One sentence to describe an entire book…everyone needs that one sentence for the back cover, for the pitch, for the query letter. This has had me in a bind from the beginning. I’ve made many attempts at coherent, concise summaries of my novel. Nothing stood the test of time.
Here’s an early example of my one sentence:
· In Our Side of Perfect, a college student’s homecoming meets one hang up after another as a car accident and a dead body steer her off course and the mysterious final days of renowned folk artist Olof Krans.
It’s too long. Covers a lot of ground for description, but repetitive.
I had to give it another go and focused on what would get me interested in a book in 25 words or less:
· A student’s homecoming takes a dangerous detour when a dead body steers her off course and into the secret past of a renowned folk artist.
I kept going with sparse and spare. Here is the synopsis in short form:
· In Our Side of Perfect, Shelley Anderson wants her college diploma to be the escape ticket away from
a former communal society settled by Swedish immigrants. She finds herself
drafted into finding Olof Krans’ mysterious last portrait. Her only clues: an
old woman’s dreams and an uncle’s guilty conscious. Her only ally: a guy who’d
rather forget he ever knew her in high school. Bishop Hill, IL
· Shelley must overcome obstacles placed in her way by high-placed museum officials, a jealous artist, and a handsome Swede. Her journey reveals hidden strengths within herself and the troubling identity of the valuable painting.
The thing I’m most proud of is that I’ve managed to write these three paragraphs as active sentences. No fuzzy abstractions by using the following: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, and been.
They always come up in my writing and I try to take out as many as I can in my rewrites. I doubt if I’ll ever be totally free of them. And honestly, I’m not absolutely convinced I should be totally free of them. I plan to keep at it and make sure the writing feels right and under control.
As for the perfect first sentence, maybe I’ve got it or maybe not. It’s better than what I had before and will have to do for the time being.