Turning a One Sentence Hook into a Five Sentence Paragraph

By turning a One Sentence Hook into a Five Sentence Paragraph–one sentence each for story setup, turning points, resolution–you’ll be able to create a one paragraph synopsis that can be included in a Query Letter, e-mail, or at a pitch session.

One of the best models for evolving a hook into a novel is by using the Snowflake Method, by Randy Ingermanson in combination with the Enneagram Institute’s Personality Types and the Three Act Structure (previous blog).

My October 1st blog set up how to formulate The One Sentence Hook, which read as follows:

A claustrophobic herpetologist descends into a Yucatan cenote to prove a legendary albino crocodile’s existence.

Add prior to this hook a well-known visual: In my Avatar meets Romancing the Stone contemporary romantic comedy, a claustrophobic herptologist descends into a Yucatan cenote to prove a legendary albino crocodile’s existence . . . 

Can you see the difference already? Are you thinking a Fish Out Of Water combined with a Rites of Passage type novel? 

Using the Enneagram’s description for The Enthusiast (#7), we discovered the following about our hero:

  • Fear: Of being deprived and in pain.
  • Desire: To be satisfied and content – to have their needs fulfilled
  • Strength/Flaw : Optimism
  • At Best: extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous
  • At Worst: claustrophobic and panic-stricken

Using only one sentence (note Setup and Disaster One combined), detail the following points:

Story Backdrop and Setup – TP1:

A herpetologist (Bronson Mitchell-hero) travels deep into the Yucatan jungle in search of a legendary albino crocodile (object he wants).

Disaster One (can be due to external circumstances in lieu of protagonist trying to fix things– TP2):

Stumbling on a hospitable (needs met) indigenous tribe,  Bronson is presented with the chief’s beautiful daughter (Ravina Cocum-heroine) as his guide (optimistic, he follows) to the cenote (Fear: of being deprived and in pain. Remember he’s claustrophobic).

Disaster Two (Due to the protagonist’s attempt to fix things – TP3):

Because of his claustrophobia, Bronson jerry-rigs a crocodile trap (still optimistic), but falls into the cenote, is joined in the pit by Ravina who tends his wounds (needs met),  and then they share a night of passion.

Disaster Three (Due to the protagonist’s attempt to fix things – TP4):

Hungry, lost, and injured (his needs unmet), Bronson traverses the depths of the cenote (faces his biggest fear) and realizes that he no longer requires the crocodile (specific object) to be satisfied and is content with what he has (he’s changed).

Climax (TP5):

Bronson separates from Ravina in a final attempt to save them both and dives into an underground river where he emerges into an albino crocodile filled pool, but is rescued by Ravina.

Aftermath:

Abandoning the crocodiles, because he’s simply awed by the simple wonders of life, Bronson is accepted by the tribe, weds Ravina and, no longer claustrophobic, decides to stay and study the local reptiles indefinitely.

Combined the paragraph reads:

In my Avatar meets Romancing the Stone contemporary novel, a claustrophobic herptologist descends into a Yucatan cenote to prove a legendary albino crocodile’s existence .

Bronson Mitchell travels deep into the Yucatan jungle in search of a legendary albino crocodile, stumbles on a hospitable indigenous tribe, and is presented with the chief’s beautiful daughter, Ravina Cocum, who leads him to the cenote. Because of his claustrophobia, he jerry-rigs a crocodile trap, but falls into the cenote, is joined in the pit by Ravina who tends his wounds, and then they share a night of passion. Hungry, lost, and injured, Bronson traverses the depths of the cenote and realizes that he no longer requires the crocodile to be satisfied and is content with what he has. Separating from Ravina in a final attempt to save them both, he dives into an underground river where he emerges into an albino crocodile filled pool, but is rescued by Ravina. Abandoning the crocodiles, because he’s simply awed by the simple wonders of life, Bronson is accepted into the tribe as Ravina’s husband and, no longer claustrophobic, decides to stay and study the local reptiles indefinitely.

CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve just written a one paragraph synopsis that can be included in a query letter, e-mail, or at a pitch session. 

Happy Writing, Cyndi Faria

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