One of the most popular features that I do on this blog is to periodically hold a clinic in writing a one-sentence summary. It’s time to do it again. I think we’ll have a lot of fun.
Simply put, the one-sentence summary is one of the most effective marketing tools you’ll ever find for your novel. Not to mention, it’s one of the most powerful ways of keeping you on track as you write or edit your novel.
What’s a one-sentence summary? It’s one sentence that defines the “story question” for your novel. It should be as short as possible, but no shorter.
Here are a couple of examples which I’m going to steal from my book WRITING FICTION FOR DUMMIES. (The contract for the book allows me to steal a certain amount without asking permission):
OUTLANDER, by Diana Gabaldon: “A young English nurse searches for the way back home after time-traveling from 1945 to 1743 Scotland.”
THE KITE RUNNER, by Khaled Hosseini: “A boy raised in Afghanistan grows up with the shame of having failed to fight the gang of boys who raped his closest friend.”
One thing a one-sentence summary does is to tell you instantly whether you’d be interested in reading the book. A one-sentence summary separates the sheep from the goats, so to speak. Not everybody in the world will like your story. Anything that helps people figure out instantly if they’ll be interested in your novel is a tool you should have.
The other thing a one-sentence summary does is to keep you on track. If you read that one-sentence summary every day before you write your next scene (or edit it), you’ll always know when you’re going off track or when you’re already derailed. That knowledge is power, incredible power.
What’s your one-sentence summary? Post it here as a comment and the rest of us will tell you what’s good about it and what needs work.