Not many people outside of the internet know that writing is what I do to stay sane. This weekend a close member of my family asked what the book I’m writing is all about.
My reply went something like this:
“It’s set in a pre-industrial world, no electricity, cars, explosives, etc, kinda like the dark ages. Think feudal lords and fiefdoms and stuff like that. In this world there are both normal people and people with the use of magic. The magic people have to hide themselves from the rest of the world because of the superstitions of the normal people.”
Ding, times up. We got interrupted before I could tell him anything about the story or why on earth anyone would be interested. You’d think I would be a little better at this by now.
Had this been at a conference and I had 3 minutes to impress an agent I would have been
laughed at politely declined. Sure, with fantasy setting the scene is almost as important as the story. But the story and the characters that populate it are what people care about. It’s up to us writers to find a way to share the heart of the story without giving anything important away or driveling on about too many details.
To be able to successfully give an elevator pitch you must understand the following about your work:
- What is the greatest overall challenge that your main character must overcome?
- What is the price of failure should he or she fail?
- Why is it the main character’s duty to take on the challenge (why do they care?)
With this in mind I could have given a better feel for my work, and maybe even gained a fan. Here’s another try with the above in mind.
“In my story immortal magic user Jarand has sworn an oath to keep his adopted daughter Katira safe until she comes of age. Her abduction is his worst nightmare come to life. As he faces challenge after challenge to get her back he uncovers a dark plot designed to destroy the world of magic. His failure to recover Katira and put a stop to the madness could mean the death of his people, the Wielders of the Khandashii.”
Note – I don’t care for the terms magic or magic user. I only use them in the pitch because they are easily understood. In the book itself the terms “Wielder” or the more coarse “Stonebearer” or “witch” is used exclusively.
I did try to do something like this in an earlier post, but it missed the mark by not spelling out what was at stake. It looked something like this:
“Stonebearer’s Betrayal is a fantasy novel about a wizard who, in the face of adversity, must choose between saving the love of his life or rescuing the girl he has sworn to protect.”
If anything, doing this exercise helps for that awkward moment when someone asks what your book is about. I know it will help me avoid that awkward moment of trying to share without looking lame.