Summarize your story in one sentence? Impossible? No!

Whether you’re writing a short story or a novel, can you summarize your story in one sentence?

Having a one-sentence summary when you begin writing helps keep you focused. That one sentence may also help you pitch your work to an agent or publisher later on.

Are you in panic because you’ve finished your novel and now a publisher or agent you queried wants a one-sentence plot summary? Calm down. We have the answer.

So how do you summarize a complete novel, including the ending, in one sentence? In the July 6, 2017 issue of The Writer, Jeff Lyons uses Twilight and Jaws as examples in his excellent article on how to know if you have a situation or a plot, plus how to craft that sentence. My English teachers would criticize his run-on sentence examples, but they do the job and force you to keep reading.


Summarize your story in one sentence? Impossible? No! — 2 Comments

  1. Barb Wiggins on said:

    Is this called the pitch sentence?

    • Not really. The pitch sentence does not give the ending. The one sentence pitch is no longer in vogue with most people. You would only use it if someone asked for it.

      A good pitch is now 2 or 3 sentences. The first sentence summarizes the plot without the ending.
      The second sentence summarizes the character arc in the story–the emotional journey or change that occurs in the main character. The idea is to pique the interest of the agent or editor, not give everything away.

      Think of it as summarizing what your story is about instead of the whole story.