Will you give as well as receive? I believe you have to. What you’ll be giving is your promise to your reader. Don’t be confused with the Premise of your book (although it’s close).
If you’re reading this, you’re a beginner writer. You’re excited and flush with ideas for characters, plots and a 100,000 word novel. I’m glad you’re here, I’ve been here too - please read on.
I first came across the Promise in Stella Whitelaw’s How to Write and Sell a Book Proposal. Ms Whitelaw gives the writer so much more than the necessary requirements to write an editor-winning synopsis (and I highly recommend this little book, especially for those, who like me, despise writing synopses). She states, quite simply, that the first page of our manuscript should contain three promises: an intriguing or memorable situation / an indication of who the main characters are / the tone of the novel (i.e. romance, mystery, crime, science fiction).
How can we possibly write a book (let alone the synopsis) without the premise and our Promise to the story we’re writing and attempting to sell to the world?
We need to find our Promise. We need to write from our hearts. Not as easy as it sounds, there are many stages to go through (sorry). But we are storytellers first, writers second, therefore we have a starting point.
THE INITIAL PICTURE:
We decide to write a story.
We write the story.
We’re fascinated by what we’ve achieved.
We send it ‘out there’ to be read by others.
They thought it was interesting and hand it back with a semi-encouraging smile that looks more like a, ‘Who does she think she is?’ sneer.
We don’t give up our day job.
We don’t give up anything.
We make a promise to ourselves to learn whatever it is we need to learn: which means we’re on the road to the Promise we intend to give our readers.
If you’ve got to this point and are thinking ‘this is not for me’, that’s okay - writing is not for you. If you’re at the stage where you recognise something but can’t put your finger on it, and there’s a burning sensation in the pit of your stomach and a light-bulb moment flickering in your mind - writing is for you and you’re probably determined to see it through and get better, and better, and better. Whatever it takes.
THE NEXT PICTURE
That burning and flickering is determination; an intrinsic need to give, and a desire of the most basic yet highly personal nature: you intend to be a writer.
The good news is, you’re already a writer.
PICTURING YOURSELF AS A WRITER
Throughout all your learning curves, online courses, writer’s workshops etc. I hope you will find the same (and best) advice I received, which was to picture myself a writer. I use this continually. Because the truth is, after the initial joy of writing a story we mostly land to earth with an embarrassing bump and a realisation that we’re not going to be discovered quite as quickly as we’d hoped. Why? Because we have a lot of crafting still to learn.
How? Read your favourite authors and feel how they create the story. Imagine yourself writing like this. See yourself crafting a story the way they have crafted their story.
Note: This is not plagiarism (something to be despised) - this is L E A R N I N G.
Your story is not their story. You cannot emulate their ‘voice’ (style) because you have a voice of your own that is already deeply embedded within you whether you recognise it yet or not. What you are doing here is believing in yourself as a writer.
If you want to write, you will write. You will persevere and you will find the promise you want to give to your prospective readers. It will come from the heart - with a lot of hard graft and slog.
Thanks for reading, I hope you pop back for more … Next instalments:
Voice - what is it? Do I have one and if not where do I get one?
Writing from the heart - is this a rule?
Are there really only seven stories in the world?