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Slap down the trolls in your head!

I was going to spend this entry talking a little bit about self-edits, but I’ll save that for another time.

Instead, I thought I’d share a link to this post from over at The Red Pen of Doom, wherein Mr. Guy takes his titular pen to my entry to Ms. Joey’s Spring Into Action Flash Fiction contest from a few weeks back. Go take a look, and learn from his edits and comments. Don’t worry; it’s totally safe (Ms. Joey made us keep things PG).

Pretty darn slick, huh?

Now, if you’re like me, you probably get very nervous when you post anything original, because you’re putting yourself out there for anyone to mock. But, in this case, I remembered that one of the main points of my current novel project is overcoming fear, so I made myself submit that flash fiction piece.

“Aaah! What have I done?!”

The result? I had a lot of fun stretching writing muscles I hadn’t exercised in a while (namely, writing adventure). Even better, though: now, not only do I feel very honored to be made an example of by Mr. Guy, but I think I have a better idea of how to write that potential story!

The moral of this very short anecdote is, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Even if it’s just something small. You never know who might be reading.

Remember, it’s up to you to beat down those trolls who tell you you can’t do it!

Trollhunter film poster

Trollhunter. Find him. Watch him. Learn from him.

And there’s the pitch!

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.

the number 4

Brought to you by the number 4.

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.

Your typical "gaido-san"

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.

Love, by Dolk

Painting by Dolk.
If only I could use this as my pitch.

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.)