The Lucky 7 Game!

The Lucky 7 game has the following rules:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next seven lines as they’re written–no cheating!

Sounds good to me. Here’s my contribution, from my string quartet novel:

      He was right: music wasn’t transferable. When I put down the viola, the music stopped. If I didn’t practice, I’d lose my skill. A painter doesn’t need to keep practicing in order for the next viewer to see the same landscape, but a friend can’t pick up my viola and hear my music. And even worse, when I pick up my viola, the only music I can hear is my own.

     I miss my grandfather. My viola was once my gradfather’s viola, but that’s all I have of him. 

And here, as a bonus seven — from The Guardian. My first novel, which I recently rewrote because I obtained the rights to it again.

     In the seconds after Sebastian’s death, every angel on Earth knew as much as the angels on the scene had known. The witnessing angels had fled for help: to Raguel, to Michael, to the archangels, to one another. One of Miriael’s friends had appeared at the dinner table, grief streaming from him like water from a colander. He’d begged, “Please pray—now—” and with a sickening finality, the story had burst from him. Josai’el had shot out of the house to pass along the request even as Bridget passed the potatoes. Before the end of the trial, more angels had been praying for Tabris and Sebastian than either could have guessed.

            But now, without immediate need for prayers, the other angels still remembered, and Rachmiel found himself the second ring around the bull’s-eye, with Tabris in the red circle.

Some of my QueryTracker buds have been posting theirs as well. Check them out!

Falen’s post

Cricket’s post

Kimmy’s post

Anya’s post

A.A. Leil’s post


  1. Sarah Ahiers

    I loved both of these!
    And what great spots to get – right in the middle of important stuff happening. I got stuck with the middle of a conversation

    1. philangelus

      I did cheat a little on the second to make it begin at the beginning of the paragraph. 🙂

      They’re both a bit “heady” but I was surprised how well they niched. I wonder if any seven-line block of text works like that, or rather, if small segments naturally fall into almost-seven-line blocks.

  2. Pingback: Lucky 7 Game « CricketB’s Blog

  3. cricketB

    I had to cheat. One of mine fell on a really lame part. I moved it to Word and repaginated. A better part came up. The lame part is on the chopping block.

    Looking at parts in isolation is good. Lame out of context is also lame in context.

  4. cricketB

    The bonus scene sounds like it came from Annihilation. Looking forward to reading the Guardian, and string quartet.

  5. Megan

    This is 8 lines, but I thought the end was funny so I included it.

    So she went down the hall and knocked on the door. “Willie?”
    There was no answer. Jocelyn thought that maybe he had left without her hearing and tried the lock. Nope, somebody was in there. Unless he’d snuck out through the window or something.
    Still no answer. Jocelyn remembered that it was actually possible to accidentally lock the door as you were leaving the bathroom. So she pulled out a hairpin and picked the lock, feeling rather like Nancy Drew.

    The current MS is actually split into two word documents, though (don’t ask why). So if I put them together I’d have to jump back 61 pages to this:

    Eventually they ran out of things to do in the kitchen, and had to turn and look at each other.
    “How was Ireland?” Jocelyn asked.
    Stephen was going to say
    Good, but he felt as if platitudes had no place here, with this woman. “It was difficult. I needed to go, but…it was difficult.”
    “Do you think you’ll ever move back there?”

    It’s only six lines because the 8th line on the page was blank to indicate a section break. I’m not at all sure “platitudes” is actually the word I was looking for there, but you asked for no cheating.

    Let’s ignore the fact that my MS has about 150 single-spaced typed pages and is nowhere near done. *headdesk* I think it’s funny that Jocelyn features in both of these quotes. She’s only about #4 in terms of “main character” rankings (behind Stephen, Willie, and a woman named Marjorie), but apparently she’s quite influential.

    1. philangelus

      I like the Nancy Drew line too. 🙂

      150 single spaced pages is about 75,000 words. You can wrap it up in 25K, right? Then if it needs to be shortened, you can tighten up the text afterward. I’ve pulled 10% out of two separate novels. It’s not easy, but it’s totally doable by tightening up the language and the sentences (not necessarily losing content, although I did on one.)

      I love it when one of the non-main characters sneaks up and becomes more important than you intended. 😉 It’s as if they have minds of their own sometimes.

      Thank you for sharing!

      1. Megan

        76k. Good estimate.

        The first complete draft of this novel was about 84k. I was pretty much making it up as I went along (being that, you know, it’s fiction *g*) so this second draft is a pretty major overhaul. I cut out several chapters that ended up being totally irrelevant, but then I expanded on other parts and added connective tissue and… If you look at it in terms of the storyline, I’m about where I was when I had 70k words last time, which would mean a total of 90-95k this time around. However, the final section of the novel was the most bare-bones since I *really* had no idea what I was doing. I have no idea how much those scenes will be able to expand.

        Eventually I’ll nail down the essential elements of the plot and then I can start doing the work of tightening scenes up. I just get frustrated with my own slowness. (I started the first draft of this novel 5 years ago last month and finished it 2 years ago. Why am I not done with the second draft already?)

        1. philangelus

          Some novels need to cook longer than others.

          I have found with myself that if I set up a ticker, somehow, it keeps me writing or editing more than if I’m just doing it freeform. If I have to “feed the ticker” I’m less likely to take a day off. Just a thought.

          1. Megan

            I might try that. See, the annoying thing is that I can churn out 30k-50k words during NaNoWriMo, so I know I can write fast given the right circumstances. (I got married on November 26 of last year and I still managed to write 37,500 words.) I’m not sure, though, how much of that is loving the little bar graph, and how much of it is my competitive streak.

            Also, as you said, it might just be that this novel is the slow simmer kind.

          2. philangelus

            Nanowrimo wipes me out. I can do the 50K in a month, but then I burn out and don’t write anything for the next six. It’s not a good match for me. 😉 Is it possible you also burn yourself out with the extended sprinting?

            The other thing to consider is that sometimes we slow down when we realize a passage is going to be a little beyond our competency level at the moment, so we back off to get a running jump at it. But it’s best just to try writing it after a few days, so we don’t get stuck. Some techniques you really can’t learn until you’re in the thick of them.

            And the two things no writer ever wants to think:
            1) maybe you’re just procrastinating. Not that I’ve ever done that. 😉 Nope, never. **great big lie**
            2) maybe your unconscious mind senses there’s something wrong with the book, and the problem isn’t in the area where you’re stuck. Sometimes I’ve found that when I stall at the end, the problem actually has its seat in the beginning or the middle, and until I solve that problem, I can’t fix the ending.

            Good luck nailing down a solution for yourself.

          3. Megan

            I don’t think NaNoWriMo appreciably affects my writing speed. Maybe without NaNoWriMo I’d average 20k a year on my other projects and with it I average 10k, but that means I’m totaling 60k instead of 20k, so… I find it’s especially good for first drafts, where I just need to get the story down on the page so it’s outside of my head and I can manipulate it. And the drafts that I churned out in a month actually aren’t any worse than the ones that took me three years. (Better, in some cases, but we can’t really count the novel that I wrote when I was 12-15 in the statistics. That was a practice novel.)

            I first got the idea for this novel in 2005 but didn’t start writing until 2007; I told my best friend/writing buddy that I didn’t feel like I could write it back then. (What changed: My friend’s dad spent the summer of 2006 in the hospital with cancer. Learned a lot about suffering and love and other such important things, I did.) (He’s better now.)

            It took me a long time to write the last section of this book last time (actually, I stalled out right about where I am now…) because a character of whom I’m very fond is going to die before the book is over. It gives me the sads. (Really, when I started the second draft it was like, “Hi! You’re alive again!” *HUG*) Maybe I’m afraid of writing that scene AGAIN. Maybe I actually don’t like my characters to suffer, although you’d never know it given what I throw at them.

            Procrastinate? ME? Never! 😉

            Funnily enough, one of the things I noticed was that the “good writing” seems to creep slowly forward each draft. The book has about 36 chapters in the first draft (I say about because the table of contents and the actual MS don’t line up…) and I feel like I’ve got the first 6 chapters down now; it’s just cleaning up and tightening and figuring out the Exact. Right. Word. for everything. The next six chapters were a total mess in the last draft; now I feel like I have a general idea of what they need to say and I just need to rearrange a few events to make it flow better. After Chapter 12, though, I kind of strike off in a new direction and I’m not sure how much is going to get kept or not.

            On the one hand, it’s encouraging, because hey! Six good chapters I didn’t have before, and ideas for six more! On the other hand, it’s discouraging because at this rate I’ll have to go through five more drafts. (I do think it’s important to write all the way to the end even if I know I won’t keep much of the last 2/3. I get a little closer to the “real” ending every time, and I have to know what to foreshadow, you know?)

            Sorry to kind of hijack the comments, but it’s nice to talk about this with somebody who hasn’t heard it all before.

  6. Pingback: The Blog of Anya Harker » Blog Archive » The Lucky Seven Blog Game

  7. Megan

    Well, I just had a bit of a breakthrough.

    See, I realized that the thing that’s stalling me is the fact that in a few chapters Male Character is going to be forced to go against his conscience by Female Character. She doesn’t put a gun to his head and force him to do this thing he thinks is wrong; instead she uses the “If you REALLY loved me” argument. (No, they’re not having premarital sex. They’re already married.) And I need to write this in such a way that you understand both characters but don’t agree with either of them. That is, you understand FC’s fear but don’t agree with how she deals with that fear; you understand MC’s desire to help his wife but don’t agree with the fact that he gives in to something he knows to be wrong.

    I kept trying to imagine them fighting about the stuff they don’t agree on, which shouldn’t be hard to imagine considering how much they fight, and getting stuck. Now it occurs to me that what I actually need to show next is FC’s fear, the fact that she feels her life has been completely spinning out of control (which it kind of has) and that she wants desperately to do SOMETHING to exert a little bit of control. (We’ve all been there, right? We can all understand that?) After that, I don’t know, but at least I’ve got my next scene.

    1. philangelus

      Ta-dah!. 🙂 Breakthrough moment. 🙂

  8. Cricket

    Megan, I hear you about “Hey, you’re alive again!” He has to become only memories for the rest of the story to work, but I miss him as much as the protagonist.

  9. Cricket

    Megan, I’ve been known to control things that even I know are best left uncontrolled (or controlled by someone else) just to feel in control. Quote: “I knew that, once hindsight applied, I’d regret insisting he order the spinach quiche, but he’d been into the junk food all week and it was the only thing on the menu with vegetables.”

    Try, as an exercise, having them fight about something else and see what comes up. Spill the backlog of complaints, even if that’s not in character. Or drop each on a therapist’s couch with a good dose of truth/babble serum. Then stick them back in character.

    1. Megan

      I’ve done character interviews before; the most effective way to learn about FC (above) was actually by interviewing her sister. With FC shouting from the other side of my brain that her sister should stop spilling all their secrets. *g* FC doesn’t like to talk to me. (And this is where all the non-authors scratch their heads and/or think I need psychiatric help. “What do you mean, the figment of your imagination refuses to talk to you?”) I might try the truth serum, though.

      Also, spinach quiche is disgusting. *shame carrot*

  10. Pingback: Tagged: The Lucky 7 Meme | A.A. Leil

  11. Ken Rolph

    “I should know about these things. I should make more of an effort to keep up. Until quite recently I thought Pokemon were those young Japanese schoolgirls who hung around the streets having sex for money to buy designer clothes. So it’s not surprising that I did not recognise the Empress of Amarillo.”

    Well, you did ask!

    1. philangelus

      Only four lines, Ken. You owe us three more. 😉

      [[just kidding — I like the voice of those lines.}}

      1. Ken Rolph

        Those are 7 lines in the manuscript. I have to type in big fonts so I can actually read it.

  12. Carol

    This is fun! Mine is YA fiction by the way…

    “No way.” Kip whipped open the door. “Cool. Want to go up?”
    “Not unless there’s a copy machine.”
    “Ha ha. It’s not just any attic. It’s the way to the main tower. There are all sorts of legends about it. This is too neat an opportunity.”
    Go up to the towers, with Kip? First he wants me to leave, and now he wants to show me something cool.

  13. Kat

    I had to adjust for a title page and acknowledgements, so this is actually page 79.

    She waited until the Travises were inside and she could see them through the open curtains of the living room window before starting the engine. A slow drive past the house gave her a view of a father/son bonding moment: a family taking advantage of a school closure to spend quality time together.

    “Too bad your father is a cheat, kid,” Robin thought as she drove out of the housing community and headed towards Georgetown Pike. A few minutes later, she was parked at one of the gas stations at the major intersection of Great Falls putting gas in the tank.

  14. Phylicia Joannis

    Jane, just read your querytracker article “Taming the Dreaded Synopsis.” Curious about your book “The Guardian.” Where can I buy? Just purchased The Boys Upstairs for my nook and looking for some good fiction to read.

    In the spirit of the game, here’s mine from “Martin West” YA insp fiction.

    “After 3:00 pm, you can have some leisure time, but you won’t be allowed to go out.”
    “As far as the house goes, I don’t have cable or any kind of game consoles, but I have plenty of books if you want to read them. And you’re welcome to anything in the pantry if you get hungry.”

    1. philangelus

      Hi, Phylicia!

      Don’t buy the first edition of The Guardian. There are plenty of used copies around, but it’s been completely rewritten and I’ll have information on it in a little while. But seriously, spare yourself. 🙂 The revised, updated version is so much better.

      Thank you so much for buying The Boys Upstairs, and I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

      The segment from Martin West gives me the sense (in the absence of dialogue tags) that the speaker is a rather uptight adult talking to a new resident at some kind of home. It seems like a home rather than a school or other institution. Any my sympathies go right to the kid because it doesn’t sound like a really nice place to live.

      Thank you for sharing!

  15. Wyldkat

    Adjusted for teh cover and acknowledgments..


    She waited until the Travises were inside and she could see them through the open curtains of the living room window before starting the engine. A slow drive past the house gave her a view of a father/son bonding moment: a family taking advantage of a school closure to spend quality time together.

    “Too bad your father is a cheat, kid,” Robin thought as she drove out of the housing community and headed towards Georgetown Pike. A few minutes later, she was parked at one of the gas stations at the major intersection of Great Falls putting gas in the tank.

  16. Caryn Caldwell

    Love your lines! Both books sound really good. I don’t have my book on this computer, so I can’t play along, but I’m going to have to do it when I get home because now I’m curious!