Step 1

step 1Here’s a great tip from guru writing teacher Holly Lisle to narrow down your focus as you think about starting a book:

Develop “The Sentence”

This is a short sentence (no more than 15 words!) that describes your book in a nutshell.  It needs to grab a reader’s (or better yet, a publisher’s) attention and make them want to hear more.  Sounds easy, right?  Try it out.

I have been thinking about writing a romantic comedy set in Greece around a summer music camp.  In fact, in my naivete, I tried to write chapter 1 in May of 2011.  What is not surprising is that after one day of trying to write that way, I never went back to the story idea.

So I thought, “Why not try Holly Lisle’s tip and see where it takes me?”  BINGO!  After only fifteen minutes of working on “The Sentence” my goal suddenly became so much clearer.  I could picture my main character.  Suddenly I knew some details about her life and her fears.

Romantic summer in Greece transforms a woman from unhappy aging prodigy to inspired musician for life.

Granted, I’m yet to achieve the 15-word goal, but so what?  Are the word-count czars going to seek me out and destroy me?  Doubtful.  They’re too busy chasing down 18-year-old offenders who exceeded word limits on their college applications.  Moral of the story is, it got me started on a whole weekend of writing.  You can check out Holly’s site, or wait for my next installment of where to go after you’ve crafted “The Sentence.”

Still not convinced you can get going on your book?  Holly’s students all quote her sage advice:  “Safe never starts, perfect never finishes.”

Here’s a time in life where you have permission to be imperfect.  It’s called a “draft” for good reason.  We can polish it later.  But first we need to write something… anything… after all, it’s difficult to revise a blank page!


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