|Photo credit: jepoirrier on Flickr|
So I’ve talked in the past about plotting with flashcards, and this is even quicker and easier than that.
For those of you who follow the amazing Nathan Bransford’s blog, you might have seen this post two years ago on how to write a one sentence pitch. Combined with some fantastic advice from various plot posts and writing books, I’ve found the one sentence pitch to be a great tool not only for summarizing your book to friends, family and potential agents and publishers, but to give you a focus right from the beginning of the novel-writing stage.
For those of you who haven’t heard of the one sentence pitch before, it’s basically what it sounds like—your book summarized into a single sentence that, according to the wise Nathan Bransford, contains the inciting incident, obstacle, and the quest (for more detailed information, definitely check out his post).
The entire plot summed up into a single sentence.
You can find these pitches at the very beginning of many novels on the same page as the copyright information. Here are some examples:
- The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins): “In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss’s skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place.”
- Shatter Me (Tahereh Mafi): “Ostracized or incarcerated her whole life, seventeen-year-old Juliette is freed on the condition that she use her horrific abilities in support of The Reestablishment, a postapocalyptic dictatorship, but Adam, the only person ever to show her affection, offers hope of a better future.”
- Dark Inside (Jeyn Roberts): “After tremendous earthquakes destroy the Earth’s major cities, an ancient evil emerges, turning ordinary people into hunters, killers, and insane monsters but a small group of teens comes together in a fight for survival and safety.”
Now although these single sentence summaries are often developed long after the book was written, it can be a very powerful plotting tool if they’re created before you begin writing. The one sentence pitch gives you the full scope of the story before you start writing, while still allowing for a great amount of creativity between the lines. For pantsers, it means laying down basic groundwork to build off of without restraining any spontaneous creativity and for plotters it means establishing the nuts and bolts of the story in a single fluid sentence.
It’s an effective tool for any type of plotter.
So what do you think? Have you ever tried using the pitch as a plotting tool?