27 July 2010

Pitching Head First

Dear Inky,

I need you to help me write a great pitch. Everyone says you need one, and I'm really failing at writing one that's intriguing.


Heh. It's funny how topics go through cycles on the internet, and how some weeks it seems like everyone is asking the same thing. This week, it's pitches. The good news is, the basic elements of a pitch are dead easy, and if you've been reading this blog long enough, you already know them, because they're the same elements you use to create a sizzling Sentence.

So, the answer.

Without knowing anything about the story itself, here are the ingredients you need:

Protagonist and their driving need

Antagonist and their driving need

Compelling conflict, arising from the clash of needs

Interesting setting (as in, just include the interesting bits; the setting itself doesn't necessarily have to be fascinating; but what are the things that make it relevant to this story, that mean the story couldn't be told elsewhere?)

Twist - for the novel as a whole, this is kind of your climax - it's the key change that makes the story worth telling, the reason the end is different from the end, etc. For a pitch, though, you probably don't want to give away your ending necessarily, so it's pretty common to use your inciting incident here for this.

The inciting incident is the 'everything changes' moment, the one event that kicks the protag into action and forces them into the story.

Of course, there is one other thing that a great pitch needs that a good pitch doesn't have: voice. The pitch has to sound like the story, somehow. It needs to convey the same tone and mood as the novel so people know what to expect - and so it's not just a lifeless description on the page.

And the exciting news is, a great pitch can actually work to get you and your writing places - a friend I know just had requests for pages from an agent AND an editor, based solely on the pitch she delivered during her five minute pitch session at a conference.

And of course, these days, it's more and more common for authors to have input into their back cover copy - and if you've got a stellar pitch for the novel all polished and ready to go, what better place to start?

Pitching. It's not just for baseball ;)


Charmaine Clancy said...

Great post - So on topic for what I'm looking at next, that I had to wonder if I'd sent you that request! I think I have a lot in common with lifeless :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with you... sometimes it doesnt come in the same order but you have to have it all together for it to be perfect

Amy Laurens said...

Charm - lol! Maybe you sent it and then wiped your mind so you'd forget? >:) Either way, glad it was useful :o)

Anon- no, it doesn't have to be in that order. In fact, I would recommend mixing it up and seeing which order is most compelling. But I'm glad you agree in principle :)

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