Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

3 levels of story: Donald Maass workshop June 7, 2012

I am beyond excited to be going to Surrey International Writers’ Conference next fall (in 133 days!).   I attended SIWC in 2009 after I’d written Grace Awakening, and successfully pitched it there.  I was a walk in registration on the Saturday that year.  This year,  I registered and paid on the first day I could for the full conference.  As a result, I have appointments with agent Victoria Marini and with Diana Gabaldon!  I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

In the midst of my excitement, I’m feeling the pressure to be finishing up book 3, Grace Awakening Myth, and getting back to work on Grace Beguiling.  Beguiling is the book I was in France to research in 2011, and it has already had some help from Diana Gabaldon, as she responded to some historical questions about Roman Catholic practice that I’d posted on the Compuserve Writers’ Forum.   I was poking around the Forum today, looking for some interesting conversations and tips, and I came across links to this blog post that is the notes that L. S. Taylor  took at SIWC in a masters’ class by agent Donald Maass in 2011.    Maass handles some serious talent, and I’ve heard him speak before.  This workshop is so full of fantastic stuff that I thought I’d direct you to the link.   I’m going to be chewing on this for a while.  Taylor records, “Fiction that keeps us enthralled works on three different levels at once: the macroplot, the scene structure, and the line-by-line tension. A throbbing beat that keeps us dancing/reading, enthralled.”

Click here to read Taylor’s notes from Maass’s Master Class: Impossible to Put Down: Mastering the Three Levels of Story.  Thanks Laura for taking these great notes and posting them on your blog for us all!

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the other side of the pitch February 18, 2012

When I attended my first writing conference- the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in 2009- I was told about The Elevator Pitch. This is the 30 second blurb about your book that establishes the protagonist, conflict, theme and audience. You need one, because every time you’re asked, “What’s your book about?” you should be able to answer concisely, in a manner that catches the person’s interest. I worked with author Carol Mason to polish mine, and when I presented it to Crystal of Gumboot Books that afternoon, it earned me a “Yes, we’d like to see more!” and eventually a contract.

I wondered at the time, what is it like for an agent, publisher or editor at these events? They’re the ones being pounced upon by every would-be writer in the building. Everyone there has something to pitch, and the APEs are the ones being pitched at. The image in my head is someone standing in the middle of the room, frantically covering his head while baseballs rain down from every direction.

Mark Glenchur has written a delightful poem that gives a hilarious view from the APE side. Unfortunately, the writer in the poem did not have a 30 second elevator pitch polished and ready.  Read and learn.

 

 
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