Banner showing three books

How to Explain What You’re Writing About

My writing friends, and random people on the writing forums where I hang out, sometimes got trouble explaining what they’re writing about. Especially when someone’s talking to them.

So do I, but I’ve got a solution.

Two words: Log lines.

  • “It’s about a lone ranger fighting terrorists in a sky scraper.” That’s Die Hard.
  • “It’s Die Hard on a bus.” That’s Speed.
  • “It’s about an African girl killing a magic monster to end a drought.” That’s my latest story.

Of course, since I’m a pantser, I often don’t have the log line until after I’ve written “The End”. Which makes it hard to do log lines, so instead, I go with tropes:

  • It’s about a time-traveling historian going back to the worst battle of WWII.
  • It’s about a gunslinger-magician fighting a war in space. (Yeah, I’m writing that one, it’s the latest of my “Warded Gunslinger” series.)
  • It’s about a bartender in an inter-dimensional bar.

So what’s the difference between a log line and a trope summary? A trope summary doesn’t have to have a goal or a reason. A log line usually does.

Bruce Willis wants to kill the terrorists. Sandra Bullock wants to get off the bus. Aphiwe the African-inspired warrior-girl wants to end a drought.

My warded gunslinger is just fighting a war. The bartender in the inter-dimensional bar is just standing around, watching weird shit happen (I haven’t written that far in that particular story).

On the other hand, a log line is dependent on tropes (the Speed one wouldn’t have worked if Die Hard had flopped) so maybe there’s more similarities than differences.

Either way, it gives you a ten second sound bite that will shut up your audience so that you can create in peace.

Dreams of Futures Past Book Cover

Leave the first comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.