Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Novel in Two Pages

On Friday night I went to my first American Icon. It was fun to watch Deb, Fleur, and John get up on stage and do their stuff. And, nerves and all, each of them did a right proper job of it.

You've got to admit, however, that the premise is a bit insane. Theoretically you've written a whole novel, so some couple hundred pages of characters, setting, plot, and dialogue. Then you've got to pick out a passage short enough to be read in two minutes (i.e. about two pages) to represent the whole. Crazy stuff. Yet...

I was impressed at how it was possible to get a feel for a writer's work based on that short snippet. It only takes maybe thirty seconds to get an idea of who's a humorous writer, who's a dark writer, who's good at setting a scene, etc. The drawback is that it's still such a small slice of the novel that you can only guess at how the rest fits in with that two pages, so while you can get an idea of what the writer's about, you still can't entirely tell if you'd like the whole book.

All of this led me to trying to figure out which two pages I'd use if I were the one reading. I have an idea of what I'd pick from Oracle, but I'm not working on Oracle right now. So, what would I pick from the bar novel? Try as I might, I can't think of which two of the pages I've written so far would be the best choice. Luckily, it's not a pressing issue at the moment, but seeing the others get up there and do it felt kind of like a challenge. Maybe by the time Icon rolls around next year I'll have an idea?

If you had to pick only two pages of your novel, or say two paragraphs of your short story, to represent the whole, do you know what you'd pick?


Debbie said...

My suggestion would be to use something from the middle of your work or really rock the action big time right from the first word--like Fleur did.

Jenny said...

My suggestion is bring in a few different snippets to a practice session and let people (like Jenny--that's me!) have at you for an hour or two.

Ali said...

Deb - that's pretty much the conclusion I came too, too.

Jenny - have you noticed that your input on these things is usually "Do what I say"? Sheesh, what an egomaniac ;)