I’m working through the one-sentence summaries that my loyal blog readers have posted here over the last couple of weeks. I’m trying to go in order, so those who posted first get theirs critiqued first.
The next on the list is Karla, but she recently posted a revision, so I’m going to look at both of them.
Okay, I am going to go ahead and edit the one sentence summary I originally submitted. Is this better or just different?
Original: A pastor’s wife joins a girl biker club and encounters new adventures that startle and shake up her husband’s church.
Revised: When a burned-out pastor’s wife becomes a biker chick, her new adventures startle and shake up her husband’s church.
Randy sez: I like the original better, but it still needs work. The original has a pastor’s wife joining a girl biker club. To me, that implies a fair bit of conflict and definitely an interesting character. The new version adds in the descriptor “burned-out”. The problem I see with this is that this description has been way overused and is now verging on a cliche. It can still be done, of course. Burnout continues to exist. But calling it “burnout” is the cliche. In any event, I think we’ve got enough to describe this lady without the burnout. In fact, I think it works even better to strip down the revised version just a little:
“When a pastor’s wife becomes a biker chick…” I think that sets up the story nicely.
Now for the second half, things suddenly get vague. This biker chick has “adventures”. She “startles” folks. She even “shakes them up.” All of these are fine for a first cut, but specific is always better than vague. If you tell us the adventure, we’ll be able to guess that the church folks are both shaken and stirred.
What adventures could our biker lady get into? An infinite number! Tell us one, Karla, in three or four words, and we’ll guess the rest.
Karla, when you pitch this to editors and agents, if they seem interested, you should also let them know pretty quickly that you’re a biker babe yourself, not to mention one of those minister’s wives. I’m sure you already know to do that, but many of my loyal blog readers probably aren’t aware that you’re writing what you know here. Now they do.
Next question: Shall we continue on One-Sentence Summaries or is it time to move on? We have many dozens more posted here, but I don’t want to keep flogging a dead horse. If you all think you’ve got it, we can find a new topic.
Quite keen for you to look at mine, but I guess everyone is saying that. What you have done has already helped me change mine (not sure if for the better) but I feel that mine is a little different from what you have already covered (again, everyone is probably saying that).
Hi Karla: may I humbly submit for your consideration:
“A conservative(?) congregation goes for a wild ride when the pastor’s wife becomes a biker chick.” (17)
However . . . I have my suspicions that Karla’s got a titillating play on words thing going on, so I also respectfully present this second offering:
“A conservative congregation goes for a wild ride when the pastor’s wife busts out and joins a girl biker gang.” (20)
Those “One-Sentence Summaries” are never a dead horse and you can flog them without end. Every summary critiqued is helpfull, even if it´s not your own.
Maybe it´s possible to continue double-tracked, a summary per day and another subject at the same time?
I would like to see you continue with the one-sentence summary reviews. Each time you do it we see different outcomes; we see where the strengths and weaknesses lay. Thanks for you time and effort on these. Please continue.
I’m with Wolfhardt, ’tis very useful, even if it’s someone elses.
I’m with them.
Daan Van der Merwe says
Although my sentence has already been critiqued, I vote with the rest. After all, I would hate being thought of by the other readers as a selfish heel.
Pam Halter says
So, if Karla would benefit from becoming a biker chick, I’ll have to think of a way to become a fairy. And I’m going to try. My friend and I will be donning fairy wings, grabbing our magic wands and blessing conferees at the Greater Phila. Christian Writer’s Conference in August. 😉
Thanks, Randy! And when I go to writer’s conferences I will be sure to wear my Harley boots, leather chaps and tank top in order to reveal all my skull and roses tattoos. 😉 (If y’all knew me, you’d know how FUNNY that is. I am not exactly the tattoo type.)
Camille, you CRACK ME UP. I got your message loud and clear.
Randy, I also vote to continue the one-sentence summary critiques. I am learning much from them. I will also change my own summary to make it more specific. Thanks SO MUCH for your help, Randy, and I hope you have a blast teaching in Idaho!
Melissa Stroh says
Please continue, if only for a little while. I have learned a great deal and even improved my one sentence, but it still seems to plead for something and I don’t know what that is. I could really use a professional opinion. Here it is:
An Irish tenant flees the wrath of her lord after inadvertently leading his son to his death.
David Benedict says
I agree with the gang. Please continue critiquing, even if it takes a good while. You’re probably getting bored with it, Randy, but we’re not.
Ed J. Horton says
Please don’t stop the one-line critiques…you haven’t gotten to mine yet. 🙂 Okay, that sounded selfish. Seriously, I’m learning from your comments on others.
Pam – I like the way you think. I may be nearly as challenged as you in becoming my mc: I’m an American woman writing about a Scottish man.
I hear it’s possible to write what you don’t know (seems like I read an article in a recent e-zine…what was the name of that wonderfully info-crammed, free publication?) IF you do your homework. Very Well.
But how much research can you do on fairies? I’ve been wondering how much literary license readers will allow us. What if we can make that character interesting and relatable (is that a word?) And not a stereotype. I wonder if less than 100% accuracy can be overlooked if we can establish and maintain a good emotional connection with that character. Of course there’s a 98% chance that I’m full of fairy dust.
Sheila Deeth says
Please keep going. I really feel like I’m learning from these specific critiques.
Bonnie Grove says
The new kid in the back raises her hand and squeaks, “Continue. Please?”
storm grant says
If it’s not too late to join the party, I’ve got one that needs help:
Mystical adventures in the Colombian rainforest teach a young woman spirit, strength, and an appreciation of cats.
D.E. Hale says
Yes, please don’t stop – mine is near the end of the list, and it needs some DESPERATE help. HA! I’m actually wondering if my story is too BIG, because if I try and chop parts out, then it doesn’t make sense anymore – at least to me anyway. Also, mine is a Christian Fantasy, and I’m not sure if that is conveyed very well or not.
Tami Meyers says
I vote to continue also. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out you critique the next and I learn something new.
I vote to continue at least until all original 53 are done (or at least just mine – hehe!). Then I think it’d be best to move on.
Another new reader begs you to continue.
May I offer my sentence up for a look?
A troubled 18th Century Sea Captain must travel time to battle his deadly nemesis in hopes of recovering his most beloved treasure.
I understand if you cannot get to it and need to move on. Thanks so much for what you do here; your help is invaluable.
I was hoping that Randy would get to mine before he ended. (I sent it through your contact email a week ago or so. Didn’t know to post it through the blog reply.)
In either case, I enjoy reading what people have as topics, how they summarize them, and what Randy has to say. Maybe a few more days of it will about do it. I’m getting the idea.
How about the one sentence summary of the main character? Might also be interesting.