Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Your book is your soul

An idea came to you while driving, dreaming, brushing your teeth, or sitting at your desk at work while watching that weird guy across the aisle from accounting making a weird face and doing that irritating non-sensical humming again.  You think "A-ha!  By Jove this will be the best story in the history of the world!"  And you begin to jot down ideas.

The more you work on it the better it is.  The lead character is Slade, former S.A.S. who bottle feeds kittens, his love interest Tippy Stardust, the hooker with the heart of gold ... the more you type the more you feel that the muses are urging you, no, insisting that you write this epic.

He wants justice.  Sexy, sexy, justice.

But then ...

The inevitable question that, as writers, cannot be avoided is asked:  So, what's your book about?

It's like that scene in the end of the movie Die Hard.  Bruce Willis dangles the villain out of the sky scraper window, only to release the villain in an iconic slow motion fall to his death.  Great scene.  But that's how it feels as you watch the person's face as you deliver your "elevator pitch".  Are they interested?  Are they amazed and can't wait for it to be done? Are they confused?  Do they hate it?  Do they think it's stupid?  Do they want to punch you in the face for being so stupid?  They are Bruce Willis dangling you out of that window.  If they hate it you will metaphorically fall to your death.  It can be heartbreaking.

"Don't walk away! I haven't gotten to the part about the Vampire King!"

Or it could be exhilarating.  As you describe Slade and Tippy making their way through the jungle in search of the Emerald of Shikaka which could save or destroy the world, the listeners face lights up with wonder and glee.  You describe some of the plot twist ideas you have in store and they are so excited they practically pee on the spot.  Which is a wonderful feeling.  The admiration is a wonderful feeling.  Not peeing on the spot.  Not that I've ever done that, I'm just assuming that it would be, um, well.

But we have to realize, that although we pour our heart and souls into these ideas, not everyone will like them.  We've all read books that we didn't like and we've all seen movies that we hated.  Except for Die Hard.  Everyone loves Die Hard.

If someone you meet, or know, doesn't really like your idea - that's ok.  But don't ignore constructive feedback.  Especially if they are confused by your elevator pitch.  It could be that your pitch, just isn't that great.  And wouldn't it be a shame if you used the same pitch on an agent or publisher and they are confused?  You could miss your opportunity.

My next blog posts will be about my book that I've been working on for a while and I would like to hear some constructive feedback in the comments.  I hope that I will delight you with my idea and not make you want to dangle me out of a window.


  1. I try to use the "What's your book about?" question to help me perfect my pitch by trying different descriptions and seeing how people react. Most people will say, "Oh, that sounds interesting" or something along those lines. Hopefully no one will ever say, "That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard. You should give up your dream of writing a novel and go hang your head in shame." Because that would really stink.