We’ve all heard it before. Writing manuals, experts, and most importantly, agents and editors, insist if you can’t describe your novel in once sentence, you don’t have a good grip on it. Between the keyboard and your creative mind, something’s muddled.
A small part of me believes this is a bit extreme, but I understand the premise. When querying, we’ve got about a nanosecond (maybe two) to grab an agent’s attention. The one-sentence rule is not only a way for them to judge your concept but also your writing ability. Effectively jamming a 100K(ish) book into one sentence takes skill.
It dawned on me that while we all support each other’s writing, most of us don’t know much about what we’re all working on. We talk about word count and plot issues on Twitter, but always in generic terms. So I thought it would be fun to put our skills to the test and share our novels – in one sentence.
Of course as I write this, I’m already wondering if I’m supposed to include the title and genre in that one sentence. A lot to learn before querying time, obviously.
Here’s my first attempt:
Psychological thriller Light and Dark follows Emilie Davis, the victim of an attempted kidnapping, as she fights the demons of her past while searching for her stalker, a man known only as ‘The Taker.’
This sentence shows the gist of the story but leaves a lot of the meat out. There’s no mention of my co-protag or the Taker’s outstanding escape. The sub-plot of Emilie’s past issues and her big secret are barely touched. This one sentence thing is even harder than it looks. I know my book. I know it’s a plot that works. Maybe I’m over thinking as usual. What is Light and Dark really about? That’s a working title, by the way.
After a strange and frightening stalker bungles a kidnapping attempt and makes one of the most daring escapes in modern Las Vegas history, Emilie Davis must face the darkness of her past to outwit the man known only as ‘The Taker.’
I like this better. I still wonder if the title and genre should be in the sentence, but this tells more about the book than my first attempt. There’s still no mention of the second protag, but Emilie is the driving force of the book. It’s her experiences that shape the second protag’s thoughts and actions.
I could have included more about where the Taker escaped two and talked about the underground world he visits, but that’s a subplot. It’s a definite point of interest and makes for a great twist, but it’s not really what the book is about.
What do you guys think? I would love feedback and constructive criticism, and I definitely want to read your one-sentence novels. Let’s help each other!