You know what I find to be the two most difficult experiences about writing books? Writing a brief synopsis and the 30-second elevator pitch. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. You meet someone at a cafe, on the Metro or on an elevator and they ask you, “What is your book about?” The dreaded five words for an author…namely, me.
Give me a topic, ask me to describe a scene from a movie, complete with dialogue, or write you an email about something that just happened to me. I’ll write my head off. Pages and pages of information will spew forth with details that you never knew or cared to know. That is how I tell a story–with a beginning, middle and an end. You will also have background information and all you need to know about what just happened to me which is why I began a journal years ago. I seem to have a lot to say which is why I write books. My friends seem relieved and my children are happy that Mom has an outlet.
Writing a synopsis was tough for a long-winded person such as myself and it took me awhile, but I managed to put together a good, four-page synopsis. Not easy, but done. Two weeks ago via Skype, my editor asked me the dreaded question, “What’s your book about?” I should know this, right? I’ve written the book, for goodness sake! But, I struggled to give her a succinct, complete and clear description about what my book is about. All I have to say is that I was humbled and boy, did I fumble with words! She kindly explained. “Pretend you’re on an elevator and have 30 seconds to get a person so interested in your book that they go right out and buy it.” The 30-second elevator pitch. I said that I would get right on it and get back to her!
Listen, I wrote the first draft of my novel, A Decent Woman, in six months. I ended up with over 300 pages and roughly, 28,000 words came pouring out. I had an outline and a four-page synopsis which was what agents and publishers were looking for. I could do this!
A week later, I sent my editor the 30-second elevator pitch for A Decent Woman. Three sentences. Do you know how hard that is?! Damn hard. I deleted four versions. Last night, my editor sent me her revision of my pitch. This morning, I incorporated her changes into mine and came up with this:
A Decent Woman is a novel of catastrophe and survival, choices and betrayal, the story of the midwife Ana and the women she meets along her journey who find themselves pitted one against one another in the male-dominated Puerto Rico at the turn of the century. It is the story of the bonding power of unlikely friendships that carries them through tragedy and betrayal and the cost of living with dark secrets.
What do you think? Would you buy this book based on this pitch?
And remind me to tell you what happened to me this morning on the way to the corner store to buy half and half…