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20 February 2013 @ 12:30 pm
Crafting the Short Pitch  
I'm still in the midst of re-(re-re-)writing the synopsis for Highway of Mirrors, but I find myself in need of a short pitch, so I'm taking a break to work on that. Now, working on the synopsis is more painful than the query, and I recall writing a one-sentence pitch and thinking "Hey, that didn't hurt!", so I had this theory that the shorter the form, the easier it is to summarize the work. The short pitch is proving to be anomalous data. ;-(  It's especially frustrating because I thought I already had a short pitch written, and as usual when I think that sort of thing, it's both too long and not very good.

I'm saying "short pitch" for my own convenience; this is the thing also known as a logline or an elevator pitch. Sometimes the logline and the one-sentence pitch are the same thing. In this case, the target is asking for a logline, and 2-3 sentences seems to be the standard among the examples (at least, the good ones). Unsurprisingly, I'm having trouble sounding both pithy and coherent in that small a space.

All the various short representations of a novel -- summary, outline, query, elevator pitch -- are generally lumped together as being summaries of the story, in various degrees of detail. But it's occurring to me that that's not quite right. A summary, obviously, is a summary; an outline is a summary in a more bullet-pointy (yes, I am a writer) format; a query is a briefer summary that leaves off the ending. But the purpose of the short pitch/elevator pitch/logline is not to summarize; it's to sell. Yes, the others are all sales tools too, but they do their selling by giving at least a somewhat accurate overall impression of the novel. The logline is all about the "hey, cool!" factor.

In this particular case, the only thing the logline needs to do is be interesting enough to get people to read the brief excerpt that will appear directly below it. It has to be interesting, it has to make people say "hey, cool!", it has to stick in the reader's brain -- it does not have to sum up the whole book, however briefly. And that's why my pre-existing short pitch isn't good; it's an accurate summary given its length, but it's utterly lacking in "hey, cool!"

In this particular application, it'd also be nice if the logline seemed to fit with the excerpt. However, to my surprise, I've managed to find a <500-word chunk that gives a good impression of the characters, the tradecraft, and even the theme -- despite not actually being about the theme, when it's in context. So if I nail the "complex characters doing morally ambiguous things" aspect in the short pitch, I'm golden.

Which is all a long, procrastinatey way to say that I've figured out what I've been doing wrong. Now I just need to sit down and do it right.

This entry was originally posted at http://lizvogel.dreamwidth.org/74297.html because LiveJournal has broken posting on my browser. Comments accepted here, but please comment on Dreamwidth if you possibly can.

 
 
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