Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One Sentence? For Real?

Okay, so you've completed your first manuscript, and now you would much like to see it in print. Ah, but there is the query part (sigh, manuscript seems to grow arms and shrug). Not to worry though, you've been reading query shark, the query tracker blog, queries that agent's have been so kind to post, queries that author's have been so kind to post. You've joined a critique group like WD Query Critique. You've been doing your homework (manuscript seems to grow little feet that pat the floor impatiently). You're on your way though, and soon that query is going to be nothing short of stellar. You can feel it. Oh but wait, you need one more sentence. And this particular sentence is extremely important. You must be able to sum up your entire story with one sentence (rude little manuscript that is starting to look like a fiend, topples over on the hardwoods and laughs profusely). What now? How can this be done? Not only do you have to master what seems like the impossible but your own manuscript has turned against you. What has the world come to? Okay, so how have each one of you been able to master this part of the writing craft. While I wait for your answers, I'm going to go to the fridge for some decaffeinated tea (might need to back off the coffee a bit) and retrieve my manuscript out from under the chaise;)


  1. You can start with the basics:

    A) Main character/age
    B) Catalyst (what happens to start the MC on their path
    C) The choice that the MC must make

    For example:

    When B occurs, 16-year-old A must choose between such and such and such and such.

  2. That part of the process is so intimidating to me. Thankfully most agents and publishers give helpful tips on their sites! And some agents prefer a sample chapter up front with the query, thank God! Those agents are top on my query list!!

  3. No worries. The synopsis is what gets me. lol

  4. I read around at a lot of sites, and most recommend the "when this happens, so and so has to decide this" type sentence.

    Then, I tweaked and tweaked and put it up at WD Query Critique for feedback. Tweaked some more, then finally sent out a few. I am still sending (I chose to send to three-four agents at a time), and am still waiting to hear back from some. So, while I wait, I write and research who else I may want to send to.

    Good luck with your query!

  5. I started by printing off successful query letters and modeling my one-sentence after what I found in their first sentences.

  6. Hum...much to ponder. I've done a lot of the same but you guys have added a few things I haven't tried. I'm going to put these ideas to work. Thanks guys

  7. I read on Lydia Sharp's blog "The Sharp Angle" that it's a simple formula: concept = character + clear conflict.

    That's it. Figure those out and put it in a sentence. It totally worked for me when I looked at it that way.

  8. Hi! I wanted to stop by and thank you for paying me a visit. Your well wishes are so appreciated. Thanks!! Nice blog. Oh, I just noticed PK commented above me. She's awesome! lol

  9. I agree with Pk and Elana--if you can fit your story into a sentence with those themes, you've got a winner!


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