Feb 21, 2010

Solution Sunday

Where I tell you a little about what works me
and you tell me a lot about what works for you.

Yesterday I thanked you guys for supporting my blog.  Today, I'd like to thank you for watching something bizarre unfold last week: the desperate development of a one-sentence summary.

How weird is it that I started the process on Tuesday and it took until Friday to have an acceptable sentence?!  Maybe not weird, but just sad.  That's okay.  It is what it is.  But it was totally worth it!  I gained so much knowledge.  Here's a glimpse at my process.

First attempt: Two teen boys discover they are to become stepbrothers, shortly after they each realize the other is gay.

Second attempt: Two gay teens' paths criss and cross until they are wrapped around each other, then an even stronger bond forms.

Clearly, the second attempt is an improvement.  Now, for my third attempt:  Two gay teens' paths criss and cross until they are wrapped around each other, but then a stronger and unlikely bond forms.

The third attempt is me trying to reveal that the stronger bond is not necessarily a romantic one.  The Snowflake Method instructs you to create a one-sentence summary in fifteen words or less and use the New York Times Best Seller lists for ideas.  Well, the latest version stands at twenty-two words.  I didn't through the parameters out the window, I just feel that the current version appropriately implies what I am hoping it does. Suggestions for cutting and tightening?

Speaking of cutting and tightening, my new favorite blog, Literary Ramblings from Casey McCormick.  She is well-known, especially for her Agent Spotlight segment, but Casey has recently posted two new segments, titled Omit Needless Words & Tighten Your Writing.  The first post discusses the uses of adverbs and adjectives and why we should or shouldn't employ them.  The second post highlights the words THAT and THERE.  Wow, I have literally learned so much from those two posts.  If you are one of the smart ones and feel well-versed in these two areas of writing, please head over there and share your two cents.  I need you to.  If not for me, do it for the kittens.  I love cheeseburgers***!  If you are like me and only pretend to have any idea of what's going on, then Casey's blog is made for you.  She invites us to add our own writing and then correct it ourselves within the same comment!  I know, you're shy.  Well, get over it.  Look at the blood I've spilled her in the last week.  My.  Own.  Blood.  I can be over-dramatic, but I am a bad actor.  Heather, Hollywood is def not on my list of wannabe talents.

Oh, and Casey told me that more is to come!  Help me get  her to keep the promise.  Go, now.  Here's another link so you don't have to scroll.  Yay.

* Medium-well with monterey-cheddar cheese, sliced green olives, mayo, and cranberry mustard.  Superb.
** Big enough TLL?


  1. Casey's blog IS amazing--and she is such a wonderful person too. (Did you catch her interview at my place?)

    Tightening--How about: Two gay teens' paths criss and cross until wrapped around each other, when a stronger, unlikely bond forms.

    That kitten looked so sad.

  2. Jon--I believe it is rude to rewrite another writer's words (and presumptuous), but since I just vacuumed out a few little words, I thought it was okay. (I hope). Anyway, I wanted to say again how brave you are to do your revising in a public arena, and to ask for general feedback. Very brave. And, re:Hollywood: you can't be awesome at EVERYTHING!

    And my word veri seemed fitting: brogizes.

  3. Heather1 - I did catch your interview with Casey, when I went back and read through a few weeks ago. I'm just weird sometimes and don't embrace things and people that are so right for me and so right in front of me...working on that.
    I know, that kitten is so sad--BUT cute!

    Heather2 - I believe it's rude for people like me (people who have no idea what they are doing) to rewrite another person's work, however, you clearly know what you are talking about, I trust your opinion, and since I publicly dangled my piece of crap out there, it's totally fitting that you should publicly polish it up with me, since it's what you would have done in private anyway. That way, others like me, the soon-to-bes, can watch the process. I'm, just so happy to be on this journey. When I got to that last attempt, it was good to me, ya know. It's good, but it can be better, I know that. The me of today, February 21, 2010, can't do any better. The me of tomorrow will be able to do so much more.

  4. I've been to Casey's blog a couple times, haven't visited recently, so thanks for putting it back into my rotation.

    As for your sentence, it is definitely getting better. As Heather said, I can't usually bring myself to re-write someone else's words unless they ask my to directly, only because I can't truly know the motivation behind what they are saying. But, as things go on, you'll be displeased with it and will do it again, making it better, and so on and so forth.

    I find it interesting that you called my brave for putting my novel out there, but are revealing so much more than I am. So, kudos to you.

  5. It should be said that Heather knows more about the story than anyone else, even more than I do. Okay, maybe not, but close.

  6. Jonathon - I am not sure if brave is the word...I consider myself shameless for soliciting input. That doesn't downgrade, in my mind, the vehement appreciation I have for every single comment.

    My mind, such an odd place to be.

  7. Ooooh yay, a new great blog to read... thanks for the link! I had the THAT and THERE thing figured... but suck immensely when it comes to adverbs and adjectives. Man, my writing is so mediocre, it makes me want to curl up and die.

    And cranberry mustard? I've never ever in my life heard of that. But its good?

  8. I've gotten better at leaving out "that" in my writing. But I still catch a few slipping through. I'll have to check out your link

  9. Marisa - Your comment pisses me off. Your writing is not mediocre, it is on a journey. Even our favorite authors started out with crap writing skills. Please focus on the quality of improvements you are making, not the quantity. I have had the pleasure of reading your writing on your blog, so I know mediocre is so not an appropriate label. Feel me?

    The cranberry mustard is DA BOMB! Sara Lee makes a good version, but I challenge you to shop local.

  10. Anissa - My writing is covered with that, these, adverbs, adjectives, and plenty of other amateur mistakes. But like you, I've been getting better too. That's what this is all about. I hope you share your improvements on Casey's site.

  11. Dena - I'll excuse your...short comment since it's about burgers. It should say cheeseburger, but I'll excuse that too.

  12. Haha, okay, yes, I feel you... but still. Blogging is way different than fiction writing... and you've never read my fiction!

    But thanks for the support, of course, and I'll stop using words such as mediocre, utterly worthless and pathetic to describe it :D

    Ooooh, and I've got to get some of that mustard!

  13. Marisa - Who's fault is that?! Okay, okay, I will accept your promise. truce? I've found myself making a lot of truces lately. For every ten people I inspire, I ruffle the feathers of at least one...wa. I'll admit, I do my fair share of self-deprecation, Heather and Tina can attest to that! But, with everything else in my life, it's a work-in-progress.

  14. So...are we all allowed to voice opinions on attempt #3?!

  15. Anita - Allowed? ALLOWED?! I am on my GD hands and knees here. Gimme all you got!

  16. Just had to say I liked the first one best. The criss crossing paths seems mysterious to me, but vague. Sorry.

    Two teen boys discover they are to become stepbrothers, shortly after they each realize the other is gay.

    I think this one is very good. But you might consider switching the order and use the stepbrothers as the punchline and the learning that each other is gay as the set-up.

    I don't have the words right, but
    like this (order wise):

    Shortly after realizing the other is gay, two teenagers discover they are (about?) to become stepbrothers.

    "Boys" is redundant since they are going to be brothers.

    My ordering of the thing may not be better, after all. Hey, it's late. But this one (the first one) really hooks me more than criss cross paths.

    Jon, this sounds like a cool book. Does much of it take place once they become stepbrothers?

  17. Wow! People are really pitching in to help you nail this sentence down. Looking at the one just above, which I especially like, I would tweak just a bit to say---

    Two teenage boys form a strong yet unlikely bond after each discovers that the other is gay.

    I like keeping the stepbrother thing out of it. Leaves something for the reader to discover, but still gets the crux of the story across.

  18. Jon--I like Tina Lynn's take on it--it's a good solid sentence. Now you have a few to choose from.

  19. Randy - Great, thanks for the input! I agree that my 'final' sentence is vague, but it best captures the message I am trying to convey. The bond that forma after their romantic stint changes forms and definitions many times. I would say that 2/3 of the book takes place after their parents marry. I will definitely think on what you've said.

  20. Tina Lynn - I know, isn't it great?! Okay, do you mind if I rant about your suggested sentence? "Two teenage boys form a strong yet unlikely bond after each discovers that the other is gay." I like it. It's solid. It's not all elusive and mysterious, but it is closest to the NYT Best Seller list's entries. The only thing is, I don't feel like it suggests two opposing feelings. The boys kinda sorta like each other in the beginning, they act on that. Then they become stepbrothers and their feelings for each other start to change, but each boy goes through a very different process from the other. In the end, they are back to sharing a bond, but a far different one from the beginning. So...I will think on yours.

  21. I have to agree with Randy! When it comes to pitches/summaries/otherwise telling people about your book in one freaking sentence, the specific is generally more compelling to me than the general. With the first sentence, my mind immediately starts spiraling: "Oooh! I wonder if the parents know. If they travel in the same social groups. OOH! I wonder if they've dated the same person!" It equals immediate intrigue. I'm not able to do that so much with the latter sentences, even though they are clearly well crafted.

    Of course, I could be full of it. I wouldn't be surprised.

  22. Carrie, Randy - Where the hell were you last week!! Okay, just kidding. Kinda.

    I appreciate what you've said, but I am moving on from Step 1 for now and letting it stew in the back of my mind. Also, when the story is finished, maybe all versions will be so off that I'll laugh at having spent creating them.

  23. Sorry I am coming late because that asterisk is for me and MAN did I see it. Thank you so much friend!!!

  24. And I think you are brave and amazing too.

  25. I think the stepbrother belongs in the sentence because it throws so much into the relationship and it is what has me wondering. I could see changing the criss and cross part to something more specific. But I see how it would be difficult to keep it so brief. I say keep playing with that part if you are up for it.

  26. Okay, good point! The sentence totally DOES NOT illustrate the two opposing feelings. Hmmm...I'll have to think on it, too. Seriously, if a story can make it through the entire Snowflake process, it will be a solid story. Love it!

  27. I have nothing to add other than that this story sounds really interesting and I wanna read it! lol. I liked your attempts, though I think the first is best. But I do like keeping the stepbrothers out of it since it'll be a nice surprise for the reader, like someone earlier said.

    I don't know. However you choose to write your one sentence, fifteen word summary, I still like the idea of it. :)