Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Using a Nonfiction Theme to Pitch Your Fiction

Pitch your nonfiction theme. Every work of fiction has one.

This little nugget of wisdom came from author, David Morrell, creator of the original Rambo character that inspired the Sylvester Stallone movies at a local conference I attended this weekend.

I love conferences. I always learn something that helps me grow as a writer. This one was no exception.

Like most writers, I struggle with pitching my book. I can talk about it at great length to anyone who'll listen, but put a restraint on me and my brain wants to freeze up. It's so frustrating. How do I put a 127,000 word epic fantasy into one minute? The closer I came to being ready to submit, the harder I found this question to answer. How could I know my story so well, yet be completely at a loss when it comes time to pitch? How do I condense it down and still keep it interesting?

Mr. Morrell suggests pitching on the nonfiction topic. Human's gravitate toward that which they identify. Every writer has a reason they are writing, some truth they are seeking to share under the guise of entertainment. Pitch that truth and you have instant interest.

It makes sense when you think about it. You have the nonfiction issue of race and morality in the famous Huckleberry Finn, greed and decayed social and moral values in The Great Gatsby, and death as well as friendship in Harry Potter. 

I've since studied by own nonfiction topic. Talk about self-psychoanalysis.

After thinking about it, I realized one of my nonfiction topics is blind faith. I know many people who struggle or have given up on believing in a god they can't see. This topic fascinates me. So I wrote a book with a protagonist who must learn to believe in a god he was taught didn't exist in order to save his dying world and those he loves who live in it. I want my readers to think about what they'd do in my MC's place. Would they be able to overcome the abuse, the sadness, the pure evil they see everyday and believe in a loving god of goodness for whom they sees no evidence? It's subtle, after all, I am writing fantasy, not Christian fiction, but then, that's the point. I don't went to pound a belief into anyone.

What nonfiction themes do you gravitate toward in your fiction? If you write, what is the nonfiction theme you're currently using? Been to/or plan to attend any good conferences?


Johanna Garth said...

This is such an interesting topic. I feel like I've slowly gravitated toward pitching the nonfiction themes of my work just out of instinct. They're much easier to fit into a quick bite of conversation than the whole plot.

Writer said...

I, too, realized something along these lines about my book. For me, my theme is not what does it take to break you, but what do you do after you're broken?

Real food for thought!

Morgan said...

I think you do a wonderful job with introducing interesting themes without coming across too preachy, Sabrina. You're a talent. :)