Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pitch Fest: Why? Why Not?

Learning about verbal pitches from Susan May Warren and agent Chip MacGregor at the 2010 MBT Pitch and Promotion Conference

As bestselling author Susan May Warren mentioned in yesterday's MBT Pitch Practice post, at the heart of every good pitch is your passion for your story.

Thanks to Susie, there is a marvelous method for harnessing your passion and crafting an a-ma-zing pitch. That's what this Blog Fest is all about!

The Why: the plot element driving your character through the story
To focus your pitch, you must return once again to your main character(s).
No groaning and thinking, "I am so over trying to get inside my character's head! I want a book contract!" Crafting a compelling verbal pitch helps you present yourself confidently, which brings you one step closer to your dream.

1. Ask you character, "Who are you? What is your identity and why?" Then delve into their answers--yeah, that whole conversation with imaginary characters we fiction writers do--and look for their core values. Things like freedom, loyalty, family or honesty. Their core values move them through the story.
Example: Your heroine values safety/security--and she's got her planned/canned happily ever after with her "Safety Patrol Boy" fiancé .

2. Ask your character, "What are you good at? Why?" Look for unique skills, abilities, personalities, physical attributes, legacies or knowledge. Competence = uniqueness.
Your heroine, a graphic designer, is a bit of a control freak who makes sure she doesn't color outside the lines in her personal life.

The Why Not: what prevents your character from accomplishing his/her goal
One of Sir Isaac Newton's laws of motion states: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The Why Not is equal in menace and strength to the character's Why.

The Why and Why Not war against each other. To discover the Why Not look at your character's goal--security? to protect someone?--and turn it inside -outside-upside-down into the opposite goal.

Your heroine buried her love for her adventuresome, daring father--ever since he abandoned her. Being with him was her happiest time--but all she wants now is security. (Funny, how her fiancé's appealing brother reminds her of her father.) Does she really want security--or does she want a man she can trust enough to risk with?

So you have your Why and Why Not, the building blocks of your pitch. How do you weave this into your pitch? Why + Why Not = essential elements of your plot. Use these to discover the dramatic irony in your story. To learn about irony, go to MBT Ponderer Teri Dawn Smith's post: Pitch Fest: The Hook: How Ironic!

After you read Teri's post, find out why MBT Ponderer Melissa Tagg promises writing a premise isn't that hard--even though it initially freaked her out! Then join Susie and the MBT Ponderers on Monday night, September 13 at 7 p.m. (Central) for a Pitch Practice Chat!


Melissa Tagg said...

Great post, Beth!!

Beth K. Vogt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth K. Vogt said...

Thanks, Melissa! Enjoyed your post about premises too!
And if anyone has questions about the Why & Why Not--ask away!

Teri Dawn Smith said...

I loved your examples, Beth! Way to sum it all up!

Beth K. Vogt said...

Examples always help me! Anyone have some of their own?