Saturday, October 12, 2013

Prep Work Round 3 #3

TITLE: Love of the Sword
GENRE: Fantasy

LOGLINE: A young man's obsession with fencing comes at the price of human relationships.

FIRST 250:

Autumn arrived and the days grew short.  Trees shed their leaves and people sawtheir breath in the morning air. The Thibault estate buzzed with harvest activity.Gerard and his family labored in the fields and orchards alongside the peasants.  The threat of winter starvation erased class distinctions. 

After the day’s work was done, the Thibault family took supper round the fireplace and father pulled out a well-worn leather volume to read aloud.

He made great pretense of finding the spot where he left off the night before, harrumphing and flipping the pages back and forth until the children squirmed with anticipation.

Finally, he said, “Ah,” leaned back in his chair, sipped some wine and began to read.

It was the story of a man, a nobleman just like the Thibaults.  When he grew old he regretted he had never traveled or undertaken bold quests.  He turned his estate over to his eldest son, took his faithful servant, Pasquale, and rode off in search of adventure.

As the duo traveled, they had grand adventures.  They battled giants, sorcerers, and barbarians.  They rescued maidens and princesses.  They seduced pagan warrior queens(Gerard’s father skipped portions of that section.)

In the days that followed, Gerard and his siblings pretended they had adventures like the old man and his servant.  They laid ambushes in the wheat fields and jousted with apple trees.  They conscripted long-suffering peasants as faithful servants to carry their lances.                                   


  1. I don’t understand the story from your logline; it’s a statement. The best loglines usually contain a protagonist (often named), their goal (from this I assume to be great at fencing?), consequences and stakes. Some logline contests give you up to 100 words, although I’ve read under 60 is best, so you have more space here to expand this and make it more of a hook.

    For me, your first 250 is very telly. Telling me they did this, then that, then this, rather than showing it to me makes me feel outside the story. There’s no action here, and while I don’t mind a slow start to build character or setting, from your excerpt, I can’t tell if anything is going to happen soon. Maybe a few hints of what the story might be about or some lead-up to the inciting incident would help.

  2. I agree with Martha - the logline doesn't give us much to go on. I imagine that as a result of hearing this story the protagonist will set off on his own adventure but I am just guessing.

    I also agree that there is too much telling and not showing. An example - instead of saying "The threat of winter starvation erased class distinctions" you could incorporate that idea into the previous sentence like this:

    "The threat of winter starvation forced Gerard and his family to labor in the fields and orchards alongside the peasants."

    I think you could definitely get to some action quicker - the fireside reading of the book is a nice visual but maybe you could mention it and then move on to how the kids reenacted the stories - maybe you could describe the stories in more detail as part of the games they play.

    Good start!

  3. I'd give myself a long leash on the logline - KT gave us 75 words - and really expand to get the goal and conflict up front. I think there's some confusion between the words logline and pitch. Logline is a word used by screenwriters to mean a very short sentence like your own. Really what we are doing here are not loglines but short pitches...or that's my understanding of the two words.
    Your 250 has some nice descritpive writing but I agree with the others that the story needs some action. I feel like I want someone's viewpoint. Right now it feels like a very distant third person, kind of like a prologue (?)

  4. Your logline is very succinct, which is a talent! I could easily see this as a tagline on the cover of your book. For the MSFV contest, I'd suggest a few more specifics. Is there a moment when your MC has to choose between fencing and a relationship? Romantic? Family? Tell us what is at stake for him.

    I like the voice in the first page, but the reader does feel removed from the action. Is it possible to put us in that first scene, laboring with Gerard in the field and then sitting by the fire as his father reads? It will draw this out, which might not be what you want. Right now it feels rushed, like this is information you want the reader to have, but you want to get it over with quickly so we can get to the action. As the author, you have the ability to make this the action!

    Just my two cents. Hope it's helpful. Good luck!