16 Examples of how NOT to Pitch a Logline
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I joined a Twitter dealie where you pitch to agents over Twitter, and I swear I learned more in one day about pitching than I have reading any number of how-to-write books.

A logline is a one sentence pitch of your story. It can be used on Twitter, but it's also used in person as an elevator pitch. It's the distilled essence of stakes, story, and character.  Some people find it frustrating and intimidating, but I find it easier to do a logline than a query.

I got a few bites from agents, so I was quite pleased. I gained a lot of sympathy for them around 3 in the afternoon, though. Every pitch starts looking the same, and the really, really stupid ones start standing out. Some suffer from bad metaphors, bland stakes, or simple incomprehensibility. I've got 16 examples right here for you, so if any of your loglines look like these, you may want to consider a rewrite. (Incidentally, don't post your own loglines for my perusal. I'm not going to sit here and tell a bunch of people they suck.)

1. X "craves sanity like other girls crave chocolate." Wow, way to trivialize your stakes and mental illness, there. 'She wants to be sane in a I-have-75 cents-for-the-vending-machine sort of way...' Bad metaphor is no one's friend.

2. The girl he loves has to die or he'll lose everything he's fought for. Hell demands obedience. His heart demands her. Pretty bland. But just the style of this makes me think Gary Stu.

3. What if following your heart means breaking it? Field Guide to a Girl. The power of nature and the nature of the heart. Some people seem to try to sell based on their title alone. Good title. But what's the story?

4. Through the mirror, keep to the light, save the worlds, but above all, never trust a Traveller, especially if you are one. Cryptic and unhelpful.

5. Princess X has to stop an uprising, but first she must control her insatiable urge to kill. Now there's a sympathetic protagonist.

6. A halfbreed vampire, a werewolf, a faery traitor, uncivilized dwarfs and a human witch and druid. What could they be up to? I don't know and I don't care.

7. A chosen destiny. A powerful gift. The only thing Cassie doesn't have is a clue. Maybe there's an app for that. I think I hate Cassie.

8. Ink-hued scales lick across her best friend's skin like spreading flames. Jenny must save her before possession is permanent. Wut?

9. Good witch must put together team of friends to take on dark magic school. Problem: they're all enrolled at the school. Wat?

10. Never-been-kissed Marion falls for the aquatic enemy. She'll have to ditch him in order to cure her BF... except he IS the cure. WAT!?

11. OUT AND IN - Amateur cellist framed for murdering opera maestro fights for freedom and hunts down $$$ her late QB husband stole. WAAAAAT!?

12. Just another telekinetic investigator kidnaps a new found psychic... for her own good... after a warlock attacks... story. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT I DON'T EVEN

13. Murder, betrayal, imprisonment, and a prince who won't leave her alone. Who knew a name change could be so difficult? Whatever the first has to do with the second ... your guess is as good as mine.

14. X has a dream to be a witch. When her dream comes true, its more of a nightmare than a dream. Gee, could you vague that up for me a little more? I need more white noise words like "orphan", "magic", "queen", "boyfriend", "revenge", and "lose everything."

15. X will learn that Purgatory is not a punishment, that he can make things out of thin air and that he'll soon be able to leave. Oh, well, problem solved, then.

16. If you're not turned on by shape-shifting dolphins, then you have no business in paradise. Yeah, I don't think I want to go to that paradise. It sounds pretty gross.
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Comments
GREENSPACEDORITOS's avatar
GREENSPACEDORITOS|Hobbyist Digital Artist
i actually want to read 13
Reply  ·  
I want to read Nr. 16. It sounds hilarious.
Reply  ·  
lantairvlea's avatar
lantairvlea|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
For one sentence pitches I am seeing an awful lot of periods. Is part of this a "can you follow instructions" test?
Reply  ·  
Droemar's avatar
I think on Twitter it's more about the 140 characters idea. Even my pitches weren't just one sentence. But I suppose one sentence COULD be longer than 140 characters ...
Reply  ·  
lantairvlea's avatar
lantairvlea|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I imagine the 140 limit is the key for these. And yes, plenty of sentences out there with more than 140 characters!
Reply  ·  
aboveClouds's avatar
aboveClouds| Digital Artist
These are wonderful. I want to read all these things. ALL OF THEM. Sure, I'll probably have to be drunk to follow any of them, but drunk!me will LOVE them.

Oh hey, if it isn't too much trouble, could you please make some example log lines for well-known stories? You mentioned that you were going to make a good version of this journal, but I think giving us some examples from well-known stories would be pretty helpful.

(Okay, okay, I'm mostly wondering how you would simplify down something like A Song of Ice and Fire to a single sentence without making it sound like a kiddie, generic fantasy novel.)
Reply  ·  
Droemar's avatar
I think you can go online and find lots of loglines for books that have already been published. They're everywhere.
Ice and Fire was probably sold on its first book, Game of Thrones, and that was like 20 years ago. The publishing industry is a whole different animal now.
Something along the lines of "War of the Roses meets Lord of the Rings when Eddard Stark discovers Queen Cersei's son is a produect of incest ..." etc. etc.
You can get a lot of work done by using the right reference with the "X meets Y" deal, and the series is based on the War of the Roses.
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aboveClouds's avatar
aboveClouds| Digital Artist
Ah, okay then. I'll go do some googling.

But do you think it's easier to harder to get published now, compared to the pre-internet era? On the plus side, you have self-publishing and things like kickstarter to fund a book. On the negative, I think there are a lot more people who say to themselves "Oh, I can publish a book through Amazon, so I'm gonna go write something!" compared to what it was 20 years ago. I know publishing has always been a chore, and writing has always had a ton of competition, but I wonder how much the Internet has helped/hurt that process.

"You can get a lot of work done by using the right reference with the "X meets Y" deal, and the series is based on the War of the Roses."
Huh, that's surprising. I never thought the X meets Y thing would work. It always sounded like some dorky thing that a newbie would say. But I'll keep that in mind if I ever need to use it. *nods*
Reply  ·  
Droemar's avatar
X meets Y is very common, and many agents like it because it's quick and easy. Agents are always super busy, so whatever you can do to not waste their time is appreciated.
I don't know if it's easier to get published or not nowadays. I think the Net is a two edged sword. Agents have become gatekeeper of quality. But anyone can slap a shit book on Amazon.
I will say I feel there is a lot of pressure from the "market" for traditional publishers. Everyone trying to get has their old wives' tale about what agents are looking for, and what you can never, ever do. I recently got very pissed at a friend of mine when I presented her with a character problem and she said "You know, this is going to be a hard sell." And I snapped right back at her "I'm not trying to sell to a market; I'm trying to finish my goddamn manuscript! Are you going to help or not?" The market is this thing that is always, always, always used to tell you that you're writing the wrong thing at the wrong time. So don't pay any attention to it.
I've enjoyed my Kindle ebook series, and made more money from it than I ever thought I would. But it's something I do on the side for sure. I'm still querying and still trying to get an agent. I think whatever path you choose, research as much as possible. That will make you the most successful.
Reply  ·  
nekonotaishou's avatar
nekonotaishou|Professional Filmographer
I kinda want to see what the dolphins can shapeshift into... and why there are shapeshifting dolphins in the first place...
Reply  ·  
Dancing-Kitten's avatar
Dancing-Kitten|Student Filmographer
I want to know why being into these dolphins is such a big deal.
Reply  ·  
nekonotaishou's avatar
nekonotaishou|Professional Filmographer
I know, right? Like, what happens to you in Paradise if you're not into dolphins??
Reply  ·  
Sharpfang's avatar
to turn you on.
Reply  ·  
Paperiapina's avatar
Paperiapina|Professional General Artist
I'm suddenly experiencing flashbacks to figuring out what to put on the back covers of my Wurr books.
Reply  ·  
Starhorse's avatar
Starhorse|Professional General Artist
You have two #8's. You still planning on showing some of the good examples, too?
Reply  ·  
Droemar's avatar
Maybe. I could do another journal on the good ones.
Reply  ·  
Hallowedlady's avatar
2 nearly made my eyes roll into the back of my skull, and 15 is just too weird.
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Furrama's avatar
Oh my gosh, no. 15 is going to keep me up tonight. "If it weren't for my horse I never would have spent that year in college" style. www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ0s0K…

WHAT?!? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!

(THAT LEWIS BLACK QUOTE IS BETTER THAN ALL OF THESE WHY?!?)
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Sergej12345's avatar
Something I would always recommend-leave betrayal out of blurb and logline. If you do so, we will be surprised when it comes around ( unless writer is so bad that it is obvious). If you put it we will wait for it all time.
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Aemi's avatar
Aemi|Hobbyist Digital Artist
actually, 12 sounds pretty decent. At least for a fanfiction anyways. You go in knowing the characters already (or else why are you looking into that series?), the first part tells you what you're getting yourself into, and the second makes you wonder what the fuck happened to cause it in the first place XD
Though the rest of those made me raise an eyebrow, they're still not the worst loglines I've ever read. Some of my favorites are usually along the lines of "I suk at summaries", or some random assortment of badly spelled words that usually tell me the story is written by this one guy who purposefully does shitty stories that are maybe 30 words long, all of them misspelled, with NO punctuation whatsoever. That guy is golden.   
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Xenothere's avatar
Can you give us an example of a good one?
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Droemar's avatar
Yes, I should post another journal in a week or so of ones I felt were good (or that the agents thought were good, too.)
Reply  ·  
CraftyCrab's avatar
CraftyCrab|Hobbyist General Artist
There is only one logline that matters: "Sharknado. Enough said." 
Reply  ·  
WitchyThing's avatar
WitchyThing|Professional Writer
I bet Harp would read #15 though.
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anonymous's avatar
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