Here is your challenge: Sum up a well-known story or a lengthy story you have written or edited in SIX LITTLE WORDS.
The idea is that this forces you to be concise and boil the story down to its essence. You have to think about what is the main plot, what is the underlying theme/truth. This is kind of what headline writers have to do, only be clever on top of it all. It's also useful when you have limited space and have to decide what to cut. You choose to cut the things that least support the main plot and meaning of your story.
Here are some examples to show you what we're talking about. Please add your own!
Three Little Pigs (Sue)
Wolf destroys house. Pigs get smart. (plot)
Weather storms by building to last. (meaning)
Ferris Beuller's Day Off (Megan)
Friends play and talk, find selves.
Life is fast. Stop. Look around.
Girl attends ball, finds prince charming.
Rags to riches. True love exists.
Wizard of Oz (Jen)
Girl gets shoes, friends, returns home.
Test your limits, believe in self.
Star Wars (Brad)
His planet destroyed, he saves universe.
Lost young man discovers strength within.
While at Starbucks for our meeting, we saw a young mom with a crying toddler and made comment about it (nicely of course), which inspired me to write:
Baby cries. Mom apologizes. Onlookers smile.
Baby envy, but glad it's hers.
Then, Tom asked us to do the same thing for a rather lengthy story we've written recently. Here's what we came up with for that:
Lauxmont Farms package (Tom)
Three decades later, land dispute continues.
Sins from past trap people still.
Barbie & Tad series (Jen)
Couple wants children, gains new families.
Love, not biology, make a family.
Twins story (Nicki)
Separated, reunited, sister adopts retarded brother.
Family love prevails in trying situation.
Bodani's shark story (Brad)
Fishing captain returns to deadly scene.
Captain lures monsters while chasing ghosts.
Nicki's Noah story (Sue)
Boy suffers setbacks, laughs, cries, lives. OR Boy suffers setbacks, family laughs anyway.
Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, ooooo life goes on.
Bodani's Appalachian Trail series (Brad)
From beginning to end, they walked.
Each one discovered himself on Trail.
William Penn teacher who retired to care for wife (Megan)
Man chooses love over teaching career.
Man finds true love trumps all.