Friday, March 5, 2010

Be Unique Not Different

We have talked in the past about following the rules in publishing. Of course, in our next breath, or the next day's blog, we talk about the fact that there are no real rules in publishing, just guidelines. This got me thinking about the submissions agents and editors receive daily and the struggles writers have when composing queries and proposals.

I see writers using templates to develop queries and submissions. They use templates to develop their opening paragraphs and the blurbs. The problem though is they have become just another number. The story is not something we remember, but something that looks like the 50 other submissions we received the same day.

I am reminded of a line from THE INCREDIBLES. Syndrome makes a comment to Mr. Incredible and describes his ultimate plan. "I'll give them heroics. I'll give them the most spectacular heroics they've ever seen! And when I'm old and I've had my fun, I'll sell my inventions so everyone can be superheroes! Everyone can be super! And when everyone's super, [laughs maniacally] no one will be." This is the same with templates. If your forumula looks like everyone elses, then you aren't special.

Now, does this mean you are to do something so outside of the box we remember you? Absolutely not. Now you end up simply looking weird and you are rejected for being too far out there.

The key to being special lies in the story and how you pitch that story to us. We want to see the story is unique. We want to see the characters and the approach you took with the story is unique. Not the presentation of it.

I often describe successful writers as having one foot on the old and one foot on the new. People like to know what is coming and we like to know we can count on things; however, we don't like to be bored. We don't want to think, "Oh, here is another..."

Your job this weekend is to determine what makes your story unique and find a way to pitch it to someone that makes it unique. Maintain the required elements and format, but make it personal.


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