In this age of short attention spans and shameless self-promotion, writers have to be prepared to sell themselves in short sound bites whenever someone asks: So, what are you writing?
Memoirs Ink invite writers on their blog to try compression with a Fragmoir contest; Fragmoir is defined as a short (as in a 144 character Tweet) description of your life. An example: I swore I'd not kill myself if she stayed. She told me not killing myself was, frankly, not helpful. It’s kind of a cross between a status update and a summary of your life. Mine submitted for today would be: Aspiring writer spends all her time on social media to sell the book she hasn’t yet written.
I only heard the word 'logline' for the first time 2 days ago listening to Tish Cohen at the Richmond Hill library. A logline is a concise 1 or 2 sentence description of a film, screenplay or book which must include:
• Who is the main protagonist, described with a well-chosen adjective?
• What is their goal?
• What stands in their way – the antagonist?
• And sometimes a brief set up of the story
It’s the blurb you read in a movie guide that helps you decide which film to watch, e.g. A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea. (Titanic) It's the grabber, the powerful hook to draw the reader, agent, publisher, or producer to your story. I wonder what my logline would be?
Smith Magazine started a contest a few years ago based on the concept of a Six-Word Memoir, life stories distilled into 6 words. The idea took off like a wildfire and they have now published several books since the first, NOT QUITE WHAT I WAS PLANNING. The idea came from Hemingway: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. That line makes me shudder every time I read it. What a story we could all write. The challenge is to condense our own story into 6 well-chosen words that have as much depth. Can I do it? Can you?
The last compression challenge is the 'elevator speech', coined in the pre-digital era. A writer might meet someone in an elevator and have just enough time before the doors opened to utter 1 short sentence in reply to: What’s your book about? How do you squish 80,000+ words into 1 line? Find the key words. Focus on the protagonist. Ignore side plots. Make it under 25 words. I’m working on mine. Are you?