Practice Loglines.

I’m working on my short Alien Blue descriptions tonight to prepare for Pitch Practice tomorrow.

Here’s the Who/What/How (Who tries to do What How?) formulaic version:

After helping hide an escaped interstellar criminal for the past sixteen years, a New Mexico bar owner plays one last gambit to save his town and the alien–by erasing everyone’s memories.

–Sounds okay, but unfortunately it’s not entirely accurate, and the focus of the book isn’t on the last gambit anyway.

Here’s the “Write it like a movie trailer” version:

[NINA is sitting at a table in an eclectic barroom. A hand comes out of nowhere to slam a mug of bright blue beer on her table.]

BILL: ‘Lo there, missy.

VOICEOVER BILL: I got a story to tell–and one night to tell it. It all started when Anam Ba’hana came to town. He ain’t human…

[Cut to a small, old-fashioned courtroom, tinged in “flashback sepia.” MAYOR JACK sits on the edge of a table, glaring at professional MARTIE. BILL stands on the other side of the table, agape. Sitting beside MARTIE is ANAM, looking like a famine victim in a cheap suit. ANAM shakes so hard the table rattles on the floor.]

BILL: You want me to help hide an alien with a death sentence?

MARTIE: [Matter of fact, ignoring BILL] Jack, it’s only until we can figure out how his ship works.

JACK: Now, that’s the cold-hearted bitch I remember.

BILL: And how do you think we’re going to do that?

MARTIE: Tell them he’s a paleontologist. A dinosaur-hunter.

[BILL and JACK look at ANAM. A rope of drool rolls off his gaping lips.]

BILL: Right. Nobody’s going to figure that out.

VOICEOVER BILL: …And neither are the people chasing him.

[Cut to a small bathroom. MARTIE is gripping the sink and staring angrily in the mirror. A cracking sound, and the camera zooms in on what looks like a barnacle, which leaks a stream of blue goo up the wall. A rustle of clothing and a muffled scream. MARTIE’s arm flashes by the screen, with a trail of blue along her wrist. A thump. A pause. The toilet flushes.]

[Cut to the barroom. BILL is encouraging SAM to take a sip of beer. The door chimes.]

MARTIE: [In a flat voice] Anam is coming with me.

BILL: No, he ain’t.

[MARTIE pulls out a gun and aims it at ANAM. BILL hits her repeatedly with the beer mug.]

[Cut to MARTIE lying on the barroom floor. Blue flecks are dripping out of her mouth. Bill pushes back her lower lip and sees a mass of blue shards.]

BILL: What the hell?

ANAM: My brother has stolen this body. Maybe more.

BILL: [Sitting back and looking out the window] Jack!

[Cut to BILL high-tailing it down a dusty, small-town street, dragging ANAM behind him.]

VOICEOVER BILL: And that was just the beginning.

[Cut back to NINA in the present. She’s sipping the blue brew while BILL watches her.]

NINA: What did you do then?

BILL: It’s a long story.

[Cut to a bunch of exciting snippets from the rest of the story, which I am too lazy to go into here.]

NINA: I have time.

[Cut to Nina, who sets the mug back on the table. The camera zooms in until it’s following a suspiciously blue drip down the side of the mug. Title flashes: ALIEN BLUE.]

–Fun to write, but NOT a log line. Also, Bill may seem too passive.

Here’s a more sensible version:

A small-town bar owner fights to save his friends from alien invaders after they hide an interstellar criminal in the New Mexico desert.

–Which does NOT capture the feel of the book whatsoever, but it’s accurate and short.

More after tomorrow’s practice, I guess.


Writing Article.


The More Things Change.


  1. ***Dave

    A week late, I fear, but just a note that

    “A small-town bar owner fights to save his friends from alien invaders after they hide an interstellar criminal in the New Mexico desert.”

    has a bad indefinite pronoun antecedent (*who* did the hiding — actually, there are two great plots there, depending on the answer).

  2. DeAnna

    Ack. Just goes to show you shouldn’t be your own final editor. Anyway, I have a new one…

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