The One Question Every Writer Has To Answer

by Pamela Fernuik | 145 comments

There is one question every writer has to answer. Yes, only one. It doesn't matter if you are writing memoir, fiction, non-fiction, or a screenplay, you have to answer this question.

The One Question Every Writer Has To Answer

And, no, the one question every writer has to answer is not, “What do you want to eat for supper.” That question would apply to non-writers too. As, we all have to  eat.

The one question every writer has to answer is: What's it about?

Or, as Blake Snyder said in his book Save The Cat, “What is it?”

What are you trying to say? What is your memoir, speech, essay, story, screenplay, poem, or novel about? Every genre of writing has to answer this question.

A genre is a distinctive class or category of literary composition and comes from the Latin word genus.
William Morris— Editor, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, page 550, falling between genotype and genro

How to Answer the One Question

In Blake Synder's  book, Save The Cat,  the one question is called a logline or a one-line. His book focuses on screenwriting. But his wisdom applies to all genres of writing. A logline is a one sentence summary of your script.

And since the term logline is reserved for scripts, let's call our one sentence summary a whatline. 

A “what is your writing about sentence.” The old whatline.

It is important to know what your story is about.

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Three Advantages to Writing A Logline or a Whatline

  1. Writing a one sentence summary of your writing piece will help you figure out what your story is about. Yes, you have to think about what you are trying to say.
  2. If you know what your story is about before you start writing it, you hopefully won't get lost in the telling of the story.
  3. Your reader will appreciate the focused intent of your writing. And, I assume you want the reader to finish reading your story.

Can you describe in one sentence what you are writing?

You get one sentence to tell what you are writing about. Not forty-two sentences, or sixty-nine. Or even six hundred and twelve sentences.

Have you ever tried to write what your writing piece is about in one sentence? Let me know in the comments section.

PRACTICE

Write a one sentence description of one of your work's in progress. The writing of your sentence might take just a few minutes, or it could take you two hours. After you wrote the one sentence, did it help clarify your story?

Or try thinking of writing a whatline for a new writing piece. Think for fifteen minutes, and then write your one sentence. Or write as many one sentence whatlines as you can in fifteen minutes. Then share your whatline in the comments section.

Please encourage another writer today and comment on their practice.

xo
Pamela

 | Website

Pamela writes stories about art and creativity to help you become the artist you were meant to be. She would love to meet you at www.ipaintiwrite.com.

145 Comments

  1. B. Gladstone

    OK Pam, here at my first attempt of putting together a one liner. I am going to guess that if it needs tweaking, it might be because it’s too long? The news of the search for the baby of the distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina, and his wife, who were gruesomely murdered, sent Rachel in the desperate hunt to find the child that just a few months ago she thought she was not capable of loving.

    Reply
    • Christine

      Maybe you could flip this around to put the MC first:
      When Rachel heard of the search for the murdered professor’s (stolen?) baby, she joined the desperate hunt…

    • B. Gladstone

      I like your suggestion very much Christine. Thanks!

    • Harper Hodges

      Mrs. Hodges just went to the pet store to buy cat food. So I am filling in for her until she gets back. My name is Harper.
      It is very dramatic. The poor baby. I hope they find her soon. Is is always easier to take away works rather than add them. I wonder if you need all of the detail? Like, does it matter that he was distinguished?
      Oh, my I want to read this one.
      xo
      Harper

    • B. Gladstone

      Once you read the novel, you will see why it does matter to mention he was designated a distinguished professor…glad you liked it Harper. Tell Mrs. Hodges to hurry, you must be hungry!

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello B. Gladstone,
      I am back now. Please let us know when Harper and I can read your book. We are both concerned for the baby. And, I really want to know about the professor.
      xo
      Pamela

    • EndlessExposition

      I would agree with Christine, I think rearranging the structure of the sentence would make it more cohesive. Fantastic premise though, I think you can do great things with this!

  2. LaCresha Lawson

    Hello all. This is a good topic. Can I tell someone what I am writing about in one entence? Yes, but, I talk a lot.

    Reply
    • Harper Hodges

      Talking a lot isn’t a bad think really. Hello LaCresha. My name is Harper. I help Mrs. Hodges out sometimes.
      I will tell her you liked the topic.
      xo
      Harper

    • LaCresha Lawson

      Thank you. I really enjoy reading these articles.

  3. Avery White

    The misplaced expectations of Jonathan Ramekin drives him from his home until the arrival of a ruthless army forces his return.

    Reply
    • Harper Hodges

      Oh WOW Avery,
      A ruthless army is so much better than a plain old army. Poor old Jonathan Ramekin. He is forced to return.
      Very exciting.
      Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. I am Harper. Mrs. Hodges cat. She doesn’t know I can type. She went to the store to buy cat food.
      xo
      Harper

    • EndlessExposition

      I would like to know in this logline what Jonathan had misplaced expectations of. I think that added detail would really help grab the reader.

    • Avery White

      Endless – Thank you so much! I’ve actually had quite a bit of trouble figuring out how to make the logline better. The story is still developing so this piece is seemingly always in flux. Your feedback is most welcome!

      What about:

      Fearing that his future has been planned out for him, Jonathan Ramekin runs away from home until the arrival of a ruthless army forces his return.

  4. Debra johnson

    How to accomplish things after surgery when you are confined in a wheel chair when you are living alone, by using a cane as your extended arm.

    Reply
    • Harper Hodges

      Hello Debra Johnson,
      My dear Debra, is this fiction on non-fiction? If it is non-fiction I would love to come and help you. If it is fiction, you sure got my attention.
      All my best,
      xo
      Harper

    • Debra johnson

      Harper, I love hearing from you. Its non – fiction. Its what my summer consisted of which started in June.

    • Harper Hodges

      Oh dear Debra,
      Please send me your address to thecatharper@gmail.com. I would love to send you a card.
      xo
      Love Harper

  5. Marcy Mason McKay

    Excellent post, Pamela. The great thing about a “whatline” is that you can tell IMMEDIATELY if it’s a success or failure. If the other person’s eyes glaze over and they just say, “That’s nice,” then move to a new topic…you failed and need to go back to the drawing board.
    However, if their eyes light up and they says, “Wow, that’s sounds cool,” or “Tell me more.” Success!

    Reply
    • Harper Hodges

      Hello Marcy Mason McKay,
      I will tell Pamela you thought her post was excellent. She just left to buy cat-food.
      I love the eye’s glaze over test for a “whatline.”
      Great idea.
      xo
      Love Harper

    • ShirleyAnn Gaines

      Love what your said, Marcy Mason McKay. Isn’t this the truth!

  6. LilianGardner

    A family’s journey to hell when they immigrate to U.S.A and how they strive to settle, knowing they will always be misfits.
    This is my sentence of the novel I’m writing.
    Pamela, you really baited us with this ‘one sentence’ post. I’m sure we’ll all write a sentence, or maybe two or three.

    Reply
    • Harper Hodges

      Hello My Dearest Lilian Gardner,
      Wow, that family sure must have been surprised to end up in hell when they came to the U.S.A.
      Poor things always being misfits. I hope it gets better for them.
      Your one-line if full of drama and suspense.
      So nice to see you today.
      xo
      Love Harper
      p.s. Pamela went to buy cat-food.

    • LilianGardner

      Hello Harper Hodges. Thanks for saying hello.
      Unfortunately, for those who have never been forced to leave their mother land and live else where, will never understand that it is impossible to settle in another country and claim it as your own. You will always be a stranger and natives will always consider you as one.
      Things are quite different when you ‘choose’ to move to another country. It’s difficult to explain. One must experience it.
      What brand of cat food does Pamela buy for you?
      Minnie is fussy and eats only beef and chicken paté.
      She sends you a paw shake.
      Love, Lilian

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Lillian,
      Harper is sleeping now. I am glad she could help me when I went out. Harper eats Purina soft food, and a fancy dry food with no grains in it. Harper says hello to Minnie.
      I was born in Canada, but married an American. But, I was not forced to leave. That would be so hard.
      Some of my friends that I met when I lived in Japan in the 80’s still live there. I wonder if they feel like they belong?
      Your one-line was very clear and dramatic. I am curious to know how they feel, what they think.
      All my best,
      xo
      Pamela and Harper

    • LilianGardner

      Hello Pam,
      It’s a true story. I feel I owe it to my friends to let people know the hardships they endured, the courage they summoned up to face their problems, and how they yearned to live their old age in the country of their birth. Unfortunately they did not fulfil this dream.
      There are many ups and downs in their lives; perhaps more downs than ups.
      When I finish the novel may I ask you to read it and tell me what you think?
      Hugs to your cats and dog.
      With love,
      Lilian

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Lillian,
      Thank you for asking.
      I am sorry I don’t have time to read now as I am working on a deadline for my own book. Becoming Writer, that is hosted by The Write Practice, has weekly sharing of works in progress. It would be a great place to share your work.
      Here is the link.
      https://thewritepractice.com/members/join/
      Sending you hugs,
      xo
      Pamela

    • Lilian Gardner

      Hi Pam,
      I’m looking forward to reading The Memoir of Pooh Hodges. I want to read from Pooh’s POV.
      I forgot to tell you that my novel will take me ages to finish, polish and publish. I can’t share it on TWP yet because it’s too ‘raw’.
      Best of luck for your work and warm hugs,

      Lilian

  7. Beth

    A young girl and her struggle with depression and anxiety as she starts college in America and meets some very questionable people. She falls into a relationship with an abuser and the story centers on her trying to overcome her demons, both in her head and physically in front of her.

    Reply
    • Harper Hodges

      Hello Beth,
      Thank you for sharing your “Whatline.” The girl really has a lot to overcome.
      The questionable people are they bad people? I hope the girl overcomes her demons.
      xo
      Love Harper
      p.s. I am Mrs. Hodges, or Pamela’s cat. She just left to buy cat food.

    • Beth

      Hi Harper, (lovely name by the way)
      You’re welcome, and thanks for being interested in what I have to say!

      The questionable people are friends the protagonist meets at college, and one of them has some very sinister motives.

      I’m writing in first person, telling the story as myself in character form.
      I find it easier that way, and can use my own experiences in a more personal way. Especially my experiences with mental health.

      Love,
      Beth

  8. Laura Page

    Just a quick word about process: I absolutely agree that any piece of creative writing needs to have a direction. Though at what point a writer pins that direction or that “what” down for himself or for his work is never a given. For instance, I know that many poets, myself included, find that a piece can go through several permutations before the writing is even completed. Sometimes our creative process doesn’t start with a clear idea about where we’re going or where we’ll end up. Nonetheless, we do end up somewhere. And in the editing process, that whatline becomes important!

    Laura Page, writing consultation and manuscript editing
    http://buffaloelliot.wordpress.com

    Reply
    • Cathy Ryan

      so true! Stephen King says after the first draft we are able to figure out what the work is about. rewrite helps to focus the work.

    • Harper Hodges

      Hello Laura.
      You have a very good point. Sometimes writing becomes more clear as we write.
      I hope you have a good day.
      xo
      Love Harper,
      p.s. I am Pamela’s cat. She left to buy cat-food.

  9. ShirleyAnn Gaines

    The one act play I just finished last Thursday: A pleasant, quiet woman turns out someone quite different than she seems.

    ShirleyAnn Gaines
    Painter and Writer

    Reply
    • Harper Hodges

      Hello ShirleyAnn Gaines,
      A one act play. I wonder what she turns into.
      I am very curious about your play based on your one sentence.
      xo
      Love Harper
      p.s. Pamela just ran out to buy cat food. So I am helping her while she is gone.

    • ShirleyAnn Gaines

      Hi Harper,
      Yes, likely the shortest play I’ve written. The first was the longest. Two characters (and, an implied third) Who “she” turns into? I’m delighted by how that happened. Something was brewing in my head. Suddenly, the pieces started coming together. I picked up my pen, the fountain pen, not the ballpoint, and the whole thing came in one sitting. I looked at it, shifted a couple pieces, let it sit overnight. Next day I typed it. Either today, or at the latest, tomorrow, I’ll send it to the producers. Telling more, it will give away, won’t it? I don’t think I can do this until I find out that they’ve decided to produce it. Do you?

      Thank you, for asking, Harper.

      Shirley

      p.s. Can’t let the kitty get hungry.

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello ShirleyAnn Gaines,
      Of course! We can’t have you giving away your ending. I am excited to see what the producers say. Please let us know what they say. Either way we will cheer you on.
      I am glad Harper helped me when I was out.
      xo
      Pamela

    • ShirleyAnn Gaines

      Harper is a charm. How lucky you two have each other! Of course, I will let you know as soon as I know something more.

      xo to you both!
      ShirleyAnn

  10. Erica DeFur Malik

    A young outcast struggles to grow-up in world with a deadly environment, religious zealots, and a secret that no one wants revealed.

    Reply
    • Harper Hodges

      Oh Erica DeFur Malik,
      A secret? I love secrets.
      And an outcast. So many mysteries in your one sentence. I really want to know more.
      xo
      Harper
      p.s. I live with Pamela. I am a cat. Pamela just left to buy cat food. I am helping her out until she gets back.

    • EndlessExposition

      This one really has me interested! Good work!

  11. Cathy Ryan

    thanks Pamela for the article. Here’s mine:
    When word comes that Rich’s Marine Corp dad is wounded, Rich is moved over 800 miles away and left at his grandfather’s farm where strange creatures come to escape from a deadly hunter.

    Reply
    • Harper Hodges

      Hello Cathy Ryan,
      Oh dear. Strange Creatures!
      This is very exciting. I hope Rich’s dad is okay. Please give him my best. Your one line has me very curious. Thank you for commenting Cathy
      xo
      Love Harper
      p.s. Pamela just left to buy cat food. She should be back soon. Hopefully, I am hungry.

  12. Reagan Colbert

    It took me about an hour to get this. Am I the only one who thinks it’s easier to write an 80,000 word novel than one sentence?? 🙂

    “When trusting in God’s plan leaves Alyssa Brenton paralyzed and in a rehab center, will her faith be strong enough to sustain her, and help her show Christ’s love to the person who needs it most?”

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Reagan,
      I can see why this took an hour to write. You cover a lot of information in one sentence. The one sentence is so hard. Every word has to count.
      Boy, I really want to know if her faith is strong enough. And I am so curious to know how dear Alyssa got paralyzed.
      xo
      Pamela

    • Reagan Colbert

      Wow, I’m glad it got you hooked! I can let you know now that I have more than one sentence to do it! It’s a romance: she got paralyzed in a fire, and the book follows her as she regains her ability to walk. She ends up bringing her doctor to Christ and falling in love with him.
      Seriously, though, I’m hopelessly long-winded. I was amazed I even came up with a sentence! Thank you for the article, it’s great to have to think!

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Reagan,
      You are very welcome. Now I see why a bit of mystery in a whatline is helpful. Now, I will try and write mine.
      xo
      Pamela

    • Ryan

      Fantastic logline! Your story sounds excellent.

    • Beth

      Hi Reagan,

      Just want to let you know that one of my main characters is called Reagan 🙂

      Your name is so unique.

      Beth

    • Reagan Colbert

      That’s so cool, thanks for sharing it, Beth. 🙂
      God bless,
      Reagan

    • B. Gladstone

      Reagan, I feel the same way as you. Yes, summarizing a story into a compelling sentence can be very challenging, but at the same time, I feel its a very important exercise we need to master. I am looking forward to reading your story. Our faith is challenged in so many ways and stories do help us understand circumstances that we would otherwise not know and we can learn from them. All the best!

    • Reagan Colbert

      Thanks so much! And I agree with you, writing a sentence is important, and I didn’t realize it until this practice. I know I’ve learned so much and God has shown me so much since He gave me this story. I’ll let you, (well, the whole Write Practice) know when it’s coming out. Thanks for the encouragement- It means so much to have a fellow believer in Christ on here!

  13. Claire

    Here’s my one line: A well-established hitman, known as “The Silencer,” is required to complete a mission that’ll conflict with his personal moral beliefs.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Oh wow Claire,
      A hitman with morals. Now I really want to know what happens.
      What will “The Silencer,” do?
      Oh dear. Suspense. Thank you for commenting.
      xo
      Pamela

    • Claire

      Thanks for your comment, Pamela.

    • Reagan Colbert

      Ooooh… I like the sound of it! I admire how you packed so much intrigue into so few words!

    • Claire

      Thanks for the comment. This is my current WIP.

    • Wolf271

      I love this logline! It is very intriguing! Even the name “The Silencer” has me asking questions. I would love to read this and find out what happens. Good luck with this!

    • Claire

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it. BTW, my protagonist’s surname in the story is Wolfe.

    • Wolf271

      Hahaha what a coincidence! I love wolves, if you hadn’t guessed already. 🙂

  14. George McNeese

    A weekend trip with his mother was the last thing Antonio Moore wanted, but he gets more than what he expected when a family friend takes him out on the town.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello George,
      Now I am very curious. Why doesn’t Antonio Moore want to spend the weekend with his mother, and what happens when he goes out of town?
      Poor Antonio. I hope he is okay.
      Please tell us what happens to Antonio. Or let us know when the book comes out.
      xo
      Pamela

    • George McNeese

      It’s a short story, though it would make for an interesting book.

  15. Aspholessaria

    Young boy taken into slavery by the Romans escapes to fight his enemy, but eventually comes to terms with his hatred through love.

    Gosh, it is hard to sum up in one sentence.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Aspholessaria,
      Yes, I can imagine the one sentence is hard. Especially when you have a young boy taken into slavery. I am pleased to hear he escapes. I hope he doesn’t get too badly hurt in the fight.
      I think I will work on my one sentence too. I don’t just want to write about writing and not write.
      xo
      Pamela

  16. Jay Arias

    This is a great post! Here’s mine, though it’s still in the editing process 🙂

    An orphaned survivor must face her greatest fears and defeat the evil lurking all around her.

    It’s kind of vague…oh well! I’ll have time to edit it.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Arias,
      Thank you for liking the post. Glad it is helpful.
      And the start of a whatline is great. If you don’t start you won’t have anything to edit.
      I need to work on mine too.
      The poor orphaned survivor. And to be surrounded by evil. I am very curious to find out what happens to her. Please let us know.
      xo
      Pamela

    • Wolf271

      This logline is a great start. Mine took me ages to work out and I still don’t think it’s quite there! ;-). Good luck!

    • Jay Arias

      Thanks! It’s replies like this that keep me writing 😀

    • Wolf271

      🙂 it’s nice sometimes just to know your writing has been read and appreciated by someone.

  17. Pamela Hodges

    Here is the whatline for Pooh Hodges Memoir. He told me his life story before he died on April 1st. Most of it is written.
    A cat with a mouse hunting business struggles with pleasing his mother or following his dream to be a writer.
    What do you think?

    Reply
    • Ryan

      Sounds like a story of great conflict! 🙂

    • FreshNewLife

      A cat with a business?!? This puts cats on an entirely new level – one which strangely suits them. I know of some cats who – in such a world of possibilities – would fit the role to a “T”!

      But he struggles with pleasing his mother??? What cat struggles, especially one that is so confident that he runs his own business?

      I am very intrigued and, well, quite curious!

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello FreshNewLife,

      The cat, Pooh Hodges had his own very successful business catching mice, but he had really wanted to be a writer.
      He had a deep respect for his mother, who he never saw again, once he was adopted at the shelter.
      A near-death experience helped Pooh see the value of following his dreams.
      I will be sure to let you know when the memoir is finished.

      xo
      Pamela

      Pooh was a writer at The Write Practice as well. He was really living his dream. Here is one of his interviews.
      https://thewritepractice.com/cat-talk-steven-pressfield-author-work/

  18. Ryan

    A man once bound to a murderous life of revenge discovers forgiveness, and must lose everything to prove it.

    This “whatline” really prioritizes a writing project! Thanks for the great advice, Pamela!

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Ryan,
      I am so happy the “whatline” helped your project.
      The man in your story has lived a very exciting life. Your summary is very exciting. A killer who changes. Please tell us when you are finished your story.
      xo
      Pamela

    • NC0207

      This sounds like quite a dark yet moving story. I admit I’m intrigued! Good luck with writing this!

  19. Pedro Hernandez

    A boy fighting to keep his brother safe is ripped apart from him, forced to face dark evils and terrible hardships.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Pedro,
      I am so curious to know where the brother’s live and what their life is like. Your “whatline,” makes me want to know more. Dark evils and terrible hardships sounds very dramatic.
      xo
      Pamela

    • Wolf271

      This logline really makes me ask questions. Why is the boy fighting to keep his brother safe? Do they have parents? Where are they/what happened to them? What are these dark evils and terrible hardships? And will the two boys ever be reunited? I love this concept and wish you luck with writing it!

  20. Kieran Meyer

    Two young warriors, haunted by the loss of their brother, are forced to face harsh truths as they learn more about their world and themselves during their final mission.

    I think this works. I’ve been working on my book for almost a year, and this is the hardest thing I’ve had to write about it.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Kiernan Meyer,
      Try your one line sentence with friends and see how they respond.
      Isn’t that funny. How one sentence can be harder to write than the book. Some one else in the comments said the same thing.
      Your sentence made me want to read the book. It tells me what is happening and also makes me curious. What happened to their brother? What is their final mission?
      xo
      Pamela

    • Wolf271

      This story sounds great! I would love to read it once it’s finished! It is very intriguing. I wonder what these harsh truths are…

  21. Lauren Timmins

    While battling inner demons and high school pressures, Elle Roberts accidentally befriends a tightrope walker and her group of socially abnormal teenage companions.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Lauren,
      Elle Roberts sounds like an interesting character. Your “whatline” leaves me very curious. I wonder what happens to Ellie and her new friends.
      Please let us know when your story is finished.
      xo
      Pamela

    • EndlessExposition

      I’d have to read it just to find out how one accidentally befriends a tightrope walker. Great logline!

    • NC0207

      This would be such a cool story! I would love to read it.

  22. Gary G Little

    Dark star passing, Neptune flinging, Earth capturing, journey beginning.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Gary G. Little

      Oh dear. A dark star, with Neptune and Earth. I am so curious to know what journey is beginning.
      Your sentence sounds like a poem. If you stack the phrases.
      Dark star passing,
      Neptune flinging,
      Earth capturing,
      journey beginning.

      xo
      Pamela

    • Gary G Little

      My muse smote me with it a few weeks ago, and I realized it describes the story. No one said you could not wax poetic answering “the question.”

    • Pamela Hodges

      Your poetry was like a fresh breeze on a hot day.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and words Gary.
      xo
      Pamela

    • EndlessExposition

      This could be a tagline as well as a logline!

    • Wolf271

      I love the poetry of this!

  23. Ashley Renee Dufield

    In order to cope with the loss of her twin brother Audrey creates an imaginary world where she can be someone completely different and make her own destiny, but when she is involved in a serious accident it becomes nearly impossible for her to distinguish fantasy from reality,

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Ashley Renee Dufield,
      Well, my dear Ashley. You have managed in one sentence to make me very concerned for Audrey. I am so sad her brother died and I really want to know what happens to her. A serious accident on top of her brother dying. Oh dear.
      The “nearly impossible” gives me hope she will survive.
      Please let us know when your story is finished.
      xo
      Pamela

    • Ashley Renee Dufield

      Thank you. I will certainly let you know if I ever finish it (fingers crossed).

    • EndlessExposition

      I’d read this! Sounds like an awesome story!

    • Ashley Renee Dufield

      Thank you 🙂

    • Wolf271

      I think this would make for a very emotional story. This is a very successful logline. I love how you have managed to interest people in just this one sentence. Good luck with writing this!

    • juanita couch

      Very interesting. It draws me in and I want more.

  24. Danushka Labuschagne

    A political thriller that explores the concept of ‘what if’.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Danushka Labuschagne,
      Thank you for commenting. I am very curious by your concept for a story. Will you please tell me more.
      What is the name of the politician? What is he trying to overcome?
      I really do want to know more about your idea.
      xo
      Pamela

    • EndlessExposition

      I think some more details would make this stand out even more. It’s alright if the sentence gets a bit long.

  25. Camryn Rose

    Adihra, an adopted farm girl, attempts to break from her dark destiny.

    First time trying this out… hope I can learn some things to help me with my book…

    Reply
    • Reagan Colbert

      It captivates. It’s my first time, too. Your line makes me want to know more.. Dark destiny? 🙂

    • EndlessExposition

      Great premise, and I am intrigued, but I think a few more details would really enhance it

    • NC0207

      This is very mysterious. I really like it!

  26. David H. Safford

    “What’s it about?” deals with topic.

    “What happens?” deals with events.

    I prefer the latter because it inspires motion, action, pursuit, and change.

    In my novel COFFEE BAR, a man races to create the perfect brew of beans and caffeine, hoping his amazing coffee can stop his community from erupting into chaos.

    That’s what it’s about. That’s what happens.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello David,
      You presented an interesting idea. I always thought the What’s is about? Is the same as What happens?
      But, I see your point. It does inspire action and motion.
      The most important aspect of any suggestion is to find what works best for you. And your one sentence is very clear and full of action.
      xo
      Pamela

  27. EndlessExposition

    In a galactic society built from the cultures of a long-dead Earth, six women on the run are brought together as the crew of the spaceship Perseus and get entangled in a government conspiracy.

    Reply
    • B. Gladstone

      I can imagine myself boarding the spaceship of this galactic adventure! Instead of “as the crew of the spaceship…” I would say, “to crew the spaceship…” That is one word (to) instead of three (as, the, of) and the sentence reads magnificently clear. Good deal, isn’t it?

    • NC0207

      I love the sound of this! I really hope you finish writing this as it would be amazing!

    • concordriverlady

      I feel like you need to add one or two words at the end to finish the thought. For example: a government conspiracy that threatens the very existence of the human race. Just a thought.

  28. Nancy Newman Schall

    A summer camp staff is rocked by the natural death of a counselor and their efforts to cope with that loss.

    Reply
    • EndlessExposition

      Sounds like a great start! Hope to see some of it in future comments sections 🙂

  29. juanita couch

    Seventy year old Louise has felt her mortality creeping up on her for many months only to find out that she has breast cancer, but she has no fear and is at peace.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Juanita,
      Your sentence is very clear. I feel compassion for your character even though you only wrote one sentence about her.
      All my best,
      Pamela

    • juanita couch

      Thank you.

  30. ebersocats8

    My what’s it about is about good naive people or one good person from another planet is taken advantage of or harmed in some way, and what she does as a result.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello ebersocats8
      You have thought about the conflict and what they will do as a result of it. I have read that bigger the conflict the more interesting the story. Or the bigger the struggle the character has to overcome the more the reader wants your character to win.
      The other planet sounds so fun.
      xo
      Pamela

  31. Pr8iK

    A whatline for my story would be: A boy sees his grandfather in a dream and later gathers hints about seeing himself in the old age only to get indecisive of every moment.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Pr8iK,
      Your story sounds very dramatic. I wonder what will happen to the boy.
      Did you help to write out your idea in one sentence?
      xo
      Pamela

  32. NC0207

    After losing her mother a year ago to a miscarriage, one girl faces grief alone and slowly takes the long descent into madness, seeing visions and strange hallucinations.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Oh dear NC0207,
      Your story sounds like it will pull on the heart strings. Full of emotion and drama.
      I find writing a one sentence summary hard too. I did the exercise as well, and it actually helped me focus on what I was writing.
      xo
      Pamela

    • NC0207

      Thank you for your comment and for such a useful post. I think I will try this for more of my writing! 🙂

  33. Wolf271

    This is the logline for one of my works in progress. Thanks for the post! It was really helpful.

    15 year old Jazmine cared for her younger sister while their mother lost sight of love, until a terrible tragedy made her drag her best friend over the edge and she is forced to face her worst fears.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Wolf271,
      Oh dear, poor Jazmine. She has to take care of her younger sister while he mother is not well. One thought. I wasn’t sure which she you meant in the second part. Was it Jazmine or her mother who dragged her best friend over the edge. And what did you mean by the edge? I am very literal.
      The edge of a cliff?
      Please let us know how your work is coming along. It sounds so interesting.
      xo
      Pamela

    • Wolf271

      Hi, thanks for your comment! Jazmine is the one who drags her best friend over the edge after Jazmine’s little sister is killed. Jazmine goes a little bit mad with grief because her father also died a few years ago. Jazmine literally drags her best friend over the edge of a building when the grief and self blame gets too much and she tries to kill herself. Her best friend tried to stop her. Thank you again.

    • concordriverlady

      Hi, I would like to know more. Who dragged who’s best friend. The mother or the daughter. What edge? If it is the 15 year old, what would be the worst fears for someone so young? Intriguing.

    • Wolf271

      Hi thank you for the reply! Jazmine dragged her best friend over the edge of a building after the police found her younger sister dead. Kayli, Jazmine’s best friend, tries to stop Jazmine from jumping which is how they both end up in a coma . While in that coma Jazmine realises what she has done. She already blames herself for the death of her sister and is now faced with the fact that she has almost killed her best friend, hence her worst fears.
      Thanks for your reply 🙂

  34. concordriverlady

    While most people are trying to make it through life with as few scars as possible, Annah, a sixty-something woman, begins a search for the last, or perhaps the first, love of her life.

    Reply
    • Lisa B

      Yes! We are never too old to live large and risk. I would love to read your book!

    • concordriverlady

      Thank you. I seem to be close to finishing it but then something pops up and I add it, moving backward instead of forward. Perhaps this will be the never ending story and I’ll be writing it while I’m dancing among the stars.

  35. Driva

    This is so hard! I don’t even know where to start. Is it different writing for comedy than it is for anything else? Probably not, I just struggle to figure out what I actually want to say, don’t I? And also I feel like this story has already been told is that bad?

    Well here goes:
    A twenty-something learns to navigate the ever changing tides of life, love, and dating in the awkward social existence that is ‘adult life’.

    Reply
  36. averybot

    alex yancey’s friend violet had been dead for over a hundred years and missing for about six.
    (this sounds like it would work better as a first line than a logline. it’s a work in progress)

    Reply
  37. Lorena Pierres Castro

    The struggle of a single mom and her little daughter to survive in a country that has just come out of a dictatorship.

    Reply
    • Lisa B

      Intriguing! Why is the single mom single? How is the country coming our of a dictatorship? Will they survive? I like to know!

  38. Elizabeth Remic Kral

    Thank goodness for DNA testing thought Jason as he left prison after serving thirty years of a life sentence.

    Reply
  39. Lisa B

    The life or death, world changing, everyday choices of a young girl and God’s redemptive plan for her family line are witnessed by the multiverse line traveler, Asher.

    Reply
  40. Catigraph

    A time rip forces war between galaxies who all fight for the title “King of Space”, but Loxias, a 500 year old who has been permanently turned into a young boy, must gift four people with the ability to truly save the world.

    Reply
  41. Dan de Angeli

    Stories of embarrassment and idiocy from a boy who took a long time to grow up.

    Reply
  42. ohita afeisume

    My memoir’s tagline:
    Omon begins school and various experiences with her teachers and classmates shape her life.

    Reply
  43. Amy Jackson

    The premature death of a sibling sends shards of shrapnel screaming through the lives of the survivors, forever.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 3 Ways to NOT Fail at NaNoWriMo - […] before. In fiction—and especially screenwriting—the premise is also called a logline (or whatline), a one-sentence summary of the protagonist, main conflict, and setting.…
  2. On Writing – Change of Perspective - […] The One Question Every Writer Has To Answer […]
  3. Nineteen tips on Writing Memoir from The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith - […] Give your memoir structure. The best way to find structure is to reduce your memoir idea to one sentence. Then…
  4. The 14 Best Books on Writing - […] what is the logline for your […]
  5. 14 Books Every Writer Needs on Their Shelf – Smart Writing Tips - […] what is the logline for your […]

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