As I write my novel, tidbits of writing advice trickles into my thoughts:
Tighten up the writing and get to the story.
Show; don’t tell.
Keep the story moving forward.
Write, and rewrite again.
Be able to sell your novel in one sentence. Ouch, there she is, that taunting bitch of a rule that we all know could mean the difference between an agent or publisher giving our manuscripts a chance, or using it to wipe dog turds off their shoes.
Awesome. So I write and rewrite and do my damndest to keep the story plowing forward. And then my brain pops the question, Would you do me the honour of telling me exactly what this book is about? Of course I can do that, I think. It’s about a protagonist…well, two of them….and a couple of antagonists to make things interesting. But shit Lisa…what’s the story about?
For me, this is the hardest part of the process. It’s what wakes me up at night. It’s what makes me grind me teeth together and hold my breath while trying to come up with that perfect selling sentence.
I’ve come up with a plan that I hope will get me to the tagline and I want to share the ideas with other writers – like you! And hey, why not make this a collaborative project. Share your ideas about how you find the perfect, succint sentence to sell your novel.
THE 4 point plan to tagline success:
- Finish the damn book. Just write it as best you can. It can and will be rewritten later. Without a completed book there is no tagline.
- Highlight those fragments of thought that you’ll read later and think, “Damn…did I write that?” Those are keepers and they just might hold the clue to the storyline.
- Compress that novel into a short story. I’ve started writing a short story alongside the novel (with a self-imposed limit of 1800 words). Nothing flushes the nonsense down the toilet like a word limit. As that happens, the true story begins to emerge.
- Take notes. Go somewhere outside of your usual writing zone. I’m sitting at my dining room table right now so I would probably take my iPad and sit on the couch. Then I feel like I’m just playing with words, not working at the table. I write down all of the horrible things that might happen to my characters and then all of the amazing things that could happen. Make some of the ideas off-the-charts implausible. It will help you better see and define what’s really happening in the book.
That’s it. That my big 4 Point Plan. I’d love to hear from other writers with ideas on how to pull that final metaphorical string, the one that pries the best words from the pages and lays them out in one perfect sentence that – to an agent or publisher – screams PUBLISH ME…PUBLISH ME..
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