Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Is YOUR Story? Why Is THIS ONE Unique?

We're talking a little bi about high concept here. No, I am not talking about that catchy phrase you insert at the beginning of your query letter or pitch, I'm talking about the over-all concept of your story.

As all of you know, this is a very tough business to break into. There are a lot of authors out there and only so many publishing opportunities or slots. For that reason, you simply cannot have a run of the mill story. You need something that will stand out and make us take notice.

As I listed to authors pitcing stories to me in New York, I heard a lot that had some potential, but, for the most part, would probably end up with the comment in their notes on my data base of "same old, same old." In other words, there was nothing that special that made their story stand out.

When we talk about something special, we're talking about that unique spin to the things we currently see. In other words, keep your foot on the status quo but take us in a slightly different direction. I heard this over and over again from the editors. We don't want off the wall different, but something that gives us the comfort of something we know with that new spin.

As you think about your story, if all you can say is that these are different types of characters, or it is set in a city that has never been written about, then you don't have it yet. If your story sounds like something else you have read, then, in all likelihood, so have we.

Now, can you fix a story that has already been written? Probably not. For this reason, you have to begin from the beginning and start thinking about that uniqueness from day 1.


1 comment:

  1. You're right, 100%, and... it's not easy. Our stories will always (ok, most of the time) be "unique" to us, the author, but achieving the objectivity to judge them from a readers', or editor's, point of view, is something else. Good reminder - thank you!