Take One: The Opening Passage of My New Novel

(Whoops–sorry. I cut all this, cuz the book’s totally taken a new direction. Sorry! Thanks for understanding!)

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • mm

    So is it' still in third person? Or did you switch to first person?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Still in third. "Only" changing style/tone, not point of view. I'll be doing it with a "looser," more informal feel.

  • mm

    So overall, what's the general plot of the story? I understand if you're not ready to reveal that

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    For now, I do think I'll choose to reveal no more of it than this.

  • mm

    Well, one's deathbed is certainly a good place to start a story! I would have liked some shorter sentences. The rhythm got tripped up in some sections(at least for me) and I wanted to see David's life in his minds eye(fully described), instead of just a description of that happening. Seeing vs telling, as my professors in college always said. Just something to consider.

    But as always, you have those great succinct moments that make you who you are as a writer, like : Those were not agents from beyond.Those were night shift nurses. His night shift nurses. And the pacing of that is just wonderful.

    I like your voice too much to not want to read more, plot be damned!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    That's nice of you to say. I'm going to use a tone that's much more in line—well, that is—the same tone in which I write most of the stuff that's here on my blog. It's going to be funny, basically. Well. Except for the plot, which could hardly be less funny. I'm finding that combination/juxtaposition to be … well, ideal. And I can write quite quickly when I'm writing in the style I blog in. Also good. But tone-wise, I've shifted radically away from this. This was just … a flexing thing. But helpful, to me.

  • Latoya

    Cant wait to read the whole thing!

  • Christine

    I'm hooked. Love the tone of it and the over all flow, though at some places it got a bit sticky for me. All in all I like the way it is done and will enjoy reading the whole thing I am sure

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Well, thanks, Christine. But, as I say, I'm (now) writing the book in a style that's in pretty much every last way different from this.

  • Melissa

    Somehow, reading this made me start thinking about "A Million Little Pieces". It's still one of my favorite books despite the fallout from James Frey's little deception. Perhaps it's the tone… Frey has a great way of making you absolutely cringe and laugh at the same time while writing some of the MOST beautiful lines. I did wonder one thing. Why a twelve year old? And I'm glad you chose a new opening… Can't wait to see more,,,

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Here–just to give a sense of the new tone—is a rough draft of the new opening:

      David Allen Finch was going to die. And not eventually, either. Within two or three hours. By dawn.

      They’d be skipping his room on the next day’s breakfast run.

      Not that he’d had eaten anything in the past ten days anyway. The doctors were keeping him alive with a clear liquid they could barely get his body to absorb. It took him four days to take in a bag that usually lasts one.

      “Yum,” he weakly deadpanned to the nurse who was switching out his first bag o’ nutrients. “Could you please squirt a little ketchup in there? Maybe cram a french fry or two in that tube?”

      The angel with “Jenny” on her name tag laughed aloud. “Oh, you are hands down the funniest patient I’ve ever had. I swear, you keep all of us in absolute stitches around here.”

      Stitches! David had to let it go, though.

      “And you’re what? Twelve years old?”

      David nodded.

      “Well, I’m afraid that I have just got to ask you. How in the world did you ever got to be so funny?”

      David didn’t think the dryness in his throat would let him talk anymore, but it did. “I guess it’s from all the funny stuff that happens to me.”

  • http://www.health1texas.com Kory Cochran

    Well John, I'm no writer (yet), but I was digging it!

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Kory: Thanks very much. Did you read the new one? (Or perhaps you meant the new one?) Either way, I do (as always) appreciate your supportive thoughtfulness.

  • textjunkie

    Sounds like it's going to be heavy!! but I liked your original opening more than the revised one. Hitting the punchline that he's 12 years old and dying by the 3rd sentence isn't as gripping as the original foggy version. But I'm not a writer, I'm a reader. ;) And I am used to books that start in the middle of things and make you figure them out as you go. Don't tell me, show me, and all that.

    Just promise me you're not doing another The Shack.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    You know, I didn't put this stuff up in the hopes of getting any feedback on it, but some of the input/observations/suggestions you guys have made have been helpful! And it's made me wonder about writing the book right here, sort of …. live, on the blog. Just make the blog writing the book. Write it … serially, like that.

    Of course, then I could never sell it to any publisher, cuz they wouldn't want it, cuz it would have already been made available for free. Even my own readers wouldn't want it, since they'd have already READ it.

    Hmm. It still FEELS like a fun, cool (though, I know, unoriginal) idea, though.

  • Lloyd

    I have to agree with the previous responder. The first version is stronger, more suspenseful and better paced. Third person can be tricky, I know, but it's working for you very well so far. And, selfish as it may be, I'd love to read it serially. I'm here about three times a week as it is. You could give us a chapter a week (or month). And, heck, perhaps you could make it a PDF download chargeable via PayPal. Consider what you'd make per chapter! I worked for Stephen King with The Green Mile, it could work for you!

  • Lloyd

    "It" worked for Stephen King, by the way. Not "I" as my previous post indicated. Didn't mean to give the impression that I've been on the payroll up there in Bangor, Maine! I really hate those damn typos you notice a nanosecond after hitting the "Submit" button!

  • http://living3dfaith.blogspot.com/ Tim

    Are the characters British? The phrasing I read sounds quite English to me. Brits are far more keen to utilize all three of their given names (David Allen Finch), and the name is so…well… foppish. Don't misunderstand, I do like what I see. I was just maybe being a little over inquisitive. But I think you should still publish it in a hard copy. As fun as it is to see snippets in advance, IMO, there are far too many people who don't like reading a computer monitor for very long. I know it is quite the bitch for me to cozy up in a comfortable chair with my mac mini and 24" LCD screen.

    Go Chargers!

  • mm

    You could use the blog to aid in the development of certain sections(by getting feedback), also use that as promotion to try and create buzz about it to help in your pitches to publishers and then when you get it sold remove all of the posts. I’ve seen similar things done in the past. No more than once a week, limit each post to 1000 words.

    Just an Idea.

  • http://theskinhorse.wordpress.com theskinhorse

    I read both versions, and I do think they are vastly different in tone and atmosphere. In the first version, it is more formal and detailed, but I feel connected to and empathy for the boy. The second is a much lighter take on the situation, which is less intense on the reader, but I do feel like there is some distance between reader and character.

    When I was reading the first version, I felt like it was leading a particular place. It made me think immediately of the movie "Defending Your Life."

  • Joy

    I refuse to read even a word of it until it’s done. Is it too early to pre-order it on Amazon?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Oh, gosh, I need to delete this post. This isn’t it at ALL. Yikes!

    It’s gone. Thank you for your … well, interest.


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