One Line Pitch

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polymath
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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by polymath » February 3rd, 2011, 12:00 pm

All the options given do what a pitch should, establish an emotionally compelling situation. One thing none of them have that I think is important for a pitch is specifying setting's place attribute. Time, place, and situation.

Bad blind dates make Cozy want to kill—tough luck someone murdered her date and cops found the body in her kitchen.

I'm projecting where he was murdered, a place which would imply she's guilty. And leaving it artfully hanging whether she was framed or is innocent.
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dsmith77
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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by dsmith77 » February 4th, 2011, 12:35 pm

After much, much labor (and a good bit of help) here is my one-sentence storyline:
  • A teenager with a strange sleeping condition vows to track down the mastermind who murdered his detective father.
Now, I did not come up with this on my own. I owe many thanks to Randy Ingermanson and his Advanced Fiction Writing blog readers for selecting my question one day. I have to say I'm very pleased with the result.

I highly recommend Randy's and Rachelle Gardner's tips at their respective blogs.

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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by mepatterson » February 4th, 2011, 12:56 pm

I built a web site to play with this idea. I've mentioned it on one of the other forum topics here, but couldn't resist mentioning again. BigAuthor (http://bigauthor.com) is a site I put together to let people try out their pitches, rate them and help each other polish them with critiques. I just launched, so I'm trying to get lots of people to start pitching... only a couple so far, but I have a bunch of lurkers waiting to critique and rate if authors start putting in some stuff to read. Give it a shot!

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Quill
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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by Quill » February 4th, 2011, 12:58 pm

dsmith77 wrote: A teenager with a strange sleeping condition vows to track down the mastermind who murdered his detective father.
Good, but it is not clear what the teen's main characteristic (strange sleeping condition) actually is, and more important, how it figures in to the story. Thus that clause and its info feels a bit dangling. Without it, the sentence seems to lack drama, or at least uniqueness. Not sure how to tie it in better...


________________________________

My present one-liner lacks my story's conflict altogether, though whenever I've trotted it out, to someone asking what my (middle grade) book is about, they usually respond, "wow, cool, I'd like to read that":

"A thirteen-year-old girl discovers on her family's farm in 1948 in upstate New York part of an Iroquois village magically preserved."

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polymath
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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by polymath » February 4th, 2011, 1:57 pm

Quill wrote:My present one-liner lacks my story's conflict altogether, though whenever I've trotted it out, to someone asking what my (middle grade) book is about, they usually respond, "wow, cool, I'd like to read that":

"A thirteen-year-old girl discovers on her family's farm in 1948 in upstate New York part of an Iroquois village magically preserved."
Setting's time, place, and situation in abundance. Causation, tension, and antagonism might benefit from a little foreground adjustment, though you appreciate the lack of the almighty conflict. Causation, tension, and antagonism are the cornerstones of plot. My take on the pitch's SPICE then: Setting, abundant; Plot, so-so, Idea, excellent; Character, fair; Event, profound.

Conflict is an artful combination of causation and antagonism related to stakes and motivation and final outcome. Bring conflict into play and tension's empathy and suspense join the fray.

Empathy's rapport inciting attributes derive from an emotional cluster, like pity and fear, awe and wonder, and so on. Suspense from artfully posing some variant of the generic what will happen dramatic question. I see awe and wonder and what will happen to a girl stumbling on an Iroquois village generically okay in what's given, though the abundant setting details diminish those qualities.

Causation, action and reaction, cause and effect; what compels the girl to stumble upon the village? And/or what does stumbling upon the village compel the girl to do?

Antagonism, purpose and complication or problem; how does stumbling upon the village provide for her purposes and cause her problems? Or vice versa, solve a problem only to give her new purpose with a new set of complications?

I see a Cowboy and Indian premise. She's a soon-to-be Indian princess? Though there really was no such being, Pocahontas.

Just me projecting my creative vision;
//A girl shunned by her peers seeks a hideaway and stumbles into a mysteriously intact Iroquois village in the backwoods of her grandpa's farm.//
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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by DeviousMonkey » February 4th, 2011, 5:19 pm

I'll give it a go! This is the one-line pitch I came up with for my young adult novel, "The Virgin Queen."

Queen bee Madison joins forces with her arch-nemesis, smarmy outcast Max, to destroy a mutual enemy, but finds her unexpected attraction to Max could destroy her instead.

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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by polymath » February 4th, 2011, 6:31 pm

Two things effective pitches do; they're emotionally evocative and memorable. The latter is a main reason they're short, so a screening reader can remember what a proposed project is about and pitch it to an editor while riding a noisy elevator or in another fast-paced setting. The editor, in turn, might through some quirk of fate remember it and be able to repeat it easily during an acquisition conference.

It's like the traditional parlor game Catch Phrase--though modern iterations of the game are not the same. One person whispers a catchy phrase to the person sitting next to them. We pass to the left at my family table. We're right-hand dominant. And on around the circle the phrase passes until it comes back to the originator. He or she speaks the result and the original aloud for hilarious comparison. A catchy phrase will be mostly unaltered. A less-than-catchy phrase will be completely different.
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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by Quill » February 5th, 2011, 11:28 am

polymath wrote:
Quill wrote:My present one-liner lacks my story's conflict altogether, though whenever I've trotted it out, to someone asking what my (middle grade) book is about, they usually respond, "wow, cool, I'd like to read that":

"A thirteen-year-old girl discovers on her family's farm in 1948 in upstate New York part of an Iroquois village magically preserved."
Setting's time, place, and situation in abundance. Causation, tension, and antagonism might benefit from a little foreground adjustment, though you appreciate the lack of the almighty conflict. Causation, tension, and antagonism are the cornerstones of plot. My take on the pitch's SPICE then: Setting, abundant; Plot, so-so, Idea, excellent; Character, fair; Event, profound.

Conflict is an artful combination of causation and antagonism related to stakes and motivation and final outcome. Bring conflict into play and tension's empathy and suspense join the fray.

Empathy's rapport inciting attributes derive from an emotional cluster, like pity and fear, awe and wonder, and so on. Suspense from artfully posing some variant of the generic what will happen dramatic question. I see awe and wonder and what will happen to a girl stumbling on an Iroquois village generically okay in what's given, though the abundant setting details diminish those qualities.

Causation, action and reaction, cause and effect; what compels the girl to stumble upon the village? And/or what does stumbling upon the village compel the girl to do?

Antagonism, purpose and complication or problem; how does stumbling upon the village provide for her purposes and cause her problems? Or vice versa, solve a problem only to give her new purpose with a new set of complications?

I see a Cowboy and Indian premise. She's a soon-to-be Indian princess? Though there really was no such being, Pocahontas.

Just me projecting my creative vision;
//A girl shunned by her peers seeks a hideaway and stumbles into a mysteriously intact Iroquois village in the backwoods of her grandpa's farm.//
Thanks, polymath. Your "projected creative vision" is better than mine, and includes details actually in my story. Yours does not provide the central conflict of the story either, but at least balances the setting with some situation/character details. Agree with what I think you are saying about that, though, that if the event is large enough, then the wonder about what will happen does suffice. Example: "a boy repeats strange words a wise man tells him in a dream and finds himself back in 1138 olde England." We don't necessarily need to know that once there he enters a race to save a princess, etc. The event itself is big enough to be sufficient intriguing. It piques interest and lets us know what we are in for. That's the purpose of the one-liner, right? Sure, if there's room we can say more, but it stands on its own. Better, though, if we could say something more about the boy himself, to create audience rapport.

Thanks again.

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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by polymath » February 5th, 2011, 12:50 pm

You're welcome, Quill.

Yep, the point of a pitch is to engage readers' interest and rapport and promise an entertaining reading experience using twenty-five memorable, evocative words or less. Perhaps a workshop exercise might practice pitching by combining Catch Phrase and Name That Tune games.

Pitching a writer's own creation or a published favorite.
I can pitch a novel using twenty words.
I can pitch a novel using fifteen words.
Okay then, go for it. Whisper the pitch verbally around the circle and see what the end result is.

Yes, my projected vision doesn't have a conflict on the surface, let alone the central conflict of your vision. It does, though, have a minor bridging conflict within the subtext, at least a conflict as I know the meaning of the term. The girl is rejected and acceptance is at stake. A motivating, diametric opposition of stakes and potential outcomes.

Projecting she was shunned isn't particularly a potent empathy-worthy pitiable situation. It's something though. I say that to illustrate how the 1138 boy could be posed as an empathy-worthy protagonist. A staple of middle grade and young adult protagonists is the orphan, literally or figuratively, cast out to rely upon his or her own devices. An acceptance or rejection conflict again, closely related to antagonsim and causation's powers to incite a dramatic crisis, like I projected for the girl, avoiding the word orphaned for favoring showing over telling.
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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by ajcattapan » February 5th, 2011, 10:33 pm

I just wanted to drop by and thank all of you who helped me refine my pitch.

I pitched to four people (3 agents and 1 publisher) at a conference this afternoon, and all four requested fulls! :)

Now I'd love to be able to tell you which version I used, but I was so nervous, I don't really remember. I'm sure I must have said more than 25 words, probably closer to 50. I started with my genre and word count and then gave a quick sentence or two about the plot, some combination of the ones that were posted here.

Thanks for everyone's help!

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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by Down the well » February 5th, 2011, 11:02 pm

ajcattapan wrote:I pitched to four people (3 agents and 1 publisher) at a conference this afternoon, and all four requested fulls! :)
Woohoo!! Congratulations. Kind of makes up for that bad crit you paid for. ;)

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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by stephmcgee » February 6th, 2011, 12:05 pm

ajcattapan wrote:I just wanted to drop by and thank all of you who helped me refine my pitch.

I pitched to four people (3 agents and 1 publisher) at a conference this afternoon, and all four requested fulls! :)

Now I'd love to be able to tell you which version I used, but I was so nervous, I don't really remember. I'm sure I must have said more than 25 words, probably closer to 50. I started with my genre and word count and then gave a quick sentence or two about the plot, some combination of the ones that were posted here.

Thanks for everyone's help!

Congratulations!

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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by garybak » February 6th, 2011, 1:09 pm

cheekychook wrote: Sometimes you're already committed to the wrong person when fate finally brings you the right one.
I like this one

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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by cheekychook » February 6th, 2011, 3:18 pm

garybak wrote:
cheekychook wrote: Sometimes you're already committed to the wrong person when fate finally brings you the right one.
I like this one
Thanks. :)
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Re: One Line Pitch

Post by cheekychook » February 6th, 2011, 3:29 pm

ajcattapan wrote:I just wanted to drop by and thank all of you who helped me refine my pitch.

I pitched to four people (3 agents and 1 publisher) at a conference this afternoon, and all four requested fulls! :)

Now I'd love to be able to tell you which version I used, but I was so nervous, I don't really remember. I'm sure I must have said more than 25 words, probably closer to 50. I started with my genre and word count and then gave a quick sentence or two about the plot, some combination of the ones that were posted here.

Thanks for everyone's help!
Awesome stats! Congrats and good luck with the submissions!
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