IWSG Post II: Log lines Can Drive A Person Nuts
[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]
Last Wednesday night was a bit of a nail biter.
Game II of the World Series, the Kansas City Royals versus the New York Mets with the Royals being my own home team, and the game of all things, was in my hometown.
That night was also the night before a major writing deadline for Writer’s Digest, a contest possibility I’d been planning to submit my work to for the past week and a half.
I sat at my desk with a three-hour stretch in front of me. In my own busy world of work and writing and family, I’d missed a few points in the submission process. And in that daunting moment, I faced the almost inevitable decision not to go for it.
1. The log line. Consolidating the entirety of my 71,000 K current word count manuscript into one bitty sentence. I didn’t think I had enough time. To do that, I knew I’d have to streamline and I tend to be wordy on short notice time frames.
This log line couldn’t be a run-on sentence. But a powerful verb filled sentence anyone could get and not only get, but also feel the same excitement about my work that I do enough to want more.
Could you do that? Consolidate your biggest passion into one sentence and make it so enthralling you hook a stranger so they too, understand exactly who you are and why you are different and why they should care?
… AND … do it is less than three hours?
It’s a difficult spot to be in.
The second bigger point in why I didn’t submit?
2. A completed manuscript.
I couldn’t honestly back up the submission point in having a completed manuscript to my own personal satisfaction. With a previous draft completed, I’d since shifted the plot line and easily had another 20,000 K in words left to complete.
On the Upside of the contest?
The main prize did look amazing. The chance to have the first 10 pages of my manuscript critiqued by an incredibly talented agent who liked my genre, Young Adult Fiction, and after researching the agent further, who was also interested in my specific genre, Young Adult fantasy. Real world life mixed with a bit of magical dust.
Wrapping up my decision.
So! Maybe my worries got the best of me. Even though I knew the manuscript wouldn’t be reviewed in its entirety, there is always potential an agent might pick you up.
Unfortunately, I am a rule follower.
So what do you think? Even though the decision is past and gone, what would you have done?
Posted on November 4, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.
I think you did the right thing. If things went RIGHT then you would have been stuck with turning in your not quite done thing instead of your best work. And what is the point submitting if the best outcome isn’t all that great. Best of luck getting it polished and submitted elsewhere!
I really appreciate your kind words and encouragement. I keep telling myself, “just a few more months,” and The time spent will be worth it. Thank you 🙂
Follow your instincts. They will seldom lead you wrong. Log lines don’t have to tell the whole story. Think the first words in a movie trailer: In a world where the dead rule, being alive is fatal.
Use word play to tweak the imagination. Say enough to whet the interest of the judge or the reader.
Here is an old post of mine on the subject that may be of some help:
Oh my goodness! Thank you so much! I really need some tips. I may put together a blog on log lines as I am learning the trick and mention your blog if that is ok 😊
I just faced a similar decision a few days ago, when I decided not to submit to IWSG. I knew the story I had wasn’t finished well, and I had several other life commitments going on, so I didn’t hit send. It was tough, but I think I made the right choice, and I think you did, too. If you don’t feel ready, then take a step back, look at it (like you did), and see if you’re feelings match up with facts. I think you did all those steps, and it sounds like you made a good decision. Now, you can concentrate on making that log line rock and finishing it well, so when the next contest comes along, you’ll be ready!
Thank you so much for your comforting words Tyrean. I certainly plan to work hard at it and hopefully make a post of what I learned from it. This group really means a great deal to me in being able to keep the steam rolling 😊
Two things. The most important is if you think the story isn’t ready don’t submit. What if they took it as it was. Eeek. That would be a nightmare you might not want to face. And the other is log lines. Get a few organized and then pitch them to your writing group. There is always someone in the group that kicka$$ when it comes to them.
Making the right decision is hard. There is no law saying you can’t submit to your favorite agent when the time is right for you. Good Luck!
Anna from Elements of Writing
Thank you for your amazing words Anna. I really appreciate you. I was thinking the same thing in those last few minutes. If they liked my 250 first words, I might wind up in trouble 😊
I’ve opted not to participate in contests which seemed amazing, for reasons such as my work not fitting into one age-based category and the fact that many of my books are deliberately saga-length. If you’re just not feeling the urge to submit or participate, it’s probably the right decision. We always want to put our very best work forward, not rush an incomplete manuscript into a contest just because it’s a great opportunity. If the work isn’t as perfect and prepared as we could get it, the judges, agents, and editors involved in the contest might remember that and give our work a pass if we submit to them later on or participate in another contest.
Thank you Carrie-Anne. You nailed my feeling about passing up a great opportunity. Sometimes it’s hard to put on the brakes, but I am so glad that I did. Thank you for your kind words 😊
I think you did the right thing. Never submit to agents before your work is as perfect as it can be. And yes, log lines can be really hard! I find them a lot harder than query letters, which I weirdly enjoy.
Thank you Alexia for your honesty. I also think you are one talented lady! 😊
Erika, so soon after making a big change in the story and a general discomfort over the readiness of it, it sounds like you made the right decision. Though I also caution that the story will never feel perfect. I see too many authors hang on to their mss forever because they expect to feel their story is perfect and then are bitterly surprised when and agent and then an editor provide lots and lots of red marks and suggested changes.
As far as log lines are concerned? Ugh. Sometimes they come so easily. Other times your book can be out for a year before you finally figure out the best way to describe it in one sentence. Best of luck to you.
Just the logline, yes. Write another twenty thousand words in one night? Probably not. I’m a rule follower and wouldn’t have sent it either.
Welcome to the IWSG!
Thank you Alex. I appreciate you stopping in. 🙂
What felt right for you was right for you.
I subbed to a contest not expecting to place, then got longlisted and had to finish the MS in 13 days! While a part of me was happy, the rest of me was panicking.
It all paid off in the end, because I got to the next draft that much faster.
But that was me, and I went by my gut. I think you went by your gut, and time will tell you that your decision was right.
Wow! I do so much appreciate you sharing your experience with me. I am definitely glad I did not submit because I have two small children and am unable to write that fast lol😊
I was all ready to discuss long lines until I started reading and realized I’d read the title of the post wrong.
I’ve thought about submitting to one of the Writer’s Digest contests but never manage to get anything together to submit. One consolation for you to consider is that this wasn’t your last chance. And there are plenty of other contests–maybe not with the prize you wanted, but still with other benefits perhaps.
Better to wait until you feel more confident in what you’re going to submit.
Tossing It Out
Thank you Arlee. I appreciate your kind thoughts. I am also most definitely exploring the skill in log lines in my next post. 😊