One line to rule them all…my battle with the “log line”



I’m like a magpie with articles/books on creative writing – I scour them for the little shiny nuggets of usefulness. I am conscious that a lot of time can be wasted reading (and writing) about writing but I do believe it’s important to study the craft and I have found that most books on creative writing have something that will really help me. I also follow some blogs – this particular post I’m looking at (One Pass Manuscript Revision by Holly Lisle) was from a link from a link and pertinent as I am just starting the big edit. I’m not too bothered about the whole “one pass” side of things but the section “THE PROCESS, PART ONE — DISCOVERY” clicked into place for me as something that would tackle some major problems head on. 

I have been thinking about themes – and genres – and couldn’t really pin down where my novel sits. Now, I am in the camp of thinking that narrative / plot should be the backbone of a novel (or at least the sort I’m aspiring to write) but to be of keen interest themes will have emerged from that to resonate with readers and it will benefit my novel to put some care and amplification into these. Yet writing my one major theme (do I need one big theme?) in less than 15 words has – so far – proved impossible. I do think this matters – when I write and read over my novel, I see much of value (and I enjoy it!) but I feel that it is a bit confused about what it really is. A mystery? A romance? A midlife crisis? A comedy? All of these things? I wouldn’t be worrying about this if I could convince myself it didn’t matter… Sub-themes are fine – I have a great mind-map (tool of choice at the moment is – simple, easy to use, easily accessible) with my themes on and I’m going to come back to these to work on them further once I sort out these big questions!

I also foundered on Holly’s blurbs (>25 words and >250 words) and, again, I think she’s right – this matters:

“if you’re going to nail the revision in one shot, you have to have each of these bits of information clearly in mind going in. If you don’t know where you’re going and what you hope to accomplish by the time you’re done, how will you know what you need to fix? Nothing will guarantee that you’ll wander aimlessly in revision hell faster than this”

I have not been writing with publishing foremost in mind so I’m not thinking about “elevator pitch” or book jackets / blurbs BUT I do want to be able to tell people what my novel’s about and it not sound lame. Even just to try out bits on Critique Circle, I need to decide my genre and give a quick overview. At the moment I would be in a verbal meander of “er”s and “um”s. 

I’ve been pondering these issues for a day or two and it’s damn hard to get answers. It cuts to the heart of what I’m doing and writing about. I owe my story and characters to be clear what I’m doing with them, never mind any potential readers. What would be useful with this is some examples of famous books with their short synopses. I may go for a wander in the bookshop and look at some covers…

Any comments or suggestions or pointers greatly appreciated!

P.S. In the shower it came to me – one line of dialogue from my novel actually hits the theme-in-15-words jackpot! However my next thought was “that sounds boring!”…


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