Monday, May 13, 2013

The Art of Teasing

I feel like I have some authority on this subject. To give you guys a little background, I'm the oldest of four children. I have a two-year-old son who has lots of friends who are girls.

My whole life has contained some form of teasing.

Sadly, the kind that I used to do and the kind that my son currently does is not really what we are going to talk about today.

(But if it was, here's what works really well for Nathan right now - grab a toy that is obviously desired and run away with it while laughing. Gets a reaction every time.)

No, today we are going to talk about two aspects of teasing that need to be incorporated into your books.

The Teaser

Also known as the "elevator pitch". We've talked about this before, but basically, editors like to see that you can describe your book or WIP in three sentences or less. The idea is that you could tell someone all about your book in the time it takes to ride one floor on an elevator. It's called a "teaser" because you want to leave the editor/publisher rep/random lady in the elevator wanting more. You need them to be begging you: what happens next??! This will go at the top of your proposal.

The key to crafting a good teaser is to let the reader know the very basics of your plot and I mean the VERY BASICS. Start with what your character wants and end with the question of whether or not they are going to get it. To use a common story, here's how Beauty and the Beast could likely have been written as a teaser:

"Belle lives in an idyllic countryside home but unlike her neighbors and fellow townspeople, Belle is not content to while away the days singing songs in the marketplace and buying bread. She longs for adventure and romance - and definitely not a romance with the town's bad boy who seems to have a thing for her. When Belle's father is taken captive by a mysterious beast who lives in a nearby castle, will Belle's thirst for adventure land her in bigger trouble than she could have ever imagined?"

Notice how there are very few details in there. Enough to paint a picture, not so much that we're taking up valuable elevator-door-opening time. ;)

The Teaser Ending

The other way to incorporate teasing into your book is really only applicable if you are writing a series. One of the best ways to hook readers in and get them to buy subsequent books is to leave your readers semi-hanging at the end of your story. However, be sure to wrap up the major plot lines introduced in your book.

In my new book, Paige Torn, I used this method. All through the book, I make hints to a rather important person in Paige's past who she would very much hope to never see again. Meanwhile, I have a whole storyline going in the novel about Paige and her current life. At the end of the book, the person from Paige's past is re-introduced as the plot lines from the current story are tied up. You want your readers to feel like it's a satisfying ending while also leaving them wanting more.

Want to practice? Try writing a very well-known movie's teaser. Then try to think of subplots in your current WIP that you could stretch into the sequel.

And feel free to leave your teasers in the comments! We would love to see them!

Have a great Monday, friends!

1 comment:

  1. The quickest teaser I have to share is the one from my new book!

    Taking advantage of his liberty as a knight, Sir Nathaniel leaves his boyhood home to visit old friends. The small journey quickly takes an unexpected turn, however, and climaxes into a perilous adventure. Old enemies revisit the scene, creating hazards that require all of Sir Nathaniel’s strength and valor to overcome. Trapped in a hostile country, the question arises: Will he ever return?

    Maybe that's not exactly a proposal teaser, but I'm not up to writing a new one right now... ;)