It has involved a lot of work (and I am still not done) but now it is getting closer to the event I am really looking forward to it. As I am in the earlier stages of my writing career some people have questioned why I want to go there and my answer is primarily to learn but also to network. This does, however, mean being able to talk in comprehensive sentences.
Talking is normally easy for me but I know that I am a rambler. Even in this blog post I haven't quite got to the point yet. It's the moment you get asked 'So, what's your novel about?' Now I know what my book is about, who the characters are, what the conflict is so it should be easy to put all that in one or two sentences. How hard can it be to sum up the project you have worked on for months? Much harder than I thought.
Those two little lines have taken me over a week to finally come up with something that I'm happy with. During that time lots of people on twitter also reported how difficult they find this stage of the writing process. So now that I have come out the other side I thought I would write up some 'tips'. I'm not sure if they are helpful ones as I really don't know what I'm on about yet but I'll soon get to test my elevator pitch at York.
1) Don't gloss over the important bits
- My first version was like a cream cake with no cream. Looked good but no substance when you took a bite.
- Like most stories mine has a complex plot. In my early pitchs I was trying to highlight what I thought should be there rather than what actually was. It was almost like I was trying to present a menu without checking what ingredients I had. It made me think about where the real centres of conflict are within the story and thus where the hook lies.
- There will be more than one area of conflict within your story. It is not possible to try and point out every twist and turn in your plot in two sentences.
- I found I was trying too hard to not only name my protagonist but some of the other main characters. It really wasn't necessary and would also be quite hard to follow if listening to lots of names so I simplified it.
- In more than one version I felt like I was just saying 'Blah, Blah, Blah!' The reason I thought that was because too easily they sounded like any other novel. There was nothing to distinguish my novel from every other chick-lit novel based on my pitch.
- I am in the habit of reading my work aloud when I am at the edit stage. I think when writing up something that you will ultimately be saying out loud is especially important.
- This follows on from the last. If it's too complicated to say easily then change it to something that will be. It may be the best two line pitch ever but if you end up tripping over it you may never get it out.
- I found this really useful. I have a record function (which I think most modern mobile phones have hidden somewhere) which I never used until recently. I recorded myself reading out my pitch and listened back. I found by doing this I could be a lot more objective.
- Like I said I'm a rambler and it is easy to include unnecessary details but here you are stripping back and getting to the crux of the story.
- This may be obvious but this is something you will have to repeat again and again. Make sure it is something you will be able to memorise.
If you have any other pointers or tips please add them below. All help much appreciated.
PS: Writing this at a late hour and not able to see straight - apologies for any mistakes!