In my last blog post, I critiqued a couple of one-sentence Storylines submitted by my loyal blog readers, and then I invited comments on a Storyline by Grace, which runs as follows:
A Belfast biologist is forced to run from her own creation — across the real world and into a virtual one, where a strange power wrestles for control of her life.
A number of you gave very insightful appraisals of Grace’s Storyline. Well done, folks! Now let’s try to improve on the Storyline. Grace gave us the back cover copy for the book, which I’ll quote again here:
If you could end world hunger, you’d do it, right? What if governmental experiments caused your miracle fertilizer to become a weapon of mass destruction? Meet Naomi, the Belfast biologist forced to run from her own creation–across the real world and into a virtual one. But there, a strange power wrestles for control of her life.
Randy sez: My philosophy in writing a Storyline is to make the problem clear, without necessarily hinting much at the solution. The problem is that Naomi’s government is messing with her good science and turning it into evil science. Naomi’s solution to the problem is, in part, to flee into a virtual world. This is intriguing, but I don’t understand enough of it to incorporate into the Storyline. Nor do I have a good handle on the “strange power.” So I’ll work with what I have. Here’s my first cut at a revision of Grace’s Storyline:
A Belfast biologist creates a miracle fertilizer that could end world hunger — but her own government uses it to create a weapon of mass destruction.
That’s a little long — it’s 25 words — but it captures Naomi’s essential predicament. It does leave out the extremely intriguing flight into virtual reality and I wish I could see how to capture that, but my brain has turned into oatmeal today after talking to four different mortgage refinancing folks.
Now my challenge for you all, and for Naomi, is to tweak this. Can you make it shorter? Can you capture that bit about the virtual world? Can you do both? Can you make it better? How good can this Storyline get?
To make progress, we’ll need some info from Grace on what forces Naomi into the virtual world. It may turn out that we really don’t need to know anything about the virtual world because it not be essential to the story. I don’t think I understand the story well enough to decide on that point yet.
This exercise highlights the remarkable power of the one-sentence Storyline — it forces you to isolate the most critical parts of your story.
Next time, we’ll wrap up on Grace’s Storyline and tackle the next couple of Storylines on the list of submissions, which has grown to a very large pile in the last week or so.