Monday, June 22, 2009

Pitch Perfect - Part 2

How to Put It Together Into One Neat Tweet.

Here are a couple I had before:

1) Seek Ye First is an amateur sleuth mystery featuring a group of twentysomethings that takes place partially within a virtual gaming environment like a mystery-themed Second Life.

But who is the main character? What is the mystery? Why should we care?

2) It’s the eve of the year’s most hotly anticipated video game release, and someone’s trying to permanently delete the game’s reclusive lead designer. . . .

Is the designer the main character? If not, that's a problem with this pitch.
Now on to experiment with the new method.

3) When someone tries to kill a secretive computer game designer, her coffee drinking, baby-sling-wearing friend tries to figure out who's trying to kill her friend . . . and stop him.

Eh. This is awkward and it's hard to tell which is the main character.

4) When someone threatens her computer geek friend, a coffee drinking, baby-sling-wearing, distracted new mom dives into a virtual world to try to figure out who's behind the threats - and violence.

This is a little better, though it still needs work. And it doesn't really describe my book very well.

I already know some of the weak points of this novel, and seeing the results of the worksheet below highlights some of them.

Feel free to share your log lines here, or just comment on mine!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pitch Perfect - Part 1

Log Line Pitches, or, How to Tweet Your Novel

What a fun idea! Let's give it a try.

Part I: The Homework (preparation/worksheet)

The protagonist: Coffee drinking, baby-sling-wearing, distracted new mom Clara McGregor.

The goal/reward: Figure out who's trying to kill her friend . . . and stop him.

The obstacle(s): Clara doesn't want to believe that the would-be killer is a good friend of hers.

The antagonist: Very, very clever person. Details redacted. :)

Consequence of failure: Clara's friend dies. And she might just be the first victim.

Motive: I know this. But I'm not telling!

Challenge to self-image: Until she had a baby, Clara used to think she had the happiest, most solid marriage in the world.

Inciting Event: Clara's friend is preparing for the launch of her new computer game, but she's distracted by increasingly disturbing threats.

Ticking Clock: See above re: increasingly disturbing threats. And then: violence!

Important steps taken: Keep a close eye on her friend, go to her friend's apartment and into her computer to look for traces of the bad guy, get all her friends together to figure out which of them is guilty.

Final reversal : Ack! Someone dies!

Outcome: Sadly, Clara was right. One of her friends is guilty as sin. Alas.

Now it's your turn! Any takers? For those of you who aren't currently writing a novel, don't you have that one great idea in you that you plan to write . . . someday . . . when you have the time . . . ?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

So, What's Your Method?

Whenever I walk past my computer, I'm compelled to sit for just a moment, and when I do, words pour forth beautifully and effortlessly from my fingers. I frequently find myself laughing aloud with joy at this enchanting experience. My characters amuse and amaze me so; writing is much like reading along, for me. The story has a mind of its own and simply tells itself!

Did I oversell it?

Writing is not like that for me at all.

I enjoy the movies based on Nick Hornby's books (High Fidelity, About a Boy) and have been meaning to read the novels. His British sense of humor is very much my cup of tea. (Sorry for that one.) So I was excited to read Barrie Summy's review of A Long Way Down on her blog last week, and was thrilled by her quote about Hornby's writing process:

From the author's website, here's a description of a typical day: 'I have an office round the corner from my home. I arrive there between 9:30 and 10 a.m., smoke a lot, write in horrible little two-and-three sentence bursts, with five-minute breaks in between. Check for emails during each break, and get irritated if there aren't any. Go home for lunch. If I'm picking up my son I leave at 3:30. If not, I stay till six. It's all pretty grim! And so dull!'

Yay! Vindication of my method! OK, so I don't smoke. But I do drink coffee instead.

It's not fashionable to talk about writing being hard. It's all about how lucky one is to be able to do something so fun for a living. Writing is supposed to be like . . . play! One just sits at the computer as the muse takes over!

I believe that it's like that for some people. But clearly, not for everyone.

Hearing that it's hard, sometimes boring work for other writers feels really good to me. It's vindication. My struggles at the keyboard don't mean I'm not cut out to be a writer.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Soup Opera by Jim Gill

"This is a drama about a man and a bowl of soup. A drama that is set to music is an opera, so this is . . . A SOUP OPERA."

This month, for Barrie Summy's Book Review Club, I'm reviewing a children's picture book by musician and author Jim Gill: A Soup Opera.

"A man walked into one of the finest restaurants in the city and was seated at the very best table."

It's not the start of a joke. Or, rather, it sort of is. But it's not the humor that makes the story. Or maybe it is.

See, a guy orders a bowl of soup, complains that he can't eat it, and escalates the problem all the way up to . . . the President of the United States. The whole thing culminates with a zinger that some parents saw coming from the very first note. (My husband, not so much.)

The story is told in a book packaged with a CD-ROM for family read-along fun. But it's even more fun to try to sing the opera yourself. Over and over and over. There's a narrator who sets the scene and makes transitions, while the dialogue is sung opera style. This is more accessible than you might imagine, as all the lines are short and frequently repeated.

"What did you say?"

"I can't eat the soup!"

My 5-year-old became fond of this book at preschool story time, and we got it for her as a "graduation" present last Friday.

Since then we've listened to it about 250 times.

Sometimes we just set the CD on track repeat and let her indulge herself. It's amazing how much she loves it. You should see her throwing out her arms and just belting out the lines.

"What seems to be the problem here?"

"I can't eat the soup!"

I'll probably have this thing stuck in my head for the rest of my life. Fortunately, it's really fun.

Plus, I'm introducing my child to CULTURE. Do I get some sort of parenting extra credit for that? Editorial Reviews:
A Soup Opera is more than just a children's picturebook - it's a sing-along opera!....Enhanced with majestic, slightly cartoony illustrations that capture the essence of stage opera, red curtains and all, A Soup Opera is silly musical fun for the whole family. --Midwest Book Review

Product Description
A Soup Opera is a richly illustrated story about a man, a bowl of soup, and the man's comically frustrating quest to eat that soup. Characters in the cast of the opera include a waiter, a police officer and the President of the United States! Each book is packaged with a fully orchestrated CD that includes the narration, dialogue and instrumentation for the comic opera. The CD includes additional tracks created for teachers and others to use in dramatizing the book with children.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Today Was About a Week Long

I'm pretty sure I had a dozen half-baked posts floating around in my head at some point. But then today happened and now I have buzzing where my brain should be.

Tomorrow is the monthly Barrie Summy Book Review Club, and I'm torn between reviewing Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and Toilet Training in Less Than A Day by Azrin and Foxx.

I would really rather review the former, but I still need to finish it, and the latter keeps getting in the way for messily obvious reasons!