I’d start off this blog by saying that coming up with an effective log line is no easy task. And there are no schools that can teach people how to sum up in just a few lines the concept of an entire book. I think–but please correct me if I’m wrong–that you either have it or you don’t, and I know for a fact I don’t. I use so many words to express a simple concept that sometimes I get twisted around them, while the secret of log lines is to be as concise as possible. Instead, I’m always worried I’m leaving something out, or that I’m not giving readers enough info, so I keep adding words on words until they’re overbearing. But I did find a solution to this problem of mine, and that is to rely on my husband’s help.
He’s a genius in summing up a story in a few words, which makes for excellent titles or log lines. How does he do it? It’s hard to explain, but I’ll give you examples of how we work together. I’ll start by saying that I never begin writing a book having a title in mind, much less a log line. The characters and their stories are the most important things for me, but when the time comes to inform my publisher, I run to my husband and either tell him the synopsis or have him read the book to me–which does also wonders for my editing. Out of all my words, he manages to key in on the essential info, for example if the story focuses more on the strained relationship between the characters or if it’s more on the plot itself, and comes up with the perfect title and log line, the ones that say it all without revealing too much. Neat, eh?
True, the process isn’t always as smooth and easy as I make it out to be. Sometimes, I go along with his ideas, because they’re just right for the book. There are times, however, when I don’t agree and choose to use my instinct rather than his suggestions. It happened with Visionquest and with my Soulmate series, both Book 1 and 2. The concept of the series is that sometimes you can find your soul mate in the person you least expect, and once found, it’s kind of inevitable that the connection will work its own magic. So the titles To Seduce A Soul Mate and The Pirate’s Surrender refer to the two key moments of the story. The first, when Martin has to convince Drake–nicknamed Pirate–that he is his soul mate, even if Drake never thought he had one, much less that it would turn out to be a man. The second title is for Drake’s acceptance of what being soul mates really means.
But my husband is more creative yet, and for sure a lot more concise in providing both titles and log lines. In Re-Scue, for instance, the storyline is basically about two souls who chase each other from one life to the next because hooked on a bloody game of knife and sex that turns them into hunter and prey. But if for the latter the game is a way to express his feelings, for the former it’s only a game, so inevitably they clash and destroy themselves in the process, until at their last reincarnation they find a way to get over their differences and find a way to be together without killing one another. That’s what the title implies–Re-Scue as in they ‘rescue’ each other from letting their bloodlust get the better of them and come together in a way they never thought they would. The log line is equally explicative: Too many lives…too much blood…too much sex…yet they still haven’t learned! Yes, concise and to the point, tells enough without spoiling the ending. As for the sequel, Tasting Leon’s Mark, he had no trouble coming up with the title since the two main characters, the ones that have resolved their original conflict, are named Leon and Sean. The log line, also says it all: Will Sean accept anything for another taste of Leon?
Another example is with The Demon Waiter, a Halloween story he suggested to me, and that I developed according to my particular sensibility. The heart of this novel is Laurent’s quest to uncover Halloween’s secret, contained in a particular book, and get his heart’s wish fulfilled. Of course, once he does, he’ll be plunged into the demon dimension, hence the book’s title The Demon Waiter, and here’s the log line: Now he had the place. He had the lovers. He had the simultaneous come. And tonight was Halloween!
I could go on making examples, but I think you may have grasped the basic concept. Safe to say that Spying the Alcove, Divinitas, Roman Seduction and most of the books of my ongoing fantasy series, the Virtus Saga benefit from my husband’s magical touch. Titles like The Sex, The Game, The Festival, The Leader and the upcoming The Pledge, just released September 1st, and The Heat, coming November 15th, were his contribution to my writing.
Working with him, I realize that synthesis is a gift I lack, however much effort I put in the edits to cut down the extra wording. In the end, I feel stupid that it takes me a whole book to say what my husband sums up in a few brief words! But I do love him all the more for it!