Keep it short and sweet

Here is my entry for YA writer Shelley Waters’s Twitter contest. The fun of this contest is to narrow down the entire premise of your book into 140 characters or less. First of all, I can barely give my order at Starbuck’s in 140 characters or less, let alone tell you what my book is about. Second, people who can do it in the “or less” part are either overachievers or underachievers. Third, (this isn’t a very long list) I’m having trouble with writing anything right now because my daughter used this computer last and now the quotes/apostrophe key is sticky and every time I hit that key it’s very distracting to have my finger attached to it for a nanosecond.

But here goes, my entire 58,000 word book whittled down to 140 characters (fine! or less!):

“Sam lives alone w/ her Alzheimers-stricken grandmother and is afraid people will find out. And that’s the least of her problems right now.”

I DID IT! With one character left over! I did it in the “or less” part! Okay, if you don’t count the quotation marks, which I didn’t use on Twitter but I had to use here because it’s just good usage. But I did it! WOOHOO!

15 thoughts on “Keep it short and sweet

  1. People want to know more than they get from 138 characters. Isn’t that the whole point of the drill?

  2. having already read through the comments and your followup i have little to add except good work and you’re on the right path. if the conflict of people finding out was a bit clearer it would go a long way to enticing me into the story. this contest is very cool and i am glad to get introduced to so many creative people in one day
    douglas esper

  3. “Sam lives alone w/ her Alzheimers-stricken grandmother and is afraid people will find out. And that’s the least of her problems right now.”

    It sounds interesting from what’s here, but what are her problems? And why is she afraid of people knowing she’s taking care of her grandmother? Good job at creating tension!

  4. I agree with several of the above posters. So what if people find out? Phrased like this, it makes Sam seem selfish and shallow. Now, if Sam is young, and people think grandma is taking care of Sam (instead of the other way around), and CPS is the bad guy waiting to take Sam away, that makes the stake higher and Sam isn’t a jerk 🙂

    • That’s exactly the situation, and I couldn’t make it fit! 🙂 All the bullying at school, even from teachers, can’t be reported because then the school will want to have a conference with the grandmother. Her paternal grandparents (whose son, her dad, is in jail for murder) are itching to get their hands on her because they think she’s eligible for a social security check of her own. She’s totally trapped, just like I was by the cursed 140-character limit!!! Thanks for your help!

  5. Agree with the above posters. It’s a great premise, and you’ve told us what she’s afraid of, but give us more: “If anyone finds out Sam’s grandmother and guardian has Alzheimers, __(what dire thing will happen?)___.” Good luck in the contest!

  6. The stakes aren’t high enough. So what if someone finds out? I’d like to hear more about her other problems. Good luck with the contest!

  7. I’d like to know a little more of what those other problems are that you suggest in that second sentence. In a task like this, it sure stinks that Alzheimers is such a long word! Maybe you can do something like, “It wasn’t enough that Sam had to hide her disabled grandma from the world but she had to deal with…” I don’t know your story, but do you see where I’m heading? I know that the open-ended statement at the end is intended to intrigue us, and it does, but it has the downside of not giving us quite enough to get us fired up in this case.

    I’d like to see what you do with it. I know this is really hard; I’m in the contest too.

    Good luck.

  8. You’ve given us 140 characters’ worth of backstory for the MC. What conflict is she facing? What are the stakes for her? What will happen if she doesn’t rise to the challenge? I’d like to know more!

  9. I don’t know the age of the protagonist, but I’m assuming she’s too young to be taking care of an alzheimer’s patient and that’s why she doesn’t want ppl to know. The problem is I have to assume this and I don’t even know if I’m right. But more than that, you said it’s the least of her problems. I really want to know what her bigger problems are. I know it’s hard to get everything in 140 characters, but I think you need more plot in this.

  10. What happens if people find out? I’d like to know a little more about the conflict and stakes. Good luck with the contest.

  11. Keep tweeting! You can’t just leave us hanging like that!!!!! I don’t use twitter ’cause I am addicted to punctuation marks. So you will just have to post the rest of the story.

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