As you may be aware, I help host the PitchSlam contest run every year by the amazing L.L. McKinney. Writers submit a 35 word pitch for feedback, then their first page for feedback, then both together for consideration for the agent round. The hosts, with a slew of talented readers, work to pick the most polished entries for the agents to read and request.
This year, someone suggested that perhaps 35 words wasn’t enough to do a book justice in a pitch. My reply was that any book could be done in 35 words or less — and I offered to use my blog to help show how. So, once a week until I run out of book ideas or people lose interest, join me here for This Book’s My Pitch.
Personally, the format I like for a pitch is:
When [inciting incident], [main character] must [basic plot] or [stakes].
So, let’s see how it plays out. This week, I’ve chosen Bone Gap. I actually haven’t read this one either, but here’s the snippet from Amazon.
“Bone Gap marks Laura Ruby as one of fiction’s most original voices. She is capable of moving you to tears, terrifying you on deep and dreamlike levels, and making your heart shout with happiness. This book is magic realism at its most magical.”—E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars
Bone Gap is the story of Roza, a beautiful girl who is taken from a quiet midwestern town and imprisoned by a mysterious man, and Finn, the only witness, who cannot forgive himself for being unable to identify her kidnapper. As we follow them through their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures, acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.
So, how do we pitch the story in 35 words or less? One option is to be super mysterious. Make people read the book to find to out what happens, right?
Who took Roza from her small town? The only person who knows is Finn, but if he can’t remember, she’ll never be able to go free. Will Finn mange to forgive himself if Roza dies?
Not so great, right? See why I say I don’t like pitches that are too vague? Or pitches with rhetorical questions? Let’s try something else:
When Roza is kidnapped, only Finn can help find her. However, he can’t identify the man who took her. Finn must remember the past, or Roza will have no future–and he’ll never forgive himself.
See how that’s better? (And I did this in about 10 minutes, so I know you can improve upon it). Make this story your pitch. Put your own 35 word pitches in the comments!