Introduction: Use Story Cards to Answer the Question "What's Your Story About?"
Are you a writer? When you tell people that you are, it's guaranteed they're going to ask you what your story's about ... but how do you answer? Do you begin by wishing for a memorized tagline while trying to respond and sounding stupid in the process? Because that's just what I do. Not only to my answers come across as cliche and unimpressive (which is the opposite impression I want to communicate!) but also boring. You're going to want to have an answer ... READY. With you.
So I decided to make some business cards.
Well, story cards. The idea is to make some cards on which is printed a couple sentences about your WIP or published novel---a well thought over, brief synopsis that will make people want to read your story---and keep them with you: wallet, pocket, purse, etc. That way, whenever someone asks you what your book is about, you're ready.
Below are several tips on how to create your own story card using a pencil and paper, PicMonkey, a local printing shop, and a dose of easiness and your own unique creativity.
Step 1: Come Up With a Tagline.
This is probably one of the hardest things I as a writer have been faced with, besides writer's block, killing a character, or losing 30 pages to the dreaded delete key. A tagline is basically a very short synopsis, usually one sentence long, explaining what your book is about. I won't be giving tips on writing a tagline here, but my friend Hannah Heath has a whole post on how to write a logline (another term like "tagline") which I found to be extremely helpful. Also, if you want a bit of a longer tagline, which is what I went ahead with, you can write a short jacket blurb around 50-60 words and 1-3 sentences long. Hannah also has a good post on how to write a jacket blurb (just keep yours short enough to be readable on a business card-sized card).
Step 2: Sketch How You Want Your Card Designed.
You can design it any way you want. I made a really quick rough sketch of how my story cards will look like (as seen in this step picture).
As you can see, my tagline is going to be on the back of my card, but depending on your preference and how long your tagline is going to be, you can put it on the front or the back. You don't even need your blog info, I just put mine there for fun (and also so that I could forward others to my blog. Extra bonus!).
Step 3: Design It on PicMonkey
I use PicMonkey to design all the graphs I make for my blog and editing my photography. I highly recommend it. Designing your own story card is super easy. I'll just create my own and walk you through the steps. You don't have to make yours exactly the way I did mine, as this is just an example.
First, choose custom design and choose the 4x6 canvas (as shown in step picture). From there, rotate it (unless you want it upright) and resize it to pixel dimensions 1050 x 600. It took me a while to figure out the right pixel dimensions to find a business card template when setting up to print.
Also shown in this step are the two pictures of my design for the front and back of the card. You can use your own site/blog logo or any picture you want by clicking the butterfly and clicking "add you own" at the top. You can also use a variety of fonts. It's actually pretty easy and it looks so good when it's finished!
Notice that I left room on the sides of the card. When you put this design onto a template creator on the custom business card site you're using, there will be lines that cut across the top, bottom, and sides. After several situations of trial and error, I just made sure everything fit inside those invisible lines.
Step 4: Print It.
I don't have a business card printer. Soooooo ... eh. What do I do now?
There's lots of different ways to print business cards. I decided to go a cheap route and get 25 for $5.24 at Overnight Prints. Designing it was fairly easy; all I had to do was upload an image, make sure the words and picture fit in snugly inside the red box, and then go from there. But the shipping is very expensive with that site, so beware. Using the cheapest shipping, it took a few weeks to even get my cards in the mail, but when they did, it didn't matter. My cards turned out beautifully.
So there you have it! I'd love to hear your feedback and any other inspiration or suggestions! I hope this activity could solve some knee-knocking problems some writers encounter upon being asked what your story is about. Of course, this was just for fun; I agree that memorizing a quick tagline is more efficient, but I must say it's not as impressive or sharp as those little cards.
Good writing to you.