Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The One-Sentence Plot by Molly Noble Bull

Molly Noble Bull

Or: How to Write the Plot of an Entire Novel in One Sentence

My name is Molly Noble Bull, the One-Sentence Plot lady. And what is a one-sentence plot? The entire plot of a book in one sentence, and you can’t write one without including a major conflict. So what is a major conflict?

Stay tuned.

For now, let us focus on the elements of Part One of the One-Sentence Plot—elements that all plots in one sentence must have.

Part One

  • The first part of a One-Sentence Plot names the main/viewpoint character.
  • It introduces the opposing character.
  • It tells the viewpoint character’s goal,
  • And it ends with the word because.
The word because forces the author to develop a major conflict so strong it seems impossible to resolve.

Part Two

  • The major conflict makes up the second part the One-Sentence Plot, and it is written right after the word because, explaining why the major conflict cannot be resolved.

The Romance Novel

Part One

Model and movie star, Jane Greer, thinks she’s found a way to escape the glitter of Hollywood when she trades places with her twin sister for six months, meets her sister’s boss, Jake Stillman, and becomes his secretary, but their mutual attraction can never end happily because—

Part Two

The second half of this plot begins after the word “because” and explains why the main character cannot reach his or her goal. Below is the second half of the plot in one sentence.


Jane is not the person she pretends to be and must soon return to her old life.

Note: I used the plot above when writing my Love Inspired romance titled Brides and Blessings, and it is still available at Amazon right now as a Kindle e-book.

The Short Story

Hungry and abandoned by their parents in a dark forest, Hansel and Gretel meet a kind old woman who promises them food and shelter, but their dream of a home and safety are soon dashed because
the old woman is anything but kind and wants to cook them in her oven and eat them for supper.

The Mainstream Novel

When Allison Foster takes a two week vacation to Paris and meets Tyler Barnhart again after many years, she thinks she has found true love at last, but their romance can only be temporary because
Tyler is studying to be a Catholic priest and will soon take a vow never to marry.

The Western

After making a down payment, Jake Morrison takes out a loan to buy land on a creek in West Texas and asks Mandy Ware to be his wife, but his dream of land and a happy future with Mandy disappears shortly before the wedding because banker and neighboring rancher, Roger Stokes, is also in love with Mandy and demands that Jake pay off his bank loan immediately or lose the land and his down payment.

The Mystery

Private investigator, Tom Grant, volunteers to help Marta Mentes discover why her father disappeared, but when Marta vanishes and her uncle turns up dead, Tom wonders if he has been deceived because Marta and her father are the only heirs to a fortune her grandfather left in a secret Swiss bank account.

The examples above will teach you to how to write a plot in one sentence. But in order to please an editor and sell a book, you must also include a:

Part Three 

The conclusion to your One-Sentence Plot.

All but the Mainstream Novel must end happily. Mainstream novels don’t have to end happily but only logically. An example would be the priest-in training who decides that he must take that final vow and become a priest regardless of his love for Allison. However if he decides to give up the priesthood and marry Allison instead, it would then become a romance novel.

See what I mean?

Not only will writing the plot in one sentence attract the attention of an editor, it will also help keep the story focused and moving forward. Remember, the plot in one sentence is the backbone of your story, and a plot isn’t a plot without a major conflict.
About the Author

Molly Noble Bull

CBA author Molly Noble Bull has sold novels to Zondervan and Love Inspired and Tsaba House. More recently, Sanctuary, one of Molly’s long historical novels, won the 2008 Gayle Wilson Award in the inspirational category and also tied for first place in a second national contest for published authors that year. About three weeks ago, Sanctuary was reprinted under a new title, The Secret Place; so if you read Sanctuary, you have already read The Secret Place.

Gatehaven, Molly’s scary Christian Gothic historical, won the 2013 Creation House Fiction Writing Contest as a manuscript and was published in paperback and as an e-book in 2014.

Elk Lake Publishing published When the Cowboy Rides Away in September 2015, a historical western set in the ranch country of South Texas where Molly lives today.

When the Cowboy Rides Away
by Molly Noble Bull
Jeanette Pierce, a retired English teacher, wrote study guides for Gatehaven and When the Cowboy Rides Away for home school families and others, and all the study guides are based on Molly’s novels To see all her books, go to Molly’s page at Amazon.

When the Cowboy Rides Away

Maggie Galagher, twenty-one, runs the Gallagher Ranch in South Texas and has raised her little sister and orphaned nephew since her parents and older sister died. No wonder she can’t find time for romance.

When the Cowboy Rides Away by Molly Noble Bull opens two years after Maggie loses her family members. Out for a ride with her sister, she discovers Alex Lancaster, a handsome cowboy, shot and seriously wounded on her land. Kind-hearted and a Christian, Maggie nurses him back to health despite all her other chores. How could she know that Alex had a secret that could break her heart?/span>


  1. Molly, great post. Somehow I think I'll have a harder time executing then you did explaining. Plotting is my weak point so I'm always looking for help. Thanks for these great tips.

    1. Like you, plotting was once my weakest point. But now it is one of my strongest. Keep trying to write one sentence plots. I did, and it paid off. I think it will also pay off for you.
      To see all my books, visit my website.
      or my page at Amazon. http://bit.ly/mollynoblebull
      May God Bless All of You,


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