Book Review: Sell Your Story In A Single Sentence

Sell Your Story In A Single Sentence, by Lane Shefter Bishop

I have to admit that as a writer my marketing is what I tend to feel least confident about, and that appears to be a common problem for writers and not something that I struggle with alone.  What that means is that this particular book offers a great deal of intrigue when it comes to getting at the core of what a given work is about.  To be sure, this ability to distill a work in a single sentence can take a lot of work in refinement to the point where one can sell it to others, but the author does derive a considerable amount of insight by creating a compelling logline, as it allows someone to know who the real protagonist of the story is whose decisions move the plot along and who has the most stakes, and it can help to keep a work on track when it comes to providing compelling action for the future readers and/or viewers of the project.  One can curse the way that such concise summaries work, where each word is judged as costing $10 apiece and so none of them can be wasted, but one can’t argue with the results of creating a compelling way of describing a book to those who might be persuaded to fund its adaptation.

This book is a bit more than 200 pages and is divided into more than twenty short chapters as well as a great many workbooks where the author provides sample loglines and the reader can practice making them more compelling, with answers to help out the reader with their own projects.  The author begins by pointing out the value of a logline as well as a discussion of beginnings before defining the logline (1), asking who the protagonist of a given story is (2), and addressing the possibility of two (3) or more protagonists (4).  After that the author discusses what the protagonist wants (5), dealing with indecision (6), defining what’s at stake (7), and dealing with what happens with the stakes are already implicitly known (8).  After that the author discusses the need for a logline to be only a sentence (9) as well as issues of names (10), ageism (11), and adjectives (12), as well as the need for a logline to be specific (13), with a strong voice (14), properly finessed (15), and with good word usage (16).  There are discussions of the difference between fiction and nonfiction (17) in loglines as well as the importance of preserving the drama (18), understanding the process (19), expanding the logline into a pitch (20), making sure everything works (21), and concluding (22), after which there are acknowledgements and some information about the author.

Among the more enjoyable aspects of this book is the way that the author provides a great deal of advice into how to revise a logline in an iterative fashion, seeking to strike the balance between providing telling details that make a story more compelling while at the same time avoiding the sorts of details that may cause people to express disinterest in a given story.  The author is also shrewd to note that while the end goal of making a compelling logline remains constant in terms of desiring a compelling way of selling a given project, what makes a given product marketable will vary based on what the market is looking for at a given time, and this requires some flexibility of approach, unless the details provided are sufficiently compelling to sell the story itself by providing the sort of ticking clock that makes for obvious dramatic tension.  Creating a compelling logline is something I plan on doing for my future NoWriNaMo novels and future plays, and I can think of no higher praise than in seeking to implement this book’s advice when it comes to understanding and explaining my writing projects to others.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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