So you can read my books

Friday, February 17, 2012


You need the right ingrediants to prepare this dish :


It must be short, magnetic, and say it all.

Sure, piece of cake ... Devil's Food Cake. Darn hard, but it can be done.



(You just know it's going to be a comedy of errors, and you know all the players in just 5 words.)


(It says it all in another 5 words : horror, action, the living versus the undead)


(In 4 fours you get comedy, horror, and you know it is going to be a toss-up between a floundering human against hordes of shambling dead.)

(II.) The sweet/sour sauce of IRONY with a hint of the spice of SAY WHAT?


She's the perfect girl -- until she takes that first drink.

(You see it all, don't you? In just 10 words. Comedy of a guy finding his dream date, only to see his dream become a nightmare.)


On Christmas Eve, a cop tries to repair his broken marriage, only to find her company's building seized by terrorists.

(Twenty words this time, but they spell out irony, desperation, action, and thrills.)

III.) Remember THE GOOD; leave out THE BAD and THE UGLY :


Two polar opposite men must scramble across country in whatever vehicle they can to make it home for Thanksgiving.

(This title is the good -- you know from it that it is a comedy and the venue where the action is going to take place.)


(This is basically the same movie, but the title is vague. Is it about an expectant mother? The only draw is Robert Downey, Jr.

But your novel will not have that catalyst. In novel loglines, the magic must be in the prose.)


(Do you have any idea what this novel will be about? Is it a name of a girl, a store, a restaurant, a name of a covert Intelligence plan? This is an example of an UGLY title for a logline.)



A cowardly cop on the eve of retirement finds he is dying from a disease not covered by police insurance. To protect his family's future, he must have none. The cowardly lion must die in the line of duty. The only problem : his partner wants to live out the week!

(Long but you see it all. Fifty words gives you the whole novel : the fear, the love, the desperation, ... and the partner going crazy trying to stay alive.)

VI.) The whole picture :

A.) All the above examples gives the agent the entire novel in just one short logline. You must do that -- and fast to snare the eye-weary attention of an agent numbed by a long line of vague, rambling loglines with no clear conflict and intended goal.

B.) How do you come up with that?

Think of your novel as a movie poster. The iconic image, the swirling glimpses of the dangers and allures in the background. Put the movie poster of your novel in 30 words or less -- and you have a winning logline.

C.) Create an itch the agent must scratch :

1.) With a title that grabs the collar of the agent :


2.) With irony that won't quit :

A teen finds the love of his life looking down upon him as he lies in his coffin.

3.) With a logline that gives you goal, obstacles, and resolution in one mental flash :

A mysterious funeral director tells the ghost of a teen he can be with the girl he loves always ... if he convinces her to take her own life. The teen must decide what true love really is.

@) There. I hope I have helped in some small way. Roland



  1. This is really useful. I have so much trouble with titles and summaries of what my stories are about without rambling and spoiling the plot!

  2. I really like coming to your blog, Roland...there's always something I learn! Keep up the great work! And, oh, I love the fact you use movies as your examples...I relate more to movies than to books! Thank you!!!

  3. This is how it's done. Ever the source of information Roland. I thank you for being so adept at all things literary.

    While I was reading this I opened notepad and wrote a short logline for my new WIP. :D

  4. Kyra :
    It is hard, isn't it? Yet, we have to bait our hooks so carefully these days with over-worked agents trying to sell to editors in a shell-shocked publishing industry.

    Jack :
    I'm so glad you are entertained and helped here. Yes, we are a visual age. Movies get the point across much more enjoyably.

    T.D. :
    You made my morning when I read my post helped you actually write a logline. Much luck with your WIP. I'm 68% finished with my new stand-alone Victor Standish urban fantasy. Only success for all of us, Roland

  5. How clever was this? Funny how we as writers have no trouble crafting large works, but struggle with things like this. Fun post, oh brilliant one ;)

  6. Thank you Roland. Some great information here. I will enjoy your kind gift this very weekend.

    May everyone take down those blasted word verifications. A good friend helped me get mine off a few months ago,it was messing up my entire blog.

  7. As always, words of wisdom. Thank you, my friend. I, like Jack, love coming to your blog. Always a promise of something great. :)

    Wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the ebooks! I have so much to read while I'm recooping. I posted my last blog post for a while this morning. I hope you don't mind, but I added a link to my post.


  8. Morgan :
    We writers are a strange breed, of course. Don't tell your hubby that, of course! We writers also have our secrets! Thanks for the kind words. Oh, and this Saturday, I am giving another FREE GIFT, my novella, LET THE WIND BLOW THROUGH YOU. (A Native American Noir thriller! Ooooh, scary! :-)

    farawayeyes :
    Yes, those 2 word verifications are driving my eyes all watery!! I hope you enjoy Victor's and Alice's adventures this weekend. Being the gypsy soul he is, he assured me you would. Humility is not one of his virtues!!

    Candy Lynn :
    I have already gone to your post and thanked you. I will visit it often though you are gone, leaving well wishes and lame jokes such as Victor's I left today.

    May your surgery be utterly successful and your recovery one of light speed, even warp speed (Star Trek fans are groaning now!)

  9. I love love LOVE examining great log lines and great titles.

    Wonderful examples! THANKS.

  10. You've been reading Save the Cat! Loglines are tough, but I can finally create one now.

  11. Hi, Roland! I liked this post so much I tweeted it, too! I have been trying to figure out how to write a pitch line, or logline, or any of those short summations, and your post gave me lots of examples and ideas on how to do it! Also, I don't know if you would like to play the tag game, but if you would (and haven't yet) come over to and get my eleven questions for you!

  12. Margo :
    Thanks. They are hard for me. I thought my friends like you would like to see the reasoning behind some of the great ones.

    Alex :
    Yes. Blake Synder was truly a giving, wise man. I miss him. His SAVING THE CAT STRIKES BACK is wonderful as well.

    Lara :
    I am so happy you liked this post so much that you tweeted it. It made my late evening! This weekend is tied up with my free gift to my friends like you of my LET THE WIND BLOW THROUGH YOU. Monday is the Platform Builders challenge. But I will answer your question as soon as possible. Thanks for thinking of me. Roland

  13. Yuck; my hardest task, beside coming up with a title. I'll be working on it though.


  14. Some great examples, and I like your take on these. Particularly thinking of the log line as a movie poster.