Let Me Fix Your Story… Before Someone Kills It


Fair warning, this is a pitch. 

If you have a story, regardless of its stage of development, and you’d like to see how it stacks up against the criteria and parameters of my Six Core Competencies development model – or if you’d simply like to know if the thing is working or not – you might be interested in what I have to offer.

It’s on my mind today because I just finished an analysis for a writer who was pretty sure his story was ready to go.  While I don’t like wearing the black hat, I had to tell him it wasn’t, and I presented a lengthy and succinct explanation as to why.

He may not know it upon his first exposure to my feedback, but basically, I saved his ass.  This is a serious writer with serious aspirations, and this little intervention could change his life.

Because if he revises his story in the direction I’ve prescribed, he has a shot at selling it.

He’s a good writer working with the seed of a good idea, and while his fully-developed outline indeed covered all the structural and mechanical bases, it was just enough off the mark to ensure rejection.

If he doesn’t… at least he’ll know why it didn’t sell.

I can and will do that for you, too.

Here’s why you may need my services in this regard.

Imagine you’re a star pitcher – analogous to a strong writer – and you’re attending a tryout for scouts from a major league team (analogous to submitting your work for representation or publication).  There are lots of pitchers here that, like you, can throw a baseball over 90 miles per hour, the very thing that has made you a local legend.

You and every other player here today.  Velocity is a commodity at this level.

Like many of these pitchers, you look good out there on the mound.  Smooth as butter.  The folks in the grandstands ooo-and-awe as your fastballs pop the catcher’s mitt, and they assure each other – and you – that you’re ready for the Big Time.

But of the dozens of local star pitchers trying out today, only one or two will be offered a professional contract.

Will it be you?  Are you ready?  Do you know what it is that will separate you from the others in the eyes of those crusty old scouts? 

Are you aware, specifically, how high the bar really is, and what you need to bring to the ballpark to compete at this level?

Welcome to the Major Leagues

Like velocity, every writer pitching a story believes they have the chops to write the hell out of it.  Their friends and peers tell them so, and maybe they’ve had a dance or two with a few scouts (agents) before.

So if everybody is throwing heat (nifty prose and killer concepts) and if everybody demonstrates solid mechanics (story structure and character arc), who gets the contract?

In writing, that’s a judgment call.  One that you, as the author, aren’t in a position to make.  All you can do is the best you can do.  If someone can show you how to do it better… well, that becomes your call at that point.  You can listen, you can respond or you can defend what you’ve done.

Pitchers who continue to believe that their high heat will make them successful at the pro level find out quickly how wrong they are.

In pitching, it’s about so much more than velocity.  Or even throwing strikes, which is also a commodity.  It’s more about placement and strategy, about working the strike zone.  Because at this level a strike, thrown out over the plate, will quickly leave the ballpark in the form of a home run.   

At this level you need to tickle the black with a running sinker thrown deceptively from the stretch while behind in the count with men on base.

Which is to say, good just isn’t good enough in the major leagues of writing.  Because good is everywhere, common as discarded paperbacks.

Success at the major league level is about changing speeds, deception, movement of the ball, consistency, endurance, confidence and power, and a sure touch with men on base.

Is your story at that level? 

You may have nailed the structure of your story (you may have even learned it from my ebook on the subject), and you may believe your command of the six core competencies is what’s been getting you the approval of your peers.

But is it really ready?  Is it better than good?  And how do you know? 

Answer: I’ll tell you. 

Here’s how it works. 

I will evaluate your treatment or outline (we can talk about reading your entire manuscript some other time, because that’s much more expensive) up to 25 pages (combined with any actual manuscript pages you care to submit), for $400.

Why that much?  Because it takes me hours.  And it’s worth every dime no matter how long it takes.  Three decades of studying, learning, practicing and teaching this stuff is what enables me to know where to put my thumb in a leaking dike.

Included in the process is an up-front questionnaire that allows me to understand your intentions and strategy for the story, against which I will evaluate the story itself.  The evaluation begins before I read a word of the outline itself.

What comes out of this is a Coaching Document that analyzes your story on four of the six core competencies – conceptual strength, characterization, theme and story structure.  And while an outline doesn’t exemplify scene execution and your narrative writing voice (the other two of the Six Core Competencies), I’ll give that a go, too.

If it’s great, I’ll tell you.  If it’s broken, I’ll tell you that, too, and why. 

And if it’s good but could be better, I’ll identify what’s soft and what can be done to make the story stronger.

It’s like a coach coming to your house (figuratively, I promise not to show up on your porch) before you attend that tryout. 

That’s my pitch.  If you’ve got a story and you’re not sure if it’s good enough… or even better, if you’ve got a story and you are sure it’s good enough, it’s an investment in your writing dream.

(Sample Coaching Documents available upon request.)

Coming Thursday – The Top Ten Storyfix Posts of 2009


Filed under Six Core Competencies

2 Responses to Let Me Fix Your Story… Before Someone Kills It

  1. i’d love to get coached up, but it will take me some time to save up the funds (that and convince my wife that it’s worth it). This type of coaching is something i think aspiring writers could use more than anything, but there are few who offer this type of service.

    i’d like to take a peek at your sample coaching documents, so let me know what i need to do to make that happen.

    Thanks for this offer, and i hope it turns out well for you as well as the ones you coach.

  2. Sandra

    I have an idea, a new idea, that I will be working up soon – actually, I may let it simmer and wait for your group forum coaching thingy 😉 But whether I wait for that or get going on it on my own sooner, it will be a long wait before I’d have $400. If the offer is limited time, then I’ll be missing it. If it isn’t, you’ll be getting my stuff when the money is saved up if I think your coaching style will work for me. 🙂

    I would also like to review your Sample Coaching Documents.