Peggy Bechko: Tips for Writing Your Logline or Blurb

by Peggy Bechko

Not this kind of logline. Damn it, you guys!

Not this kind of logline. Damn it, you guys!

Okay writers, time to focus. Whether you write books or scripts or both, you’ve heard this before. You’re going to have to learn to condense. You’ll need to create book blurbs or tweet length synopsis or loglines, or whatever you label it in order to promote your work and sell it.

Don’t go and tell me you’re a novelist and you can’t write anything shorter. I said that once – a long, long time ago – then I learned how to do it.

What are the bare bones of the story you’re trying to tell? How are you going to put that across in just a few words for a ‘high concept’, or a sentence or two for a book blurb?

If you’re the kind of writer who works from an outline, your path might be a bit easier. If you’re a script writer who loves to use cards to create your outline, having those cards will probably help with the condensing part.

If you haven’t been working that way, you’re going to have to develop some variation of it that works for you. You’re going to have to learn to rip the heart out of that story you’re writing and hand it over to a reader of whatever medium you’re writing for on a silver platter. And, not only does what you give that reader have to boil down the essence of the story, it has to do it in a way that captivates its audience.

Yep, a formidable task.

So how do you go about this? There’s no magical formula. One great way to practice is to write a synopsis, polish it up…then condense that. Repeat until you have a log line so tight, so vibrant that it can’t be ignored or tossed aside.

Read the toss-off lines that advertise movies or new TV series. They’re in the newspaper each week. Use a tip site like The Raindance Film Festival. Visit a site like Log-Line It to see some examples and see how they feel to you. Too long? Long enough? Clear enough?

You also might like to check out the Random Log Line Generator  and do some reverse engineering to come up with one of your own, or heck, write a story based on it!

And of course Larry Brody offers tips on loglines right here on TVWriter™ as well.

Read book blurbs on Amazon and on the backs of books or inside the dust jacket. Books you already have as well as books at the book store.

Check out hints online like How to Write a Brilliant Blurb.

If you’re a book writer, keep in mind that as a marketing tool, the blurb comes in second to only the title. Even if you have a traditional publisher who’ll come up with that blurb for you you’re going to have to be able to ‘elevator’ speech it into something you can remember to put out there when you give talks or when you tweet or post to other social media to promote your work. So for books you’re going to need the short synopsis, the book blurb, and the shortest tag line possible.

Read book blurbs on Amazon and on the backs of books or inside the dust jacket. Books you already have as well as books at the book store.

Check out hints online like How to Write a Brilliant Blurb.

Get creative and create symbolism; your log line or blurb doesn’t have to be literal (though of course it can be and frequently is). It can convey the ‘essence’ of the story. If you can evoke an image in the reader’s head so much the better.

And, above all else, always be ready to “PERC,” as in Polish, Experiment, Rewrite, and Condense.