“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Albert Einstein
Pitching isn’t a walk in the park. Coming up with a short, snappy few sentences to capture a whole novel is a little like emptying the ocean with a spoon. Where do you begin? Where do you end? How do you capture a rich story filled with scenes and characters you love and have lavished time and attention on in a handful of words?
Just recently, I had to come up with a pitch for my children’s novel. While pulling it together, I came across some tips that might prove helpful in crafting yours:
Make every word count: A pitch has to pack a lot of punch in a small package, so choose every word with care. Make sure that your adjectives are juicy and your verbs are energetic and evocative.
Plunge into your promise: Every book offers a promise to its readers. Some entertain, some amuse, others dish up romance or spine-tingling thrills. Whatever your book promises, your pitch has to broadcast its intention clearly and quickly.
Troll for inspiration: One of the best and fastest ways to master pitching is to study successful examples. These are everywhere: Check out the pithy descriptions on best-seller lists from The New York Times and other sources. Read the backcover teasers for popular books in your genre. Film pitches are also great models.
Practice, practice: Sometimes it takes a lot of distilling and revising to get a pitch that really sings and dances. Mine started out being kind of long-winded, but I kept writing and rewriting it until it felt tight and muscular. I kept looking for more sprightly verbs and ways to hint at tension and conflict.
Highlight key story elements: Be sure your pitch includes all these elements: protagonist, antagonist, conflict, stakes, setting, atmosphere, and genre.
If you get stuck, there is plenty of advice available on the Internet to inspire and motivate you. Write on!