Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pitch Perfect & Blurbalicious

My next workshop presentation – Saturday January 25th for New Jersey Romance Writers – is called Pitch Perfect & Blurbalicious. It’s about how to create a project pitch with agent-editor-reader appeal. Here’s a preview.

There are ways to optimize your chances of submission acceptance by an agent or editor and indie book purchase by a reader. There are also ways to sabotage those chances. A great pitch and a colossal blurb will help you stop sabotaging and start optimizing.

To attract agents and editors and readers to your work – you must first attract positive attention. You do that with a Perfect Pitch and a Boffo Blurb.

The perfect pitch and the boffo blurb are Powerful. That power comes from the words you use. The choice of those words is crucial.

You must choose words that have impact. You must choose words that are Intense – Powerful – Dramatic.

Such words demand attention. Such words get attention. Without such words your pitch or blurb will most likely lack the extra element that knocks an agent’s socks off – makes an editor sit bolt upright – inspires a reader to click the Buy Now button.

I do need to add a cautionary note here. These words are dynamite and you must always treat explosives carefully. The right amount gives you Fireworks. The right amount gives you Drama.
On the other hand too much dynamite gives you a misfire – or a catastrophe. Too much powerful word dynamite gives you melodrama – makes you sound overwrought.

What is just the right amount Wow Word Power for a perfect pitch and a boffo blurb? We’re talking about two or three wonderful sentences with just the right temperature degree of intensity and drama.

My prescription is four to six Wow Words per Pitch or Blurb. That’s just enough fireworks for three sentences but not enough over blast to blow up in your face.

Where do you find these words? I found mine in a thesaurus and made a list. I spent a couple of hours rolling around in words – not a bad way for a writer to occupy a morning. You can do the same if you’d like.

Or – you can shoot me an email at Ask for a copy of “WOW Words Work Wonders”. I’ll be happy to share my list with you. Or – show up on Saturday at NJRW for my hands-on in-person in-your-face version. See you there.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Painless Synopsis Revisited

I am repeating this step-by-step guide because when I posted the above writer witticism on Facebook recently I discovered that authors I care about are still having trouble composing the synopis.

I urge you to try this technique because it works. It seems simple and it is. Please don't hold that against the method. Here is my remedy for the torment of synopsis writing (previously published by me in Writers Digest Magazine). I know it will help because it has helped me immensely.

The 7 Phases of Writing the Painless Synopsis

Phase One – A Recorder, A Jug of Wine and Thou
Gather these materials in a cozy spot. “Thou” is someone who appreciates the kind of story you write. Relax, take a sip, turn on the recorder. Tell your story aloud, in whatever order it occurs to you. Include all the elements of the story and each character from beginning to end. [Thou can also be another aspect of you.]

Phase Two – Stacking the Deck
When alone, play back the recording.  Use 5x8”index cards, one scene idea per card, as you hear a scene mentioned, identify that scene in one sentence at top of the card.  When finished, you should have 45-60 cards, depending on the length of your novel.

Phase Three – Floor Play
Sit on the floor. Spread the cards out in the order they occur in the story. Look for places in the story line where there is too little action or too much for purposes of pacing and clarity. Add or subtract cards as needed. If you don’t yet know what scene to add at a specific story gap, place a blank card there so you know you need to come up with a scene. Your cards for the conclusion of your story must convince the editor you have a story ending that will satisfy a reader.

Phase 4 – Cutting the Cards and the Task Down to Size
One card at a time, write 2-3 well-crafted sentences presenting the scene at its most intense, moving and conflict-ridden. Brainstorm any scenes you may need to add.

Phase Five – Don’t Forget the Players
When a character is introduced in the story, at that point in your card pile add another card with a description of that character in a single tightly written sentence.  Craft that description with careful attention to the closely observed detail, the perfect detail that resonates with the essence of that particular character.

Phase Six – For Openers
On its own card, write an opening sentence – concise, straightforward and startling. Polish this sentence into a true gem to open your synopsis in sparkling fashion.
Phase Seven – There You Have It
Type your synopsis directly from your card pile, turning over one card at a time and typing what you’ve written there. Throw in a transitional sentence or two where needed to make the telling run smoothly. The Winning Result: A brief of your story without dialogue or much description and a synopsis that could sell your book.

The 2 Secrets here are #1 Demythologize the Activity & #2 Make It Play. Nothing demythologizes better than hunkering the butt down onto the floor. Fooling around with cards is the play part. Trust me. It works.

Find many more step-by-step writing exercises in No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript that Sells. Reviews posted at For a gift copy send $10 (for postage & handling only) to Alice Orr Seminars, P.O. Box 6224, Long Island City NY 11106.