Pitch Slapped

Pitch PerfectYou guys are gonna get pitch-slapped so hard, your man boobs are gonna concave. ~Fat Amy from Pitch Perfect

Isn’t that how we want people to feel after reading our pitches? Like they’ve encountered something so awesome it actually changes them and now they MUST read our novels.
While we’re unlikely to make someone’s boobs go concave with our words, we can take lessons from the movie Pitch Perfect to help us craft a perfect pitch.
Yeah, this number is like an elephant dart to the public’s face. ~John 
Don’t be boring! A pitch is a sales tool, not a summary of the novel. A solid block of text with the gist of, “This happened, then this happened, and then this happened,” no matter how well written, will have readers asking, Is it just me, or did we take a left turn into snooze-ville? ~Gail
While it’s important to include elements of our plot, we need to focus on the plot points that will grab people’s attention. We should tempt and tantalize them until they are so intrigued they want to gobble up our novels right then to find out what happens.
Even though some of you are pretty thin, you all have fat hearts, and that’s what matters. ~Fat Amy
It’s vital that we connect emotionally with our readers - get them invested in our characters so they want to follow them over the course of an entire novel. Even if our characters are unlikeable, we want readers to root for them.
While space is at a premium in a pitch, we must find a way to quickly form a bond between our characters and the reader. It might be a quick bit of interesting back story or a habit or a fear – something that helps the reader see into the fat heart of the character and want to spend more time with them.
We should be taking risks. It’s not enough to be good, we need to put ourselves out there, be different. ~Beca
Most of us have heard the writing adage that there are only seven basic plots. Making it even tougher to stand out, a pitch has so little real estate it’s easy to fall into generalities and clichés to describe our novels in order to save space. With agents and editors reading so many pitches, we have to highlight what makes our novels special. What makes our vampire romance/teen discovers powers on 16th birthday/surviving in a post-apocalyptic world novel different from all the others out there?
Is it something special about the voice of your character? Then make sure it shines through in the pitch. Is it a quirk that makes your character intriguing? Then draw attention to it in the pitch with a memorable example. Is it a unique setting? Then make the readers feel they are standing there while reading the pitch.
It’s important to identify what makes our novel unique and emphasize that in the pitch, but as with all our writing, we need to make sure we show and don’t tell. Don’t say, “Emma is different from any teen you’ve ever read about before.” Instead try a specific and memorable detail like, “Emma always starts the morning announcements with off-key singing from Madama Butterfly.”
Your weirdness is actually affecting my vocal cords, so I’m gonna need you to scoot! Skedaddle! ~Bumper
Keep in mind there’s a fine line between being different and being off-putting. We want readers to remember our pitches, but not because it makes them wonder if they should call the loony bin. And while we are all obviously insane since we decided to be writers, we should keep a lid on the cray-cray to make sure we stand out in a good way, not a ‘grab the butterfly net’ way.
Pitch Fest Blogger
Since this is turning out longer than I thought, I’m going to stop here for now. Check out Pitch Slapped - Part 2 for more ways Pitch Perfect can teach us about writing perfect pitches.
In the meantime, find out all the details about the WriteOnCon 2013 Pitch Fest, and then go out there and crush it!
Have you seen Pitch Perfect? Are the songs permanently stuck in your head? Do you have any tips to share about writing a pitch? Are you planning to participate in the Pitch Fest?


Rebecca Petruck's picture

What a great breakdown/comparison! I think Pitch Perfect is DOUBLY perfect to make your point because between the title and the movie poster, you pretty much know what the movie will be--sassy on the smart ass end of the spectrum, and lots of fun. You asked about tips we might have. I think the key is to identify WHO WANTS what and WHY, and who/what is in the way. Ie, MC, Goal, Conflict. Easier than it sounds, I know. :)Good luck to everyone who pitches!

Jocelyn Rish's picture

The title and poster really do set up the fun spirit of the movie.  And those are great tips for pitching - thanks!

Lexa Cain's picture

I can't write a pitch to save my life. :P  But I think I've already queried my ms to every agent known to man, so there's no need to pitch anyone anymore. I'll worry about it for my next ms ... if I ever actually get off my butt and write one! lolGreat post! :-)

Jocelyn Rish's picture

Pitches make me want to tear my hair out.  Best of luck with your new manuscript!

Carissa's picture

Hahaha, LOVE this and what a perfect movie to illustrate these points!I didn't stop singing Titanium for weeks after seeing that movie =D

Jocelyn Rish's picture

Thanks! I had the soundtrack blasting while I wrote both posts. The irony is that I didn't like the commercials for the movie very much. It wasn't until I heard everyone raving about how much fun it was that I finally broke down and watched it. :-)

Natalie Aguirre's picture

Thanks for sharing even more great advice. So true the pitch needs to be unique.

Jocelyn Rish's picture

My pleasure! And thank you for stopping by!

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