The art of the one sentence synopsis

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Re: The art of the one sentence synopsis

Post by Sanderling » October 15th, 2012, 9:40 pm

I actually don't mind writing short pitches or synopses like these, but I do feel that my result ends up being more interesting to me than it probably is to someone who hasn't read the story, because I can subconsciously fill in the gaps in the pitch. I almost feel like I need a critique partner who I never send my MS to but who I can bounce pitches and queries and other summaries off of to see if they make sense and are engaging. :)

My current WIP is still being drafted, and being a pantser I may find what I end up with is substantially different from how I envision it now (this usually happens). But currently, my one-sentence pitch would be:

Raised and trained in the assassin's guild of a future post-epidemic New York City, confident seventeen-year-old Talon intends to climb the ranks and become guildmaster one day - until she passes her exam promoting her from journeyman to elite and suddenly finds herself siding with the person she's been assigned to kill.

And for the one I'm querying:

When seventeen-year-old Indigo's parents go missing she discovers among her mother's files information suggesting that as a baby she'd been the star research subject of experiments her parents did to develop new and powerful mind tricks expanding on the common abilities like telepathy already practiced by most people, and now one of their ex-colleagues is on the hunt - and willing to kill - to get what Indigo has.

I love reading threads like this and seeing what everyone else is working on. Some pitches that I find really intriguing!
Sommer Leigh wrote:When an unknown enemy outs sixteen year old hero Leah Kelley to a world that hates and fears people with super powers, she discovers unexpected allies in a crew of villains who desperately need her power to save one of their own.
Still loving the sounds of this project, Sommer. :)
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Sommer Leigh
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Re: The art of the one sentence synopsis

Post by Sommer Leigh » October 16th, 2012, 8:50 am

Sanderling wrote: Still loving the sounds of this project, Sommer. :)
Thank you :-) I am almost done! Thank god.
May the word counts be ever in your favor.
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Re: The art of the one sentence synopsis

Post by bcomet » October 16th, 2012, 12:11 pm

One of my three page synopsis attempts has gotten me a number or requests for fulls or partials, so I think it's been pretty successfully received.

But after thinking on this thread, and whittling one down to two paragraphs, I went back and reread some articles on writing a synopsis and I think I might have mucked it all up. (Oh no! Second guessing!)

But how do you get out the plot and the action and make it fit together coherently in two paragraphs or one sentence? That is the quest.

To me it often feels like I've tacked on the elephant's hind feet, ears, and trunk without all the middle parts and it sure doesn't look like an elephant anymore! What is that strange creature?? Have I now just managed to distort him beyond logic? (He really looked so nice with all his whole body attached a bit more.)

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Re: The art of the one sentence synopsis

Post by bcomet » October 16th, 2012, 12:14 pm

Oh, And the other thing. What if it ends up just looking so simplistic. If the story is that simplistic, my concern is then how are you enticing someone to want to read it?

I mean, imagine you are a romance novelist and the one sentence (or paragraph trying to disguise itself in a sentence) reads something like:

"Annette, struggling with getting over men who are mooches, meets a rogue, handsome, rude gardener who immediately turns her off, then turns her on (but good)(those great hands that know how to turn the soil fertile!!), then turns her off again, then proves he has his own nursery and is a real man with a real job, and between irresistible (hot) sex and his awesome (hot) he-man stability that she can finally rely on, he wins her back."


(I am helplessly confused.But in romance, it's the formula, right? But what about the kind of novel that goes on a surprising journey of twists and turns?)

"Alice, recovering from a trip down the rabbit hole, is confused about reality, especially when it's also obvious to her that all the real people she knows are refusing to embrace reality in a myriad of ways, when she meets a mysterious star man (or psychiatrist), who somehow understand her confusion and has the power to help her stabilize her experiences, so that, dysfunctional or crazy as her worlds may be, is, she learns to make profound leaps in real life too."

(Or: "What goes down must come up until finally it finds a place to balance.")

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Re: The art of the one sentence synopsis

Post by JustSarah » October 24th, 2012, 6:25 pm

Something that really helps me is a one sentence proclamation: I am writing a [Pace] [Genre] about [Log line}, with [Subplot}.

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Re: The art of the one sentence synopsis

Post by LizV » October 25th, 2012, 2:58 pm

I wouldn't say I'm good at it, but oddly enough I find a one-sentence pitch a lot easier than a one-page query. Give me a couple of paragraphs to work with, and I get bogged down trying to figure out how much of the backstory I have to include for things to make sense, or which of the really important character relationships and sub-plots I can work in or at least hint at. Limit me to one sentence, and that's easy: they all get left out. Which leaves something like:

A spy goes on the run to protect her daughter from being brainwashed by her old boss.

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