Author Sona Charaipotra from We Need Diverse Books brought us first Camp Care Packages. How to start – by making an outline.
She suggests we start with making a pitch first, and then add meat to it to make an outline.
When you’re working on a story outline, start off with your elevator pitch. This is a pithy one-liner that should explain the meat of your story in a single sentence. The idea is to sell the reader on the story with the five basics: who, what, where, when, and especially why. (Sona Charaipotra)
I’m 5 days behind my schedule since I should have done my pitch on the first day.
All righty then.
I’ll start with trying, feeling the direction. I have an idea (to expand and retell a well known Slovenian folk tale), but I cannot yet tell it in one sentence:
— The Goldenhorn is a Slovenian folk tale about a humble and successful hunter who falls in love with a daughter of a tavern owner. He brings her flowers from a mountain where fairies reign. They have herds of white goats, and a white goat with golden horns (male goat) is the keeper of a fortune in the mountain. The tavern girl is then picky and tells the huntsman he needs to bring her the Goldenhorn’s fortune if he wants her. He goes hunting the Goldenhorn, shoots him and climbs up the rocks to get him. But the Goldenhorn’s blood is magic – when it falls to the ground, red flowers spring to life and when Goldenhorn eats one, he heals. He waits on the Huntsman and throws him in the abyss. —
You see, this is more like a short story synopsis than a pitch. I must now extract a ‘who’ out of this jumble of info. Who the story hero will be? Or the mythological creature around which the story revolves?
In the original tale it goes something like this (I also cut a lot of data out):
— The Goldenhorn is the keeper of fortunes in the Bogatin mountain, the land of nature fairies. A huntsman lives in peace with them until the girl he wants to impress asks him to bring her the fairies’ fortune. —
This is better, but still too long (and in wrong style). The story’s title is The Goldenhorn, which is the one of a kind and essential for the story (this is why I need to mention him/it), but the protagonist is actually the Huntsman. I could do better, right? For the sake of being as concise and short as possible, I omitted the Goldenhorn for the pitch.
— A huntsman lives in peace with the White Fairies in the Bogatin mountain until a girl asks him to bring her their fortune. —
Better. Only one mythical creature is necessary in this pitch – for the obstacle the protagonist needs to overcome. As it is, the Fairies seem his hindrance, which is not true. The Goldenhorn is.
— A huntsman lives in peace with the keeper of fairies’ fortunes in the Bogatin mountain until a girl asks him to bring her the fortune. —
This is hard to remember, as you stutter over the mouthful of words.
— A huntsman lives in peace with the Goldenhorn until a girl asks him to bring her the fortune it keeps for the fairies in Bogatin mountain. —
I need to shorten it more. The perfect pitch has under 25 words, the best are between 13 and 17. I can ditch the fairies or the mountain.
— A huntsman lives in peace with the Goldenhorn until a girl asks him to bring her the fortune it keeps in Bogatin mountain. —
— A huntsman lives in peace with the Goldenhorn until a girl asks him to bring her the fortune it keeps for the fairies. —
Well, you know what they say about shortness. If you are unsure if some words should be in, then they shouldn’t. I’ll ditched both redundancies. I’ll also change the word ‘keep’ into ‘guard’, because the fortunes aren’t the Goldenhorn’s.
— A huntsman lives in peace with the Goldenhorn until a girl asks him to bring her the fortune it guards. —
I think this sounds good enough so I’ll leave it like this for now.
Tomorrow I’ll expand my pitch into a three sentence paragraph.