Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Pitches and Finishing a Book

We have a few more comments/questions from yesterday on pitches that I need to respond to. First, however, my news. Oh, yeah, and something else I’ve been meaning to tell you.

As for the latter, want you I’m part of a new blog featuring quite a few different Christian novelists. It’s called the Charis Connection. I’ve placed a link to it on your left. We each will post a couple times a month, posts running daily Monday through Friday. When I was first asked, I thought, “I need another blog like I need a hole in the head.” But, what the heck. It’s a chance to write something different. I’ve already written one post, based largely on ramblings you’ll find in my Web site. I suppose it will be posted sometime this week, what day I don’t know. For all I know, it could be today.

Okay, now my news. I’m almost done with Violet Dawn!! Yup. I’ve been writing like a fool the last couple of weeks, holed up in our Idaho home. The intensity of the writing—all day, every day—has really made me weary. But this happens with every book. Today I woke up with a driving sense—finish the book, finish the book. I hit the computer and worked over 14 hours, pretty much straight through. Now here I am, writing this here blog. If I make little sense—well, at least tonight I have an excuse.

Anyhow, I wrote almost 30 pages—and finished the main part of the book. Only thing left is the epilogue. That I will write tomorrow.

Finishing a book is always such a heady time. I work and work toward it, thinking I’ll never live through the thing. Then, slowly, I start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then I write and write some more, gaining in intensity until I can’t see straight. And finally, somehow, some way, I type the last word.

At that point I always do the same thing. I sink to my knees and thank God for getting me through another manuscript.

Of course, more intense days follow—this time of editing. But I’ve already edited a lot of this manuscript. So once I type that penultimate, then ultimate word tomorrow, from thence on, it’s downhill. Oh, joy! Can’t wait.

Okay, before I fall asleep at the computer, some responses to yesterday.

I thought I had my pitch line down: "A faith shattered. A secret revealed. An aspiring artist risks love and life to find the man who holds the answers to her past." But after reading your blog, I'm thinking maybe not. Is this more specific? "When an aspiring artist discovers her unknown father is still alive, she risks losing newfound love and life to find him." Or: "When an aspiring artist discovers her unknown father is still alive, her search uncovers love, a brother and a madman."

Yes, I think these are much more specific. The first new one hits me best because we are told what she risks. The madman sounds intriguing, too. Is there a way to combine that with the first pitch?

To my Saurian buddy Stuart, thanks for the info about the “one sheet.”

Here's my latest: "Mistaken for a servant, a noblewoman escapes her family’s murder and searches for the identity of the killer, knowing that he also hunts her."

This is close, I think. (Again, it’s kind of hard for me to do this when I don’t know the story.) But you could tighten up the words a little and add some drama: Mistaken for a servant, a noblewoman escapes her family’s murder and must hunt for the killer—before he finds her.

My original pitch was: "A young reporter stumbles on a body and fights for her life in a game of cat and mouse." This is my revised one: "A television reporter discovers a body at the theater. While she investigates, she enters an intense game of cat and mouse when the murderer targets her."

Yes, this is more specific, especially the first part. But the second falls back into generalities. It’s very common—in fact, almost expected—that someone who gets pulled into the vortex of a murder will end up being targeted. This is because it’s a convention within the suspense genre for the protagonist to wind up in terrible, usually potentially fatal, danger. (The pitch before this one, about the noblewoman, is a little different in that the protagonist was supposed to be killed in the first place. In that instance, I think the pitch referring to the killer still hunting her works.) Would it help here to tell us who is killed? Or maybe a clue the reporter uncovers? Or why the reporter risks her life for the story? We need to hear unique aspects of this story so it won’t sound like a hundred others in the suspense genre.

Let's face it, pitches are hard. Who invented 'em, anyway?

BGs, see you tomorrow. Perhaps we’ll have a new topic. Perhaps not. All depends on you.


Dineen A. Miller said...

Thanks, Brandilyn! Just knowing I'm on the right track is a huge help. Thanks for the input.

C.J. Darlington said...

Great news about Violet Dawn! Congratulations! An epilogue will seem like a piece of cake after what you've already done. Can't wait to read it because I feel like I've gotten a glimpse into the impetus of its creation. Unfortunately for Paige it's the first in a series, right?

Ron Estrada said...

This has been a hot topic at ACFW. Thanks for the help. By the way, I just finished Dead of Night. I love the twist at the end. I think the camping trips are over for the year. Now I can keep up with the blog! And maybe get some writing done too.

Stuart said...

Good to hear about Violet Dawn. Poor paige, I wonder if she thinks her troubles are all behind her now... Can't wait to read it. :)

And thanks for all the advice on pitches and everything else in the writing world. (or at least what you've managed to cover so far) ;)

Evelyn said...

I just finished Dead of Night, too. You had me suspecting everybody and their cousin there for a while - good job!

Thanks for the info on pitches - it's the first time someone has been really specific on what you need to get a pitch noticed. (Still working on mine.)

Cara Putman said...

Thanks for the feedback on my pitch, Brandilyn. I now know what to do next to improve it. Thanks! I'm sure Violet Dawn will be a great book, but I'm waiting with bated breath for Web of Lies. Can't wait to see how you wrap those two series.

Lynette Eason said...

Okay, I'm going to give my pitch a shot. "En route to pick up her best friend's daughter from an orphanage in the middle of the Amazon jungle, Cassidy McKnight is kidnapped by terrorists. The last thing ex-special forces Gabriel Sinclair wants is to rescue the girl he knew as a spoiled rotten brat, but since he owes her father his life, he agrees to do it, never suspecting what an incredible woman she has become. Together, they must battle terrorists and their feelings for each other as they rely on God to get them home safe."
Okay, lay it on me...thanks,

Janet Sketchley said...

Congratulations on finishing Violet Dawn. I don't think you've spoken on the need for chocolate to aid in the rewrites :) These examples of pitches have been really helpful. The "befores" look fine to me until I see the improved "afters." Here's my best after some help from the gang on the discussion board: "A grieving woman's abduction by a dangerous offender may be the answer to her prayers."

Jason said...

I missed this blog for a couple of weeks while vacationing in Oregon and California. I just got caught up, and wanted to say thanks again for all the great input! I know God will richly bless you for sharing your talent with others.

I'm working on getting your Bradleyville series for my wife (I know that they're not just women's fiction, but I have a huge to-read pile right now!). Then I'll move her into the Seatbelt Suspense...

And I still always think of "Don't forget to breathe..." whenever I have a patient holding their breath with a shot or something. I can't help it!

Pammer said...

Congratulations on Violet Dawn. I am anxious to read anything you write (just as long as I am not alone, and have plenty of nightlights and ammo).

One more shot on my pitch to see if it is less general, any better...worse (I hope not, lol).

A crisis counselor initiates revenge when her client's corpse falls through the ceiling -- a gift from her secret admirer.