Last Monday, most of you came to the conclusion that based on the description and plot that THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is not high concept. I can see your point. But if you want to write or understand how to make a low concept book have high impact, then keep reading.
Opening Image: (the before snapshot of the protagonist)
I fell in love with this opening. Lennie is sitting with her Gram and her Uncle, known as Big, as they contemplate Lennie’s emotional health and her future based on a plant. The plant, which has always been “connected” to Lennie has black spots and is quite sickly.
You’d think the opening would show Lennie’s life before Bailey died, but it starts four weeks after. So how is this the before snapshot? Well, it’s her life without Bailey before things start changing and getting out of control.
Theme stated: (What is the story really about?)
The plant says it all. This story is about survival and grieving. Will the plant survive? Which really represents Lennie. Will she make it through this experience a survivor?
In this opening, several times over, Gram and Big ask if the plant is going to recover.
Because this is more literary and character driven we are absolutely drenched in Lennie on every page. Every chapter in Act I shows us a different aspect of her life and her troubled relationships.
Lennie’s goal is to get through every day and face the challenges of how grief has changed all her relationships.
The stakes are extremely high for Lennie. It’s about the survival of her as a person, living, without her sister. She might not be saving the world or fighting a demon king, but to me, the stakes are just as high as if she were.
Six things that need fixing:
- Lennie’s soured relationship with her best friend, Sarah.
- Lennie sits in the closet, wearing her sister’s clothes, to grieve.
- Lennie doesn’t talk to her Gram anymore, refusing teatime or talks.
- Lennie’s lack of passion when playing the clarinet.
- Her bedroom, she shared with Bailey, has not changed, even down to Bailey’s dirty laundry.
- Lennie writes poetry and leaves the pages in random places around town.
- She’s been finding a reprieve from her grief while kissing Bailey’s boyfriend, Toby.
Catalyst: (the game-changing moment)
For me, the catalyst occurs in chapter 6, when Joe, new student and band mate, asks if they can play their instruments together. At this point, Lennie says no. But it gets her thinking. It symbolizes her unwillingness to let go of her grief, or even try. But we learn the problem stems to before Bailey’s death. Lennie has been struggling with a lack of passion in her music for over a year. So, a fellow talented musician asking her to play is a big deal. Almost as big, or bigger (in a personal way), than Frodo being asked to be the ring bearer and carry the ring to Mordor.
Debate: (asks some kind of question of the main character)
Okay, I’m going to be honest. I found it easier to find the debate in this character-driven story than I have some of the plot-driven stories. And maybe that’s because so much is being asked of Lennie that finding a debate is like plucking grapes off the vine.
Is she going to start living life again? But it is represented by one question. Joe keeps asking her to play with him, and she keeps saying no. When is she going to play again? When is she going to let go of the past?
At the end of Act I, Lennie is trying to pack up her sister’s stuff, but she’s having a hard time. Her and Toby go for a walk and share another emotional kiss. But it’s a kiss that develops from thinking about her sister and questioning how can the world go on? It’s a big moment. A dark moment.
And so ends, Act I.
Question: Do you think the only reason this book is high impact is because it deals with life and death and is more character driven? Have you read a high concept plot driven book with such impact?