I have heard of this before, but never got around to it, then I saw it on Susan Price's A Nennius Blog. It sounds like fun, so I thought I'd have a go myself.
The idea is, you go seven pages into your work in progress, count down seven lines and quote the next seven. So here they are from the first draft of my as-yet-incompete novel The Sword And The Wolf(only a working title! Though at a workshop I did at Aussiecon the publisher from Tor said he liked it. But he also invited workshop members to send him their MSS and when a now-well-known writer sent hers she never heard from him).
...But in my wolf shape they were natural and felt good - too good. When I got home that night and climbed into my clothes, I had a good think, as I poked up the fire and warmed a clay cup of mint I'd gathered and allowed to dry. I was having to grow up quickly now and I knew I didn’t want to be helpless in my animal shape. I needed to be in control or it might just turn out to be easier to stay a wolf, never return to humanity. I didn’t want to finish my days just eating and sleeping, or, for that matter, as some lord’s wolfskin cloak. (Whimsically, I wondered if I’d turn back into a human when I died and if the wolfskin cloak would suddenly become girlskin...).
As you might have guessed, it has a werewolf as the main character. It's set in the universe of Wolfborn at an earlier time. The heroine, Lysette, is a Bisclavret, a born werewolf, as they are in my universe. Unlike Lord Geraint in Wolfborn, she's a peasant, though her mother was a little more, as the local wise woman. Her father had been a passing Bisclavret mercenary who'd come and gone. At the start of the novel, her mother has recently died, leaving her alone with a hostile village, whose inhabitants had only put up with her because of her mother's skills. In the opening scene, a bunch of local louts have attempted to rape her - and been unpleasantly surprised when she suddenly turns into a wolf! She escapes, but the only thing the villagers do for her is leave some of her stuff out for her with the implication that they want her gone. At this stage, she has found an abandoned hermitage to live in and is coming to terms with her nature. In the next chapter she finds a Merlin-like mentor quite by accident and sets off on her adventures as his apprentice.
If you're curious, I read from the second chapter on YouTube here.
I thought it might be interesting to at least start with a born werewolf who isn't an aristocrat, though she's soon enough involved with a long-lost prince, a royal-born mentor and the Regent, who doesn't know what to do with his charge having disappeared several years ago. There is a quest to find the missing prince, who will later become the king you meet near the end of Wolfborn. Right now, he's young and attractive, but given who she is and who he is, he can never become the romantic interest with whom she will ride off into the sunset. I am starting to understand the necessity for a triangle in YA fiction! I have created an alternative romantic interest, but I'm struggling and having to stop and go back to insert him properly, the reason why it's taking so very long. If my publisher hadn't been tossed out of her job, I might have taken some time off work to get it done, because she asked me if I had something else to show them, but with no deadline I have simply been playing around with it, in between preparing classes for Year 8 in an area I don't know how to teach.
So, who is Lysette's alternative romantic interest? I decided he'd be a Bisclavret from a family of them, quite comfortable with his identity. It's interesting to sort out a background for a born werewolf who lives in the city, is the son of an army scout and wants to be one himself, though once he gets there he realises that it isn't the respectable career it used to be, what with people turning themselves into werewolves in the service of the Dark One just because the pay and conditions for a werewolf scout are so good. What, I asked myself, would his mother and siblings be doing while Dad was off at war? I thought perhaps his mother might be running a cook shop and then I realised that this might not be the best occupation for a werewolf, especially when everybody knows she's one.
Still working on it. If anyone has a suggestion, feel free to note it here!