Also known as the ‘Hook’ or the ‘Elevator Pitch’
Maximize Your Main Conflict
(Remember, ONE SENTENCE and always use the third person – present tense!)
What’s The Main Conflict of Your Work?
- Identify the main character and what he or she has to lose (Focus the story through the lens of their Point of View (POV) for maximum emotional impact.)
- What does the main character risk externally? (house, life, job, spouse, etc.)
- What does the main character risk internally? (her heart, friendship, mother’s respect, children’s admiration, etc.)
‘The Wizard of Oz’ Example
- In the movie version of ‘The Wizard of Oz’, Dorothy is the main character. So in your synopsis the story should unfold through Dorothy’s perspective. Focus on her and focus all the action through her.
- Once you’ve identified your main character, ask yourself:
What does the character risk externally (her house, his life, her job, his favorite T-shirt?)? – Her life. There’s a witch after her.
- What does the character risk internally(her heart, his friendship, her mother’s respect, his children’s admiration)? –If she doesn’t get back to Kansas, she’ll never see her family again. And she’s only just realized how important they are to her.
These are the two main points of conflict to focus on in your query letter that should be filtered through your main character’s point of view.
From: ‘Bridges of Madison County’:
When Robert Kincaid drives through the heat and dust of an Iowa summer and turns into Francesca Johnson’s farm lane looking for directions, the world-class photographer and the Iowa farm wife are joined in an experience that will haunt them forever.
From ‘The Da Vinci Code’:
A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ.
Complete at 69,000 words, ‘Sure Sign of Crazy’ tells the story of one pivotal summer during Sarah’s life as she struggles to come-of-age in the shadow of her mother’s illness and her father’s secrecy.
Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond. Seven years later, violence is her native tongue in a time when an ounce of fresh water is worth more than gold and firewood equals life during bitter rural winters. Death wanders the countryside in many forms: thirst, cholera, coyotes, and the guns of strangers.
Fifteen-year-old Jesse Fisher can’t pass a test, pilot a space shuttle, or make it through a day without tripping over his own feet.
Example Taglines from Galleycat:
- Max Meyers can’t make the grade. He can’t get the girl. And he can’t be the jock. The only thing going for him is his father’s status as hotshot politician. But when Max finds his house engulfed in flames and his dad with a bullet hole in his head, the ruling of suicide sucks worse than the Calc exam he failed last week.
- Violet Brantford is marrying the man of her dreams—only he doesn’t know it.
- A woman who cannot trust. A man who will not love. A passion richer than the dark of midnight.
- Why do some children grow up evil? That is the timeless question addressed in ‘The Copycat Killer’.
- Zoe Lauterborn is the corporate Ice Queen, and nothing will stand in her way. Phillip Kingdom is fascinated with her. Her achievements, her looks … he wants her—but she won’t let anyone get in her way. Sure of an upcoming promotion, she gets drunk at happy hour, giving him an idea—‘The Bet’.