Pitching Pointers

by Michelle Griep @MichelleGriep

It’s that time of year to start registering for writers conferences. That means there will be a whole lot of angst-filled author wannabes out there, biting their fingernails down to stubs . . . which makes it super hard to type anything.

Not that it’s scary to go to a conference, mind you. The real terror sets in when it’s story-pitching time. Sitting across from a god-like agent or editor who can crush you faster than the bat of an eyelash—or fast-track you to stardom. I’m not going to lie. It is a bit daunting. 


But never fear, little writers. I’m here for you, and today we’re going to talk a bit about your pitch, your one-line, your grabber . . . whatever you want to label it. Here’s the deal: you need to be able to tell your story in one sentence, and that sentence needs a few elements to reel in that editor.

3 Pitch Perfect Pointers

1. Snarky
Not as in sarcastic, but as in ironic. The best pitches are those that incorporate the opposites attract theory because whammo! Imminent conflict instantly grabs a person’s attention. See if you can find the irony/snark in the following:

A 17th century tale of adventure on the Caribbean Sea where a roguish yet charming pirate captain teams up with a young blacksmith in a gallant attempt to rescue the Governor of England’s daughter to reclaim his ship.

The irony here is a pirate is going to save a proper lady, and yes, it’s Pirates of the Caribbean.

2. Succinct
Every word counts in a pitch, so make the most of them. Yeah, you’ll sweat buckets of blood while working this out, but in the end, it’s worth it because you’ll be able to state the soul of your story in one sentence while other wannabes will babble themselves into oblivion. Example:

A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea.

There you have Titanic in 18 words.

3. Cinematic

Paint a picture in the listener’s mind so they can visualize your novel, and I guarantee you, you’ll make an impression. Keep it simple and use common words that everyone’s had experience with. Example:

A cop comes to L.A. to visit his estranged wife when her office building is taken over by terrorists.

Can’t you just see the tough-guy cop taking on the masked, heavily armed bad guys? Shoot, I can even see the wife hiding underneath a mahogany desk, and I’ve never even watched Die Hard.

If you incorporate these three tips next time you write a pitch, you’ll be a step ahead of the rest of the writerly bunch. Sure, you’ll still have nails gnawed down to the quick, but even so, you just might land yourself a contract.

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You need to be able to tell your story in one sentence~ Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)

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Author Michelle Griep

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.


Mid-Winter Kick in the Writerly Pants

by Michelle Griep

The days are grey. It’s Siberia cold outside. And all I really want to do is sit around in my yoga pants and eat boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. Hey, don’t judge me. You know you’ve been there.

What I really should be doing, though, is kicking butt on my manuscript if I’m hoping to get it finished by summer. Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my motivation. I think it might be outside, on the far corner of the porch, underneath the frozen pile of Christmas lights I haven’t yet put away. What to do? Make a list, of course . . .

5 Ways to Gain Momentum When You’re in a Writerly Slump

1. Read

Dive into a well-written book. Reading great writing inspires your own great writing. Then pull off a dud of a book from the shelf. A real wing-dinger of a gag-inducing I-can’t-believe-this-ever-got-published kind of book. You can usually find these on the bottom of a rack at Goodwill. Read it. This will fan the flames of your sweet-mercy-I-can-write-better-than-that reflex, and you’ll be off and running in no time.

2. Meditate

Don’t worry. I’m not advocating some wackadoodle contortionist pose while mumbling gibberish. Just take a few moments to think about where you’re story is headed and allow yourself to get excited about it. That helicopter crash you’ve got planned? Yeah! Ka-blooey, baby! Or the upcoming boy-wins-girl scene? Warmth and fuzziness. Spend some time with your characters in your mind, because if you’re expecting your readers to hang out with them, then you should too.

3. Research

Sometimes all it takes is a new idea to spur your story into a full-out gallop. Where will you find that new idea? Google it. Search the ol’ web for something related to your plot or era. You may come across something cool to include.

4. Exercise

I know. I see you, darting your eyes everywhere except at this paragraph. You were really hoping I’d skip over this, hmm? Trust me. I hate this one as much as you do, but doggone if hiking my body outside for a walk, even when it’s cold, doesn’t give me a whole new perspective.

5. Write

Get out of the chair and write!

Go to a library, a coffee shop, or the writerly nook where you know you’re most likely to be able to crank out something. Turn off the internet. No emails. No tweets. No Trivia Crack or Candy Crush. Then write. Yep. That simple. Keep your heinie in the chair for at least two hours. I don’t care if you have to stare at a blank screen for the first hour and fifty-five minutes **lifts two jedi-fingers in the air and swirls them around all Obi-wan style** you will accomplish some kind of word count.
So there you have it, Sparky. Step away from the Girl Scout Cookies and get cracking. Don’t make me come over there.

TWEETABLES

Mid-Winter Kick in the Writerly Pants by Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)


5 Ways to Gain Momentum When You’re in a Writerly Slump~ Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)

Somewhere along the way I lost my motivation~ Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)



Author Michelle Griep

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.


The Half-Way Blues

by Michelle Griep

I like jazz when it has a tune to it. Something I can whistle along with. A melody I can listen to even when the music isn’t playing because it’s captured inside my head.

The jazz I don’t like is the crazy zig-jiggidy sort. The kind that’s unpredictable. Saxophones wailing like banshees getting an enema. Bass’s that thump up, down, and sideways on a semi-scale. The kind of jazz where the notes don’t mean anything, and they certainly don’t stay within the boundaries of something I can hum along to. It’s just noise.

But doggone if that same effect doesn’t happen to my writing sometimes, usually around the half-way mark of a manuscript. The beginning was a big honeymoon love fest. Creating new characters. Setting the plot into action. The end is where all the flash-bang fireworks explode across the novelly sky. These things have a rhythm, a quick-paced rat-a-tat-tat.

Then there’s the middle. That’s where things get squiggy. Usually this is when panic sets in and you consider flipping burgers at McDonalds instead of finishing the manuscript. That’s followed by self-loathing. 

And then it really gets ugly.

What to do? How to push past the roadblock of my-writing-sucks-with-a-side-of-sucky-sauce? Have I got a handy dandy list for you . . .

The 3 R’s to Regain Your Writerly Self-Esteem

Respiration

Air is good. No, really. Take some deep breaths. See what you’re doing? Your doing what every human being does, and that’s exactly what you need to realize. Not the breathing part per se. You are doing something just like every other author out there on the planet: dealing with doubt. You are not alone in this. You are normal. And guess what? This, too, shall pass . . . kind of like a kidney stone.

Review

Take a moment to remember all of your accomplishments up to this point. Chances are there are quite a few. Clearly you are not a loser, so quit lying to yourself. Even if you’re not an award-winning author-o-maniac, if you’ve simply written half a manuscript, hey, that’s more than most people accomplish. Read what other writers or readers have said about your writing. Soak in the encouragement that’s been offered to you in the past.

Refill

Drafting a story drains the ever-loving creative juices right out you. Sweet mercy! If only it burned calories half as fast. It’s important to keep the inspirational embers glowing red-hot. Now is the time to buy that mp3 on Amazon you’ve been wanting, pick up one of your favorite author’s books, or cough up the cash for tickets to that theater production that’s in town. Sometimes to keep your creativity from going bankrupt you’ve got to borrow some from others.

Remember, the only way out of these doldrums is through, and the only way through is to write, even if–especially if–you think your words are steaming piles of literary manure. Sure, some of them might be, but odds are they’re not all. 



Author Michelle Griep

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.


5 Reasons to Keep Writing

by Lisa Jordan 

NaNoWriMo is winding down. Many of you may be writing strong closing in on that word count. Some of you may have stopped. Others may want to continue, but you’re discouraged.

So what’s holding you back?

Fear?

Procrastination?

Time?

Novelist E. L. Doctorow said, “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Sometimes even seeing beyond the dashboard can be a challenge. So I’m giving you five reasons why you need to keep writing.

1. You have a dream. Cinderella sang, “A dream is a wish the heart makes.” If you’re like the majority of writers I know, you have a dream. A dream to be a writer. In order to fulfill that dream, you need to write.

2. You were created for this. God instilled the desire to write within you. He gave you the ability to create characters, come up with plots and put them together in a story to share with others. He did not say you have to go it alone. He didn’t give you this dream to take it away.

3. You have a voice. Like your handwriting or fingerprints, your writer’s voice is unique. You can learn the craft alongside your peers, but only you can write the same story in your voice. As literary agent Sandra Bishop says, “Voice is your personality on the page.” It’s how your characters are defined, how they speak, how you describe your storyworld, how you plot—that’s all about your voice. Keep writing to allow your Voice to be heard.

4. No one else will do it for you—unlike running the dishwasher, gassing up your car or folding your laundry, no one can write a book for you. Okay, yes, ghostwriters can, but those words aren’t yours. Your head is full of characters begging to be released onto the page. Give your head a rest and let your characters have their say. 😉

5. Personal satisfaction. Do it for yourself—if you stop writing, will it affect your family? Will your friends stop talking to you? Will time stand still? Most likely not. However, if you stop, how will you feel? Only you can answer that question. Believe in yourself and your abilities. You can do this.

Author Phyllis Whitney said, “You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist, you must learn your craft—then you can add all the genius you like.”

Once upon a time, a girl dreamed of writing novels. She tried and tried, but at times, wondered what was the point? Ten years ago, she challenged herself to attempt NaNoWriMo. In thirty days, she wrote a novel. A bad novel, but she still did it. She proved to herself she could do it. Two weeks later, her husband bought her a laptop since he realized this writing thing wasn’t going away.

She studied the craft, wrote, revised, screamed in frustration, deleted, quit for a day or two, joined My Book Therapy, revised, wrote and finally entered another contest, which became a turning point in her writing journey. She finaled and scored a top-notch agent who eventually sold her novel to the publisher of her choice. That NaNoWriMo manuscript released in August as her fifth published novel. She’s been where you are. She knows your pain. She believes you can do this.

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5 Reasons to Keep Writing by Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

Once upon a time, a girl dreamed of writing novels~ Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

Heart, home and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. She is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa also serves on the My Book Therapy leadership team. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, crafting with friends and binging on Netflix. Learn more about her at lisajordanbooks.comlisajordanbooks.com.