Happy Medium?

Next big project (I expect this revision to be done by the end of the week):

One-page summary.

I am in so much trouble.

You know how, in a “small town” everyone is related, and even those who aren’t related know the connections and hierarchy of everyone else?  Kids coming in halfway through 7th grade are going to be behind until they graduate from High School.


This is the feeling I’m trying to avoid in my novel.

It’s a small kingdom.  Okay, a small world.  It makes sense, but it only makes sense because the reader doesn’t get everything at once.  Like you would in a summary.

I’ve got my one-liner and used it about a dozen times now: Crippled girl disenchants beast but her happily-ever-after is interrupted when her new husband must leave on a quest and she finds herself facing new monsters, alone.

It’s worked 9-times out of 10.  Number 10 was this morning and my audience was distracted every-other-word, so the long sentence was too convoluted to follow.

But she asked for a longer summary, and I realized I am in *majo* trouble.

It must have taken me half an hour to work through it all (I really should have timed it), even leaving out half of one subplot and all of the other.  After doing detail work for weeks, I’m having to step back and ignore subtly and word craft and simply SAY:

This happens because of this to a person you care about because of this. The circumstances combine with this villain and these choices resulting in this.

The editor who agreed to look at my work when it was finished emphasized that this last this is especially important. TELL ME HOW IT ENDS, she insisted.  This is the person you want to amaze and charm and that doesn’t happen if you try to be coy.

To be honest, I don’t know how to be coy (*shocker* I know).  If I didn’t include the ending–before I know I needed to– it would be to save space.  To give more space to the rest of the story.

So I’ve been trying to think how to keep things short when this afternoon’s already proven that’s going to be a real challenge.

In the long version I think it’s cool that one storyline tangles with another, but for this version I wish they were a bit more self-contained.

I know I’ll get there, but griping just feels good every now and then.  I’ll pat myself on the back that no one has to see it very often, and I hope this will be all I say about it here.


(Done with 301 pages out of 357.  Over 7,000 words in this revision’s cut-bits file.)

8 thoughts on “Happy Medium?

  1. Ohemgee, I know exactly what you are talking about. Months, years even, spent dropping little hints and clues into thousands of words of text, putting in little hints and funny bits and edging your character to step outside himself, and crafting all those adverbs and adjectives and nouns into just the right balance… And the BOOM! you have to forget all that and just put the who, the what, the why, and the how and that’s all. No detail, no flourishing, no building of emotion to the climax of the story. It just has to end.

    But even Shakespeare ended King Lear with “He died.” So I guess that makes it possible for us to do it too.

  2. No deaths? Not sure exactly how to handle that. ;)

    I can see how it would be so difficult to figure out how to get the power of the story into one page. Good luck!

  3. A delighted witch doctor.

    Which is Matthew’s response any time someone uses the phrase “Happy Medium.”


    Do you HAVE to have your one page right away? One of my top jobs in my role of Wife is to write summaries for Matthew…when he has an important meeting or big project, we sit down and he goes on and on and then I condense it all down to one page and organize it. Maybe the summary is something I can help you with.

  4. Sure, I’ll take what help I can get.

    I’m actually toying with the idea of buying (cheep) landscape/mapping/architect software programs to map out all my spaces in my story. Other than basic orientations (NSEW and where the windows are relative to the door(s) of a room) I’ve not slowed down enough to detail that.

    Having the mss out of my hands will be a good opportunity for that.

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