Saturday, December 11

The One-Line Synopsis

You need to pitch your novel. Now!

Ever get asked what your book is about? Your mind goes blank and you start to fumble your words.

"It's about this girl who lives with her mother, having to take care of her, but then she discovers that her mother has been hiding a secret from her, and that she actually has magical powers, and is the subject of a prophecy, and yeah...there's more to it than that, but it's hard to explain without going on forever, or having my notes here."

Until you run out of breath and feel utterly embarrassed and inadequate.

Have I been in that sort of situation? Oh yeah, all the time.

What you need in moments like these is a one-line synopsis. A quick line to explain what your story is about. Some say that this should be under twenty five words if you can manage it. I say, that's not good enough! I try for less than fifteen words, which in my case means exactly fourteen.

Your one-line synopsis should not include your character's name or physical description, but should introduce a conflict or obstacle.

"A girl becomes the subject of a prophecy and joins a world of betrayal."

Fourteen words right there. It's a little vague, since I wrote it off the cuff.. Still, it's a vast improvement from the ramble above. You can tailor your own one-line synopsis to suit your premise Just keep working on it until it is under 15 words and you are able to recite it easily without adding, "Um…yeah, or something like that" at the end. You need to show that you know what your story is about. Exude confidence!

Start working on that one-line synopsis. It might take a while, but you just need to polish that gem until it gleams.


Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great advice except I've heard it should include age and name so you know the target audience (mg,ya, adult) and can connect with the character. Of course, that makes it impossible to get it to 15 words. ;)

nindogs said...

Oh man, I've tried this. I have to do it often though, because when my peers hear about my writing, they always, without fail, ask me what it's about. And I sort of stammer and whatnot and choke out "Oh, it's about superheroes I guess...But it's not."

I should really try and rehearse something. ;)

And in reply to Stina...I'd just shove in a quick "Oh-YA, by the way" at the end. Doesn't count toward that 15-word word count.