It’s said that great writers can write a story in just a few words. Or rather great stories can be told using just a few words. The most famous example is obviously Ernest Hemingway’s legendary shortest short story which is a mere 6 words long:

“For sale: Baby shoes. Never used.”

The story goes that Hemingway made a bar bet with friends that he could write a complete short story in under ten words. Scholars have never conclusively determined whether or not Hemingway actually did this: there is no evidence, but they agree based upon what they know of his past that it is not outside the realm of possibility. Some people disagree on the last word as well, but whether it is “used” or “worn,” the story stays the same.

So in the spirit of this, back when I began my novel I took part in a discussion in the NaNoWriMo forums called: “20-word summary of your novel.” I don’t think I can pull off 6 words. I’m no Hemingway.

This is what I came up with back in October, before I started writing.

“Em, Matt, and Nikki were all friends once. Nikki’s wedding means figuring out their futures and dealing with their pasts.”

Now, I’m about 44,000 words in (I should probably look at my wordcount…) and I’ve decided to fool around with the exercise again. Here are a few blurbs for Now and Again, all 20 words or less.

“As they plan Nikki’s wedding, Em and Matt deal with the problems and feelings that they’ve had; now… and again.”

“Em never thought she’d see Matt again. But Nikki’s getting married and Em must face what almost was.”

“Em struggles to overcome emotional boundaries to renew her friendship with Matt while they plan her best friend’s wedding.”

“Friendship wasn’t enough. Dating was too much. They parted ways. Now, they’ll find out if anything has changed.”

“Two ex-friends try and fail to ignore their history.”

“Chinese food. Weddings. Grand openings. Unpacked boxes. Unresolved issues. Everything she never wanted. True. False. Now. Again.”

What would your 20 word summary look like?