Thursday, April 03, 2008

Where are you putting the emphasis?

Because it's finally spring and so time for new beginnings, let's talk about pitches today. One thing I've noticed over the years is that fledgling authors sometimes make things more difficult for themselves by putting the emphasis on the wrong element of the story.

For instance, as a reader of historical novels, I'm interested in historical events, but I care about them most in terms of their impact on the characters.

To give you an example: I could say, "My book is about the Battle of Agincourt and its aftermath."

Battles can be exciting, and talk about yer conflict BUT this sounds as if the emphasis will be on the history, not the characters and their relationships. If I'm supposed to be writing a romance, this may really set off alarm bells in an editor's mind.

Instead I could say, "The hero of my romance is an English nobleman, the heroine is a French woman. Both their lives will be shattered by the Battle of Agincourt, but that event will also bring them together."

I've got the battle, I've got some of its aftermath, I've got external conflict -- but first and foremost, I've got characters and how this battle is going to affect them.

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