Prepping For the WLT Conference (2012)
Originally posted on Michael Runs the Gamut on May 8, 2014
[Comments from 2021 are in italics, enclosed in square brackets, like this one.]
Here’s the final pitch I used for the 2012 WLT Conference. Sorry, I still have to cut a few things.
“The mainstream novel, If a Butterfly, is like Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon — but with a butterfly; and it has [something] in space, kidnapped [something], and [someone] going postal. If all life is connected, and a butterfly flaps its wings, will a ripple-effect cause [something to happen], or did [something else] cause it? An astronaut on board the International Space Station has difficulty [doing something]. Is it because her husband researches butterflies, or could it just be because [of something else]? When a married couple, driving across the country, accidentally [do something], does that [cause something else to happen]? Or cause them to [do something else]? These characters and others are all on journeys. Some of the journeys are remarkable, and some of them do seem to be ordinary, but others just can’t be explained as coincidence. Did I mention the [something] in space? If a Butterfly.”
That one was 175 words, and compared to the 2011 final pitch, was nearly a hundred words shorter, but how did it get to that point?
Obviously, if I had known the phrase, “[something] in space,” would garner such a negative reaction from the agents, I would have substituted a different action, but I was satisfied with it when I arrived at the conference. Aside from just whittling the size down, I felt it was one of the best representations of the story I had created so far.
In the past, when people asked me the inevitable question, “So, what’s your story about?” I would start by saying,
“During a Monarch butterfly’s annual migration from Canada to Mexico, when other characters cross its path and interact with it, the novel picks up that character’s story. Eventually all the characters are connected in various ways.”
It always seemed the easiest way to explain the plot, but it’s not entirely accurate. That was one of my original ideas, but it didn’t work out that way. The novel (in its current state) actually begins with the other characters first. We’re already following their stories by the time our butterfly interacts with any of them. The butterfly is still a catalyst for many of the major events in the story, and the connections all still occur, but not in the original linear way I had anticipated.
Plots change — what can I say?
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