Friday, July 6, 2012

One Sheet Chaos

Seriously, do I not know what my book is about? I wrote it, for goodness sakes! It's about... ummm.

Good greif.

I plan to have pitch sheets/one sheets on all three courtly books, even though Courtly Pleasures (previously known as Courtly Love) is my under-the-bed book. I figure, at the very least, it will show what I have produced even if it's not sellable.

My trouble lay in paring it down to the key points. I think I'm too close; I see all the little details as very important, too. Not only that, but my key story elements have to be powerfully worded. They must grab you and make you read my book. That's a lot of pressure.

So, to alleviate the pressure, I decided to write this blog. You will get to share in my process of stripping my stories down to their bare bones - but I'm not trying for finesse, just to get words on the page.

Courtly Pleasures:
Frances, suffering from post-partum depression, feels numb. She joins Queen Elizabeth's court at Hampton Court Palace in effort to feel something again. There she undergoes a transformation, Cinderella style, which shocks the pants off her husband. Henry, a slave of duty, has been too busy and stupid to ever notice how lovely his wife was. His service to the crown has gained him enemies -- one of whom is a crazy Papist out for blood and obsessed with Frances. A frequently used plot device, the danger to his wife makes him realize how much he loves her.

Now, to pare that down...
Frances goes to court, rediscovers herself and learns to live rather than survive. Her new joie de vivre gets her husband's attention, and the attention of a killer.

Courtly Scandals:
Mary was told, on the heels of an attempted abortion, that she could never bear children. This means she is not wife material. Her only worth lay in her reputation, which she blows by becoming scandalous over the twelve days of Christmas at Queen Elizabeth's court. Sir Charles, a knight and member of the Queen's guard, believes nobility lies in merit, not title. he wants to save Mary from the court, but also from herself. Mary needs to forgive herself and come to terms with her past and her worth as a person, to realize she deserves happiness, before she can accept Sir Charles. Besides, what do Elizabethan midwives really know about conception and gestation?

Now, paring that down:
Mary has a fling with Charles and falls in love. The problem is she can never marry because she believes she cannot have children. On top of that, she makes herself notorious with scandal after scandal, so no longer has value as a reputable gentlewoman companion. She has to move on and accept that she's worthy of love.

Sigh, still too long.

Okay, so here's Courtly Abandon:
Slutty but lovable Jane has to remarry in order to escape the influence of her abusive father. She chooses a husband, one wealthy and titled enough to ensure she'll never have to see her father again. Love is irrelevant, until Percy shows up. Percy and Jane were childhood sweethearts before her first arranged marriage. He's never forgiven her for not running away with him, but hasn't stopped loving her. Percy is shocked at how worldly Jane has become, but Jane is striving to be even more courtly, a lady, in order to attract the titled husband. On the cusp of success with her viscount, Jane realizes love matters and grows a backbone. With the deus ex machina of Queen Elizabeth, she and Percy get married.

Short version:
Jane and Percy were childhood sweethearts. Four years and an arranged marriage later, Jane is a widow who needs to marry again to escape her father's influence. Percy mans up this time, but Jane has too much fear of her father to trust in love. Eventually she does. The end.

Man, I suck. This is a really pain in the petunia. One thing I have done is (dun, dun, DUN!) created headers. Here they are. Enjoy.

Each story is set in a season, so I went with that rather than cheesy Renaissance Faire images.

Anyway, if you actually took to the time to read all this, take another moment or two to help me finesse my blurbs. I'm flailing here and the RWA conference is in 21 days.


Susan Kane said...

The pared down versions are getting closer to being the 'hooks' you need. you are not failing, just uncertain.

Susan Kane said...

The pared down Courtly Pleasures is very good, esp. with the last words "attn of a killer".

How about this for Courtly Scandals:
After a youthful love and relationship with Charles, Mary aborts their baby. Believing she is barren as a consequence, Mary makes unwise choices and becomes a social pariah. Move one and believe in love again? Mary must decide.

Courtly Abandon:
After her childhood infatuation with Percy, Jane endures a horrible four year arranged marriage. Once widowed, Jane fears she will be subject to her abusive father's guardianship. Where is Percy? Can Jane trust in love after so much abuse?

What do you think?

Erin Kane Spock said...

Thank you for your suggestions. Good thoughts, although the Courtly Scandals idea doesn't follow the plot of the story.
I'm aiming at the fewest words possible.
Thanks again!

Erin Kane Spock said...

Okay, so the one sheet for Courtly Pleasures is done. The blurbs in this blog were not written seriously, but they were a good brainstorming exercise.

Melissa said...

I struggle with blurbs and the like, so this was very helpful to read. Thanks for posting it. :)

A.T. Post said...

You and I are very much alike. I find myself attempting to pare the plot of my debut novel down to brass tacks, and failing miserably. Consequently I wander away and sketch maps of my invented world, or esoteric symbols relevant thereto. Creating headers sounds fun, I should give that a try...

P.S. I think you did a great job with your synopses/abstracts. You've made it easy to get a feel for the plot and the action, without divulging too much of either.

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