One of the great things about life is that it takes you places you didn’t expect to go. I’ve learned to let go of old plans, move forward with new plans, and enjoy the change of scenery. When the Typeractive authors joined forces over a year ago I thought it would be a matter of sharing marketing opportunities with one another. And it has, but with everyone pitching in their ideas of what an author group can do when they set their minds to it I find myself on the brink of a new adventure.
Okay, I call it an adventure. You might think of it as something less romantic and more insane. In either case, the Typeractive authors have decided to do a writing podcast. Our weekly brainstorming session will be intended to help authors generate exciting and original ideas for stories, characters, and settings. We are even expecting it to be fun.
Part of our format will involve looking at elevator pitches for story ideas that are generated from our brainstorming sessions and awarding prizes for the best ones. In order for that to work our audience will need to know what we want in an elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch distills the essence of the story into one or two sentences. Anything longer than that and you are missing the point of having a quickly delivered sales tool for you story.
The elevator pitch has three elements:
1. Who is the protagonist? The name is not as important as choosing a couple of quick words that can paint a general picture of the protagonist. For instance, Dorthy from the Wizard of Oz can be described as a lonely, young small-town girl. That’s all we need to know to determine if this is the kind of story we want to read.
2. What force opposes the protagonist? This is the source of the conflict. Once again, a name isn’t as important as the general image that is placed in our imagination. For Dorthy it happened to be a magical land full of surprising and dangerous encounters. I tend to pick forces that have a little more intimidating, like an army of flesh-eating mutant zombies.
3. What is at stake? What happens if the protagonist fails in his/her goal? If you happen to be Dorthy then the opportunity to return home is at stake. My novels tend to pit the fate of humanity, the destruction of the world, or the consumption of all chocolate on Earth by a mass of super insects.
There is a fourth element that can be substituted for the “Force” which opposes the protagonist.
4. What choice does the protagonist face? In the case of The Bridges of Madison County an Iowa housewife has to choose between true romance and the needs of her family.
Here is a sample elevator pitch for The Wizard of Oz.
A lonely young small-town girl is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.
The Typeractive team will also be taking a look at first pages submitted by our audience and giving valuable feedback on what works and what doesn’t work. Here’s your chance to have the world-famous Janette Rallison comment personally on your writing. How exciting.
Obviously, during the first few episodes of the podcast we aren’t going to have any entries from the previous month. I plan to rectify that situation here. I’m going to post the shows first writing prompt and ask that submissions be sent through the Contact Me page of this website.
WRITING PROMPT - TITLES
I used this writing prompt to generate the idea for my first novel. It was a great idea and eventually I will get it published. For this particular prompt you look to titles for inspiration. It can be the title of another book, a movie, a song, or even the headline from the newspaper. Write down several and then spend some time imagining what a story with that title might be about. Look at the title figuratively. Then look at the title literally. Look at it with whimsical eyes. Keep looking until an idea sparks.
For the first challenge I have supplied six titles and ask that you authors out there turn them into an interesting story of your own. Then send the elevator pitches to me via the Contact Me page.
1. They Might Be Giants
2. The Long Goodbye
3. Angels Die Hard
4. You Only Live Twice
5. Walk, Don’t Run
6. A Song Is Born
Here is an example of an elevator pitch I created based on the They Might Be Giants title.
Jared and Sally have been asked by their father to take a pair of shoes to a customer in the next town. They are the most enormous shoes either of them have ever scene. Could it be that the people living there are giants? And if so, what will happen to the children when they arrive?
Ready! Set! Write!