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Archive for the ‘Books on Writing’ Category

Sources: The One-Sentence Summary, WINNERS: The One-Sentence Summary Contest, and One-Sentence Summary Critiques & Tips by Rachelle Gardner

Rachelle Gardner offered the following advice for constructing good storylines on several recent blog posts.

  • A one-sentence summary (also called a storyline) is about 25 words that capture the essence of what your book is about.
  • It should generate interest in reading your book.
  • Include:
    • A character or two
    • Their choice, conflict, or goal
    • What’s at stake (may be implied)
    • Action that will get them to the goal
    • Setting (if important)
  • Keep it simple. One plotline, 1 or 2 characters.
  • Use the strongest nouns, verbs and adjectives. Use specific language.
  • Make the conflict clear but don’t necessarily hint at the solution.
  • Make it visual so the reader can see what’s happening.
  • Above all, make sure you describe a story with conflict and not just characters in a situation.

This aspiring author also recommends Randy Ingermanson’s excellent Writing Fiction for Dummies.

Image: ‘Be seeing you’
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/19487674@N00/58499153

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Source: How-to Author, Randy Ingermanson – Margie Lawson.

The storyline is a single sentence that summarizes your story.  If you write a great storyline, your editor will instantly get what you story’s about.  She’ll be able to explain that storyline to the publishing committee and they’ll get it too. Ditto with the sales team, the buyers for the bookstore chains, the staff in bookstores, and ultimately the readers.

I devote a lot of space in my book to teaching exactly how to write a strong storyline that instantly communcates the gist of the story.  You want it less than 25 words and you want to focus on one or two characters.  And you want to elimiate absolutely every ounce of excess weight.

The storyline for my first novel TRANSGRESSION is only 11 words.

“A physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul.”

You either like that concept or you don’t. It doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that I can communicate my storyline to you in 5 seconds whether you like it or not.  A great storyline separates the sheep from the goats–the potential buyers from the nay-sayers.

The book Randy is referring to is Writing Fiction For Dummies which will be releasing December 2, 2009.

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You can read the entire text of Georges Polti’s masterpiece, The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations, online! Original copies are rumored to have sold for as much as $500 US on eBay. This book is now in the public domain. Visit the Internet Archive for downloadable versions or read the original at Gordian Plot.

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