What's Up Pitches?! A Pitch Workshop
Every once in a while I do a one-on-one workshop for people looking to write pitches for pitch parties. It's a daunting task and lots of people just can't figure out the easiest way to come up with that one awesome pitch, let alone three to five that can work for parties. I've broken down the steps I take to writing a pitch and wanted to share.
First, to start, write a quick blurb.
Imagine you are in an elevator with your dream agent and you have 30-seconds to tell him/her/them what your book is about. 80-100 words normally works. While writing the blurb, remember the following FOUR things:
1. Active verbs! Strong verbs are best. Avoid filtering and passive voice, these steal time and word count.
2. When there is an action, there is a consequence. What are the stakes? Constantly ask, “If this happens/doesn’t happen, what will be the consequence?”
3. What makes it special and stand out?
4. Above all else, BE SPECIFIC. All the details should be pointed to the ultimate goal of fulfilling or failing the stakes.
The second step is to take that blurb and make it a decent elevator pitch. Punch it up with verbs, clarify it with specifics. Constantly asking the question, “Does this serve the purpose of telling my story?” Once you have cut and refined to a manageable, 50+, then you have your Elevator Pitch.
Step three is cutting it down. This time aim for a 35-Word Pitch. Take the most important parts—character and stakes, maybe setting—and focus on those only.
Step four cuts the last pitch down into character and stakes only, allowing for a 280 Character Pitch. The awesome part is, if you've made it through the 35-Word Pitch, you're 90% of the way there already. You just have to do a little tightening here and there most of the time at that point.
A somewhat advanced, but fun, trick to writing a 280 Character Pitch is to pick the most dramatic part of your book, the most disgusting element, or the most obscure part and to write a your blurb with that as the focus and then follow the steps to cutting your pitch until you have a very unique, maybe snarky, maybe gross, maybe over-the-top, pitch. It all depends on the focus of your original blurb and where you take the cuts.
But some final tips...
Throughout these steps, keep asking: “What is the consequence?” so you don’t lose that stake. And if you have a hard time coming up with a stake, start by coming up with a simple IF/THEN statement. “If the angry space bees don’t return to the planet, then the invading Nazis will set off a nuclear bomb, decimating the world.” You can always rephrase it in the second step when you refine your blurb into an Elevator Pitch.
With these steps, it's pretty easy to come up with a few different pitches for pitch parties that happen throughout the year. And you never know, if you look me up on Twitter, I might be in the mood to walk you through these steps, if you're up for it!