Monday, June 09, 2008

In a few words...

Posted by Lisa Marnell

It may be the toughest couple of sentences you ever write – and it won’t be fun, at first. But it’s crucial. That all-important, difficult to write, answer to the dreaded auestion: “So, what’s your story about.”

Once, in writer’s group, we talked about theme. One of our members spoke with such confidence saying, “How could someone try to write a book without knowing the theme ahead of time.”


I didn’t admit it at the time, but I wasn’t sure what my book was about. I am in a better position now, but that’s only after a painful conversation with a close friend, explaining my story and asking this person to read a couple pitch lines. It didn’t go well. As we talked more, after I explained the plot and the ending, this friend said, "Hey, your story is about friendship, between a rich girl and a poor girl." Light bulb moment.

Pitch and theme go hand in hand. To have a story, I believe you need a theme. Internal struggle, such as in the novel I am reading, Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld, has the enticing eye-catcher on the back of the book: "Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that?" Good, isn't it?

Being able to write a short pitch sentence or two help me, now, as I struggle to finish my WIP. Also, it's a must-have for a conversation with an editor.

I went to my trusty Verla Kay website to search for some thoughts on the topic. I wasn't disappointed.

Take a look at this to see some winning pitches, taken from a contest for winnning pitches.

Here's a pretty amazing "how-to" for writing a premise.

try, now, to write a pitch. It's a pleasure-pain thing, but it will help your story.


Carleen Brice said...

And it'll help you when your story is out and EVERYBODY asks you that question.

Lisa said...

I think what's interesting about this is that for me (and I'm guessing a few others as well), even though I thought I knew what the theme was at first, as the story unfolded, it turned out that the story was really about something different. Because I've read time and again about authors discovering the real story through the writing process, I'd be surprised if this wasn't more the rule than the exception. It's funny you should post this today because after getting more than 100 pages into a first draft, I've been spending quite a bit of time writing out what I believe the premise is and even synopsizing the story from beginning to end so that I can now have more of an outline to finish writing. If things go the way they have up to this point, I'm willing to bet that this will carry me for a while and then I'll run into another stumbling block that causes me to regroup and try something different. Great post!