Chill Woman. It’s a big bookstore.

A friend recommended a book, suggesting that I’d love it because it had yin/yang sisters that fought just like the ones in my WIP novel. One even had the same name. I recall my reaction being something like crap, crap, crap, crap. I sent her an email to that effect–crap, crap, crap, Coffee Tuesday? Hugs!

I thought my book was unique, despite the fact that I was having a hard time writing a synopsis that didn’t sound like the lovechild of a cliché and an APB description that matches half the people I know. Believed to be a male, approximately six feet tall, with brown hair. Last seen wearing tennis shoes and a white tee shirt.  It’s about  figuring out the difference between.  It’s about listening to your own. It’s about maintaining your integrity when.  It’s about a woman.

I’m so screwed. I need a hook.

My friend was surprised I was so unhappy. She thought if people found the themes and relationships relevant enough to buy the book  she’d recommended, wouldn’t they find mine just as appealing?

I buy a lot of books.  I can’t get out of Target without at least 3 or 4. It makes me feel better about the 5 lb bag of M&M’s.  Barnes and Noble opens an extra register when I walk in.  My shelves of my nightstand are already packed, so I’ve taken to stacking books on the floor. There are a lot. My room looks like Hoarders, the PBS version.

How different are they? In the details, very. But at the core, there are universal stories we all experience — falling in love with the right, or the wrong person. Confronting what you thought you knew for sure, finding that nothing is certain. Having to choose paths, knowing that taking one will separate you from those on the other.

There are far more books, magazines, websites, chapbooks, and ebooks than I could ever stack next to my bed. The industry is broad enough to hold both David Sedaris and the Dali Lama, Stephen King and Danielle Steele. Still, every time I hear a plot line that seems close to mine, it doesn’t feel that big. It’s hard not to get obsessed with “The Hook.”

My wise friend brought off the ledge. I thought about all of those teen vampire books and I smacked myself on the head so she wouldn’t have to. A hook is no guarantee of uniqueness, nor is it synonymous with quality. I don’t need a better hook, or a better book. I just need a better synopsis.  Lucky for me, I’m a writer.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Callum Scott

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2 comments on “Chill Woman. It’s a big bookstore.

  1. denise616 says:

    I am nearing the time of query writing. I’m stressing over doing that more than I stressed over the entire novel. But you’re right, I need to come up with a great synopsis–something like an elevator pitch, to make it stand out to agents, publishers, and buyers. Good luck!

  2. whimsygizmo says:

    Amen, and amen, friend. I have a very dusty children’s book on worry on a (proverbial and literal) shelf, and have since collected several children’s books with similar themes. Each time, the word CRAP definitely came to mind. 😉 And yet, vampires. Vampires everywhere. Such a valid point. I can’t remember who said it, but my husband (also a writer) loves this quote: “There’s always room for another good one.”

    Write on, my talented friend.

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