"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Saturday, May 31, 2008

My Latest Focus in Writing

Highlight from the morning:
Remember my 3-year-old daughter's trip to the dentist? Where her teeth were wiggly? She bumped them again a couple weeks ago, and this morning, with the help of her big brother and a fight over a blanket, one of her top front teeth came out. Lots of blood. Lots of crying. And just in time for her dance recital.
When I had a little girl, I envisioned long blond ponytails, pink frilly outfits, and Mary-Janes.
My daughter has two large chunks cut out of her hair from fun with scissors, a missing front tooth, and wears only superhero clothing.
And did I mention she's the most beautiful little girl in the world?

OK, enough on that. My latest writing tip? Summarize your novel in one short sentence. In this short sentence show what the main character is trying to achieve. What is the motivation for the novel? And once you get this sentence down, work to incorporate it into your novel as early as possible (The Hero's Journey Call To Adventure). Let the reader know why they need to bother reading the book.

There's been lots of talk about The Lightning Thief recently, so I'll try that one.

A half-god boy searches for who has stolen Zeus's lightning bolt.

Sure, he's working on his relationship with his dad. He's discovering his new world. But his reason for the book is his quest - the find out who took the lightning bolt and return it.

Got one you want to try? And while you're at it, do it for your WIP also!


Jim D said...

Thanks Tricia!

I think something just clicked -- my MC needs more motivation for her quest up front. Mystery is well and fine, but there still must be belivable motivation for the quest.

Funny how we can hear things ten times and then on the eleventh they actually mean something!

Jim D

PJ Hoover said...

This is exactly how I felt, Jim. I've heard this a million times, but when you try to summarize (and substantiate) your novel in one sentence, it makes you think!

beth said...

I just did this at the pitch contest sponsored by this blog: http://inthehotseat-wordwrangler.blogspot.com/

Here's my entry (it won honorable mention): After landing in another world, Chloe realizes that the hardest thing won't be finding a way home...it will be convincing her magic-addicted brother to come back home with her.

My other entry that didn't win: Smart-mouthed Mina discovers a hidden magical talent that might be enough to fight an evil megalomaniac, but not to save the person she loves most.

These are for my two completed mss. For my current WIP...

After learning that her English teacher is a good witch trapped in her own classroom, a shy girl tries to save her with alchemy taught by her new science teacher without realizing his sinister motivations.

beth said...

PS--I loved your description of your daughter! She sounds like me!

PJ Hoover said...

Good, Beth! I'll take that as encouragement for her future! I love her free spirit! Do you still have your teeth?
Your pitch sentences are great. Especially the first one. It introduces the new world and shows a concrete motivation the MC will have throughout - get her brother home. And even better is it isn't what she thinks her main motivation will be!

beth said...

Heh--after two rounds with braces, and about ten cavities when I rebelled against the second set of braces by not brushing my teeth (I was such a smart preteen), I'd better have all my teeth for the rest of my life!!!

keri mikulski :) said...

Great tip!

BTW - It sounds like your daughter and mine are very similar. When I was pregnant and I wanted to name my daughter Grace, my dad said - Keri, you'll never have a Grace, try a name that's a little more boyish. I'm so glad I changed it.. Kaci is not exactly a Grace. :) She's a Kaci, with bruises, a ball fetish, and dolls covered in mud. Have a great day.

PJ Hoover said...

Preteens are all so smart, Beth! Glad you have pearly beauties now!

Thanks, Keri! Funny that you knew she was no Grace ahead of time. Mine has a big brother which contributes to the fun. But on a good note, we're very slim on dolls around here.

Sheri said...

You crack me up whenever you talk about your daughter. Her hair still hasn't grown in from her fun with scissors day? I think that was one of the first postings I read on your blog - oh the memories...

PJ Hoover said...

Sheri, my daughter cracks my up on an hourly basis. No - her hair grows at the same pace as mine, I'm afraid. Let's just say we never have to go to the salon every six weeks for a trim.