A Few Choice Words

Today I was tagged for the 777 challenge by Jennifer Wagner.  Basically the challenge asks for 7(ish) lines from page 7 of your work in progress, and for you to tag 7 other writers to do the same.

Well, I’m not much for tagging others (although please feel free to have a go), but I was curious to see if there was anything interesting on page 7 of my WIP.  To my delight there were 7 lines that summed up a little interaction between two of my favourite characters:

In an instant the General was back.  The transformation both fascinated and saddened Celeste.  She’d always loved the wild, energy that drove Marcus, but seeing it reined in, broke her heart.  And she wished, not for the first time, that he’d chosen a different path.

She was about to slip away, when Marcus casually tapped his thigh with his third and fourth fingers.  The movement was so subtle, she almost missed it.  But then he did it again, without breaking his stride or so much as glancing in her direction; and she knew she’d been made.

To be honest, I’ve asked myself what you will learn about my writing style from only 7 lines. It’s not like this is a showcase passage in the novel, nor can you see any of the context of what’s going on between Celeste and Marcus.  However, in this quick click society our work does get judged at a glance, and often not on it’s full merit.

Whether it is a potential agent trying to make a decision based on a query letter, or a potential buyer flicking through a few pages to get a handle on what the story sounds like; we might only have a few words at best to capture their attention.

One website where this concept is fully realised is Webook.com’s Page to Fame.  Writers submit a short summary and the first page of their novel to be rated on a scale of 1-5 by the webook community.   Higher ratings result in being elevated to higher levels, where 5 or 50 pages will be reviewed and more feedback is available.  It’s a quick, anonymous, way to gauge how your work is being perceived, especially in the crucial opening phases.

I must admit when I discovered the site, I got a bit addicted to the rating process.  I read a lot of first pages.  And it didn’t take long to realise, some writing was obviously strong – and some clearly had room to improve.  As a writer it really reinforced what the agent blogs seem to be saying.  Get the to point quickly and write well.

I’m still not sure I’d like my future to hang on 7 lines.  But if it comes down to that, I do hope they’re good ones.

What do you think?  Are 7 lines enough to get a feeling for the writing?  What if anything can you glean from the 7 lines I’ve shared? 

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6 thoughts on “A Few Choice Words

  1. I think it’s FRIGHTENING to consider my work being judged on seven lines… but I’m sure it happens all the time. Particularly in query letters. Or the first seven lines of a submission.

    Yikes.

  2. I’m so glad you participated!!! I think it is easier to judge someone’s writing based on 7 sentences when you’re the one reading them (you can give it the old “Yes. I love that!” or “What is going on here? This is terrible!” -But when it’s your own writing, presenting those 7 sentences is terrifying because you know you have more than seven to choose from and you are praying that the seven you posted were your best seven!! I really enjoyed your post! I’d love to read more about Celeste and Marcus–and what events caused him to become ‘The General’ instead of choosing a different path..perhaps piano player/musician?? I am intrigued!

    1. Yeah I don’t know if I could ever see Marcus playing music… He’s a very physcial sort of guy. General is a good fit for him. Celeste on the other hand knows another side of him (arguably the best part). Thanks for the tag though. Always good to take a closer look at the writing and remember how much you love the characters.

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