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

Monday, March 30, 2009

Think you know where to start?

When is blogging too much? Not yet? Then starting April 1st head over to the new MG/YA Fantasy blog, The Enchanted Inkpot. It's a group of fantasy novelists, it's just starting, and it's sure to be a great fun place to visit. After all, I'll be posting an interview with the awesome Elizabeth C. Bunce over there in mid-April.

***

So it's recently come to my attention that I need to start one of my WIPs in a different place. Sure, I have a great opening line, and the first scene isn't all bad either. But now, when I think about what the true purpose of the novel is, I realize I need to back up in time. Only a day. But it's an important day. And it needs to come first.

Why?
It's what the novel is about. It sets the stage for the true one sentence description of the story.

My critique group has worked on our one sentence summaries in the past, and I kind of struggled on pinpointing what the one sentence summary would be for this WIP (code name GI). It seemed long and dragged on and had too many elements.
Not the right answer.
The one sentence summary should be short. Concise. Not containing any semicolons (because let's face it—this is cheating). The one sentence summary should be the single most important plot point in the story. It should reflect the character's motivation. It should show conflict. And add in some irony if at all possible to drive the point home.

The the good news is I now know what my one sentence summary needs to focus on. The even better news is I'm flying to NJ for a day (leaving Tuesday, coming back Wednesday) which seems short but will give me time on the airplane to work on my sentence.
And of course my new opening scene.

So think about it:
Do you really have a concise one sentence summary which truly hones in on the main purpose of your novel? Really? Even if you think you do, ask yourself this again and again just to make sure.

***

And like I mentioned, I'm off to NJ for a school visit, so I probably won't blog until Friday. But I have a fun post scheduled over on The Spectacle for April Fool's Day! So hop over there and weigh in if you get a chance!
For humor, I note that I'm currently reading City of Glass by Cassandra Clare which is over 500 pages and hardback, so I'm not hauling it on the plane. So instead I'm bringing Running With The Demon by Terry Brooks for plane reading when I can't look at the computer any longer!

***

And finally, two really fun pictures from lunch last week at Betty X. Davis's house!

The group (who happened to be there when the picture was taken)

Me and Erin Edwards

Have a great week!

18 comments:

beckylevine said...

Okay, first, have you read Hooked--by Les Edgerton? It's a writing book all about beginnings, and I loved it.

And second, can you tell more about this one-sentence summary? A summary of the WHOLE book?

Lady Glamis said...

I sent you my little summaries in the email with my WIP. The first one is one sentence. The second is a paragraph, but I think I managed to squeeze enough information in there. It's hard! I have a feeling it's something I'll never master completely.

Hope your trip is lovely!

Miriam S.Forster said...

One sentence summary, eh? Hmmm... Do you have an example? Like the one sentence summary for The Emerald Tablet perhaps?

Stacy Nyikos said...

Hey, have fun in Jersey! One sentence...just one????

beth said...

Wow! You are officially the Blogging Queen :)

Oh, one sentences are hard. I'm going to work on that...

Sarah Rettger said...

Now I'm really curious about what happened the day before GI opens. But you're just going to keep me waiting, aren't you? ;-)

Kelly H-Y said...

Love the pictures! Have a safe and fun trip to NJ ... good luck coming up with the one line summary. Such an excellent (and challenging) exercise!

Keri Mikulski said...

Nice pic!!

You're coming to my home state!! What part of NJ????

Have fun!!

D.A. Riser said...

2 blog holidays in 1 month, huh? Sounds like you need to add another couple more blogs to your workload. Just kidding! ;-)

I've heard it suggested that an author should write the 1 sentence pitch before even tackling the first draft. It definitely tests your plot's tightness.

C.R. Evers said...

Have fun in NJ!

And it sounds like you have a fabulous critique group! How awesome is that???!!!

Heather Zundel said...

You've got me hooked thinking about this whole "one sentence" thing. I have a hard enough time with query letters. And that is so funny you had to start earlier in your story. I almost always have to start later on. I would love to see a one sentence example of The Emerald Tablet.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Can it be a really long run on sentence?

Vivian said...

Oh, man. You have one of the best opening lines ever...I am so impressed you're able to focus on what your story needs and can't wait to find out how this new version starts!

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks everyone for the trip well wishes!

I haven't read Hooked, Becky, but I'm thinking maybe I should! And I'm thinking I should do a post on the one sentence summary.

It's very hard, Michelle! Really, really hard, especially when there are cool subplots involved!

I'll figure out my Emerald Tablet example and post it, Miriam!

Just one, Stacy :)

Blogging queen, Beth? How about Blogging demigod. That would be cool.

PJ Hoover said...

Sarah, once I write my new chapter, I'll most likely submit it to the group. So let your excitement build :)

Thanks, Kelly! And you're right - the one sentence exercise is a good and challenging one!

Woodbridge, NJ, Keri! Are you anywhere close?

Interesting, Dan. Does that mean I would need to know what my novel is about BEFORE I write it?

PJ Hoover said...

Our critique group rocks, Christy! I'm so lucky!

I know, Heather! I cut the first 100 pages of The Emerald Tablet!
And I'll figure out its one sentence summary and post it!

Funny, Sherrie! A long run-on sentence. Of course that sentence would have to be edited, right?

Thanks, Vivian! Hopefully my new story start will work out for the best!

Thanks for visiting everyone!

Christina Farley said...

I read City of Bones recently and liked it but wasn't thrilled with the ending and thought it was a little long. I'd be interested in your thoughts on the next one.

Have a great trip though and I checked out the new blog. Its fabulous!

PJ Hoover said...

So far, Christina, it hasn't grabbed me to the point where I can't put it down. I think it will, but it is awfully long.