Friday, May 6, 2011

Extreme Condensing

Today I was advised to write three or four sentences to sum up my 86,000 word novel. Then I'm to perfect those sentences and get comfortable with them. That's what I'm to use when I pitch my book in two weeks. Now, that's what I call tight editing. I've been laughing on the inside ever since.

I suppose I could start by deleting all the adjectives, pronouns and adverbs in the entire manuscript. Might as well get rid of most of the verbs. You don't really have time for much action in three or four sentences. I suppose I'll begin by painstakingly choosing four really powerful nouns—one would have to be fantasy, I suppose. The editor is going to insist on being told the genre.

That really only leaves me three sentences to describe a world, a couple of immortals, human protagonists, nonhuman guardians and the villain. Maybe I could leave the characters out and just hint at what happens. Obviously somebody or something is going to make it all happen. Editors must already know that.

This reminds me of that old joke about how to sculpt an elephant. It's really very easy. "You get a huge block of granite, a hammer and a chisel, then just go around and knock off everything that doesn't look like an elephant."

I wonder if there's a way to find out if this editor I'm meeting has a sense of humor.

1 comment:

John Paul McKinney said...

Kathleen, You could find out if the editor has a sense of humor by telling him/her your joke about the dream of showing up naked for school. I thought that was a beaut. Your profile says "retired." I sure as heck hope you were a teacher. Good luck with the pitch. Let us know.