Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Write a Novel In One Sentence

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.  My second novel I worked  hard to try to summarize the book into a single sentence. Check it out:

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.

What can you tell about the story from this single sentence? Two of the main characters are Sonja and Melissa. Sonja owns her own business. She is a mom. 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 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. 

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! Share it here...we all want to know!


  1. "Call it", instructed Dr. Barrett, attending surgeon, following an emergent yet failed course of chest compressions on the postop patient who was currently still intubated and under general anesthesia, when the resident physician reluctantly pronounced death occurred at 10:35 a.m.

  2. I can see this is in a hospital (postop patient, general anesthesia) and Dr. Barrett is a main character. Reads like an opening line and I see tension here, particularly since the resident is reluctant. Makes me wonder why.


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