It must be short, magnetic, and say it all.
Sure, piece of cake ... Devil's Food Cake. Darn hard, but it can be done.
THREE MEN AND A BABY
(You just know it's going to be a comedy of errors, and you know all the players in just 5 words.)
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
(It says it all in another 5 words: horror, action, the living versus the undead)
SEAN OF THE DEAD
(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:
PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES
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.)
IV.) THE HOOK:
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:
I DIED YESTERDAY
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