Tag Archive | hook

Are You Pitch Ready?

With the RWA National Conference just around the corner, you’ll want to make sure you’re pitch ready.  Here are some helpful tips to ensure your “elevator pitch” or pitch session is spot on!

Prior To The Interview:

  • Know who you are pitching to (editor/agent). Read the person’s blog, twitter messages, etc.
  • Know what genre they are looking to acquire.
  • Know what books/authors they have recently acquired.
  • Know their company’s mission.
  • Have an understanding of what their company is acquiring now and in the past.

What To Bring:

  • Business cards www.vistaprint.com
  • Professional attitude
  • Good Posture
  • Think/say “I’m excited” and not “I’m nervous”
  • 3×5 index cards with pitch notes, if needed
  • Passion for your story!

What To Wear:

  • Business Casual
  • Vivid colors are more memorable than monochrome
  • Incorporate “Branding” (Read The Basics of Author Branding here)
  • Remember, you are interviewing not only your book, but yourself
  • Smile 😀

What Editors And Agents Know And Are Looking For In Your Pitch:

  • A VISUAL HOOK!!! (Previous Blog on One Sentence Hook here)
  • Unique Twist/High Concept
  • Structure (Previous Blog Turning a One Sentence Hook into a Five-Sentence Synopsis here
  • Personality Types
  • Flaw/Strength
  • Theme
  • Arcs
  • Conflict
  • What sells?
  • Minimal  backstory in pitch

Be Prepared To Answer The Following:

  • Your Name (real)
  • Title of your book
  • Genre
  • Word count
  • Snappy Hook (or Log Line)
  • Story plot
  • Theme
  • Character arc
  • Suspense arc
  • Romantic arc
  • What else you are working on?
  • What have sold?
  • Are you indie published?
  • STOP TALKING  with Submission Request

What To Have On Standby:

  • A polished (edited) manuscript that you can send in right away if requested.
  • A polished (edited) query letter  (Previous blog Query Letter Made Easy here)
  • A polished (edited) synopsis (3-5 pages)

After You Pitch:

  • Thank the editor/agent for their time
  • Send thank you e-mails and/or cards afterwards, regardless of request for proposal

WISHING YOU THE BEST OF LUCK AND MUCH SUCCESS!

Happy Pitching,

Cyndi Faria

Back Cover Blurb Defined

Whether you’re working with a publishing house or are an indie author, your story must have an enticing (cover) blurb. One that makes the reader open your book because they have to know more. Think of the cover blurb as a cure-all for some ailment the reader didn’t know they had until right then. Because that’s what the blurb is–an advertisement.

I’m going to assume that you’ve already attained a fabulous, eye-catching cover and title. Both the cover and title must clue the reader in to the following:

  • Genre
  • Theme
  • Audience

 So what elements are required in the blurb?

  •  Genre: What does the reader expect from the genre?
  • Protagonist(s) defined (three-dimensional: past (old world), present (new world), future (what they want their world to look like)
  • Character Flaws (Enneagram is a great place to get ideas)
  • Inciting Incident
  • Goal
  • Who or what stands in the way of attaining Goal (Antagonist)
  • Risk (What will they lose if they don’t attain their goal?)

 Your job is to take the above information and weave it into the format below.

  •  A hook,
  • The problem,
  • How your main character plans on fixing that problem; and
  • What will happen if she doesn’t get her goal?

 If it’s a romance, include the second protagonist too.

 That’s it. Check out blurbs in the genre you write and compare. It’s fun!

Below I’ve created two examples. Notice the similar formats but also how I’ve used different words to hint at the mood and tone of the book. Also try to limit the blurb to 150 words.

Example 1 (Dark, Erotic, Paranormal Romance):

Demon Slayer Cassie Munroe is no angel (hook). Or so she thought. Eons ago she made a rash (flaw) bargain with the Demon Lord (antagonist) to save her sister’s life (primal; catalyst) and lost her soul (wound)—a soul that unknowingly unlocked the Holy Grail. And one she’s devoted her life to reclaim by hunting down the lord’s lineage to halt the inevitable world destruction (Goal).

When Incubus (job) Lucas Grant (Protagonist) targets the sensual beauty, he gets more than the primal romp of an unabashed human female; he discovers Cassie is his soulmate (Inciting Incident). And as their passion ignites and he discovers she’s the Grail Keeper, he’ll stop at nothing to protect Cassie from his family’s secret that would surely destroy them both.

But when Lucas goes underground and Cassie discovers her soul is the source of Lucas’s family’s power, she can’t help but wonder if he’s been playing her all along… Going after what she’s been designed to guard, will Cassie have to slay the only man she’s ever loved to save the world from destruction? (Risk)

Example 2 (Contemporary Romantic comedy):

Cake and Bake owner Cassie Munroe is no Martha Stewart (hook).  Her mother’s made that point clear (wound). Inheriting the business (catalyst), she made a doughy (flaw) contract with the bank (antagonist) to secure her Main Street location, but she needs help in the kitchen if she’s to keep her family’s business going and prove her mother wrong (primal; inciting incident). Finding a partner who matches her high standards (flaw) is the only way she’ll keep her ovens baking (Goal).

When Pastry Chef (job) Lucas Grant (Protagonist) targets the floured-faced beauty, he gets more than sugar and spice. Yet as their passion heats up, he discovers Cassie isn’t only bad with finances, she’s been trekking to the Cupcake Queen two counties over to fill her bakery cases so she can prove to her mother she’s not a failure.

With Lucas’s help, will Cassie’s heap of cookbooks be enough to keep her doors from closing? Or the man she’s come to love from buttering his last roll of phyllo? (Risk)

To design an awesome blurb that grabs the reader’s attention and has them running to purchase your book, combine the four elements:  hook, problem, how your main character plans on fixing that problem, and what will happen if she doesn’t get her goal. 

Happy Writing, Cyndi Faria

Turning a One Sentence Hook into a Five Sentence Paragraph

By turning a One Sentence Hook into a Five Sentence Paragraph–one sentence each for story setup, turning points, resolution–you’ll be able to create a one paragraph synopsis that can be included in a Query Letter, e-mail, or at a pitch session.

One of the best models for evolving a hook into a novel is by using the Snowflake Method, by Randy Ingermanson in combination with the Enneagram Institute’s Personality Types and the Three Act Structure (previous blog).

My October 1st blog set up how to formulate The One Sentence Hook, which read as follows:

A claustrophobic herpetologist descends into a Yucatan cenote to prove a legendary albino crocodile’s existence.

Add prior to this hook a well-known visual: In my Avatar meets Romancing the Stone contemporary romantic comedy, a claustrophobic herptologist descends into a Yucatan cenote to prove a legendary albino crocodile’s existence . . . 

Can you see the difference already? Are you thinking a Fish Out Of Water combined with a Rites of Passage type novel? 

Using the Enneagram’s description for The Enthusiast (#7), we discovered the following about our hero:

  • Fear: Of being deprived and in pain.
  • Desire: To be satisfied and content – to have their needs fulfilled
  • Strength/Flaw : Optimism
  • At Best: extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous
  • At Worst: claustrophobic and panic-stricken

Using only one sentence (note Setup and Disaster One combined), detail the following points:

Story Backdrop and Setup – TP1:

A herpetologist (Bronson Mitchell-hero) travels deep into the Yucatan jungle in search of a legendary albino crocodile (object he wants).

Disaster One (can be due to external circumstances in lieu of protagonist trying to fix things– TP2):

Stumbling on a hospitable (needs met) indigenous tribe,  Bronson is presented with the chief’s beautiful daughter (Ravina Cocum-heroine) as his guide (optimistic, he follows) to the cenote (Fear: of being deprived and in pain. Remember he’s claustrophobic).

Disaster Two (Due to the protagonist’s attempt to fix things – TP3):

Because of his claustrophobia, Bronson jerry-rigs a crocodile trap (still optimistic), but falls into the cenote, is joined in the pit by Ravina who tends his wounds (needs met),  and then they share a night of passion.

Disaster Three (Due to the protagonist’s attempt to fix things – TP4):

Hungry, lost, and injured (his needs unmet), Bronson traverses the depths of the cenote (faces his biggest fear) and realizes that he no longer requires the crocodile (specific object) to be satisfied and is content with what he has (he’s changed).

Climax (TP5):

Bronson separates from Ravina in a final attempt to save them both and dives into an underground river where he emerges into an albino crocodile filled pool, but is rescued by Ravina.

Aftermath:

Abandoning the crocodiles, because he’s simply awed by the simple wonders of life, Bronson is accepted by the tribe, weds Ravina and, no longer claustrophobic, decides to stay and study the local reptiles indefinitely.

Combined the paragraph reads:

In my Avatar meets Romancing the Stone contemporary novel, a claustrophobic herptologist descends into a Yucatan cenote to prove a legendary albino crocodile’s existence .

Bronson Mitchell travels deep into the Yucatan jungle in search of a legendary albino crocodile, stumbles on a hospitable indigenous tribe, and is presented with the chief’s beautiful daughter, Ravina Cocum, who leads him to the cenote. Because of his claustrophobia, he jerry-rigs a crocodile trap, but falls into the cenote, is joined in the pit by Ravina who tends his wounds, and then they share a night of passion. Hungry, lost, and injured, Bronson traverses the depths of the cenote and realizes that he no longer requires the crocodile to be satisfied and is content with what he has. Separating from Ravina in a final attempt to save them both, he dives into an underground river where he emerges into an albino crocodile filled pool, but is rescued by Ravina. Abandoning the crocodiles, because he’s simply awed by the simple wonders of life, Bronson is accepted into the tribe as Ravina’s husband and, no longer claustrophobic, decides to stay and study the local reptiles indefinitely.

CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve just written a one paragraph synopsis that can be included in a query letter, e-mail, or at a pitch session. 

Happy Writing, Cyndi Faria

One Sentence Hook – Adding and Creating Conflict

By studying examples of one sentence hooks, I’ve found a similarity that ties them together. Each sentence has four elements that can be broken into the following formula (Cyndi’s Tip Sheet – One Sentence Hook Sheet)

Character Flaw + Character Job + Action + Goal

Creating the elements can be shown as follows, but keep in mind that when you design your sentence (pitch-hook) you will want to use the character that has the most to lose in your story. This method can also be used in developing secondary characters.

Where to start (example):

Question: Publicly, how does your hero act?

Answer: Extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous.

Using the Enneagram Institute’s description of personality types, he must be The Enthusiast (#7).

As a #7, his basic fear is: Of being deprived and in pain.

Now go back into the Enneagram and read what happens to a character when they are at their worst (Level 9) and pick a character flaw.

Character flaw: Claustrophobia

Using the flaw of claustrophobia, create a one sentence backstory to explain why he fears confined spaces (what caused him in his past to dreadfully fear being confined – deprived and in pain?):

Backstory Example: He fell into an abandoned water well when he was six years old, broke his arm as a result of the fall, and wasn’t rescued for three days.

Okay, now that we know why he’s terrified of confined spaces, make him revisit his fear of being trapped to get his goal. This is the Action tag.

Action: He descends into a Yucatan cenote (underground cavern spring).

Next, we need to find out what his goal is.

Question: What would my character find in a cenote?

Answer: Fish, eels, snakes, some legendary albino crocodile.

Now assign him a story goal.

Goal: To prove existence of a legendary albino crocodile.

We’re almost done.

Your character needs a unique job and one that only he can do to get to his goal—otherwise any character could descend into the cenote and return with his crocodile.

If your character is going after the legendary crocodile, he might be one who study reptiles.

Job: a Herpetologist (someone who studies reptiles).

Finally, restate the one sentence story summary with all the elements in order and you’ve got your one sentence pitch or hook that’s FULL OF CONFLICT. (Try to keep your sentence to fewer than fifteen words).

A claustrophobic herpetologist descends into a Yucatan cenote to prove a legendary albino crocodile’s existence.

Add prior to this hook a well-known visual when pitching for a SUPER VISUAL HOOK:

In my Avatar meets Romancing the Stone contemporary romantic comedy, a claustrophobic herptologist descends into a Yucatan cenote to prove a legendary albino crocodile’s existence .  

Additional step for fun:

Go back into the Enneagram and read what happens to a character when they are at their best (Level 1).

Character Attribute: Become awed by the simple wonders of life.

This is what will happen at the end of your story–your character will become awed by the simple wonders of life. If you are writing a romance or HEA (happily ever after), he will discover the rare crock, but, perhaps, omit that fact to protect the beast from being hunted further. He will simply be too fascinated by the discovery . . . and he’ll get the girl, of course.

I’d love to read some of your examples using this method and hope this example removes some of the mystery out of creating the perfect hook.

Happy writing, Cyndi Faria