Friday, March 24, 2006

the one-sentence book description

I'm horrible at describing my own books. When someone asks what my book is about i get that deer-in-the-headlights look on my face. So I decided to write a one-sentence description of each book. Now if only I can memorize the descriptions!
What about you? Can you describe your book or short story in one sentence?

Here are mine:


HUSH: A WOMAN HELPS TRACK DOWN THE CHICAGO SERIAL KILLER WHO MURDERED HER INFANT SIXTEEN YEARS EARLIER.

SLEEP TIGHT: ESTRANGED SISTERS REUNITE TO CATCH A MINEAPOLIS KILLER.

PLAY DEAD: SOMEONE IS DRUGGING SAVANNAH RESIDENTS WITH A SUBSTANCE THAT MIMICS DEATH.

BEFORE I WAKE: AN EX-CRIMINAL PROFILER UNDERGOES A DANGEROUS EXPERIMENT TO RESTORE HER BLEACHED MEMORY IN ORDER TO CATCH THE MAN WHO MURDERED HER FAMILY.

PALE IMMORTAL: A BODY IS FOUND DRAINED OF BLOOD AND RESIDENTS OF TUONELA, WISCONSIN, FEAR THE RETURN OF THE PALE IMMORTAL, A VAMPIRE WHO HAS BEEN DEAD A HUNDRED YEARS.

19 comments:

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Go to my blog and under Articles of Interest, click on Make Your Pitch.

I talk about the one or two sentence logline.

anne frasier said...

excellent article, rob.

looks like i need to go back to the drawing board with a couple of my pitches. :D

Kelly Parra said...

What you mean, these are good!!

This is a good practice, thanks. I'm going to have to work on mine and be back to post. *laughs*

anne frasier said...

some don't have all three of these:
who
what
how


but they're still much better than: well, it's about this woman... she's got some serious problems... and then there's this guy... he has some problems too. and then there's a killer. he's REALLY got some problems! :D

Jeff said...

I can usually come up with titles for my short stories fairly easily, but describing what they are about in one sentence would be very difficult for me.
I can't imagine trying to describe a novel in one sentence.

anne frasier said...

i think writing flash fiction has really helped me when it comes to condensing material.

emeraldcite said...

I have real trouble with this. It's difficult for me to pare down anything I write to just a few sentences, let alone a single one.

It sounds so dry when I do it. It's hard to do it without giving the wrong impression of a work.

You were careful in your Play Dead description not to use zombies, although that would be somewhat accurate, but that might unjustly toss it in the horror category.

Tough decisions.

jamie ford said...

Thanks Rob. That was a helpful article.

Here goes:

In a leap beyond faith a fired news reporter wins the lottery then heads to Vegas to blow it all in one weekend––at the urging of his uncle, a degenerate gambler, who also happens to be dead.

Hmmm. That's tough. I think I'll just stick with:

An unfinished pile of scrap cluttering my desk.

Shorter. Deadly accurate.

emeraldcite said...

lol

anne frasier said...

god, we have so many comedians here. i love it!! and they aren't one-chuckle comments. they are truly LOL and good for several readings. :D

emeraldcite: i had a little trouble deciding on my focus. the zombie angle turned a lot of readers off when that book came out, so i do try to avoid much mention of that even though i LOVE ZOMBIES! :D

i never used to think a one-line description was really necessary, but lately i've been thinking it would be nice to have something memorized when somebody asked what my book is about.

jamie: i read your flash fiction, so i'm guessing it's not a pile of scrap. :)

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

One-liners and short paragraphs for a synopsis stops me dead in my tracks. That's why my manuscripts lay full of dust for so many years. :)

I love your one sentence descriptions, though, Anne. I'll be working on mine very soon.

anne frasier said...

thanks, joanne.
it's not as hard as you might think. i kind of turned it around and thought of it as a fun challenge rather than a way to ruin a good story.

Kelly Parra said...

This is blah, but here's what I have:

An ex-con goes undercover to bring down the source behind a deadly shipment of Ecstasy or face a prison term, and in the process screws herself by falling for the leading suspect.

*laughs*

anne frasier said...

kelly:
i'm really looking forward to your book!

what about this? or is it too little info?


to avoid prison, an ex-con goes undercover and ends up falling for her lead suspect.

Kelly Parra said...

Yeah, definitely reads better! I couldn't decide to leave out the deadly drug or the romance so I threw both of them in. =D

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Jamie, I actually think that's a great description for your book. Sounds like something I'd like to read...

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Anne,
I picked up a copy of Sleep Tight this past winter. It's in my "to read" stack. I will soon have copies of all your books. Just got an email that they're on their way. When Pale Immortal comes out, I'll be sure to purchase it as well.

I look forward to reading them all. They're next in line after the two sent to me for review.

anne frasier said...

kelly, yours worked too!

rob, i read that again and agree.

joanne: thanks so much!!! i really appreciate the support and I hope you enjoy them!!

bekbek said...

This is an exercise that was suggested to us in screenwriting. The difference is... you were supposed to do this FIRST, before writing the screenplay! The whole point was, if you couldn't come up with the sentence, you didn't HAVE a screenplay to write.

I daresay some of your blog readers will find this an apt condemnation of screenwriting, but still... :D

You know that screenplay I haven't written? Yeah. Haven't got the sentence yet. I'm still waffling...