Copyright 2010 by Gary L. Pulman
No, I’m not endorsing USA Today. In fact, its political bent slants opposite of my own. However, I’m certainly not denigrating it, either. It’s a decent daily in many ways. Besides, I don’t depend upon it for my news (although, I must admit, I do enjoy reading its “Across the USA: news from every state” column. It offers something I don’t see anywhere else: news from every state.
But I also check out the “TV Tonight” listings on occasion. In doing so, I find, the one-sentence summaries of TV episode and movie plots frequently encapsulate, in nut-shell fashion, identifications of the protagonist, the antagonist, conflict (if only implicitly), and the conflict’s resolution. Not bad for a sentence. Here’s an example: “A man [protagonist] drinking himself to death [conflict] finds solace [conflict resolution] with a hooker [antagonist]” (6D). While this summary, which is of Leaving Las Vegas, is not of a horror movie, the same approach can be used to sum up a horror film. Here’s an example: Ben Mears (protagonist) leads a fight against vampires (conflict), liberating his boyhood hometown (conflict resolution) from the bloodsucking fiends (antagonists). The summary is, of course, of Stephen King’s novel ‘Salem’s Lot.
The one-sentence statement of a story’s basic plot keeps a writer focused on the narrative’s main character, antagonist, conflict, conflict resolution, and through-line, which is no mean feat when one writes novels of the length of ‘Salem’s Lot. The synopsis can fit on an index card that one can tape on his or her computer monitor, pocket to take with him or her to the library (for research beyond the Internet’s delivery capability), and keep close to hand during rewrites and revisions. Again, not bad for a sentence!