on August 23, 2007

Robert Gregory Browne, a pal of mine from Thriller Writers whose debut novel KISS HER GOODBYE came out this year, posted over at Murderati yesterday about log lines. It’s definitely worth reading (but come back here when you’re done!)

Rob posted this article a year or so ago on his own blog, and it resonated with me. Being able to pitch your idea in on sentence so that someone “gets it” is a valuable tool. I use loglines (though not as good as Rob’s!) to summarize all my books. However, after reading Rob’s lesson, I realized that what I thought were loglines are really . . . not. The loglines from my first trilogy are better than the ones from my second trilogy, which are too character specific and don’t really tell the story in a high concept kind of way. I’ve had them posted at Publishers Marketplace for ages, and I want to update my page with my new books.


THE PREY . . . Ex-FBI agent turned crime fiction writer discovers her books are being used as blueprints for murder.
THE HUNT . . . The sole survivor of a brutal serial killer tracks her attacker twelve years later when another college student turns up dead in the Montana wilderness.
THE KILL . . . When DNA evidence releases the man she believed murdered her sister, an FBI crime lab scientist breaks all the rules to find the real killer.


When Montana Sheriff Nick Thomas learns his brother Steve is suspected of a brutal murder, he goes to San Diego to prove his innocence. Homicide detective Carina Kincaid is working just as hard to prove his guilt.

When District Attorney Julia Chandler’s troubled niece has been charged with the grisly murder of her stepfather, Julia hires P.I. Connor Kincaid to help prove her innocence. Together they uncover a game of virtual murder with deadly results.

Five years ago FBI agent Kate Donovan took on a sadistic killer and lost. Now running from her own government in order to prove her innocence in another girl’s gruesome murder, Kate teams with forensic psychiatrist Dillon Kincaid to find the killer’s chamber of horrors before Dillon’s sister Lucy is slaughtered live on the Internet.

Especially FEAR NO EVIL, I could have shortened to this: Forensic psychiatrist has 48 hours to find sister before she’s killed live on the Internet. Much more powerful, don’t you think?

I pitched my upcoming “prison break” trilogy as follows:

An earthquake under San Quentin precipitates the escape of several death row inmates.

That’s a good start–but it doesn’t really say anything about the actual story. It’s the inciting moment, so-to-speak–what sets up the trilogy.

I need three log lines for my prison break trilogy. According to Rob, you need the “Who, What and How” for a logline–and nothing more. But it is much harder than it looks. Here’s what I have so far, but I don’t think they are tight enough:

Theodore Glenn vowed to kill everyone involved with his capture and prosecution the day he was convicted. Now he’s escaped from prison and Detective Will Hooper must put an end to his killing spree before he becomes the next victim.

Two escaped murderers take a Montana resort hostage during a snowstorm, and things turn deadly when a romance writer is stalked by one man who considers himself her personal hero for killing the man who murdered her husband and son.

An innocent man on death row for the murder of his wife and her lover must seek refuge with his estranged daughter, who was the prosecution’s primary witness against him twenty years ago. As he struggles against the clock to prove his innocence, he must earn her trust before the real killer strikes again.

What do you all think? Any comments or criticisms are welcome. I think they are all too long, but brevity is not my strong suit.

Now, it’s your turn. Read Rob’s article and come up with a log line for the readers of MSW to critique. I’ll be at Six Flags Marine World all day, but I will comment on every log line posted by midnight tonight. AND every brave soul who posts a log line will be entered in a random drawing for any book in my backlist.

BTW, I have a cover for the KILLER YEAR anthology edited by Lee Child. Cool, eh? (Well, the cover–it’s kind of bland–but I think it gets the point across about the content, don’t you think? And Lee Child’s name will sell the book.) Remember the pain I went through writing a short story? Well, I love this story and the hero Matt Elliott is going to not only be a major secondary character in DYING BREATH, but he’ll eventually get his own book. Now I have to do it all again with another short story due October 1 . . .

Killer Year Antho