Saturday, July 1, 2017

Catherine Garbera: Tips and tricks for acing your editor/agent appointment.

Do you have an appointment to speak with an Industry Professionals at the RNA conference? Perhaps you are attending a writing festival and may just bump into an agent or publisher? We welcome Katherine  Garbera to the blog today to show us how to perfect our pitch.

If you don’t have a scheduled pitch appointment learning to speak concisely about your book is still
useful when anyone asks you what you are working on.

Since you only have a limited amount of time think of your story in terms of the high concept and boil it down to one sentence that gives the flavor of what you are writing.

Here are my tips:

1.     Give us a high concept, one sentence blurb about your story.  Leave out the character names unless they are important most of the time editors don’t remember the name.
2.     Tell us who your characters using a few words and tags that create an image.
3.     The story elements, start with the beginning.  Where does your story start?
4.     Then break down the conflict and your plot using goal, motivation and conflict.
5.     Tell us how the plot moves forward in a sentence or two.
6.     Then describe the black moment—again using only a sentence or two.
7.     Finally tell us how the black moment is resolved.

Example from my upcoming Mills & Boon release The Tycoon’s Fiancée Deal:

High Concept, Blurb
A modern retelling of a friends-to-lovers story where the hero has to marry to keep his lecherous boss at bay.

Who is the story about?
Remember not their names because unless your hero is Mr. Darcy, the name is probably not relevant to the editor/agent you are pitching too.

Hero: Bachelor heart surgeon who is good at fixing hearts but not so good at love.
Heroine: Single mom who had the fairytale and isn’t interested in romance.

Where does the story begin?
And it’s okay to say the story opens with or they meet when.

They meet when she is dumping her blind date and he realizes he needs to find a way to convince the hospital board that he’s settled and ready to be chief of surgery.
He needs a fiancée to convince everyone he’s not the arrogant playboy many assume him to be and she wants to stop going on blind-dates but can’t say no to her meddling mother.  He makes her an offer that she should refuse, be his fake fiancée for three months until he gets his promotion.

Goal, Motivation, Conflict
Next talk about the conflict (in genre fiction conflict is the engine that drives your story). You need to do this twice, once for the internal plot and once for the external. 

Goal: What does the character want?
Motivation: Why does the character want it?
Conflict? Why can’t they have it?

External conflict
Hero:
He wants to be chief of surgery at the hospital.
His life is medicine and he knows he can do a great job as chief if he’s just given the chance.
He can’t have it because the head of the selection committee is one of his ex-girlfriends who doesn’t want to admit things are over between them. 

Heroine:
She wants to raise her son and move on from the fall out of her “fairytale” marriage.
She lost pieces of herself when her deceased husband cheated on her and convinced her it was because of who she had become.
She can’t move on because her family are determined she needs a husband to help raise her son.
Both of these characters see their arrangement as a way of getting what they want.  So on the surface the solution of a fake engagement is perfect. But the internal conflict is what is feeding the fire of the story.

Internal conflict:
Hero:
He has always had a crush on her from the time they were teenagers, but she friend zoned him and he let her because he was determined to be the best surgeon he could be.
He has convinced himself that friends are all they will ever be and that by asking her to be his fake fiancée they will continue their friendship.
He learns he’s completely wrong when they share a kiss to seal the deal and sparks of attraction fly between them.

Heroine:
She’s tired of men promising her the moon and delivering nothing.  She likes him because he’s honest about what he wants from her and she tells herself she expects nothing from him.  But he shows her in little ways that who she is matters and the passion between them drives her into his arms but it’s the affection that she sees him showing her and her son that make her start to fall for him.

How does the plot move forward?
They commit to be honest with each other since they are lying to the world and once they become lovers both of them come to realize that they might want this to last.

Black Moment and Resolution
But having been hurt once before by her lover, she is reluctant to trust her heart.  He convinces her that he is trustworthy and is in love with her.

Putting it all together.
The Tycoon’s Fiancée Deal is a fresh take on the friends-to-lovers trope where a playboy, heart surgeon who is good at fixing hearts but not so good at love falls for a single mom who had the fairytale and isn’t interested in romance.
They meet when she is dumping her blind date. He needs a fiancée to convince everyone he’s not the arrogant playboy many assume him to be and she wants to stop going on blind-dates but can’t say no to her meddling mother.  He makes her an offer that she should refuse, be his fake fiancée for three months until he gets his promotion.
He has always had a crush on her from the time they were teenagers, but she friend zoned him and he let her because he was determined to be the best surgeon he could be. He convinced himself that friends are all they will ever be, but learns he’s completely wrong when they share a kiss to seal the deal and sparks of attraction fly between them.
She’s tired of men promising her the moon and not delivering.  He’s honest about what he wants from her and she tells herself she expects nothing from him.  But he shows her in little ways that who she is matters and the passion between them drives her into his arms but it’s the affection that she sees him showing her and her son that make her start to fall for him.
They commit to be honest with each other since they are lying to the world and once they become lovers both of them come to realize that they might want this to last.  But having been hurt once before by her lover, she is reluctant to trust her heart.  He convinces her that he is trustworthy and is in love with her.

About Katherine:
Katherine Garbera is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 90 novels. She has learned to stop saying this sounds crazy but trust me on the page it makes sense when pitching her ideas to editors.  J Her current release is SUMMER IN MANHATTAN from HarperImpluse. 

Links:

 Blog


Thank you, Katherine. We should all now be prepared for the moment we meet an Industry Professional!


If you would like to write for the RNA blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

2 comments:

Lizzie Lamb said...

Katherine, great tips from one who knows. Thanks, they'll come in handy 👍🏻

June Kearns said...

Katherine's always really generous with tips and advice - and as ever, they're so practical and helpful.