Yesterday, I was honoured to be a panelist at a fund-raising event for the library in the historic neighbourhood of Olas Altas in Mazatlan, Mexico. We six authors spoke of our experiences getting published. I shared my enthusiasm for perfecting the all-important ‘pitch’. It’s ironic that after years of writing the many thousands of words that comprise the manuscript, selling it may come down to a dozen words. A ‘log-line’.
“Impossible.” “Won’t do it!”
I’ve heard writers react like this — because they don’t or can’t or won’t ‘get it’. The truth is, a) it’s extremely difficult to distill the essence (or heart or point) of your story into a line or two. And, b) if publishers and producers are buried in manuscripts, which they are, then we need to cut to the chase. And, c) writing the perfect pitch can help the writing process.
Let’s look at ‘c’. The heart of a story is like a treasure map on which X marks the spot. The point of a story is like the peak of a mountain – why did we climb it? The climax of a story is a bomb, one that goes off inside the protagonist. If we can’t explain our story in these terms, then maybe we don’t really know our own story. Practicing the pitch can help.
The perfect pitch is powerful, not only because it may sell the book, but because to know the story gives us power in the writing of it. Knowing exactly what we’re writing gives us the advantage of standing on a high hill, seeing everything. Having a perfect pitch is like being king of your story’s world.