“What Is a Pitch?” by Joan Y. Edwards
The pitch is the structure of a story in a nutshell. A pitch is an eye catching, heart trapping short summary of your book or article. It can also be called your “Hook” or “Logline.” It’s a great selling point to include it in your query, cover letter and use it as a blurb on the back of your book. Get the pitch as close to 25 words as possible.
Write your pitch on a 3″x5″ index card. If you can’t get it all written on the front side of the card, it’s too long.
It’s a good idea to outline your plot and write your pitch first to make sure your plot works. To make sure that your plot is logical and events follow as a natural consequence. You can make sure the action your main character takes will help really solve the problem that is keeping him from achieving his goal.
Here are three examples of a good 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.
A Good Pitch
Tells 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.
Tells WHERE A pitch tells or hints at the location (the setting): beach, high school, desert, bedroom, top of skyscraper, city, small town
Tells WHEN (Especially, if it’s historical fiction)
Tells What Main Character WANTS 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.
Tells WHY? Why does this matter so much to the character? Why should we care?
Tells 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.
Questions to help you check the plot of your manuscript which might help you pinpoint ideas to put in your pitch.
WHAT’S your main character WILLING TO DO? HOW IS HE WILLING TO CHANGE IN ORDER TO GET IT? WHAT IS HIS INNER AND OUTER STRUGGLE?
WHAT FIRST ACTION DOES HE TAKE in your story THAT HE FIRMLY BELIEVES IS GOING TO HELP HIM, but alas and alack, it puts him farther from his goal.
WHAT SECOND ACTION DOES HE TAKE that he believes will help him and it puts him AT A DEEPER disadvantage.
WHAT THIRD ACTION DOES YOUR MAIN CHARACTER TAKE THAT PUTS HIM SO FAR DOWN IN THE DUMPS 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
I hope that this blog helps you have a better idea of how to write a pitch. All points in the plot are interrelated and lead the main character to get what he wants or face defeat.
- 7 Reasons to Create a One-Page Pitch Before You Plan …
- How Writing Concept First Will Help Your Script & Pitch
- Top 100 Loglines for Scripts
Please let me know what techniques and guides you use to write your pitch.
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Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2015 Joan Y. Edwards
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10 thoughts on “What Is a Pitch?”
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.
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.
Never Give Up
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. 🙂
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!
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Excellent blog post, Joan. Thanks, 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.
Thank you Joan! You are a wealth of information, as usual!
Thank you for writing. You’re very welcome. You say the nicest things. I hope you found information you can use.
Never Give Up
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 🙂
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.
Never Give Up