Pub Rants

Building The Pitch Paragraph (Part Two)

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STATUS: I’m okay. I didn’t accomplish as much as I had hoped today but I think I’m always overly optimistic after I’ve been out of the office for a couple of days on what actually can be completed in one 9 hour day.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BABY GOT BACK version by Richard Cheese

I can’t help but share my excitement. My revamped Pitch presentation was a huge success—and I don’t mean because the participants “liked” it. Part of the hands on exercise was having audience members rewrite their pitch paragraphs right there in the workshop in 9 sentences or fewer. Then I asked volunteers to share their new pitches aloud.

I was (and I’m sure other members of the audience were too) blown away at how good the pitch paragraphs were when the writers focused on the trigger event that happens in the first 30 pages to shape their pitches.

There was lots of clapping, foot stomping, and cheers. We must have heard about 8 different revised pitches and if those paragraphs had come to me in an email query letter, I would have requested sample pages.

And judging by the audiences response, they would have read sample pages too!

So onward. On Friday I talked about backstory as a way to develop the pitch around the trigger event.

Today, let’s talk about supporting plot elements. Straight from my power point presentation, I used Linnea Sinclair’s back cover copy for THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES as a great example of how other story details can help shape the pitch.

In this steamy, suspenseful new novel from RITA award-winning author Linnea Sinclair, a dangerously sexy space commander and an irresistibly earthy Florida police detective pair up to save the civilized galaxy…but can they save themselves from each other?


Bahia Vista homicide detective Theo Petrakos thought he’d seen it all. Then a mummified corpse and a room full of futuristic hardware sends Guardian Force commander Jorie Mikkalah into his life. Before the night’s through, he’s become her unofficial partner—and official prisoner—in a race to save the Earth. And that’s only the start of his troubles.

Jorie’s mission is to stop a deadly infestation of bio-mechanical organisms from using Earth as its breeding ground. If she succeeds, she could save a world and win a captaincy. But she’ll need Theo’s help, even if their unlikely partnership does threaten to set off an intergalactic incident.

Because if she fails, she’ll lose not just a planet and a promotion, but a man who’s become far more important than she cares to admit.

Step One: Identify the plot catalyst.
The detective finds a mummified corpse and a room full of futuristic hardware that shouldn’t exist. This brings Jorie, the outworlder, to the planet. (Outworlders he doesn’t know exist, by the way.) This happens in the first two opening chapters and allows the rest of the story to start to unfold.

Step Two:
This cover copy is going to use other plot elements to shape the pitch further. We find out that Theo becomes her partner and prisoner (plot elements).

We discover what Jorie’s actual mission is (to destroy the zombies) because we need the context for those Zombies (which aren’t your usual walking dead). Plot element and part of the world building.

Then we find out yet another plot element—if she succeeds she’ll be rewarded with a captaincy—so stakes are high for her to make this mission work. And gives us a sense of the urgency and possible tension. What is she willing to risk if she fails?

So this is yet another way to build that pitch project. And yes, you can use a combination of the three I highlighted. One person in my workshop did a great job with a combo but I don’t have that pitch to share. Sorry.

Tomorrow we’ll tackle using character elements to build that pitch.

5 Responses

  1. Manic Mom said:

    So cool to have been a part of the foot-stomping and cheering of your successful workshop! It was the highlight of the conference to meet you Kristin!

    Thank you for your enthusiasm toward the industry and your kindness toward writers! It’s truly sincere and honest! You’re one of a kind!

  2. karen doornebos said:

    Kristin, you are the Pitch Paragraph “It” Girl! You demystified the query letter for us writers at Spring Fling this past weekend. Many thanks. You need to market this presentation–publish it, perhaps?! Great seeing you live and in person!

  3. hldyer said:

    I was at that workshop (in fact, I offered you an inadequate watch).

    And I can testify that the session was, indeed, awesome. In every regard. Your presentation and the pitches it generated… Amazing!

    I wish it had been LONGER.