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Original idea & logline: using them to write a better story, part one

A writer friend called me earlier this year slightly discouraged after pitching her novel at a writer’s conference in her home state of Hawaii. The feedback she received from one agent was that her book idea seemed scattered–as if she had too much going on. Another agent said that the writing was good but that the story didn’t seem finished yet.

My friend conceded that she probably did need to do more work on her book, but she also felt as if she didn’t get her idea across in a succinct way that the agents could understand.

Ah, the pitch. The pitch can get the best of us. And, when you have a complex, multi-layered novel, it can even be more difficult to create and maintain all the connections and communicate our ideas.

I suggested two remedies to her, and to you as well, to help in writing, revising and then communicating your work to agents and editors.

The first remedy is to write down your book’s original idea in one sentence. This is not necessarily the theme or plot of the book but the very first idea you had when starting out to write your story.

I learned the importance of doing this from NY Times best-selling author Bob Mayer and it has helped me stay focused as I write my current manuscript. There are days when I’m scattered or unfocused. Occasionally, I’ll miss days of writing in a row. This makes it difficult to remember what was happening in my story once I get back to it. I even have days where I’ve just lost my passion for my story, where it feels as if I’m pulling nails to get any ideas or words out on the page.

Having my original idea written out where I can read it and be inspired again every day has saved me more than once.

Reminding yourself of that first idea as you write will keep you focused and help you weave the thread of that idea from beginning to middle to end. Even if characters or plot change in the editing phase, you will still have the original idea. 

For more insight into the one sentence kernel idea, please read Mr. Mayer’s post.

In my next post, learn all about loglines: how they differ from the original idea and when you should craft one.

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