Pub Rants

Blog Pitch Workshop (VII)

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STATUS: TGIF! I’m close to wrapping up three different contracts today. That’s some good work.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? CRUSH WITH EYELINER by R.E.M

Today will be a huge departure from Wednesday’s workshop. Writing romance couldn’t be more opposite to horror if you tried. Seemed like a perfect place to go next!

Romance, for me, is another really tough genre to pitch because basically there are no new stories under the sun nor is the ending in question.

So when writing romance pitch copy, the real focus needs to be on the elements that make this romance original. Hard to do since all romances have a hero, a heroine, a conflict that impedes the romance and of course, a happy ending.

There might not be any new stories under the sun but there are certainly new ways to tell them! Your pitch blurb becomes your tool to show an agent that you have an original new way of telling a romance.

One of my favorite writers for her originality is Julia Quinn and Romancing Mister Bridgerton might be one of my all-time favorite historicals.

From the back cover copy:
Penelope Featherington has secretly adored her best friend’s brother for . . . well, it feels like forever. After half a lifetime of watching Colin Bridgerton from afar, she thinks she knows everything about him, until she stumbles across his deepest secret . . . and fears she doesn’t know him at all.

Colin Bridgerton is tired of being thought nothing but an empty-headed charmer, tired of everyone’s preoccupation with the notorious gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, who can’t seem to publish an edition without mentioning him in the first paragraph. But when Colin returns to London from a trip abroad, he discovers nothing in his life is quite the same—especially Penelope Featherington! The girl haunting his dreams. But when he discovers that Penelope has secrets of her own, this elusive bachelor must decide . . . is she his biggest threat—or his promise of a happy ending?

Now Let’s analyze:

1. This copy is six sentences.

2. This blurb is also unique in that it’s the first cover copy we’ve examined where the focus is on the characters rather than the plot and for this to work, we really need to see something original in the character outlines given. What catches my eye for this novel is the fact that Penelope has had a long-time crush on the hero. (I’ve seen this many times since reading this novel but several years ago, it wasn’t as common a construct.) I also like the focus on Colin and his wanting to be viewed as something more than your average charmer. It hints at some interesting character exploration (which actually does occur in the novel).

3. The only plot elements even hinted at are the secrets and his exasperation with lady Whistledown. If you’ve read this novel, the importance of that is going to take center stage but not much is actually revealed in the copy.

4. Why is that? Well, part of the reason might be that this is book four in the Bridgerton family series and there might be an assumption that the reader might already know the family and the basic romance constructs Ms. Quinn utilizes. I point this out so you can keep it in mind when writing romance copy for your first novel. You need to do more rather than less to make your romance pitch stand out.

To often I see historical romance pitch copy that reads something like this: she’s desperate but the belle of the ball and he’s a rake. It’s too generic. I need some original element (character, plot device, etc.) to grab my interest or I’ll pass.

7 Responses

  1. beverley said:

    But here’s the great news, word on the street says historical romances are in vogue again. Yippee!!!

  2. Katie said:

    I’ve got a question, Kristin… the element that makes my plot and characters most unusual and intriguing (I think, at least), is something that neither the heroine nor the reader discover about the hero until the climax of the book. The figuring out of this element is a major part of the plot. So do I give this away in my pitch, thereby ruining the surprise if/when the pitch is successful and the agent requests a full… OR should I pitch on the same character traits (an old-fashioned code of honor), skills (like swordfighting) and happenings (visions of herself in the past) that intrigue my heroine and make her want to know what in the world is going on?

  3. Renee Lynn Scott said:

    I’m trying to wrap this all around my brain. I think as we writers we like to thing we have the “original” plot. I know it’s laughable.

    I used to used to quote Fran Lebowitz in my tagline, Original thought is like original sin: both happened before you were born to people you could not have possibly met.

    It’s so tempting to bore you with my query blurb, just to see if I’m on the right track, especially since it is my first one. But I won’t. : )

  4. Janet said:

    “I’ve got a question, Kristin… the element that makes my plot and characters most unusual and intriguing (I think, at least), is something that neither the heroine nor the reader discover about the hero until the climax of the book.”

    Katie, the potential problem I see here is that readers might not stick with you long enough to figure out you’ve got something unique going on. If you’re not already published, so that readers trust you to deliver already, you’re going to have to find a way to get them interested much earlier in the story.

  5. Deb said:

    Kristin, I thought romance was an auto-pass for your agency anyway. Are you saying now you would look at a romance proposal?

  6. Robert Heylmun said:

    Is there any room here for a gay novel that is both a love story and a kind of chronicle? I’ve written one. I don’t see much on this site in the way of gay anything. How come?