Author Topic: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book  (Read 15602 times)

munley

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The question is:    What's the book about?

It seems much easier to describe somebody else's book in one sentence than one's own.
I've been doing that with books I've read, just to remind myself that such a thing is possible.
          (Maybe it's possible for every book in the world but mine.)

A one-sentence description would come in handy if you had only a few seconds to describe your book to an agent, a publisher, a bookstore owner whose store you want to do a reading at, etc.
       I'm hoping that practicing distilling somebody else's book down to one sentence will help me do the same with mine -- and this will help me identify BRIEFLY the heart of my novel for the purpose of nailing that in my query letter, which is way too long right now.

So I thought I'd start a thread for anyone who wants to try describing somebody else's book in one sentence. Can be a well-known book or a more obscure one.

Here goes my try.

TITLE:    A Higher Geometry by Sharelle Byars Moranville
Published 2006    - Young Adult

What's it about?

It's about a girl the 1950s, whose father thinks she should find a good provider, not go to college, even when her talent in mathematics wins her statewide honors and will probably earn her a scholarship.


ADDING THIS TO MY POST: There is a new section on the QT forums for doing an "elevator pitch" for your own novel. Same idea -- a one sentence description you can spew out to an agent sharing an elevator ride with you for only a floor or two.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2013, 06:44:43 PM by munley »

Offline JeanneG

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2013, 08:47:28 PM »
Sure. I use this one as an example in my fiction classes:

Carrie (by Stephen King)
is the story of an outcast teenaged girl who uses her telekinetic powers to exact revenge on all of her tormentors at the prom.
Debut novel, BLOOD OF A STONE (Tuscany Press) released in March 2015; winner of IPPY in national category of religious fiction and currently a finalist for IAN Book of the Year. My work-in-progress: THE DOUBLE SUN.
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Offline jmundy-castle

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2013, 09:50:53 PM »
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler

Lauren Olamina, a hyper empath, develops a communal religion called Earthseed in an attempt to create a new society in an otherwise desolate world filled with fundamentalist religious fanatics who committed grave atrocities that led to the fall of the United States.

Offline Bobby64

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2013, 10:10:06 AM »
I'll try to take on the ultimate beast:
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Told by his father's ghost that the new king murdered him, Hamlet tries to confirm the ghost's words so he can confidently kill the unjust ruler and bring order back to Denmark.

On a less serious note:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
A very hungry caterpillar eats stuff.
BRILLIANT!

Oh, a bigger beast:
Ulysses by James Joyce
Using a variety of writing styles (including stream of consciousness), the author follows the thoughts and actions of a struggling young writer named Stephen, a wandering businessman named Leopold Bloom, and many other residents of Dublin to show the complexity that underlies everyday life.

Offline jmundy-castle

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2013, 12:46:14 PM »
 :clap: :clap:

I like your caterpillar one, Bobby!

Offline AvO

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2013, 01:33:26 PM »



Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

An overwrought and poorly written load of panting prose guaranteed to make aspiring writers say: "Seriously?"

Offline jmundy-castle

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2013, 06:50:37 PM »
Ahhhhhhh!  Hahahaha! AvO you just earned some karma with that one!!   :clap: :clap: :clap:

Silence18

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2013, 10:13:14 PM »
I'll tackle another kid's book, b/c it's late and I haven't much brain power... :emb:

The Cat in the Hat

A cat wearing a hat wreaks havoc in the home of two siblings.

And AvO- Seriously?- perfectly describes the small bits I read of 50!  :no:

Offline David W

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2013, 11:51:09 AM »
Gone With the Wind

During the Civil War and Reconstruction, a Southern belle remains hopelessly in love with another woman's husband through three of her own marriages.
Please don't give me Karma.  I don't believe in it.

Offline oldbag

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2013, 12:56:37 PM »
The Catcher in the Rye

A privileged but extremely neurotic young man is reluctant to return home after getting kicked out of yet another snooty prep-school.
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munley

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2013, 02:19:34 PM »
Beyond This Place by A.J Cronin (published 1950)

A college student in Belfast learns that his real name is Paul Mathry and that the father he loved so much did not die in a train wreck nearly 20 years ago, but is serving a life sentence in England for murder.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2013, 03:03:11 AM by munley »

Offline scribo

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2013, 05:27:59 PM »
This idea is BRILLANT, Munley! Thanks :clap: :clap: :up: :up: :clap:
“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.” <br />― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

munley

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2013, 06:43:51 PM »
This idea is BRILLANT, Munley! Thanks :clap: :clap: :up: :up: :clap:

Thanks! I just added a note to my first post here directing forum members to the thread you started on "elevator pitches" for their own novels.

munley

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2013, 02:26:31 PM »
Okay, so this is supposed to be an elevator pitch for somebody else's work.

I don't know the title of this episode of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone, but here's what it's about:

A misanthropic scholar who builds a bunker with enough supplies to get him through the explosion he creates to kill everyone else on earth forgets to stock up the one thing that lets him do what he loves most.

Brachistochrone

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Re: CHALLENGE: Write a one-sentence description of someone else's book
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2014, 05:38:15 PM »
Shakespeare's King Lear:

An aged king intending to split his kingdom among three daughters according to how much each loves him is thrown out in the cold after giving everything to the two who flatter him most but care nothing for him.