Pitch Wars: The 35-word and Twitter Pitch … simplified
May12

Pitch Wars: The 35-word and Twitter Pitch … simplified

Is your 35-word pitch (aka logline) ready? Got a Twitter pitch? Many contests require a 35-word pitch to enter. If you make it into Pitch Wars, your mentor will help you come up with a short pitch, but having something ready will make the process easier.  Also, #PitMad is coming June 9 from 8AM to 8PM EDT. Don’t know what #PitMad is? Go here for the details.  So I thought I’d give you some formulas I use  to come up with my short pitches. It’s great to have memorized when attending conferences, so if you’re asked what your manuscript is about, you have a coherent pitch to rattle off. You don’t want to lose an agent’s attention by giving them a huge exposé of every detail in your story.  Here’s some simplified formulas. I hope it helps you to come up with a pitch that hooks. The 35-word pitch or logline for your story must be exciting and pull your reader in. One to two catchy sentences that grab your reader’s attention. Use generalities, don’t use name of things that the agents won’t understand. Don’t use rhetorical questions. Make sure the stakes are clear. What does your character stand to lose if he doesn’t accomplish his goal(s)? Don’t be vague. You don’t want to confuse the agents or for it to sound vanilla. Don’t keep secrets. Avoid saying things like your character has special skills or a hidden agenda. Clearly state in the pitch the special skill or hidden agenda.   The “take action” pitch … [Protagonist] in [a situation] must [take action] to solve [the problem]. Example: Yanked into a gateway book that links the world’s great libraries, Gia finds that she’s a long lost knight and must now stop a scorned wizard hell-bent on creating an apocalypse. The “when” pitch … When [protagonist] discovers/learns/other similar word [catalyst], he/she must [overcome x] before a deadline or ticking clock, or else [stakes]. Example: When sixteen-year-old Gia Kearns accidentally jumps into a book linking the world’s libraries, she finds she’s a long lost knight and must stop an evil wizard from releasing an apocalyptic being that can destroy both the Mystik and human realms.   Add what is unique about your story to your pitch. That something cool that makes an agent/editor sit up and notice the pitch. Example: Yanked into a gateway book that links the world’s great libraries, Gia finds that she’s a long lost knight and must now stop a scorned wizard hell-bent on creating an apocalypse.   Twitter pitches … Twitter pitching on hashtags such as #PitMad have yielded many successes. Finding the perfect Twitter pitch...

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Pitch Wars: The Query … simplified
May11

Pitch Wars: The Query … simplified

Are you query ready for Pitch Wars? The first impression of your book comes from the query. It should be short and hooky. But how do you get everything about your book in your query? You don’t. It’s a teaser. You only need just enough information to hook an agent or editor. So I thought I’d share with you how I do my queries. Here’s a simplified formula. I hope it helps you to come up with a query that hooks. 1st Paragraph – The hook. This should be a few sentences that hooks the agent/publisher to read on. What’s unique about your story? Get it in your hook. I usually start with my inciting incident for the hook like in the example below, “Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library.” It’s the part where after something life-changing happens to your character, they are propelled on their journey. There’s no turning back. No going back to life as normal. 2nd Paragraph – The book. This is a mini-synopsis of the story. The main plot. What is the character’s goal? What obstacles are in the way of her goals? What will happen if she doesn’t accomplish her goals? Get the conflict and stakes in this mini-synopsis. 3rd Paragraph – Your bio. Publishing credits and blogs or sites you contribute to that have to do with writing only. Don’t add family, pets, or events that don’t pertain to publishing. Don’t say your mother read it and loves it. If you don’t have a bio like I hadn’t when I was querying, no worries, just leave it out. 4th (or 3rd) Paragraph – The closing. Note: Keep your query to around 250 words. Do personalize your query to an agent. Add voice and stir. Sample: Dear Ms. Agent, (Hook) Gia Kearns would rather spar with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather-clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he’d abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound. (Mini-synopsis) Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting forbidden love or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French vixen obsessed with Arik and a flirtation with a young wizard,...

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Pitch Wars: The Synopsis … simplified
May10

Pitch Wars: The Synopsis … simplified

Will you need a synopsis for Pitch Wars? I’m not going to lie. You may need one. Many mentors might ask for one to make that final mentee decision. I get it.  I hate writing synopses. But, unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil. Agents and editors may ask you for one. Get yours ready right after you finish your manuscript. Some writers do one before they even write the book. I can’t do that because I never follow an outline. So I thought I’d share with you how I do my synopses. Here’s a simplified formula. I hope it helps you tackle that dreaded synopsis. 1st Part (1 paragraph) – The hook. What makes your story unique? Find that special something that sets your story apart from all the other stories out there with similar premises. Your manuscript about the bonds of friendship isn’t special enough. But put the friends in a moon station or on a deserted island where they have to trust each other to survive and you have something unique. 2nd Part (1 paragraph) – Act I. The slice of life. It’s simply your character’s life before a door closes forever on the main character and life as they knew it changes. 3rd Part (1 to 2 paragraphs) – Act II. Inciting incident. No going back. Start with your Inciting incident. How do you find the inciting Incident? The inciting incident takes the character from Act 1 of the story into Act 2. Your inciting incident should follow the “slice of life.” It’s the point of no return. Your character hasn’t a choice to go back to his or her normal life. She has no choice but to move forward. 4th Part (1 to 2 paragraphs) – Act III. All seems lost. The climax. Make sure to define the stakes in the story and add the road map to the climax. Keep it clean and on the main plot. 5th Part (1 paragraph) – Closing. Wrap it up and give the ending. Yes, you give the ending of the story. You can also add that it’s a standalone with series potential if you want. Add what is unique about your story. That something cool that makes an agent/editor want to make an offer. Don’t be vague. No teasers. The agent/editor must know everything important in the story. Don’t add backstory or subplots. Do add your voice. Your synopsis should always be written in third-person, present tense no matter the tense or POV of your novel. Keep your synopsis to around 500 -1000 words. A one-page synopsis is single-spaced with breaks between paragraphs. Two-pages or more should be...

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