Tuesday, October 26, 2010

All you will ever need to complete a great novel or script... is one single simple sentence


You have a great idea for a story. It will make a fantastic novel. An awesome script. You can’t wait to launch your word processor and type away.

But before you start, did you ask yourself:

Can I sum-up the core of my story with a single simple sentence?

As in:

“Two men disguise as women and join an all female band to escape the mob” (Some Like It Hot)
“A young widow discovers that her late husband has left a guideline to help her start a new life” (Cecelia Ahern’s PS I Love You)
“A paraplegic marine dispatched to far far away planet slowly morphs into his alien avatar” (Oh, and by the way, it will be in groundbreaking 3D)
“Let’s rewrite Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice adding lots of zombies” (Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)
... Etc.
If you cannot sum up your idea in a single simple sentence, you’re going to have a lot of trouble finishing your manuscript… and then, even more trouble selling it.

Once you start to write a project, it will take months, years, and dozen of rewrites before you can complete a final draft. You’re going to spend a serious chunk of your life sweating over that story. So it’s essential that you get it right from the start.

If you can successfully sum-up the core of your story in a single simple sentence, it surely means that your concept is strong and clear. It will become the ID of your project. Whenever you will get lost, whenever you will suffer through writer block, whenever you will be in doubt, this single simple sentence will remind you what you were really trying to write from day one.

And most importantly, it will always remind you your initial enthusiasm, the one you had when you woke up with that eureka feeling and run to your laptop like you just invented warm water.


When you will finally complete a final draft, this single simple sentence will becomes even more important. If it’s clear and catchy, it will be the flag that you, your agent, your editor, or your producer will use to convince other people that indeed you might just have invented warm water.

So? Can you sum-up your idea in one single simple sentence? And if so …? Does it sound good? Good enough to spend the next two years of your life struggling with it?

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