Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Single Sentence Story

An English teacher once told me every story can be boiled down to a single sentence. Or two. For my first book, I had an idea for a story but struggled to capture the essence of my novel in one sentence. Here’s what I came up with:

Anticipating retirement, Molly’s life suddenly changes direction and her faith is challenged when her eldest daughter, Laney, the mother of Molly’s two grandchildren is in an accident while driving under the influence of alcohol. 

Of course I couldn't leave it at that, so I added:

The accident leaves Laney paralyzed and her best friend dead.  While Laney is paralyzed physically, Molly discovers she has been paralyzed spiritually for some time. The mother and daughter relationship is strained but as the family tackles a series of crises together, Molly and Laney grow closer to each other and more importantly, closer to God. 

Okay, I didn’t fit it all into one sentence, but you get the idea. This time, as I begin my second novel I have worked even harder to try to summarize my book into a single sentence. Here is what I have:

Coffee barista and shop owner Sonja Parker is a single mom on her last leg financially and emotionally when Melissa, a college student comes to work at the Door County store and brings the message of God’s favor to Sonja.

Let’s see, here is what I know about my book so far. Two of the main characters are Sonja and Melissa. Sonja owns her own business. She is a mom and she is strapped emotionally and financially. Hmmm, I bet she is physically run down as well. I also know she lives in Door County. Since it is my story, I happen to know Door County is in Wisconsin. I can describe the area in my novel.

I also know something about Melissa. I know Melissa is a believer, a Christ follower. She is in the eighteen to twenty-two year age range. That is of course assuming she is a traditional college student and not like so many of us who took seven years to get through our undergrad programs…Hey, I was busy with two children!

I think it is going to be fun to see this story unfold.

Now it’s your turn. No pressure, but it may be fun to play with that story you have always wanted to write. Can you boil it down to one sentence? Good luck! Let me know how it goes.


  1. No one was going to tell her what she could or could not do, it was her life and from now on she was making all her own decisions

    1. Hi Marianne! Is this part of Katherine with a K?

    2. Yes, getting back to it now that the holidays are done.


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