Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Perfect Pitch

Baseball players of all ages are winding up to practice their pitches. Time for writers to practice yours too.

Even if you're writing the first draft of your novel, people will ask, "What's your book about?"

If you say, "Forgiveness," or mention any other theme, they'll still ask, "Yeah, but what's it about?"

If you hem and haw and sputter over you're words, you'll lose their interest.

If it takes a couple of paragraphs to describe all the intricate details of your plot, you'll get the same reaction as the previous example.

If you're passionate about your work--and face it, you'd better be passionate about it to spend about a jillion hours writing the darn thing--you need the skill of being able to pitch your story in a quick sentence or two.

The elevator pitch.
Say you're a writer who steps into an elevator and sees your dream editor standing inside. The editor is your captive audience for at least the time it takes to travel one floor. You've only got 15-30 seconds to convince him to buy your book. What are you going to say?

James Scott Bell
gives a quick and easy pitch formula to get started:
A adjective adjective noun (describing the main character) does blank and blank (verbs).

A suicidal family man struggles to escape his failures and discovers what life would be like if he'd never been born.

A good pitch does three things:
1) Tells the genre.
2) Describes the basic premise.
3) Hooks the listener into wanting to know more.

He's a pacifist. She's a black belt. They disagree on everything except saving the lives of the kids in their neighborhood.

For examples of good pitches, read the back cover copy of books, scour the TV Guide and check movie listings.

To see examples of how not to pitch and why they don't work, hop over to the Rachelle Gardner's blog Rants & Ramblings On Life as a Literary Agent.


~ Roxanne Sherwood

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Hey Roxanne - love your post! And love that pitch (the karate one). Brings back memories of brainstorming in Seattle!