The Sentence is a tool to keep a writing project focused and I’ve worked over GOTS’ Sentence many times inthe past two years in an effort to refine that focus, or, in the case of last year’s massive setting shift to reflect the most important elements of the story.
It’s interesting to note how a story can change so much yet still remain the same project. To illustrate that, here are several incarnations of my summary. The first is the actual first attempt to figure out what in the world I was working with.
- A five year old passenger in a wreck that leaves her brother in a coma is sent to her grandparents’ while her mother gives all her attention to the injured boy. In a strange environment and with no friends, Kimmie discovers an unlikely and dangerous ally who sends her on a journey to restore her brother from unconsciousness.
Wordy, wordy, wordy, but I was merely working my way toward my point. Gradually I cleaned it up and had something I could work with for a while.
- A dubious fairytale ally helps a little girl far from home discover the path to recovery from the trauma of a car wreck that left her brother in a coma.
I started working with that as my guiding principle – it gave the most important details of the story around which I could work new information and plot expansions.
Eventually, as detailed in The Convoluted History of GOTS, and What GOTS has Turned Into, I realized I was on a tangent, a wrong track, for this story. It has themes it wants to maintain and the decisions I was making for the story weren’t working for them. Not that I have an ulterior motive in writing this, or that the entire point is the “message” but that this story has fundamental characteristics, or dare I say, needs, and that to deviate from them would be to undermine it.
I’m not going to out and out list those themes (sorry, no Cliffs Notes version of GOTS), because if I succeed in making the story I want, you’ll be able to find your own in it and I will have done my job well without hitting you over the head with blatant explanations.
Most recently, I started working again after a several month hiatus (encompassing an international move) and I started with the Sentence as written in the previous post. It’s obviously related to the last pre-setting-shift version, but with significant alterations.
- A dubious fairytale ally gives a gifted student the means for her injured father’s recovery but immanent homelessness requires relinquishing her dreams to save her family during the Depression.
With the help of How to Think Sideways members to whom I offered a longer description of the story, I was able to work out a new and improved summary. This is where I’m currently basing my story, what keeps me focused.
- When a math-whiz risks her dreams to support her family during the Depression, a double-dealing frog promises the cure for her comatose father if she’ll sign her talents over to him.
Even rereading it now I find a few places where it isn’t perfectly consistent with the amorphous-but-still-fully-formed-in-my-unconscious story that wants to be written. Every now and again I’ll revisit the Sentence and see if I can get it to reflect the project more succinctly and fully, but for now it works.