The story of our logline – Part II

Last week we made it into the third round of logline critiques on Miss Snark’s First Victim, before the Annual Baker’s Dozen Contest starts next week. We were very excited to make the final round, and we received comments on what people thought. As a refresher, our logline was:

A repressed vampire princess has a one-night stand with a mysterious stranger from the wrong side of the river, sparking an unexpected chain of events and opening her to a whole new world. 

The main comments we received on our logline were that it was vague; they wanted to know what kind of events were sparked and give more specifics. The problem we struggle with is we can’t say much about the chain of events , because then there is no reason to read the book. Someone suggested that we just put the first unexpected event. That is still a tough one, because it’s a major plot point and it’s also a surprise. We don’t want to give it away. So, how do we make it more specific without giving it away at the same time?

The next issue was to add more conflict and tension to build the hook; they wanted to know what she will lose and what she will gain, and give the story’s stakes and the choices. We had to agree with these comments. We were lacking our main character’s conflict(s). This is a somewhat easier fix, but still…what conflict do we choose to put in the logline?

Lastly, there was one person who said we needed to get rid of “mysterious stranger”. It was too cliche and they wanted to know more about hero. We picked mysterious stranger because, although our book is multiple points of view, the reader doesn’t find out about the hero until the heroine does. We can’t say anything specific about the hero or it will ruin the story. How do we dump this cliche yet keep our stranger/hero “mysterious”?

On the plus side, one person said they liked the contrast between “repressed” and “opening her”. Everyone’s comments were very nice and helpful. Now we had to figure out where to start….

You’ve all read a book, seen a movie, watched a TV show…. How do you sum up everything in one or two sentences? This was our dilemma. Especially when we already did it, more than once, and it wasn’t “good enough”. *sigh* I decided the first thing I can do is research…again…and see what I can find. The best thing I found was someone had put a comment on the Query Tracker Forum with a comprised list of logline information they’d found. One of the most helpful points on this post was a logline should be what happens in the first act, otherwise the reader is going to be frustrated that it doesn’t happen until later in the book. It cannot ignore the first part of the book. That takes care of what conflict to put in the logline. The first one. Armed with this knowledge and all the formulas, we put in our own information while keeping in mind what everyone said in their comments.

A week and a half later, lots of emails, and even a day spent together to work on this, we came up with:

A vampire princess awaiting an arranged betrothal has a one-night stand with an enigmatic stranger, forcing her to choose between duty and love. When she discovers this encounter unexpectedly bonds them together, it alters her future forever.

Breaking it down our heroine’s outer conflict is that she is awaiting her arranged betrothal and her inner conflict is she has to choose between duty and love. The inciting incident for this is her one-night stand with an enigmatic stranger—not a mysterious one—and the first incident in the chain of events is that she is now bonded to the stranger/hero. The end is still vague, but this part happens later in the book. We have already presented her conflict and what she will gain: the respect of her parents and people versus love, and what she will lose: her parents’ respect and possibly her status versus the man she loves and a chance to be happy.

Unfortunately we had to cut “repressed” and “opening her to a whole new world”. We put why she was repressed instead of the word to make sure readers knew the heroine’s conflict. And with adding more about her inner conflict, we had to cut the end and change it around since a logline can only be so long. 

Tomorrow K.T. Crowley has given the contestants who entered the Third Round of Logline Critiques a chance to post their revised loglines for feedback on her blog. Hopefully, this time we came up with a good one and the readers will agree. We certainty hope you like it.

Strong!?!

We recently had an amazing opportunity through Writer’s Digest. We had a chance to sign up for a course where an agent would look through our first ten pages and give us feedback. Very exciting, seeing as how we have been submitting to agents for awhile now…..And haven’t gotten much feedback. Basically it’s been “thanks but no thanks.” We had literally been begging the cold, unfeeling computer to please give us something, anything. The heartless piece of junk continually shot us down. But now there was a faint hope. Someone….No. Not just ‘someone’. An actual, real, living, breathing agent was going to tell us what was wrong. Why did our book seem so good to us, but we kept getting the dreaded rejection form letter? I mean, I know we are biased because we wrote it. But what is so wrong? Do we stink? Is it boring? Are we grammatically challenged and unaware?

We waited with bated breath for the day to finally arrive. We sent off our 10 pages and….

STRENGTHS
Nice romantic scene; a good steamy opening
Point of view changes from Naya to Vaughn are good; we can get to know both our lovers.
Strong writing.
I liked that the vampires can only drink from other vampires; it’s unique and sets up for a lot of interesting possibilities.
ISSUES
The fact that she’s a vampire princess seems very left to the wayside. It’s mentioned casually, but we don’t get any knowledge about what kind of creatures they are. Does she smell blood? Does she have superpowers? Undead? 100 years old? What about the princess part– she must be used to having a lot of power. Naya doesn’t act or seem like a vampire princess, and that part of her should be apparent.
NEXT STEPS
Though you mention some of the vampires mythology, Naya’s character doesn’t reflect this. She needs to not just think about being a vampire, but show it. 
Overall, a strong ten pages.

Hold the phone?! Did she just say “strong writing?” Did she say “steamy?” Did she say “strong ten pages?” WOO HOO!!!! We realize that there is stuff we need to work on but….talk about uplifting. This gives us hope in the midst of despair. It gives us a goal. It makes us want to take our heads out of the proverbial oven and turn off the gas (J/K!). We are STRONG!

So we eagerly make changes and tweak sentences and send it back. This is the best part of the course. She gives us advice, and we get to send it back. There is no guarantee that she will respond further, but at least we now have some idea what may be holding us up.

Despite the lack of guarantee concerning another response, of course we wait. And, miracle of miracles, she responds again.

This is good, but you need to find a way to bring Naya’s supernatural/royal status organically into the narrative. Except for mentioning that she’s a vampire princess and that she has these pressures, she seems to act, think, and feel like a normal girl. You list her powers, but we don’t see them, except for her smelling blood. She wants to be ordinary, but why? She has to be different because she is.
You still have some excellent imagery and good mystery/romance with Vaughn. Just make sure that the supernatural elements aren’t brought up just for the plot: they have to be in the characters.

Excellent imagery?! Good mystery/romance?! Hallelujah! The only problem we have now is….What the heck does ‘organically into the narrative’ mean? And, unfortunately, we want our main character to be a normal girl. This response has given us some real food for thought. It would appear the agent wants more paranormal whereas we, the writers, are focusing more on the contemporary romance features of the story.

Alas, this combination of writer and agent is not a perfect match. (Yet another way that finding an agent is more than a bit like dating. However, that is a story for another time.) But this entire process has given us hope. It has allowed us to realize that it really is a matter of finding the RIGHT agent. Our writing does not stink. We just need to keep on swinging for the fences and someday our prince will come (mixed metaphor but you get the drift).