Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Watch The V.B.O.s in Your Writing

I took at workshop on poetry several years ago and the instructor discussed a concept I find I am always coming back to. He reminded the workshop participants to "eliminate VBOs in their writing." A VBO is simply VAGUE, BORING and OVER-USED words. I do have to say, when it comes to query letters the use of VBOs can really turn a potential great project for an editor or an agent into an easy rejection.

In simple terms, if an editor or an agent gets a query that seems like "milk toast". There isn't anything amazing about it, and, more than likely, we are really left with no idea of what the story is about, we will say no. Asking for a project just to find out what it is about, so that we can THEN make a decision is not going to happen. Adding those VBO words and concepts is going to get you to that "no" a lot quicker.

When I talk about these vague concepts, in most cases, I am referring to those "thematic ideas" many writers use to theoretically describe his or her story. "This is a story of lost love", or "This is a story of good vs. evil." Really? There are a ton of stories out there that do that. Besides, this doesn't tell us a thing about the plot or the characters.

We can take this a step further when authors tell us who the character is and then proceeds to say something such as "During this journey, Bob will face demons, elves, runway models and politicians in an effort to come to grips with his inner demons and external obstacles." Huh? This again tells us nothing.

In simple terms, that query letter needs to give us a sense of the story arc. Not hints! We need to know what the story is. Use the thematic thoughts for your high concept, but give us information to make a rational decision.

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