Do You Have That Elevator Speech Ready?

If you don’t have that elevator speech, you need to start thinking about it. Just because your plans don’t include a writer’s conference in the near future, doesn’t mean you don’t need one. I definitely don’t want you to fall into the same trap I did. Very embarrassing ūüôā

I attended a work conference with my husband several years ago. It was a great getaway for me and a chance to focus on my novel without the distractions of home. Needless to say, I was enjoying myself and making some significant progress.

The last day of the conference, I was asked to join my husband and some of his peers for supper. I was surrounded by men talking shop, so all I had to do was smile and display exemplary dining skills, or so I thought.

About halfway through the meal, one of the men looked over at me and said, “Your husband told us what you do during the day while he is at the conference. We would love to hear a little more about your book. What’s it about?”

Well, I froze. My mind went totally blank. It was all I could do to control my suddenly out of whack emotions, as I turned to face this man who had the audacity to ask me such a question.

I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have¬†an Elevator Speech. I didn’t think I needed one. My novel was complete, but it wasn’t ready for prime time. I was totally incoherent and presented a jumbled mess.

I have that Elevator Speech now. I felt foolish and was totally caught off guard by men who were only trying to include me in the conversation. You never know when you’ll come across someone who’ll ask you what your book is about.

I’ll be¬†prepared the next time. Plus, it will give me practice for when I do attend that writing conference, or get the opportunity to speak to an agent/author I just happen to run into at the airport.

Some things to keep in mind :

  • Remember when you are crafting your speech, you are talking to another human being.
  • You only have 30-60 seconds. Don’t try to tell them the entire story.
  • Content is as important as delivery. It doesn’t matter if it’s well delivered if it’s boring and uninspiring. Make them want to hear more!
  • If you are attending a conference, you don’t want to accost agents/editors-wait for an invite or an appropriate opening. They know why you are there. Introduce yourself. Engage in small talk, they will usually ask.
  •  Practice, practice, practice. You don’t want to memorize every word and sound like a robot or like you’re reading a teleprompter, but you do want your Elevator Speech to flow and be cohesive. You want it to sound natural.
  • Always be prepared and show passion.

If you haven’t prepared your speech, you need to start working on it. It’s just a matter of time. Somebody is going to ask.

-Jan R

Do You Have That Elevator Speech Ready?

Unrealistic Expectations (Revisited)

expectation-vs-reality-tumblr_m60u61r61j1r9in54o1_500_large-from-weheartit-comYou’re an aspiring author. Your ultimate goal is to find a great agent and get published. Who doesn’t want to be the author of that blockbuster book/movie of the year with a million-dollar payout?

Newbies have a tendency to set unrealistic expectations. I’m not saying you won’t achieve your goal, but odds are, you’re going to have to start at the bottom and work your way up like the rest of us.

I’m not trying to discourage you. You can do this. I’m just trying to help you set realistic goals. I want you to be prepared not only for success, but the failures that you will most likely incur along the way.

There are some things you can and should be doing as you build your platform and prepare that first novel for publishing.

  1. ¬†Get your life out of the way. You don’t have control over everything that goes on around you. We all have situations that arise. Don’t allow them to impede your daily writing time.
  2.  Find a trusted friend or spouse who will listen and respond intelligently. You need a cheerleader/an accountability partner.
  3. Until you become successful, write in one genre. Once you’ve achieved success, you can spread your wings and venture into different areas.
  4. ¬†Don’t be picky about where you get published initially. Use your experience and publications to build on new ones. You will get there.
  5. ¬†Learn what’s selling. You want to cater to your customers.
  6. ¬†Develop tough skin. You will probably hear a lot of things you don’t want to hear. Everybody has an opinion. Let it roll off your back!
  7. If a bad review holds merit, adjust your writing and admit your mistakes. This is a learning process. You won’t get everything right the first time.
  8. Don’t give up! The number one characteristic of successful authors is as you probably guessed, they’re persistent. Don’t allow a bad review or hateful word to get in your way.

Some things to think about ūüôā

-Jan R

Unrealistic Expectations (Revisited)

Don’t Forget Those Minor Characters!

Don’t forget those minor characters

Your main characters may need some work, but for this particular blog I would like to focus on those ‘fly by’ characters that step into your novel, do what you want them to do, and then disappear never to be heard of again.

I received¬†a critique¬†a while back¬†in regards to four minor characters in my novel.¬†‚ÄúA lot of new characters have been introduced, and they all run together in my mind. I think more time needs to be spent developing these characters as individuals rather than some generic group of friends.‚ÄĚ

The lady that provided the critique was right. I didn‚Äôt provide any description of these characters. Except for the fact that they had names, you would have had no idea which one I was using in the scene. I didn‚Äôt think descriptions were necessary. They served one purpose and one purpose only. They did their job and disappeared.

Well shortly after receiving the critique,  I bumped into an article on Minor Characters in the Writers Digest I was reading. Maybe somebody was trying to tell me something.

According to Elizabeth Sims, who wrote the article, if the person is important enough to exist in the world of your story, let your readers picture that existence.

When you introduce minor characters, you should have one or better two details.  He was as wide as he was tall, and talked with a lisp.

Even characters who exist in passing should exist in the readers eye. For a literally glancing description, make it visual. The freckle faced boy stuck his tongue out at us, then turned to go inside.

If you have a group-Pan the crowd and then zoom in. Give one or two details describing them all, and then move in to one person as the representative.  The demonstrators walked down Main street waving their signs and shouting obscenities.  ‚ÄúWhere is  Mayor Blackman? ‚ÄĚ shouted a tall, gray haired man at the front of the line.

-Jan R

Don’t Forget Those Minor Characters!

Ing – The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

gerund_onlyOne of my favorite posts deals with ‘ing’ words. They’re there. Sometimes they take over your story without you even realizing it, and other times they get lost in the background. Take a closer look at your prose. Especially in those areas that aren’t reading as smoothly as you would like. Maybe you will discover you are having a love affair with ‘ing’. These ‘ing’ words are all over the place.

Once I discovered my love affair with ‘ing’, I stopped the revision process and did some research on ‘ing’. I remembered reading somewhere, that the overuse of ‘ing’ words was not a good thing.

Opportunities to overuse the ‘ing’ word are boundless.¬†There are¬†nouns, adjectives, verbs, and even verbs masquerading as nouns called gerunds, all ending in ‘ing’.

So what’s the big deal?¬†What’s wrong with¬†‘ing’ words?

The overuse of ‘ing’ words mark you as an amateur – Don’t be alarmed if you see more than a handful on one page. Do take a closer look if you see more than a handful in a single paragraph.

While wrapping a soothing sling around the fledgling’s broken wing,¬†Diana was humming, dreaming of her prince charming. Yet troubling thoughts about his depressing friend¬†Starling kept intruding, interrupting her very entertaining daydreams. There was something intriguing and alarming about him.

‘ing’¬†verbs weaken your writing¬†and make¬†it clumsy and hard to read¬†. ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Abigail was walking along the bike trail. There was a boy riding his bike. He was smiling up at her as she passed. She started wondering what the boy was so happy about.

Abigail walked along the bike trail. A boy smiled at her as he rode passed. She wondered what he was so happy about.

Starting a sentence with an ‘ing’ word is the weakest way to begin a sentence.

Hitting the thug in the face with her purse, Josie reached for her phone.

Josie hit the thug in the face with her purse and reached for her phone.

To identify overuse of ‘ing’ words in your writing, try this:

  1. Use the “search” or “find” function in your word processing app(usually under editing).
  2. Use ‘ing’ as your search term.
  3. Examine each ‘ing’ word you find.
  4. Ask whether the ‘ing’ word is essential to meaning.
  5. Determine whether a simple past or other tense might work better.
  6. Decide if a stronger word choice might be the way to go.

Once you¬†identify ‘ing’ words, replace weak or common ones with specific, stronger word choices. Your writing will become more concise, clear, and engaging.

Remember, not all ‘ing’ words are bad. The¬†issue is¬†whether or not you have made the best word choice.

So much info on the internet. You get the cliff notes. Hope they help, or at least get you thinking¬† ūüôā

-Jan R

Ing – The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly