For the past couple of months I’ve been immersed in writing the first in my Simply Writing Series of ‘how to’ books for authors. Aptly named, Simply Synopsis, this book has forced me to take a step back and view my writing – and indeed my writing career – in a different light.
I embarked on the task of analyzing the fundamental elements of a story, how to break them down and then how to build them back up again in the form of a synopsis. As I delved deeper into this process, something occurred to me that most of us fail to consider in regards to our story and the wily synopsis – what is our point of difference?
Such an important concept, but sadly, so frequently overlooked.
Let’s face it, for most of us, the primary reason we write a synopsis is that we have to. Submission guidelines require us to do so if we wish to win that coveted contract from an agent or editor. The same goes for competition guidelines, if we’re entering a competition.
But where do we start?
Of course character GMC, major turning points and the black moment are vital. As is hooking your reader – that potential agent or editor – from the very first line. But what other than a well-crafted, well-written story will win you that publishing deal? Or that much sought after first place certificate.
I believe it’s what can be termed as ‘the point of difference’.
What sets your story out among the rest? What makes it irresistible, unputdownable, unique? What’s that one point of interest that will push it over the line and win you the contract and recognition you so desire?
Point of difference.
So, as I sat there, writing Simply Synopsis, my thoughts began to wander.
In this day and age, where the internet factors so highly in exposure and promotion, we’re not merely selling a product, we’re selling a whole package. And more often than not, that package includes a part of ourselves.
The thought forced me to take a good, hard look at myself, and as a result, my author brand.
Then came the questions: Who is Michelle Somers? What does she represent? What’s the Michelle Somers point of difference?
Maybe those who have followed me through my journey to authordom might have a thought or two on the topic, but for me, I struggled. There are so many fabulous authors out there, so much talent and personality, how could I hope to be seen above the crowd? Sure, I keep writing, keep promoting, keep doing what I’m doing, following the mantra that the more books you have out, the more notice you get. But still, how could I make my mark on an already over-marked industry?
Believe it or not my inspiration came from within my story.
For those who have yet to read Murder Most Unusual, I’ll give you a hint as to its content: the title says it all. It’s a quirky story of murder and mystery and a place where fact melds with fiction. Stacey Holland is an author with a difference – she believes committing fictional homicide enables her to pen the perfect murder. And her partner in crime? A mannequin called Renaldo.
Sooooo… meet Renaldo.
I recently attended a deep editing immersion course with the fabulous Margie Lawson.
One of the tips Margie impressed on me was around enacting my scenes. Do my scenes make sense? They look great on paper, but do they actually work?
A couple of us had a go at acting out some of our scenes and surprise, surprise, what seemed straightforward and workable on paper wasn’t so workable when it came to reality. And that was for the simple stuff, for example in my case, the slipping and sliding in the mud.
What if guns, knives and dead – or soon to be dead – bodies were involved? What then?
That immersion weekend I had the other immersionists to help me. But what about those days I’m writing with no one but my lovely cat, Emmie, for company. What then?
He helped Stacey make her murders, so why couldn’t he help me?
We attended our first convention together in February, the Australian Romance Readers Convention, and Renaldo was an instant hit.
And soon after we enacted our first murder. Here are the results:
I now have the perfect participant in my mad schemes. He’s pliable, cooperative and always available. He’s captured my interest, and what’s more, I hope he’s captured yours.
What about you? Do you have a point of difference in your field? If so, what is it? If not, can you think of something you could do to make you stand out among the rest?
Please share! I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Michelle Somers is a bookworm from way back. An ex-Kiwi who now calls Australia home, she’s a professional killer and matchmaker, a storyteller and a romantic. Words are her power and her passion. Her heroes and heroines always get their happy ever after, but she’ll put them through one hell of a journey to get there.
Michelle lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her real life hero and three little heroes in the making. Her debut novel, Lethal in Love won the Romance Writers of Australia’s 2016 Romantic Book of the Year (RuBY) and the 2013 Valerie Parv Award.
She loves hearing from her readers, so please chat with her on twitter, facebook or Instagram.
The first book in Michelle’s Simply Writing Series is scheduled for release in May 2017. If you’d like to know more, sign up for Michelle’s newsletter on her website, www.michelle-somers.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.