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.
- On Majien of the Five Worlds, a Noble wants the love of his indentured servant who will do anything to attain her freedom.
- 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.
- 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'll keep you posted.