In my last few blog entries, I challenged my loyal blog readers to write a one-sentence summary of the movie STAR WARS. Many of you responded, and I took some ideas from the best to sharpen my own summary of the movie.
My current favorite one-sentence summary is: “A young farm boy joins a princess in the Rebellion against the Galactic Empire.”
Several of my loyal blog readers have noted that all boys are young, and therefore “young farm boy” is redundant and therefore the sentence should start out, “A farm boy…”
I am going to politely disagree here. “Young” is pulling its own weight here. I have looked at the sentence with and without it, and I think it works better with it. So I’m leaving it in, even if it’s redundant.
But now let’s move on. Perfection is not something we’ll ever achieve. If we’ve got an editor or agent interested in this one-sentence summary, they’ll want to hear more. Not a lot more, but a bit more. My bet is that they’ll want to know the Three-Act Structure for this story. You can learn more about Three-Act Structure in my Fiction 101 and Fiction 201 courses, but I’ll assume you know what this structure is.
I prefer to present the Three Act Structure in a five-sentence summary, as follows:
Act 1: A setup sentence to set the stage, and then a second sentence that tells the first major disaster (which ends Act 1).
Act 2: A sentence that tells the second major disaster (which happens at roughly the midpoint of the second act). Another sentence that tells the third major disaster (which happens at the end of Act 2 and forces the ending.)
Act 3: A final sentence which explains how the story resolves.
There you have it. Three Acts. Five sentences. Three diasters. It’s really not all that complicated.
Now your homework assignment, for those who want to play, is this: Write a one-paragraph summary of STAR WARS. Use five sentences to tell me the setup, the three disasters, and the ending.
I’ll do the same and we’ll compare notes in a day or two.
Post your one-paragraph summary here in a comment.