Sunday, December 30, 2007

Distillation of Your Book Idea...

Until now, I've talked about characterizations and subplots; developing logical characters and conflicts and story elements. At some point, you may want to submit a proposal to a publisher, or will hope to sit down at an editor appointment at a conference, to tell him/her about this fabulous new project you're working on.

An editor needs to know: "What's the hook?" In other words, what makes this book truly unique and special and exciting? How can she/he market this to the company sales team? How could this story be presented on a book cover? How could readers be drawn into buying the book, so the company makes money?

I went to a conference recently, where there were around a dozen editors and maybe ten agents who spoke on various panels. I kept hearing the term "branding" as being essential even for the first time author. They talked about looking at a proposal letter, and wanting to see right off: Where they could place this author in their roster? What makes him or her unique? And, many of them mentioned that they want to see a simple, direct statement of what a proposed story is about.

Can you describe your story in 25 words or less? The term "elevator pitch" was bandied about quite a lot. This is a statement with which you can tell somebody about your story in just a few seconds.

Having that kind of focus from the word "go" would help you write your book, as well as helping you to sell it later! Try this exercise right now, no matter where you are in writing your current manuscript. It's tough, isn't it?!

Now of course, plans change. Perhaps your vision for the story changes as you write. You find a new and stronger direction. Maybe your initial idea wasn't strong enough. Deep enough. Intriguing enough. So of course, your twenty-five word distillation of the story idea would need to change. If so, then go with it. Type up a new one-liner, one that helps you focus on the core idea of your story, and keep it above your computer.

As we head into the New Year, I want to wish everyone the greatest success with their writing in the coming year!

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