Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Writers Club Wednesday: Pitches

Today at our Laie Young Writers meeting, we'll be talking about pitches. This will be the first in a series that covers two vital weapons in an author's arsenal, the pitch and the synopsis.

A pitch is a few short paragraphs that are meant to leave an agent or editor dying to read your book. The pitch doesn't contain the whole plot, but should take the most fascinating elements of your book and put them on display for all to see. It's like a shop window, meant to lure prospective buyers inside. You'll use a pitch to interest an agent, and then if that agent represents you, she will probably use that pitch to hook an editor, and the editor will need that pitch to convince the editorial department to take a chance on your book. So a good pitch can go a long way.

But how to write one?

It isn't easy. A good pitch is like poetry. Every word counts. And how can you boil down an entire novel to less than half a page? But this is what makes the pitch such a great writing tool. It forces you to decide what's most important about your story. In fact, I like to write my pitch before I begin drafting a new book. It keeps me on track as I go.

According to Elana Johnson's excellent guide, From the Query to the Call, a pitch needs four things:

1. Hook
2. Set-up
3. Conflict
4. Consequence

This afternoon we'll take a look at a successful pitch, analyze it, and then try writing our own.

From the Query to the Call is free for download from Elana Johnson's website. Those of you who are serious about publishing should definitely read it for yourselves.

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