Write Your Pitch, First


Write Your Pitch, First Copyright © 2015 Joan Y. Edwards

Write Your Pitch, First Copyright © 2015 Joan Y. Edwards

“Write Your Pitch, First” by Joan Y. Edwards

For many years I didn’t know what a pitch was except by a person throwing a baseball. Then after I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, they had sessions to explain a pitch to me. I was as clueless at the end of the session as I was at the beginning.

When I went to a writer’s workshop in Oceanside, Oregon in 2010, I learned how to write a pitch for a story: I had many stories written with no pitch – no logline – no plot.

The reason why it’s a good idea to write the pitch first is to make sure your plot works. To make sure that it is logical and would probably happen as a natural consequence.

  1. When discussing your pitch with an editor or agent tell your name, genre, and number of words in your manuscript.
  2. Write your pitch on a 3×5″ card. If you can’t get it all written on the front side of the card, it’s too long.

The pitch is the structure of a story in a nutshell. If you can’t figure out a pitch for your story, it’s entirely possible that the action your main character takes is not related to the real problem that keeps him from achieving his goal. Let me explain.

WHO? A pitch tells you an adjective and the main character to answer the question who? a sixteen year old girl; a five-year-old boy; an anxious daughter; an obnoxious son, an honest clerk, or a feeble man.

WHERE? A pitch tells or hints at the location (the setting): beach, high school, desert, bedroom, top of skyscraper, city, small town

WHEN? (Especially, if it’s historical fiction)

Main Character WANTS WHAT? A pitch tells you what the main character wants more than anything else in the world. He is  willing to take death-defying action and change to get it. He will not stop until he gets it. Getting it is an obsession with him. He wants a skill, a prize, a friend. He wants to defeat an enemy. He wants to stop someone from doing something. He wants to get someone to do something.

WHY? Why does this matter so much to the character? Why should we care?

WHAT STOPS HIM? A pitch tells the lowest point of the story from which readers doubt that anyone, especially this character with these flaws, can succeed.

WHAT’S HE WILLING TO DO? HOW IS HE WILLING TO CHANGE IN ORDER TO GET IT? WHAT IS HIS INNER AND OUTER STRUGGLE?

  1. WHAT ACTION DOES HE TAKE THAT HE FIRMLY BELIEVES IS GOING TO HELP HIM, but alas and alack, it puts him farther from his goal.
  2. Again he believes the second action will help him and it puts him even more at a disadvantage.
  3. He tries even a third time and gets to the point that he almost gives up.

UNTIL HE HAS AN AHA MOMENT AND FIGURES OUT THE IDEA AND ACTION THAT TAKES HIM ACROSS THE GOAL LINE OF SUCCESS

Here are three loglines (Scriptwriters’ lingo for pitch):

  • Can clumsy Jill win beauty queen of her high school in spite of the fact that she dyes her hair purple, tripped their football team’s quarterback, and  spills red punch on the principal’s white suit?
  • Jason wants more than anything to be a pilot for Avery Aviation but his father won’t hire anyone in the family as a pilot.
  • Title: Tasteless Writer -Adam Conway- Genre: Comedy
    A world renowned taste tester/food critic loses his sense of taste and struggles to discover who he is once his one defining characteristic is gone. http://scriptshadow.blogspot.com/2009/11/top-100-loglines-for-scriptshadow.html

I hope that this blog helps you have a better idea of how and why you should write a pitch before you write the story. It will help you make sure everything is inter-related and all points lead to the main character getting what he wants or being defeated.

Here are 9 more of my blog posts about a pitch. They might help you get a grip on writing a better pitch.

  1. How to Write a Pitch, Summary, and Synopsis That Sells
  2. A Selling Pitch Is Short with a Strong Emotional Tug
  3. Which of These Best-Selling Romance Pitches Is the Best? Why?
  4. Pitch Exercise #2 Romance – Would You Accept or Reject These Pitches?
  5. Results of Pitch Exercise #1 – Which Pitches Did 12 Responders Accept?
  6. How to Write an Effective Selling Pitch for a Romance Novel
  7. How to Deliver a Short Gutsy Pitch to Entice Editors, Agents, and Readers
  8. Week Two: Writing the Pitch, Query Letter, Proposal, Resume (Pub Subbers)
  9. How to Entice an Editor/Agent with a Pitch (Logline)

Here are my blog posts about plot:

  1. 7 Questions to Make Sure Your Plot Has Believable Consequences
  2. 7 Ways to Add Surprise to Create a Best Seller That Readers Crave
  3. Does Your Main Character Fall into the Bottom of a Deep Pit of Trouble?
  4. Eight Character Archetypes to Emphasize the Conflict in Your Story
  5. Joan’s Manuscript Quality Control Test
  6. Put Dilemmas in Your Stories for a Compelling Punch
  7. Put Universal Conflict, Theme, and Emotions in Your Story
  8. Show the Inner and Outer Conflicts of Your Characters
  9. What? I Need a Plot?

6 Other Writers’ Posts about Pitch

  1. 7 Reasons to Create a One-Page Pitch Before You Plan …
  2. Eight Steps to a Powerful Pitch
  3. How to Write a Pitch and Get Noticed | Successful Blogging
  4. How Writing Concept First Will Help Your Script & Pitch
  5. Plotting Your Picture Book by Writing Your Pitch First…
  6. “Write a Novel Pitch:” http://www/ehow.com/how_5824250_write_novel_pitch.html

Please let me know what techniques and guides you use to write your pitch.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2015

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10 Responses

  1. Joan,
    A pitch is a great way to focus and summarize what you want to write about. Then you write it. You have written a lot of posts about pitch. They are adding up! Thanks for taking the time to share what you learn along your journey.

    Like

    • Dear Linda,
      Thank you for writing.I’m glad that you believe a pitch is a great way to focus and summarize what you want to write about. That is what I’ve discovered. It can always be changed and updated as a better idea flows into your mind.

      Celebrate you
      Never Give Up
      Joan

      Like

  2. Thanks for such a comprehensive article on how to pitch and what a pitch is, Joan. I loved reading how you have organized it. Very informative. 🙂

    Like

    • Dear Claiike,
      Thank you for taking time to write. I am so glad that you liked my blog post about pitch. It especially made me happy when you said you thought it was comprehensive and you liked the way it was organized. 🙂
      When you write your pitch, I believe it will enable you to write a better selling manuscript! Hurray!

      Never Give Up
      Joan

      Like

  3. Excellent blog post, Joan. Thanks, Sarah.

    Like

    • Dear Sarah,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you liked the blog post. I hope it helps you formulate a selling pitch for a prize-winning best selling story.

      Sincerely,
      Joan

      Like

  4. Thank you Joan! You are a wealth of information, as usual!

    Like

    • Dear Becky,
      Thank you for writing. You’re very welcome. You say the nicest things. I hope you found information you can use.

      Celebrate you
      Never Give Up
      Joan

      Like

  5. Joan, such great information. Your post reminded me of my first SCBWI conference and I participated in an activity where each person when down the line to tell the pitch of their manuscript within a short amount of time to a stranger. Boy, the first few times I didn’t get too far at all! It really made me realize the importance of a concise, yet descriptive pitch AND how difficult it is to write one. I really liked your point that writing our pitch first can really help us see potential holes in our story. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Kathleen,
      Thank you for writing. I believe I was at the same SCBWI conference. That was the second year they explained what a pitch was and I still didn’t get it. You’re right, when they give you a few minutes and move you on, sort of like speed dating, you realize you need to make your pitch short and to the point. Otherwise, editors and agents may miss the whole point of your story. I appreciate you for being a loyal follower and commenter.

      Love you.
      Never Give Up
      Joan

      Liked by 1 person

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