My novel is about . . .

I’m going to ask for some feedback now. (This could be the moment you’ve all been waiting for . . .) 

One of the most important means by which writers pitch their stories is by having a ‘one sentence summary’ of the work. This is so that if we’re ever asked ‘what’s your novel about?’ by someone who counts (i.e. prospective agents, editors, publishers, other authors) we can smoothly come out with a confident and (even more importantly) engaging response. The idea is to instil said person-who-counts with a desire to read the manuscript!

With this in mind, I’ve been working on the one sentence summary for my nearly finished manuscript, Night of the Archer. Do any of the descriptions below fill you with a desire to read the (fantasy) novel? I’m taking a poll on which one is the best, so please do me a huge favour and cast your vote by commenting here. If you’re able to express the reasons for your choice, that would also be wonderful. (Please tell me also if you think they all suck . . .)

Option #1
A young woman caught in a bitter blood feud teams up with an outcast swordsman to save the world.

Option #2
A young exile returns to a land in crisis; if her own people don’t kill her, then the ruptured magic will.

Option #3
After witnessing a falling star, a young woman finds her life spun out of control by love, rough magic and a blood feud.

18 comments

  1. Option 2 gets my vote – For me it leaves me with more interesting questions (why exiled? why will they kill her? How does magic rupture?)

    I didn’t like option 1 because of the whole ‘saves the world’ thing feeling a bit cheesy. And the falling star in option 3 seems a bit unimportant, but the second half of the sentence was good. But even if you changed that, I’d still vote for option 2 because that really DID grab me.

    When can I read it?

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    1. I think Nats comments are spot on. Option #2 is definitely the best. With Option #1, I liked the start, but not the save the world part. With Option #3 I liked the end without the falling star part.

      Also, Option #2 starts the reader on their journey through the story by providing more detail as to what might actually happen, without giving the story away. It makes you ask questions. One would have to pick up the book and start reading it to find the answers.

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  2. I agree with Natalie, for exactly the same reasons. Of all three, the 2nd one certain made me want to know what happens to the heroine.

    For curiosity sake, you might be interested in onesentence.org – the website where everyone is telling a story in just one sentence.

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  3. Hi Ellen

    I also agree with Nat and Hayley, #2. Number 1 sounds like a combination of Survivor and Amazing Race with all that ‘teaming up’ and ‘saving the world’ business!. Number 3 is a bit fairy-tale-ish for my liking. But #2 is intriguing, leaves you wanting to know more and has a very heroic feel to it. I like the ‘ruptured magic’ bit in particular.
    PS. Think I made a mistake trying to enter my comments on your FB link, so ignore that one!

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  4. #1 – don’t like the part “save the world”. Too global.
    #2 – don’t like the “ruptured magic”. Makes me think “what do you mean?”. But that could be good to get someone reading – as in “what do you mean? I want to find out”.
    #3 – “after witnessing a falling star a woman finds …” – like yeah, come on!

    I think #2 is my favourite.

    Sorry – as always I am brutally honest, and don’t mince my words too much.

    However, very excited that you’re at a point of writing the one liner thingy. That’s absolutely great!
    (No mincing of words there either). All the best!
    Cheers, Ania

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  5. Hey, I’m definitely with everyone else #2. Love fantasy novels and has me wanting to read it. So much intrigue created in so few words. The first one seems a little too similar to other book descriptions I’ve read. The 3rd one does pull on my romantic novel interests and would be a second choice if you wanted to present it as such… Good luck with your poll 🙂

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  6. I must say, I’m enjoying everyone’s responses to this. It seems like option#2 is, er, winning (lol). Luckily this is also my favourite of the three. Yet I’m also very interested to hear which phrases people like/dislike out of the other two, because I can still mash these about some more if I feel like it.

    Thanks so much to everyone who has responded so far, and please keep the comments coming!

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  7. add another vote for #2, what is ruptured magic? and I agree the falling star in #3 doesn’t seem relevant .. is it about destiny / fate?

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  8. might be too late, looks like the votes are in….#3 initially my fav. #1 too much like a newspaper headline – cheesy…. #2 good, except for the ruptured magic, prefer rough magic and blood feud and like that it doesn’t immediately open about a ‘young woman’ that’s the only down side to #3. I prefer the reference to young exile, but like the rest of #3. fabulous stuff. Congrats!

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  9. I like no. 2 as well. And like Kirstyn the word ‘ruptured’ doesn’t flow. How about ‘fractured’ Or ‘corrupted’? Maybe? You ought to do the David Bowie thing and print out all your sentences, cut them up and then randomly select a beginning and an end. Who knows what they could end up reading like.

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  10. I think I’m with everyone else and prefer no. 2, though there’s not much in it for me (at least between 1 and 2). No. 1 could get my vote if it were more specific, ie “save the world from…”, because to me that’s the interesting part, though whether you can sum that up in a few words is another thing. I like “bitter blood feud” — suggests some of the other things that are going to crop up in the novel.

    “Ruptured” in no. 2 is a stumbling block for me — like Kirstyn, I do like Lita’s suggestion of “fractured”. No. 2 is interesting, but no.2 suggests a novel with one main character, whereas no. 1 suggests two.

    Like Natalie, “exiled” raises questions for me, but then so does “outcast” in no. 2 — very similar questions, which is probably why I like them both. No. 3 — yeah, the whole falling star thing just seems like something that’s by the by, rather than important to the plot, even though I know it is. It doesn’t have enough gravitas.

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