For those of you just joining us, I’ve been critiquing one-sentence summaries of novels that folks have submitted recently. Yesterday, I critiqued one by Alie.
Alie took another shot at her one-sentence summary today and it’s definitely better. Here’s what she wrote:
An award-winning advertiser suspected in two murders spanning a decade races to clear his name.
Now that I understand the story better, let me punch it up a little more. First of all, I would lose the “award-winning” descriptor. I can’t give a clear reason why, other than that it doesn’t do much for me. Second, I’d drop the bit about the decade. Truth is, if the guy’s been a suspect for a decade, then the case against him is weak. Third, I’d add some time pressure. I’m going to guess that if this poor guy is suspected in two murders, maybe a third is on the way? So here’s what I’d try (but bear in mind that I may be guessing things that aren’t in Alie’s story):
An advertising executive, suspected of two murders, must clear his name before the real killer strikes again.
Admittedly, there’s a bit of cliche here. But let’s face it, one-sentence summaries often have cliches in them. Cliches are quite compact ways of saying what you want to say.
Whaddaya think? Are we getting warmer?