Notes from Tuesday’s event with Sam and Emma: using examples of published books, they gave our members some vital lessons into pitching, concepts, ambition, themes etc.
Lesson Number One – WHAT IS THE PITCH?
- Take a look at the above book, DISCLAIMER, what is the log line? Imagine if the next thriller you opened was all about you?
- Logline – what is the book about?
- Read SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder for tips on pitches
- Tell the story in miniature
- Think about how it relates to the title
- Follow the agent, Juliet Mushens, on Twitter: @mushenska for insight into how she pitches her books (and for her secret formula)
Lesson Number Two – BE AMBITIOUS
- Five narrative voices
- A blend of first and third person
- A narrow time frame and a broad time frame
- Change of perception
- Twist doesn’t need to come at the end
- ‘The life story of each and every character offers encyclopaedic possibilities. The mark of a master is to select only a few moments but gives us a lifetime.’
Lesson number three – WHAT IS YOUR THEME/MESSAGE
Take a look at these examples:
Think about what the theme is in your book?
Lesson number four – MAKE IT PRIMAL
- there are age old stories that really work – and often the most successful books are those that follow those old stories
- think about the following: overcoming the monster, the quest, rags to riches, voyage and return, comedy, tragedy and rebirth
- does your story follow one of these?
Lesson number five – A GOOD IDEA
- for non-fiction books, it is essential that your book is based on a good idea
- think about your BRAND
- Letters of Note began life as a blog, an awareness was achieved before the book – and it has lead on to events and a true brand.
Lesson number six – ORIGINALITY
- sometimes a book will be a surprise bestseller – it comes from originality
Lesson number seven – EXPERTISE/PERSPECTIVE
- the above example was written by an expert
- sales grew through word of mouth and it has had long term success
- beautiful writing must always support an expert’s standing
- and remember to think about a new perspective – what hasn’t been written yet about your chosen subject?
And finally, a PS: books to read about writing
SAVE THE CAT! by Blake Synder
INTO THE WOODS by John Yorke
THE SEVEN BASIC PLOTS by Christopher Brooker
WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maas
WRITERS AND ARTISTS YEARBOOK
FROM PITCH TO PUBLICATION by Carole Blake
ON WRITING by Stephen King