By Geoff Mehl
The 25-word thing, is of course only the tip of the iceberg. Geoff Mehl shares what he’s learned about building from a three-act-story process where setup becomes introduction, character empathy building, inciting incident, conflict begins and ends with pinch points, and resolution/climax. He’s learned from a number of agents that 25 words should be the very first paragraph in a query, and a useful exercise to plot a story.
Remember the old contests when you were invited to extoll a product in “twenty-five words or less” and perhaps win a prize? It was a means for companies to reinforce a brand and consumer loyalty, get a feel for branding possibilities, perhaps have a giant idea bin for some of those classic advertising jingles.
Fast forward to this winter, when we all curl up and enjoy a really good story — ours — because we have this really cool idea for a marvelous tale and a lot of time for the keyboard.
“So you’re actually writing a story?”
“What’s it about?”
And there we are, oftentimes mumbling our way through an explanation that goes on and on until our listener’s eyes glaze over and their thoughts turn to the pressing need to clean their refrigerator.
But merrily we press on as the darker days of winter close in, the glow begins to wither from the concept, the characters become boring and we run out of synonyms for “said.” Spring offers a reprieve, distraction, escape. Our once-grand idea, now just a sad little puddle of mush, gets put aside “to be fixed later, maybe, when there’s time.”