11 Questions for Crafting a Pitch
This weekend I taught at a writers’ conference and my topic was “Selling Your Stuff,” creating those all important sales materials for your book:
The one-sentence summary.
The pitch paragraph.
The elevator pitch.
I was talking to a room full of novelists, so I focused on fiction. I told them that the main elements of a pitch for a novel are:
Their choice, conflict, or goal
What’s at stake (may be implied)
But I know it’s still hard figuring out exactly the right way to pitch. You have to simplify your story and pitch a single plot thread and as few characters as possible. You have to be precise, and use specific (not vague) language. And you have to make it interesting, which means you need to find the most unique and special aspect of your story and make sure it’s covered in the pitch.
So I’ve come up with a set of 11 questions that I recommend novelists work through before even starting to craft a pitch or summary. If you think about the answers to these questions, and write them down, you’ll be more equipped to find the right elements of your story to include in the pitch.
The 11 Questions
1. What’s the genre of your book?
2. What’s the hook, or what’s most unique or special about your book?
3. Who is the protagonist and what’s the most interesting thing about him or her?
4. Who is the antagonist and how is he/she standing in the way of the protagonist’s goal?
5. What conflict, dilemma or choice does the protagonist face? (Central story question.)
6. What is at stake? What are the consequences of the choice or conflict?
7. What is the catalyst, or the main event that gets the story started?
8. What are the main points of action that drive the plot?
9. What is the setting of the story?
10. What is the interesting backstory that affects your characters in the current story?
11. What is the book’s theme?
The point of these questions is for you to identify the crucial elements that would make for a good pitch, and it’s best to figure it out before you get started rather than in the middle of trying to write your pitch paragraph or 1-sentence summary. Let me know if you find these helpful.
(c) 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent