When someone asks you what your book is about, do you have a one-sentence line to spit out, or do you ramble on for four minutes rehashing the plot before your listener bolts? If you do the four-minute-ramble, I’ve got a great tool for you. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I got it. It’s scrawled on a chunk of paper that floats on my desk, moving from pile to pile as I shift papers looking for whatever it is I’m looking for. Shoot. So I can’t give the original author the applause and recognition he/she deserves. (Note: If you know who came up with this, please share! I hate not knowing. I think it might be Kristen Lamb, but I’m not sure.)
It’s a simple formula. Ready?
Protagonist must do X (goal) in order to stop Antagonist before Super Bad Thing Happens (ticking clock).
It’s that easy. Watch me put it to work. Here’s the one-sentence summary of my romantic suspense Cassandra’s Curse: Cassandra must discover the killer’s identity and stop him before he shoots Detective Dogan. I’ll admit, it’s not the best one-sentence summary I could have come up with, but it does the job.
Let me try it again with someone else’s work: Frodo must destroy The One Ring in the fires of Mt. Doom in order to stop Sauron before he takes over the world with his evil hordes.
Here’s another, but I had to alter the formula slightly to get it to work: Katniss Everdeen volunteers to fight in the Hunger Games to save her younger sister from dying in the games.
Now consider your work-in-progress and fill in the blanks. Share your one-sentence summary in the comments section, please.