Maybe you first heard of the “story spine” from Stanley Williams’ book, The Moral Premise.
But I actually thought of the concept all by my lonesome the winter of 2011 at the first Deep Thinkers Retreat.
Because it became clear to me we HAVE to know what the story is about in order to develop the character and the plot.
The pitch is that one or two lines, the concept, of the story that you tell editors or agents. Or you friends when they ask, “What’s your story about.”
You must be able to tell it in one or two succinct sentences.
If you ramble or start telling too much, then you’re not nailing the core of your story.
For example, my pitch for Dining with Joy was “It’s about a cooking show host who can’t cook.”
For The Wedding Dress I’d say, “It’s about a hundred year old dress four women wear over a hundred years.”
Beth Vogt’s pitch for Wish You Were Here was “What if kissing the wrong man leads to finding Mr. Right?”
Right away, the hearer gets the concept of the story.
So work on your pitch. What is your story about?
After you nail the pitch, work on the premise. The premise is the pitch expanded. It’s a short blurb.
When Joy Ballard takes over her father’s cooking show after his sudden death, she is completely out of her element. But her prowess in front of the camera makes her a huge success even though she can’t so much as fry an egg. When restaurateur Luke Redmond joins her show, Joy believes she has a way out. But love has other things in mind and carries Joy through the toughest challenge of her life.
The Wedding Dress
Wedding boutique owner Charlotte Malone was fine when fiance Tim calls things off. But when she discovers a hundred year old wedding gown in a battered trunk, she embarks on a journey to find the right bride for the gown and discovers her own rich heritage and the courage to face her future.
Once Upon A Prince
A European Prince falls in love with an American Girl.
Once you fine tune your pitch and premise, you have the spine – the answer to WHAT IS YOUR STORY ABOUT?
It’s high level. There are certainly layers to your premise and spine, but it gives you a plum line on how to develop your story.
While you may work on your character and plotting first, let me recommend you really fine tune your pitch and premise before you finish and polish the book and make sure your story functions off the spine!
With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel.
A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 15 novels.
She lives in Florida with her husband and her dog, Lola. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her next book, Once Upon A Prince, releases May 7!
Go forth and write!
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