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.