What’s it all about…Author?

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Image courtesy of mattox at Stock Xchng

Since ‘A Construct of Angels’ was published as an Amazon Kindle eBook, I have been asked this question many, many times.   And if I’m honest,  I haven’t always answered it well.  But if you plan to publish in the future (or indeed, you have already) then you should spend a few moments rehearsing your reply.

A verbal synopsis can be as important as the written one, so it’s worth getting it right.

Nothing puts off a prospective buyer more than;

‘Er…um…well…it’s kind of…’

If you, the author, can’t even verbalise a quick synopsis, how can you expect to transmit your enthusiasm to a potential buyer?

The answer that I have found to be very effective is to immediately compare ‘Construct’ to an existing…nay, a household name – Twilight.

Yes, I know it’s a bit cliched and it’s just one of soooo many vampire stories in a super-saturated market…but consider this;

Who HASN’T heard of it?

So if you’ve just written a political thriller , don’t be afraid to say ‘It’s a lot like Tom Clancy / John Grisham / John LeCarre.’

Your rip-roaring sci-fi adventure could do a lot worse than be compared to the huge success of Star Wars.

Even if they forget about your book, the next time they see whatever you’ve compared your work to, they could very well be reminded to browse for your story.

Try ‘You’ve heard of……. right?  Well, this is similar, except….’

And once you’ve established your genre, you can then go on to qualify your comparison, by adding something like; ‘It’s similar to Star Wars, but without the Wookies’ or ‘but Tom Clancy never went where my story goes..right into the corrupted heart of the DEA.’

The verbal synopsis of ‘Construct’ has evolved into something like this;

‘You’ve heard of Twilight and all the other vampire books?’

They nod.

‘This is similar, but with no vampires or werewolves allowed.’

‘Okay…’ they say, wondering what IS allowed.

‘It’s based in York.’

That gets their attention – it’s somewhere local (to us).

‘A paramedic who works there goes to the mortuary because she thinks her dead brother has just been found.’

Awww…the sympathy expression.

‘But while she’s there – she accidentally pulls down an angel into one of the bodies.’

‘Ooh?’  is the usual surprised reaction.  ‘How could this be?’ they may wonder.

‘It turns out that this angel has only six days to save the world, otherwise Hell will take over and civilisation is finished.’

‘Six days?’

‘Yep.  The clock is ticking.  Six days – and everything goes to Hell.’

After that, they usually begin to ask questions about the story and how long it took to write, and the synopsis is no longer in the spotlight.  Job done.

So, my advice is to Compare, then Qualify and finally Expand.

Give it a try when you’re in a quiet place (a railway platform or a bookshop is probably not the best venue).

Imagine that you’ve finally landed that longed-for radio interview.  Millions are listening with baited breath (don’t worry, they can’t see your reclusive yet artistic face) to hear what your book is about – and you have between fifteen and twenty seconds to sum it up.

Go for four sentences.  Short and snappy.  Get their interest.  Compare, Qualify, then Expand.

In closing, I should tell you this;

My worst ever answer?

‘So what’s your (High Fantasy) book about?’

‘It’s…er…it’s complicated.’

The curious party walked away, none the wiser.  Don’t send potential buyers away with no desire to check out your book.

Write on!

The difficult second novel? Nah!

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inspiracion

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m currently well (15,500 words) into ‘A Vengeance of Angels’ (the sequel to ‘Construct’) and I’m re-discovering the joy of ‘pantsing’.

The writing is flowing well, still closely following the bamboo and creeper framework that I’d lashed together over a year ago when I was still begging agencies to consider ‘Construct’.

And this time around, I’m pleased to report, the writing feels different; more enjoyable.

With a year’s worth of editing  experience behind me, I have a clearer picture of the process from the first rough scratches through to the finished product.

I now know that I can roll along, throwing down my  ideas, comfortable in the knowledge that not everything I put into words will get used.  And with this comes a new kind of freedom from worry.

I don’t have to doublethink every sentence; every word uttered by my characters.   This time around I am aiming for continuity, rough adherence to the (flexible) framework but with a firm path towards the planned ending.

It’s refreshing to know that I don’t have to fret about what I’m writing – that can all be sorted out once the First Draft is complete – following the mandatory month-in-the-drawer, naturally.  What matters is that the ideas are recorded before they are lost to the white noise that is my ever-fizzing brain.

notebook and laptop

Experienced hands will already be aware of all this, so please forgive the egg-sucking instructions.

However, newbies may still (as I did) become mired in the spiralling hell that is the ‘must get that paragraph perfect before I move on’ routine.

Don’t!

Just pound that keyboard and pour all your relevant ideas onto that hard drive, pushing headlong until you have reached the end of your story.  That will then give you something to work with; something complete.

And if your Muse throws Chapter Two ideas at you when you’re racing through Chapter Ten, then by all means nip back, drop in a paragraph close to where it’s relevant and get right back to Chapter Ten.  Don’t (as I did) waste time and effort ‘blending it in’.  Just drag, drop and get on with it.  The idea will still be there in six months (more realistically, a year) when you are reviewing what you’ve written.

I regret now that I spent so much time ‘polishing’ what was essentially an unfinished product – a bit like applying sealant to a bath that was not only still in its packaging, but still on the delivery wagon.

If your story turns out to be anything like mine, in a year’s time, some of those ‘brilliant’ ideas may no longer be relevant.  Your character will (ideally) have grown as you’ve been writing and your original plan for them to rescue that drowning child in Chapter Two might no longer be in character for them.  You may need your character to be tortured and regretful by Chapter Twenty and NOT rescuing that child may be exactly what forces that character change.

So this is the point where, as they say, you don’t sweat the small stuff.  Not yet.

That comes later, once you’ve established all the motivations of your characters and where your story is heading…

Then begins the blood, sweat, tears and fingernail a la crue.

Writing is only the first part of the process.  Embrace the whole.

So;

Have you found that your approach to writing alters with experience?

What one piece of advice (post-it note sized only) would you give to your inexperienced self if you could get a message back to them using Sandra Bullock’s magical post box (The Lake House, 2008)?

Write on!

 

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