I’m trying to write a plot line for a book but I keep on overthinking it and eventually hating them. How do I see it through to the end?

2. Describe a second main character in the same way.

3. Describe any other MAJOR characters the same way. Don’t worry about secondary characters, keep a note pad handy to scribble a description as they appear in your story. (This will save time and effort if you never need that character.)

4. Write down the problem that the whole story revolves around. Again, no more than a few sentences, one is usually sufficient.

5. Write down when your main character(s) begin to engage with that problem. No backstory, no long, boring description of scenery, just jump right in with the action that pertains to the main problem of the story.

6. Write down the solution to the problem. This might take several sentences but usually only one or two.

8. Jot down a paragraph describing the scene that will get the story started. That’s number 5. This is the beginning of your story.

9. In a sentence each, describe as many scenes as are needed to get from number 5 to number 8. Number 8 is the ending.

One caveat: long stories need lots of scenes, short ones only a few. If you are writing a novel, look up ‘story-boarding’ and use that template to make sure your reader doesn’t get bored in the middle.

A second caveat: don’t overthink it. A scene can be described in one sentence and not need to be fleshed out until you are ready to write that scene. This way, you don’t get frustrated by trying to get every detail figured out in advance. And you’ll find that many times your story will change as you write it so not having gone into a lot of detail will mean you didn’t do a lot of extra work.

Why Loglines?

There’s a spot on the wall above my computer where the paint has worn off.  Because there have been so many loglines stuck there over the years.  I pulled the paper with the logline off the wall when the manuscript was finished and often some of the paint came off too.

For those of you who don’t know what loglines are, they are those one-sentence descriptions of your story that are used to pitch your book or that become the beginning of the blurb on the back cover.

But there’s another reason for writing down a logline.  A reason that has to do with the process of writing.  You seldom see this reason listed but it should be.

Because …  a one-sentence description of your story taped to the wall above your computer reminds you what you’re supposed to be writing.  It keeps you from getting lost in the details.  It tells you how to slant a scene if you don’t quite know how to write it because it keeps you focused on the bare essentials.  In short, it tells you where you’re going and how to get there.

Most importantly to you as a writer, the process of writing the logline makes sure that you know what you’re writing.  Because if you don’t know … and know well enough to put it into one sentence … no one else will either.  And if your readers don’t know what you’re saying, they won’t bother finishing your book.

Maybe one of these days I’ll paint that wall.  Or maybe not.  I’m kind of fond of that bare plaster.  It reminds me that I’m doing my job.