Wednesday 8 December 2010

SLUSH: 4 Ps when you have 5 seconds

Time is non-refundable. 

 Ripping Ozzie Reads got me thinking about the ten minutes before the title-credits roll, in the movies. We writers don't have that much time. Do you get five pages to persuade an agent to take the first risk with their time?  I don’t think you do. Five sentences, sometimes five words would be more accurate.

If five seconds is all you have to make an impression, my advice would be start strong. 

Here are four Ps that might help:

  • Pain –experiencing or causing it – physical or mental
  • Power –exhibiting it or suffering because
  • Purpose –acting under duress
  • Pleasure – not necessarily sexual

For me, a story is plot driven by character. I want to be able to associate with the character. Good and bad, they have to be real and behave logically.

Write a crisis that will, or already has, put your character in danger. 

I don’t need to know more than they do but I need to struggle along with them.

There are rules about HOW to write:
  • Adjective and adverbs are like calories: essential - but we know what happens when we absorb too many.
  • Similes and metaphors add texture and depth to meanings. I think a good rule is if anyone else has ever used it, then you shouldn't.
  • Sounds, within and between words, are the essence of poetry. Unwanted alliteration, assonance and echoes should be removed.

Nothing kills your chances as effectively as badly written dialogue.

Slush is icy, this is not news. What are you going to do... slide or squeal?


  1. Great post. The most important thing I've heard to do is make sure your reader connects with your mc. If it doesn't happen quickly, they won't keep reading. This means you can't start your story in the middle of a battle scene. We don't know who to cheer for. The zombies or the mc. ;)

  2. Hi Stina
    Orientation. I agree. Between five words and five lines, ;)

  3. You know what I love? When I'm writing a scene and one character says something funny enough to make me laugh out loud.

    That's so great. Very fun.

  4. Hi Ivy
    It is funny - almost like it was their idea :)

  5. Hey, when they get to talking, it's my job to transcribe that conversation to the page.

  6. It's scary isn't it? So little time to make an impression. But great tips!

  7. Hi Carolina
    Love at first glance when the object flickers at the corner of the eye! Beyond scary. Thank you. :)