Made to Stick for Writers: Simple

Monday, July 26

Let's get this straight; "simple" does not mean "dumbing down". It means "core".
For writers, who thrive on details, simple can seem like a misnomer. From what I can tell, the simple principle is very seldom used in the actual writing process. But it can help while planning and publishing.

Planning
Even if you don't believe in outlines, finding your core message beforehand creates focus. The story unfolds smoother.
Try to figure out the core, or main idea, by asking yourself;

In one sentence, what is the main idea of this story?

Twilight: A seventeen-year-old girl falls in love with a vampire who has a hard time not eating her.
Harry Potter: A neglected boy discovers that he's a wizard and goes to a school of magic.
The Hunger Games: A girl takes her sister's place in a cruel arena where only one person is allowed to survive.

These one sentence descriptions can later be used when you're attempting to publish your work.

Publishing
One of the biggest challenges in writing is convincing a publisher that your book will sell itself. Quoting from the book:
In Hollywood, people use core ideas called "high-concept pitches." You've probably heard some of them. Speed was "Die Hard on a bus." 13 going on 30 was "Big for girls." Alien was "Jaws on a spaceship."
So why do analogies work? Basically, it presents a new concept by tapping into a concept you already know. Take, for example, these book reviews;

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
"A delightful...debut from an author who dances in the footsteps of P.L. Travers and Roald Dahl."
-Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Dark Stairs
"Move over Nancy Drew, Herculeah Jones has arrived!"
-School Library Journal

Stormbreaker
"What if James Bond started spying as a teenager?"
-Kirkus Review

Wolf Queen
"A diverting escapade for fans of Karen Cushman's Catherine, Called Birdy and Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted."
-Kirkus Review

Piratica
"There's a taste of Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones."
-Kirkus Review, starred Review


Intro
Part 1: Simple (You are here)
Part 2: Unexpected
Part 3: Concrete
Part 4: Credible
Part 5: Emotional
Part 6: Story
Part 7: Epilogue

3 comment(s):

Caroline Monday, July 26, 2010  

I like this! It is very hard for me to sum up my books. I need some practice on that:).

Can't wait for the rest on this series!

franmacdonaldwriting Tuesday, August 03, 2010  

I hadn't heard of 'high-concept pitches' before. Thanks.

Edword Model Wednesday, September 07, 2016  

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