You Know It

Writers tend to downplay their talents and projects. An agent or publisher may inquire,”So tell me about your project.” Stage fright. Stuttering. Oh, God, I blew it! First, remember that these professionals are just people, too. Break the ice. They will either like your work or not. Or they will like it but it won’t fit into their style. That happened to me once.

You KNOW your project. You know your project better than a lover or even a good friend. After all, hasn’t it held you in its grip for months, if not years? Hasn’t it startled you from slumber or made you daydream at work, plotting, revising, devising, ruminating, etc.? Of course. You have to believe in it. Some stories won’t make it to the finish line, and that’s okay. But some stories need to be heard, need to be told. The best way to get it off the ground and prepare for the pitch is to evaluate your piece.

This can be done even if you have a problem character or if you’re wrestling with an ending. Ask yourself this:

1) What demographic would be interested in this piece?
2) What is the main conflict? Main character(s)?
3) What is the strongest theme in the work?
4) What are possibilities for resolution?
5) Under what genre would you classify it?
6) What makes this piece unique? What other works can you compare it to?

Knowing these things will help ease the anxiety of being put on the spot when faced with “shopping it around.”

Never give away the resolution. You want to keep them hooked. You’ve written your synopsis–the book jacket, if you will–but don’t rely solely on that. When you practice, keep it light and conversational:

“My work is a personal memoir beginning when I was a little girl who identified with the alternative rock scene of the early to mid 90s. In particular, I looked up to and wanted to emulate Eddie Vedder. My strong bond with music helped me overcome the hardships of divorce, family addictions and medical mistreatment. It is also the story of recognizing and celebrating my identity as a writer and musician. It is the story not only of survival, but overcoming the odds.”

That’s just a rough draft, but you get the idea, I hope. It is always good to read what you’re writing. By this I mean, read those works you could compare it to. You write what you read, after all.

Above all, have confidence. It has been said that, when looking for a mate, confidence is the thing that attracts someone the most. Fake it if you have to. Eventually that faux confidence will become a part of you. This confidence will help these agents and editors to have confidence in you and your work.

Be well and write on,


P.S. You may find this link helpful:


3 thoughts on “You Know It

  1. Good and timely advice. A similarly helpful thought from Paddy Chayefsky: “As soon as I figure out the theme of my play, I write it down on a thin strip of paper and Scotch-tape it to the front of my typewriter. After that, nothing goes into that play that isn’t on-theme.”

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