One of the things that Mr. Guy talks about over at The Red Pen of Doom is keeping your pitch simple. Four words or less, he suggests, to give a basic summary of your novel. From there, you can elaborate to a sentence and then a paragraph, but those four words need to sum up the gist of your story.
Four words? Even my comics creator friend, Pete Stathis, suggested the seven-word synopsis. I had issues coming up with seven words to sum up my story, but, compared to four, seven would be cake.
Anyway, since reading that article about the simple pitch, I’ve been trying on and off for the last several weeks to come up with something suitable. Everything sounds so trite, though. I’m trying to stay universal, since one of the other suggestions made over at the Red Pen of Doom is that the hero doesn’t matter (not to the pitch, anyway): it’s the conflict that’s really important.
That piece of advice should probably make my task easier…except that it doesn’t.
I asked my mother for advice about this (so you know that I’m desperate). She asked what a pitch was, to start, and then said, “So, if I were to write my life story, my pitch would be something like, Memoirs of a Gaido-san, yes?” (Gaido-san is Engrish for “Miss/Madame Tour Guide.”)
Damn it if my mother isn’t better at this than I am.
For anyone who’s taken a peek at Fearless, it’s about this carefree and callous surfer-type who falls in love with the bold new girl in the village, blah blah blah, and I’ve likely lost you already. The main focus of the story is really about their relationship, coming to terms with their past and present mistakes and misconceptions, and how a single accident can change the way that they approach their lives. There are no invaders from space, no marauding pirates. So, how do I compress that story of love and relationships into four words and still make it interesting?
Whenever I consider my four-word pitch, I’m dogged by cliched, general phrases that ultimately say nothing about the story. If I read these on a poster with a graphic, maybe something would click, but probably not. To give you an idea, I’m stuck with such trite fare as: “Healing isn’t just physical,” and “One accident changes everything.” Or the oh-so basic, “What’s love without fear?” (Because the story deals a lot with these people’s fears: fear of trust, fear of loss, fear of letting go of the people whom you love.)
But none of these have really grabbed me. And if they don’t grab me, they don’t have a chance in Hell of grabbing you.
So, it’s back to the drawing board, for me and this project. I’m coming in to the home stretch on my first draft (denouement left, now), and then it’s off for some light (followed by heavy) editing. In the meantime while I finish up the big text, though, I guess I have plenty of work to do on the little text.
(Wait, wait! How about “Love, by accident“? Nah. Didn’t think so.)