The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Pitch

         Last Saturday the St. Louis Writers Guild had a workshop on writing pitches. Since my pitches stink worse than a Major League pitcher who hasn't changed or washed his lucky socks in over six weeks, I needed yesterday's event.

      Brad Cook, the president and the workshop facilitator, shared these as crucial components of a pitch as you're writing one:

*   The hook--what is going to get the reader/editor intrigued?
*   The log line--a short, snappy line
*   The elevator pitch--a sentence 25 words or so long, which you could also    use if you are trapped in a broken elevator with an agent/editor for at least
seven hours and they're hungry and thirsty and dazed and confused and at
some point they don't have the energy to ignore you...
*   Include if it's complete or not
*   Word count
*   Who is the main character? Keep the pitch focused on the main character.
*   What is the main plot?
*   Say something about yourself

      As you're giving the pitch to an editor/agent, keep these things in mind:

  •  Stay positive. Don't say things like, "I'm not really a writer..."
  •  PracticePracticePractice--Practice your pitch aloud.
  •  Interact with the editor/agent. Don't hold the paper in front of your face.
  •  Fiction--focus on the characters.
  •  Nonfiction--focus on why you wrote the book.
  •  Your back story is not worth sucking up too much of your 5 minutes.
  •  Don't give away the ending, unless they ask (and then tell them).
  •  Be prepared to be rejected.
  •  Don't expect the editor/agent to take anything from you.

      Before I went on Saturday, I didn't have a pitch. However, as Brad was talking, I was writing and then rewriting, and came up with this pitch. I'd appreciate any (honest) feedback and suggestions you can throw my way. (Of course, if my story bores my beta reader, the manuscript won't even get out of the dug-out.)

          Lucy is Julia Roberts in Judi Dench's body. A writer,
  she deals with unimaginable anguish as she works through
  the dysfunction of her family and the fun of menopause.
  Lucy becomes unraveled and eventually redeemed through
  the fictional circle of writers, along with their essays and
  memoirs she's created. At the end, the five semi-incontinent,
  chocolate-addicted women go on a road trip trying to right a
  terrible wrong. Humorous and poignant, The S.D. Society
  is complete at 82,000 words and is part chick lit novel
  and part anthology. (I then have a couple of sentences
  introducing myself.)



  1. Judy Densch?! Thanks a lot.
    Sounds like a fun read. So when can I proof it?

    1. Linda--You're not Lucy, so you're not stuck in Judi Dench's body.

      And you won't ever get to read it if it's boring and confusing and self-indulgent...which it might be.

  2. I'm wow'd. And I would've liked to have attended the workshop, but things have been crazy around here... and I see I've missed a billion of your blog posts... I'll get to them eventually!

    1. Lynn--The workshop was good. At least I got something down on paper--it's a start.

  3. Dang! How did you whip that out during the workshop? A pitch is something I could agonize over for months, and still not do half as well as you have done.

    I will be honest. I became confused at the road trip. These are Lucy's characters, right? Are they helping Lucy with one of her problems, or is it related to their own struggles, or something of a larger scope? Sorry, I don't have a suggestion, or know if this detail even matters in a pitch. Maybe that would be giving away the ending. You have been to the workshop, and know more about pitches than I do!

    It's not you, it's me. I also had trouble with Fried Green Tomatoes, and that seems to have done all right for itself.

    1. Val--Obviously it's not as clear as I thought, which is why it's always good to have a bunch of people look at things like pitches and queries and first drafts...

      I'll work on it. Thanks for your feedback.

  4. I'm with Val on this one, the pitch confused me. Did Lucy make up the writers in her "circle"? Is she escaping reality by creating a fantasy world? Who is with her on the road trip (4 people plus Lucy? Or Lucy with 4 "imaginary" writers?)

    I'd consider keeping the tone of the pitch somewhat consistent. Some sentences sounded serious while others were more flippant. That makes it hard to know what to expect from the manuscript, which I think would be important to an agent.

    I think the premise of your story sounds appealing. I'd just tighten up the pitch a bit.

    Note that I've never tried to prepare either a pitch or a query before, so this is strictly my opinion...take it with a big grain of salt.

    Critter Alley

    1. Pat--That's a common problem I grapple with--an uneven tone. I'll work on it, along with making it more clear.

      Thanks. I appreciate your ideas.

  5. I had the same questions as those in earlier comments, so I won't restate them. I'd like to read this again after you clarify a bit. Aside from that, this sounds like a fun read. Also, you had asked for a video of the Inklets, but we've disbanded! Sorry we couldn't accommodate your request.

  6. Lisa--Thanks for your feedback. I know it needs loads and loads of work.

    As for the end of the Inklets, I hope you were able to find another critique group. I don't know what I would do without mine...

  7. Your pitch made me want to read the book, and these valuable comments just left me amazed at the generosity of writers. Speaking of which...thank you for sharing all of this!

    1. Tammy, If it seriously is in the "suckola" category, you won't ever have to read it.

      And I agree. Writers--the vast majority of them--are generous and helpful.

  8. There are some strong bits in this pitch, but I'm not really getting "Sioux." If I were sitting at a coffee shop with you, how would you tell me about your book? Start with the simple question, "Who wants what?" and go from there. And put your humor in there--there's humor, right? Go for it, Sioux!

    1. Answering that simple question helps me focus. Thanks, Cathy. And yes, there's humor--at least I hope the funny parts are indeed funny.

  9. Sorry I'm so late chiming in on this and sorry I missed the SLWG workshop, but thanks for sharing the tips you learned.

    As for your pitch. The idea for your book has me hooked. I love the touches of humor but got a wee bit confused with "along with their essays and the memoirs she's created." I also want to know more about the terrible wrong she is trying to right. My basic questions are: What is her goal/challenge? What or who is keeping her from accomplishing it? If Lucy is the protagonist, who is the antagonist? What is the inciting incident that propels her to achieve her goal?

    Hope that helps, and I would want to read your book!


Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by...