A Novel in a Tweet: This Time, It’s Real

Last post, remember how I was busy complaining?  Something along the lines of “oh dearie me, isn’t it hard to compress a novel into three sentences?”  Haven’t looked over what I produced throughout that painful endeavour, yet.  But now, I’m attempting what I only dared joke about before – summing up the entire novel in the length of a tweet.  That’s right, I’m writing a tagline.

It’s for the same agency as before.  On their website they acknowledge how difficult it is to sum up a novel in a tagline, but encourage writers to include it on the cover page of their manuscript sample if they pull it off.

Twas more than daunted, initially, at only the thought, but surprisingly I’m having a much better time about it than getting it into three sentences.  Perhaps it’s because there truly is only so much you can include in a single sentence – not even a sentence!  Now, I have a word document with 21 possibilities neatly listed, thought up and culminated over the course of today with a bit of help from a friend who just finishing reading the beast, and my dear Mum.  I think I’ve narrowed it down to two.  One’s more catchy than the other, but I don’t think it covers the whole scope of the novel the way the other option does.

For reasons of paranoia, I won’t record the two front-runners here.  I will, however, include a few of the failed options:

Hearts lost, what’s won?

Worlds connected – a blessing in one curses another

Certain things are harder to accept, certain people harder to forgive

Not great, I know.  That’s why they’re not front-runners.  I like the first two much better than the third, personally.

I can’t flatter myself and imagine I’m qualified to offer advice on anything, least of all on turning masterpieces into, in essence, 140 character post-it notes of social media.  But I’ll list what I attempted to do, techniques which helped me produce my two final options.  A few of the following points are painfully obvious, others less so.

1 – Select and have in mind the major events and major themes of your novel

2 – If there are multiple major characters, decide which one or two are the most crucial and think about them and their struggles

3 – Make it as catchy and memorable as you can – taglines have to snatch attention and hold it

4 – Try to work in a play on words or some irony that people will only fully understand once they read the book

5 – Experiment with synonyms – see which version of a meaning offers the most impact

6 – Write down everything you can think of, and then play mix-and-match

Have you created a tagline for any of your writings?  What do you find works well?  What do you think entails a fantastic tagline, one that does its job of lassoing readers while standing alone as an individual work of art?


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