Fire and Ice - The One-Line Pitch

I completed the AIS (Author Information Sheet) for Moongypsy Press and emailed it. Pretty soon, I should have the cover art and ISBN number to start plastering where ever I can. Until then, I thought I'd show my process for writing the one-lines and blurbs. Today, the One-Line Pitch.

Condensing a 100K novel down to a single sentence is not an easy task. One-lines are harder to write than a synopsis - and I hate writing synopsis. Though I'm still waiting for approval from the publisher on my selections, I thought I'd show my process.

When you read the TV guide for a show, that description is the one-line pitch (or premise). In one sentence, the entire story should be there showing the Who, Where, What, Why and When. Leave the How as the contents of the story.

I start by listing the components.

For the characters, I search for labels that will give character insight. In a romance there are two Whos. In Fire and Ice, the pair have conflicting goals and are opposite in many ways.

  • Rosche is a Drakond, a judge, a warrior and a Noble tribe leader who has a heat control problem ignited by emotions so his personality is cold.
  •  Sarica is a Din, a recent academy graduate, a city dweller whose father died leaving her with a debt she can't pay. The law makes her an indentured servant until she earns her freedom. She has the ability to generate cold by using her emotions. She has a fiery personality.

Where: Planet Majien of the Five Worlds.

When: doesn't matter for this story since we are on another planet. If this took place on Earth, the era would be important - past, present or future. Mentioning the season might be important for Holiday stories. This isn't one of those so I don't need to add this information.

Why: He needs her to use her gift to control his. She needs to answer Fate's call to find Almona City.

The Whats are the conflict, premise and plot. I picked these highlights.

  • Rosche is in love with Sarica and wants her as his wife. He buys her servitude. He plans to keep her forever.
  • Sarica fears (and desires) Rosche and will do whatever she must to attain her freedom to find Almona City.

That is way too many words for a one-line (but are juicy bits for the back of the book blurb). The object then is to simplify. Pick the most important details to form one sentence. I condensed to this:
  • Where: On planet Majien of the Five Worlds (goes to sub-genre or audience - very important.)
  • Who: a judge and an indentured servant, or a warrior and a scholar, or a Drakond and a Din, or cold-tempered man and a woman with a fiery personality, a heat generator and a cold generator (I could make a huge list here of their differences, but you get the point).
  • What: He wants her love; she wants her freedom
  • Why: the why here takes too long to explain - all about what a Gifted Anom is and how their gifts work and interact. I'm going to use that in the blurb, not the on-line.
Now that I am closer, it's time to start building the sentence.
  • On Majien of the Five Worlds, a Noble wants the love of his indentured servant who will do anything to attain her freedom.
Closer but I need to paint the whole story because the above is a standard romance plot (Boy wants girl but girl wants something else). What makes this story different? Time to add descriptive adjectives.
  • On Majien of the Five Worlds, a Drakond Noble struggles to win the heart of his tenacious Din indentured servant, who fights him in the attempt to attain her freedom which makes his life unpredictable.
Closer but this can be further condensed by using descriptive words and trying to show the characters instead of telling about them. This is my final selection for the one-line pitch (the editor may suggest changes).
  • On Majien of the Five Worlds, a callous Drakond Noble struggles to win the heart of his Din indentured servant, whose exploits to gain her freedom disrupt his impeccable lifestyle.
I hope this process will help you write your one-line pitch. Some people suggest this be done before the novel is written. My muse isn't that organized.

I'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

  1. Funny, I just wrote a future blog post about loglines. I like your blog entry better :)