Five-Minute Writing Tip:
Lately, I've had to tell myself several times a day to "Get Over It!" Also, if you scroll down, you'll see that "Get Over It Day" is celebrated this month on the 9th. So I've chosen "Get Over It" as the subject of this writing tip. I've said a bazillion times that being a writer is not easy. Well, guess what? Being a marketing director isn't either. There are a lot of decisions to make: what manuscripts to accept, what book cover designs to use, etc. Then there are titles, fonts, photos, cover blurbs, and more to decide upon. When the team disagrees, it can be frustrating. So for me, heading into March, I have to get over it.
Back to the writing tip. In doing some research, I discovered that the phrase might have come from John Behervaise's book, Thirty-six Years of Seafaring Life by an Old Quarter Master, originally published in 1839 and reissued by Cambridge University Press in 2015. (If this manuscript landed on my desk, I'd push for its publication.) The story is one, big get-over-it maritime journey. Before Behervaise joined the Royal Navy, he'd spent a grueling winter in Newfoundland among Native Americans, did a stent in a debtor's prison, and was captured by privateers. I haven't read the book, but supposedly, he used the phrase in regards to an amputation-not sure if it was on him or someone else.
My point is, when writing fiction, you don't want to make things easy for your characters. You want to put them in situations where they have to "get over it" and move on. By getting over it, I don't mean things becoming rosy, or the character rocking along until another problem occurs. What I mean is the character survives by the skin of her teeth, only to face another major obstacle, then another survival situation, obstacle, and so on. And each situation has to be worse than the last with survival seeming impossible each time.
Tie this to my book review of American Dirt (again, scroll down). The author, Jeanine Cummins, keeps her character, Lydia Quixano Pérez, in constant danger starting from page one. Getting over it for Lydia always seems impossible, but the alternative means she and her eight-year-old son, Luca, will be murdered by a drug cartel.
I'm starting a new historical novel by making a list of horrible things that could happen to my protagonist. (A desert jackal figures into the picture.) This is new for me. I usually just start writing and see what happens.
I'll keep you posted.
Five Minute Writing Tip: How to Write a Grabbing Elevator Pitch
Did you know that the term "elevator pitch" was attributed to Elisha Otis, the founder of Otis Elevator Company? Otis didn't invent the elevator, but he did construct a safety feature that resulted in a better elevator. To demonstrate and sell this feature, he invited people to the New York convention center. Rather than explaining how it worked, he showed them by taking the elevator up to the third floor and slashing the rope with an ax. The platform dropped a few inches, but the safety brake engaged, keeping the elevator from crushing to the bottom. He responded with, "All safe, gentlemen. All safe." This incident became known as the first elevator pitch because he said very little but conveyed a lot.
I just finished reading Daniel Pink's book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. One chapter is devoted to writing an elevator pitch, a device that found its way to Hollywood when writers pitched their movie ideas to executives when they were able to corner them in an elevator. Nowadays it's used to sell more than screenplays. It's used to sell ideas, information, and knowledge.
Pink goes on to describe six different elevator pitches: the one-word pitch, the question pitch, the rhyming pitch, the subject-line pitch, the Twitter pitch, and the Pixar pitch. Here are examples of each?
1. The one-word pitch for our book, Cape Horn: One Man's Dream, One Woman's Nightmare is, "Pitchpole."
2. The question pitch for our writing-tip book: "Tired of reading boring grammar books? Try Do You Have a Catharsis Handy: Five-Minute Writing Tips."
3. The rhyming pitch for our publishing company is, "Egress with Cave Art Press."
4. One of our subject-lines (taken from emails and e-newsletters) is, "Mike the Dog Talks Books."
5. The twitter pitch (less than 144 characters) for our book, Youth and War is, "Endurance and survival, compassion and brutality; ordinary people caught in the maelstrom of global conflict."
6. Here are two Pixar Pitches (a six-sentence formula pitch),
From our book, A Long Way from Brooklyn.
Once upon a time, there was a young homeless boy named John, who lived on the streets in Brooklyn. Every day, John tried to find food, shelter, and work, but every day things grew more difficult. One day in a desperate moment, John lied about his age to get a job with a new government program, the Civilian Conservation Corps. Because of that, he was sent across the country to a place where he knew no one, to a place he knew nothing about. John was assigned to help build the Deception Pass Bridge. His determination, hard work, and willingness to learn earned him the respect of his employers, and he eventually became a successful engineer whose wealth help establish several community programs in Anacortes, Washington.
From our new idea for a TV series called Insanity Press. See Cissy's pitch below..