Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Art of Pitching

The Pitch.

Make your pitch.

Pitch your novel.

Whatever the expression, it’s harder to do than one would think. If you’ve ever been asked for a quick capsule summary—er, sorry, pitch—of your novel, you’ll likely agree.

Unless you’re prepared for just such an eventuality.

Joseph Finder (author of “Suspicion,” among others) has written one of the better and instructive articles on the subject. While his pitch is more the screenplay variety, I think the idea lends itself to novels as well.


As Finder writes: “Why should novelists care about the art of the pitch in Hollywood? Because being able to pitch a movie, or a TV show, is the same skill as being able to come up with the ‘hook,’ the ‘what-if,’ the premise of that novel….”

I thought of the two mysteries I’ve written and how I pitch them; or at least, how I explain or sum them up. It’s not that either is all that involved or complicated.

Nonetheless, squeezing the plot into a 10-15 second pitch has never been easy for me.

Oh, I can do it. In Media Blitz—someone is going around Boston killing members of the media.

OK. Not bad.

For The Zyratron Affair—several killings erupt around the stealing of Zyratron, a rare figurine from 1960s horror movies, for which collectors are getting $12,000 and more.

Yet without overcomplicating things, I find that I still want to say more that that in my pitch.

Do I get cynical and gimmicky? "In Media Blitz, someone is going around Boston killing members of the media. Then Elvis turns up alive, lecturing at Harvard."

Hardly.

So I guess it’s KISS time: keep it simple, stupid.

In pitch mode, I guess that’ll have to do.

Any ideas, authors? If so, keep them brief. Obviously….

1 comment:

Beryl Reichenberg said...

I too find it difficult to boil down my stories into an effective pitch and my stories are uncomplicated children's books. It often takes several rewrites before I'm satisfied. I think persistence and practice are part of the answer. I'd love to hear from others, especially if you have a magic formula. Beryl