Monday, September 20, 2010

When Jumping the Gun Is Helpful

If you haven't checked out yesterday's post yet, make sure you do before you leave here! Michelle Davidson Argyle is celebrating the release of her novella Cinders with awesome style :) Scroll down to yesterday's post to check out our interview and enter to win some fabulous prizes!

So, how is everyone doing this fine Monday morning? I wasn't able to work on my book this weekend (I was too busy getting my butt handed to me by my mother during a few tense rounds of Bananagrams) - but I spent a lot of time going over things in my head. Plot points, pivotal moments, action, romance, do I need more emotion, more fighting, more this more than and the other.....and since I was playing around with things anyway, I sat down and worked up a preliminary query.

Now, I'm at least two months from needing one, but I've found in the past that working on a query is a great way to get things hammered out. It forces me to look at the main plot points of my book. And it really is great at showing if my story arc is strong enough. It shows me if it's exciting enough, if it's unique enough, and it helps me see where I need to focus my creative energies.

Which led me to thinking of other activities that help with this. Here are my top five:

1. Writing a query

2. Writing a hookline/logline

3. Making a book trailer

4. Creating an elevator pitch (which for me is similar to a hook line but can be slightly long as I can get everything out in about 10 seconds)

5. Writing the back cover blurb (sort of like the query letter but I can be slightly more vague/mysterious)

Each one of these activities forces me to look at the bare bones of my story, to get out the ESSENCE of it with as few words as possible. Each item on this list forces me to focus on the most exciting, most unique, most important aspects of my story in just a few delicious sentences.

It's hard. Sometimes frustratingly so. But it's also great at helping me really focus on the true meat of my story.

Do any of you do stuff like this to help focus things?


L. Diane Wolfe said...

The elevator pitch definitely helps me!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

For my upcoming new wip, I've got the logline figured out. That helped a lot when it came to outlining the story. I won't worry about writing the query until later.

Christine Fonseca said...

You know, I write the synopsis really early - which helps a lot. And nothing helps me more than a creating a trailer...or is that my distraction...Hmmmm

WindyA said...

I think I jumped the gun a couple times and learned my lesson! Before I started querying my current project that's out there, I made sure I had everything ready: a synopsis, a blurb, the query, the ms - everything I could think of.

Then I set it aside for 2 weeks. I like to call this the mental/emotional prep period :) ... then I went back to it and after the break, I made a few tweaks and KNEW I was ready.

Tere Kirkland said...

My style of outlining is more or less a synopsis of each scene and what happens. I ramble and change things too much to keep them for when I'm writing an actual synopsis, though.

It helps me to know what my scene goals are before I write them, and to know what's happening down the line.

Great post!

L.T. Elliot said...

Great ways to distill your story down to its true essence!

I haven't really tried that but I should!

Elana Johnson said...

Oh, I so should. Usually I just whine and carry on until I have enough time to stew things through.

Carolyn V. said...

I've never tried those either. I really should. What a great idea Michelle! =)

asabourova said...

Absolutely! I know if I'm having trouble really pinning down my WIP, I make myself do one of the exercises you suggest. For the one I've got out for query, I did all of those things. Boy, was it good. And really helped me to pin things down when I sat down and wrote the "for real" query (the one I was actually comfortable sending to people). Good luck with it!