Short and Sweet. And Homicidal.
May the gods smile upon you and make THIS the biggest problem of your life: I need to pick a passage from my novel to read at events.
It’s not as easy as you may think. Fun as hell, yes. It’s crack for self-absorbed people like me.
But we’ve all been to readings that went on too…damn…loooooooong…. Where the author just drones on, and you start scheming ways to exit gracefully. (the startled look, pulling out your allegedly silenced cell phone, reading the faux message with a growing look of verklemptness, making a gosh, I’m so sorry! face and slinking to the door…)
But short and boring won’t do, babycakes. If you don’t want your literary agent to beat you ‘bout the head, neck and shoulders with her fan convention tote bag, you’d best not bore anyone.
So: Short and interesting.
But also self-contained. The scene has to make sense and must be organic unto itself. Imagine saying to a buddy at work, “Yeah, my baby turns 3 months today. She’s so cute! Here, I have a picture of her Achilles’ tendon.” The picture might be sharp as a tack, but does it should how cute your little one is? Nope. Swing-and-a-miss.
So: Short and interesting and cogent.
But also relevant. I write mystery-thrillers. The passage has to be (oh, what are the words…hmmm…) mysterious or thrilling. I have a passage describing a perfectly lovely Jaguar car, which to my eye is a thing of pure beauty. Do I read that? I do not. It’s a nice paragraph, but it’s not about the story.
So: Short. Interesting. Self-contained. Relevant.
What a freaking awesome problem to have.