too.

    You’re on the right track and putting it out here for everyone is a super smart idea. Let us know what you come up with!

  13. August McLaughlin says:

    Totally intriguing, Myndi. What an awesome premise! If your aim is a pitch, it doesn’t need to be one sentence. (Mine was about 3…once I learned to stop rambling. LOL) I agree with Ellie regarding what the log-line should contain.

    Kristen interviewed James Scott Bell about log-lines a while back. Here’s a link w/cool tips:

    So brave of you to set your concerns about how your work might appear aside and putting this out here! We’re all your big fans and we all need feedback and support. Thanks for letting us into your journey.

  14. coleen patrick says:

    Ditto what Mike said! I think what you have sounds intriguing too. Isn’t it so funny that you can write four books and struggle with a couple of lines? Is it just me or does it seem easier to write thousands and thousands of words instead of those all important blurb sentences? 🙂

  15. Melinda says:

    I think it’s just a bit long for a log line. As a log line, we don’t need to know she was abandoned as an infant. We just need to know protagonist (young girl) vs antagonist (two dads) in a setting (other worldly is enough) with a twist (motives of the two dads is your twist, I’m assuming). It’s there…just whittle it down 🙂

    And it might be causing you grief because you are trying to encompass four books into one log line. Try doing the same for each book. Funnel it down to the very very very basic. It’s hard, I know. Been there, done that. Still doing that 😉

    For what it’s worth, my explanation here is not my own, it’s from Holly Lisle’s class How To Think Sideways. The Sentence is the name of the section I’m quoting. If you haven’t checked out her classes that particular portion might help. She had a way of explaining that made it all suddenly clear to me where it wasn’t before. According to her, the Sentence should be 30 words or less…it really helps pinpoint the truly important when you only have 30 words.

  16. Christine says:

    Well, you asked for feedback, so here are my reactions. I hope you like specific critiques, as this is meant to be motivating and helpful. Don’t get discouraged. It sounds like you’re doing a lot of great work!

    Abandoned in the woods as an infant,
    (At this point I’m wondering where your MC’s name is. I have a hard time connecting with no name at all. In a one-line logline this would be okay, but in a hook I’d like a bit more to take a hold of. Also, this falls right into the abandoned orphan cliche. It’s OKAY for your MC to be an orphan, but it’s not different enough to hook a reader burnt out on the familiar story. What makes your book TRULY UNIQUE? What do you have that you know NO ONE ELSE does?)

    and brought up in a family that despised her,
    (Why? Making me wonder why isn’t motivating enough for me to pick up the book to find out. And if they despised her, why the heck would they bother to raise her if they just FOUND her in the woods? Why doesn’t someone take this girl to an orphanage?)

    a teenage girl places her trust in an other-worldly stranger
    (This is where I stop reading. It’s just too cliche. It may not be cliche the way it’s written into your book, but its not unique enough to use in your hook.)

    hoping to discover what she really is without being caught by either of the two men who claim to be her father: one, who wants to kill her for what she’s not; the other, who’s intent on using her as a weapon because of what she is.
    (My eyes glazed over as soon as I hit the run-on sentence here. You’re saying a lot without saying anything at all. I don’t actually know anything about your MC, her motivations, or her enemies motivations. I don’t know why anyone is doing anything and no one has a name anyway. I don’t even know if your book is contemporary fantasy or high fantasy, or even what genre it is at all. Other-worldly could be a sci-fi alien, or a christian-based angelic presence.)

    I would go find one of my critique partners and say, “Hey Susy, in three/five sentences, what would you say my book is about?” Get an idea of what your book looks like to other people, several people, write their answers down, and then play around with their descriptions as hooks.

    You have a lot of positive feedback for this hook. That’s good, but take it in stride. Feedback from bloggers who are writers can be tricky, because we all want to support each other and we get where everyone is coming from. We’re already “in the mode” to read YA fantasy hooks, and people might skip out on a critical review because “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t help improve writing.

    I did a 5-part post on writing one-paragraph hooks that you might find useful.

  17. Patricia says:

    Well, it definitely grabs me, but not sure how to fix it. My first thought is to take out the “in the woods,” part because it’s the abandonment issue, not the woods, that’s important. I’m not one to give advice, because I suck at this too.

    My suggestion is to put it away for a while, don’t think about it, don’t stress on it, and it’ll come to you. Hopefully not while you’re giving birth, unless there’s a scribe there to write it down for you.

    Good luck! I feel your pain.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Myndi stray sock away from insanity. says:

      Hey girlie! Thanks for coming by. I’m obviously super-new at this, too, and super-grateful for any feedback, newbie or no. You’re right, the in-the-woods part isn’t the core issue there. Lots to think about and revamp!

      Putting it away for awhile definitely sounds appealing at times…but unfinished things have a way of haunting me. 🙂 (Unless it’s laundry. I’m totally cool with unfinished laundry.)

  18. Jennette Marie Powell says:

    Your book sounds intriguing! But as others have said… yup, you need one for each book, and probably one for the series as a whole. What I’ve found is easy is to boil it down to protagonist with a need – in conflict with – antagonist with an opposing goal – with a twist (and setting, if it’s important). Good luck!

  19. Emma Burcart says:

    I don’t think I can actually say anything different because what everyone said was so great. Your blurb does make the series sound exciting, but I got a little confused when trying to wrap my head around one book. I love the suggestions you were given for the one book. So exciting!

  20. Paul Welch says:

    I agree with a lot of what’s said above here. It never hurts to have a log line for the whole series, but you’ll definitely need one for each book, too. I look forward to hearing what you come up with after all of these helpful suggestions!

  21. Debra Kristi says:

    Wow! You got a lot of great advice. I can’t wait to check out some of the links. I am also new at this so I won’t pretend to give you advice. I have rough log-lines for each of my books – rough I said! LOL They need to be refined. I think your pitch can use some smoothing out. I really like what Mike tossed out there. But all in all I would still pick your book up and read it! I think you made the story sound intriguing. But I would still probably look into everything Christine had to say. It was brave of you to put yourself out there. Bravo chickie. Hugs

  22. Jennifer L. Oliver says:

    I think you’re my hero, Myndi. You have a hubby, children, and are in your third trimester, yet you still wrote drafts to four books? The whole time I’m typing this my little monster puppy, Jake has been chewing on the chair leg, barking, whining, and bringing me toys. Sigh… how did you do it all? I need lessons!!

    I agree with all of the above. It is more of a blurb than a log-line. But it did catch my attention and I want to read the book. I do agree with the comment about adding the MC name to the blurb – want to make your readers identify with the MC as soon as possible.

    Love, love, love what Mike wrote. If I had the money, I would so hire him to help me make sense of my own chaos. 😉

    I think you can play around with the info in all of these comments and really get a great log-line and blurb. You are definitely on the right track already.

    I’m a newbie too but I swear you seem miles ahead of me in catching on to all of it. I’m proud of you for putting yourself out here like you have. It can be scary getting feedback, but as you’ve proven here, also very helpful!

    Keep us posted on you progress!

  23. themidnightnovelist says:

    I know I’m a little behind on this, but hopefully you haven’t had an overload of suggestions. I didn’t get a chance to skim the comments, so I apologize if this has been said a hundred times already…

    I like it. Honestly, I do. It interests me and it sounds like something I would definitely want to read. Actually, you’ve peaked my interest quite a bit, and I’m sitting here trying to figure out what this four book series is going to be about. Good job!

    One suggestion is to cut it down just a tad. Make sure every word in that sentence is absolutely, positively relevant. Do we really need to know her family despises her? I kind of got that from the whole “two dads who don’t give a crap about her” thing. I would also try to add in something (one or two words) that might tell us a little more about the main character. I really can’t figure out who she is. I mean, is there magic involved or is this set in our world of normalcy? Is she a witch? Little Red Riding Hood? A faerie? Something like that would pretty much make or break whether I picked up this book or not. (Granted, I would read this book if she was any or all of the above, haha.)

    I’m terrible at log-lines, so I don’t call me out as an expert. Saying to add two words about this or that is a lot easier than actually doing it. For my novel, I had a hard enough time coming up with three sentences to describe it. Thanks for the link to Kristen’s post – I haven’t seen that one before and I’m off to read it. Also, I think it would be best to have a log-line about the overall series and each book individually, just in case. Good luck!!

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