Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Elevator Speech

For aspiring writers, an elevator speech is a few sentences you have ready in case you're ever in a elevator with an editor or an agent and they ask you what you're writing.

Your elevator speech needs to describe your novel in terms that will intrigue the editor or agent and make them ask more. It also needs to be REALLY concise -- their stop may be the next floor.

Most of all you need a HOOK -- some way of communicating the thing that sets your book apart from others.

Story Sensei has a nice formula for coming up with those magic two sentences.

A convention such as the one I've just been at is crawling with editors and agents and aspiring writers -- all of whom take an elevator now and then. (Giving a pitch in the restroom is frowned on -- though Herself, my editor, swears that someone once shoved a manuscript under the door of the stall she was occupying at the time.)

But that magic moment could arrive at some place other than an elevator and you need to be ready.

For example . . .

On Saturday, Herself and I had finished lunch and she suggested taking a turn around the book room. Just outside the book room door, we came upon a friend of mine from the mountains. I introduced Linda to Herself, mentioning that Linda had been in one of my writing classes.

And then it happened.

"So what's your novel about?" asked Herself.

I couldn't believe it. I was seeing a moment I'd heard about and warned my students about.

I looked at Linda, anxious to see how she would do. There was a brief stunned silence (she may have been having trouble breathing) and then she launched into a pretty decent summary of the important points of her novel.

Well done, Linda!

I wonder how many elevator moments there were during the four days of the convention?

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Anonymous said...

I have to tell how much I look forward to reading your blog each and every morning. Right now I am going thru a very difficult time. My husband is terminal and I am taking care of him at home. Of course with the help of Hospice. When I read this morning that you too are a quilter it sealed my love for you even more. I have read all four of your books and am going to re read the first two again.
I too am a quilter and Thank God I have that now to occupy my time. Of course I am the kind of women that has to do every thing I can by myself. Especially when it comes to my husband.
Your Blog is the first thng I read every morning.
I had the fortune of meeting you at a book fair.
Just wanted to tell you, you really are a special women.
Donna Y. Sutton

Vicki Lane said...

Dear Donna,

I think I remember talking with you at the Haywood Book Mania in Waynesville. I'm so very glad if my words and pictures can bring some respite to you during what must be a very trying time.

As you say, quilting can really help. Years ago when my younger son had a form of rheumatic fever, I worked on a quilt to help keep me sane -- a mindless sort of busy work that results in a thing of beauty is so very comforting.

When you are giving your all to a task -- such as caring for your husband -- it's important to have some moments of refreshment so that you may continue to give.

I have you and your husband in my heart. Stay strong.


Miss_Yves said...

Very funny !
I like to see and hear Writers at the TV :now, I'll try to note their favorite "Elevator speeches"!

Reader Wil said...

Vicki, wonderful to read your explanation about the elevator speech; I also like the way your books end with the first chapter of the next book. I am now reading in Old Wounds.I love the book!
Thanks for your visit to my Nursery Rhymes. The last one was:

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey,
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away!

Vicki Lane said...

Miss Yves -- It's quite a challenge to sum up an entire book in a few sentences. But of course that's what one is often asked to do.

Reader Wil -- Of course, Little Miss Muffet with the spider beside her! (Your granddaughter is beautiful!)

I'm so glad you're enjoying OLD WOUNDS!

And the few chapters from the next book are, of course, to entice the reader to buy the next one. Unfortunately, it's not always available right away!

Vagabonde said...

I was intrigued by your elevator speech and then when you came to the part about Linda being asked about her novel I stopped breathing too as the suspense was so strong, then when I read that she did all right I found that I could breathe again. You are a master at suspense that’s for sure.

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, I was holding my breath as well till Linda found her voice!

Victoria said...

Well, I've been sitting here for about 10 minutes trying to think of what to write, but what keeps popping into my mind is how terrified and tongue-tied I'd be if I ever had to have an "elevator moment."

Good thing I'm a painter. Paintings speak for themselves!

Vicki Lane said...

That's why writers are advised to work on these speeches and memorize them.

Even a painter might need something of the sort. Say you're in a elevator with the owner of a famous gallery and
he says "I'm looking for something fresh and new -- Tell me about your work."

And you don't have a portfolio with you . . .

Victoria said...

Oh, well that's easy.

I'd faint.

Vicki Lane said...

Not acceptable, Victoria. The big gallery owner would just step over your senseless body on his way out the door. Only in a romance novel would he tenderly revive you and take you out for a restorative latte and ask to visit your studio.

Victoria said...

Well yeah, that's why I would faint, because I'd be so shocked that a famous gallery owner would even ask. The owners of famous art galleries that I have dealt with were not very nice people and the profit they make is obscene. If I ever came out of a faint with one of those guys bending over me I'm afraid my first reaction would be to punch him...hard. Which is why I now have my own gallery...I get to keep all the money I make! :-) (Well, except for what the IRS takes).