Celebrating East African Writing!

Netflix- Writers’ Weekly Blog

One Sentence Summaries by Abigail, The Writer.

I have become, over the last several months, a fan of one-sentence summaries. Basically, you are to summarise what you have written in one sentence.

First, some guidelines:

  1. It can only be about 20 words long.
  2. It cannot contain any character names.
  3. It has to give a true overview of a story (or paper. I have been using this with research papers as well.) So in other words, you can’t say you’re paper is on abortion’s medical complications when it’s really more a persuasive piece explaining why abortion’s dangers have never really been researched.
  4. If you have more than one character, write an overall summary for the novel, and then another summary for each character.

I have done this, and it was actually a lot of work. So why would you want to all that hard work? I shall tell you.

1) It gives you direction in editing. If you have that summary in the back of your mind, you’ll be able realize what can be deleted and what you can keep. If you are only kinda sure, you still might need something kept.

2) It tell you when to stop. Oftentimes, newer writers go on longer than they need to, and the end stuff is all boring drivel.

For example: In Shad, my one-sentence summary is along the lines of, “A talented pilot tries to escape his life of condemnation after rescuing a doctor.” So based on this, he needs to leave his current life and settle down somewhere else for the story to be complete. However, and I can’t include this all in my sentence, in order do that he needs to race a big race and win it.

What if I just made my sentence along the lines of; “A talented pilot decides to compete in the most prestigious race in hopes of escaping his criminal background.” Based on this, when he crosses the finish line on the race, he should have just one more chapter to tie everything up. Instead, I have closer to four. Why? Various reasons along the lines of him telling me so, but more than that, the story isn’t done, because the story is truly about what I said earlier–him finding a new life away from criminals.

3) It tells you what to include in your introduction. This is more for formal writing and short stories. Both of these need the plot, or direction of the story told quickly. If you know what your story really is about through the one-sentence summary, then you’ll know what to say in your first page or so, in order to tell your reader what direction the story will take.

4) It makes sure that everything stops together. This goes back to number 2, but the idea is that if you have summary, then you don’t leak the sub story over onto the ending of the real story. Trust me – this is really important.

5) It helps other people edit your story. I work in the writing centre at my school, so when students need help with editing their papers, they come to me. Oftentimes, I ask them what the paper is about. If they give me an answer along the lines of; “Well, it’s kinda a reaction paper about the education of athletic trainers and, yeah, that’s it.” It’s a lot harder for me to edit it than when you say, “It is a reaction paper of the educational requirements for an athletic trainer.”

See more of Abigail at Always a Writer.

And now to this week’s readings.

The Editor’s Pick this week is Netflix: She is wearing those skinny jeans and a strappy top, an ensemble that brings out her petite, lithe and curvy frame in gratuitously lust inducing chic.

Next, we have Hit, Run, Reverse, Destroy: I should have never left with her. She had a weird allure that I can’t quite accurately explain but I’ll try.

Duke of Nothing: Duke had just graduated from the University of Nairobi to join a big cohort of jobseekers. With not much to do and no job, he presented a proposal…

I Refuse to Die: Cynthia was a second year Law student. She sat on her bed flicking with her phone, not doing anything in particular, legs propped on a stool. Her TV…

We end the readings with Intruder – Part 1: The TV screen in the sitting room was splashed with a picture of a local and notorious sexual offender nicknamed Jack t…

An author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it. ~ Colette

Have a good week!



This entry was posted on November 15, 2010 by in Writer's Blog.
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