Logline Blogfest!

This week I’m doing something different – I’m participating in a Logline Blogfest. I will post my logline for my YA novel, Kwizera Means Hope, below and people will comment on it to help me make it better. And I will comment on the loglines of others.

Click here to read all about it and to get the links to the other participating blogs. Thanks to Steena Holmes of Chocolate Reality for getting us started!  Thanks to author Michelle McLean for generously offering to critique the winner!

For anyone new to this, a logline is a 1 or 2 sentence description of a novel that gives you the basics and, hopefully, a taste for more.  It should give us info on the main character, the inciting event, the conflict, the goal of the MC and the stakes.

Okay, here is the original:

After 16 year old Cecile Kwizera survived the Rwandan genocide, she had to give up her dream of becoming a nurse in order to take care of her family. And she thinks that if she can’t earn enough money for food and school fees, she’ll never break free from the guilt that steals her appetite, keeps her awake at night, and threatens her life.

Here is a revised one based on comments (as of 7:30 pm EDT 11/1):

Having survived the Rwandan genocide, 16 year old Cecile Kwizera now suffers from survivor’s guilt that steals her appetite and keeps her awake at night. If she can’t overcome the symptoms and keep her job, she won’t be able to feed her family or pay her sisters’ school fees, let alone save enough money to go back to school and eventually become a nurse.

Here is the third version:

Having survived the Rwandan genocide in which her father and many Tutsi schoolmates died, 16 year old Cecile Kwizera, a Hutu, now suffers from survivor’s guilt that affects every aspect of her life. If she can’t overcome the symptoms and keep her job, she won’t be able to protect and provide the basic necessities for her family, let alone save enough money to go back to school and eventually fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse.

Here is the latest version:

Having survived the Rwandan genocide in which her father and many schoolmates died, guilt now causes sixteen-year-old Cecile Kwizera loss of appetite, migraines, and nightmares. If she can’t overcome the symptoms, she won’t be able to keep her housekeeping job with a humanitarian organization, which allows her to provide for her family, let alone save enough money to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse.

And thanks again to Steena, Michelle, all the participating writers, and all of our awesome readers/commenters!

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27 Comments

Filed under Getting Published, writing

27 responses to “Logline Blogfest!

  1. Okay, this sounds like a neat story. But I have a couple questions.

    Is the food and school fees – for herself?
    And I’m not sure what she feels guilty about? She’s doing the good thing by taking care of her family.

    And I’m not sure how guilt can actually threaten your life, unless you didn’t mean it literally.

    If those are cleared up, it would be less confusing.
    Good luck!

    • vtremp

      Thanks for getting us started, Laura. I was worried about cluttering up the lines by being repetitive so didn’t clarify that her guilt stems from having survived the genocide. I’ll work on that and post a revised logline later on. Thanks again!

  2. Oooh, I love the tension in this. It’s hard enough to survive a genocide, but then dealing with life afterward, geez.

    I wonder, to make this sound more “present,” if you nix the “After” and “she thinks” and substutite it with something else.

    Ex. 16 yo Cecile survives the Rwandan genocide, but is left with survival guilt and a starving family to feed…

  3. I really like this. I would only change one thing. I wouldn’t start the second sentence with “And,” it takes away from the strength of the sentence.

    Good luck.

    Michael

  4. I love the premise – you did a fantastic job with that. Here’s my attempt to tighten it.

    After 16 year old Cecile Kwizera survived the Rwandan genocide, she now suffers from survivor guilt. Struggling to fulfill her dream to become a nurse while trying to feed her family and pay for her sisters’ school fees, Cecile finds her life threatened …

    I’m not sure why her life is threatened? I would definitely add a reason for that.

  5. I think things could be tightened:

    Surviving the Rwandan genocide forced sixteen-year-old Cecile Kwizera to give up her dream of becoming a nurse in order to take care of her family. Now Cecile struggles to cope with survivor’s guilt while…

    I don’t know enough of the details to finish this, but you can see what I mean. Just a suggestion. This sounds like a great story. Good luck with it!

  6. Also, you might not want to use survived and survivor’s guilt. Just noticed that.

  7. Hi!

    Why did she have to give up her dream of becoming a nurse? I’m curious since she’s still going to school.

    This sounds like such a heart-wrenching, interesting story.

    And I really liked this part of your first log line. Beautiful! =D
    . . .break free from the guilt that steals her appetite, keeps her awake at night, and threatens her life.

  8. I agree with the comments about tightening up the first sentence by making it more active. Drop “after” and drop “had to.” Here’s some suggestions…see what you think.

    Cecile Kwizera survived the Rwandan genocide, saving her family, but giving up her dream of becoming a nurse. She now must earn enough money to feed her family and pay her sisters’ school fees, as well as save so she may one day go to nursing school. She’ll only succeed if she can break free from the survivor’s guilt that steals her appetite, keeps her awake at night, and threatens her life.

    Good luck with this contest!

  9. I really really like the premise! But I do think the second sentence is a bit too much this way. Perhaps something along the lines of “Struggling with a guilt that’s taking over her life, Cecile is convinced the only way she can pay her debts is by…”

  10. I agree with the others that what you have is really good but just need a little tweaking (like I’m sure all our writing does). I think you could maybe sum up the different things she faces (school fees, food, etc) into one statement, like “saving her family” or something (I’m terrible at these things!). But like I said, overall a really nice job!

  11. I’m not sure I should comment as this isn’t my usual genre. I’ll just throw out a few questions…

    She survived the genocide, but obviously her family did too (did she lose any of them?), so I’m not sure what she has to feel guilty about. Did someone sacrifice themselves so she could survive? If so, definitely mention that.

    I’d like to have bigger stakes. If she loses her job, they’ll all be homeless and Grandma will get pneumonia and her poor heart can’t take the strain.

    I think you did a good job, I’m just more of a light-n-fluffy reader. The Rwandan genocide would have scared me off.

  12. The second one is much stronger. I like Vicki’s suggestions. 😀

    Great job! Sounds like a tough subject to write on.

  13. The revised one is much better! Although I think Vicki has some great questions that might make it even stronger.

  14. Hi, you’ve made some great changes to the logline, I like seeing how it’s turned out. Just one question – what was the incident you’re referring to that threatens her life? I’m wondering if you might need to focus on that rather than keeping her job and saving money. Or was it more of a dramatic statement in the first logline (ie, she’ll die if she can’t eat) – if so, ignore what I’ve said 🙂

    Rach

  15. vtremp

    Hi everybody,

    Thanks for all the helpful feedback. It’s been so great to read everyone’s comments and be able to improve my logline. What great participation!

    I thought I’d answer some of the questions in case that helps you evaluate the logline.

    There is no incident that threatens her life (now that the genocide is over). Physical symptoms related to her guilt, mentioned in the revised logline, threaten her ability to function at work and her ability to protect and care for her family.

    If she can’t buy food then they have nothing to eat. If she can’t pay her sisters’ school fees then they can’t go to school. Elementary education is not free in Rwanda (nor in most developing countries).

    No one sacrificed themselves so she could survive. She did lose someone close to her and she witnessed acts of brutality. Some of her guilt stems from the ethnic and political tensions of the time. In fact, that’s what makes my story different than any other story of the Rwandan genocide that I’ve seen – Cecile is not a member of the targeted group.

    I’ll try another logline that brings that up.

    Thanks!

  16. Oooh, I like the latest version–nice job!!!!

  17. This sounds like a great story! Way to go. I like the latest edition, but the second sentence is still a bit rocky. Is there a way to consolidate how her present life if being affected and up the tension?

    Best of luck, VB!

  18. Personally I like the second revision over the third, although you could add the bit about it being her ‘dream’ to become a nurse.

    Sounds like a great story, right up my alley.

  19. Meradeth

    This sounds really good, but watch out for “survivor’s guilt” being a bit vague. I liked your description of her losing sleep and her appetite better, actually, as it brings the character to life more.

  20. Margay

    I think you got a lot of great suggestions here. These guys are great, aren’t they?
    Margay

  21. Nicely done! Just some suggestions for tightening purposes:

    Having survived the Rwandan genocide in which her father and many schoolmates died, sixteen-year-old Cecile Kwizera now suffers from survivor’s guilt that affects every aspect of her life. If she can’t overcome the symptoms, she won’t be able to provide the basic necessities for her family, let alone save enough money to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse.

  22. Nice logline, but I think it might read stronger if you use ‘escaped’ in place of ‘survived’. The use of ‘survived’ and ‘survivor’s guilt so close to one another doesn’t seem to flow very well.

  23. symptoms and keep her job I want to know what sorts of specific symptoms she has and what kind of job is she currently doing.

    I think the story overall sounds exciting. I don’t know a lot about the genocide, but it sounds like an interesting story to learn and be inspired by Cecile’s character.

  24. Using Nicole’s suggestion – maybe you can tighten it up even more by removing ‘every aspect of her life’. I think ‘If she can’t overcome the symptoms.. etc’ implies this already:

    Having survived the Rwandan genocide in which her father and many schoolmates died, sixteen-year-old Cecile Kwizera now suffers from survivor’s guilt. If she can’t overcome the symptoms, she won’t be able to provide the basic necessities for her family, let alone save enough money to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse.

    ?
    Good luck!

  25. vtremp

    Thanks to Meradeth, Nicole, Sandra, Najela, and Roh for the suggestions that led to the current version of my logline!

    As we wind this up, thanks to everyone who commented. I’m blown away by the level of participation! And an especially huge thank you (including virtual chocolate) for anyone who commented more than once.

    We should all search each other out on Twitter!

  26. I grabbed your logline 🙂

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