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For this morning's THREAD, I present a challenge.

By the time this thread is over, you'll have a Twitter-sized pitch for whatever you're writing. And it'll be a good one.

Let's go #writers living a #writerslife as a member of the #WritingCommunity who are #amwriting
A pitch is a sharp singular presentation with one goal: to make the person receiving the pitch want more information.

It's not a summary.
It's not a ramble.

It's the start of a conversation that will lead to questions and reading and more talking.
A pitch is less about context (world-building) and more about the stakes of that context (the thing that's in danger/risked/a problem) and how the character is going to have to do something about it.
From a construction point of view, you want words that maximize impact in a small space. Evocative verbs, clear phrasing. Clear pacing from one idea or idea segment to the next.
This can't work if you can't boil down your idea first to its roots and then to its key idea - what happens, to whom, to what end, or else what (etc).

Some parts of the story are more interesting and more evocative than other parts. Find them. Tie them together.
If your story is about a person who discovers she is the long lost heir to a tremendous fortune she can inherit only if she survives a weekend in the worst place imaginable (call it MY WEEKEND WITH DONNIE), we have several different points to build from.
There are no wrong answers, just different ones here. There's very seldom a one-size-fits-all pitch, so it's a good idea to have variations and options.

Want to talk about who she is? Then it's a character-first pitch.
Want to talk about the stakes? Then it's an elemental pitch
A CHARACTER-FIRST pitch establishes the WHO of the story and sets up the rest of the pitch around the WHO and whatever makes the WHO a big deal best suited for the story. (Why this character and not the lady over there instead?)
The easiest way to set up a character-first pitch is with contrast, meaning you make it clear the character is at a certain point in her life and there's potential to reach a different point.

This creates a relatable context for the reader. You want that.
Contrast looks like: Dana feels like she's stuck with her shitty apartment and dead houseplants. And then the aunt she hates calls.

If you don't want to contrast, another option would be circumstance development.
Here, you take context and truncate it, so that you create a premise for what the character has to do. This is often a phrase or part of a longer sentence (doesn't have to be).

When Aunt Diane gives Dana a chance to stop being "the family failure" ...
Coming at this from another direction, we can make an ELEMENTAL PITCH where we look at something that isn't the character and focus on its potential to impact the story.

Like this: Survive the weekend and she'll make 5 million dollars.
By setting up an element with some potential you naturally lead the reader to wonder "okay what's the catch, what makes this difficult" So then we can naturally follow up our element with a COMPLICATION.

As in: She should have asked how. Or what she'd have to do.
Now that you've got something interesting set up, you can add in the RISKS and DANGERS.

Like: You'd think a weekend wouldn't be so hard to survive. Unless your weekend was spent at the side of the dumbass "leader" of the free world while he's tweeting.
By the end of the pitch you want the reader to walk away with:

a character
a conflict
some reason why it's no so easy
the potential upside

No, not always in that order. No not always framed the same way. But those are the gears for the machine.
One thing to look out for - wordiness. Extra bloat. Words that you can cut (like the one in that sentence) Words that distract or prolong a setup. Extraneous facts that don't add interest to someone who doesn't have the whole story yet.
Let's pull our pitch together.

5 million dollars on the line. All she has to do is make it to Monday. Dana figures this is the easiest way to get her life on track. And she'd be right, except she's got to survive a weekend being within 30 feet of the President at all times
You generally want to land (meaning end) the pitch on the element that carries the greatest potential to make the reader want more information. That's often going to be the conflict or the upside or the thing that makes the character unique. Prize your potential here. Evoke it.
Our sample pitch is good, but we can streamline it.

It's Thursday. If Dana can make it to 8am on Monday, she'll have 5 million dollars. She just needs to do 2 things: stay alive, and stay within 30 feet of the President at all times.
Absent from the pitch is a lot of plot written out. We could bring the shapeshifting love interest or some scene setting in but that would change the frame of the pitch as we've built it. We don't want to congest the pitch and diffuse our reader's focus.
Tension and potential are our two major sliders in pitch construction. You take your facts, you modulate how you present them via tension and potential, and your pitch becomes a sharper and sharper hook for the reader.
You can do this. Practice the hell out of it. If you find you keep repeating phrases or pitch parts, make an effort to come up with a different way in the next pitch (there's always a next pitch). /THREAD
If you ever want some help, I love working on pitches. For more on pitches and queries, visit the blog: writernextdoor.com/blog/

This thread is made possible by Patreon support: patreon.com/johnhelpsyoucr…

Keep writing, don't give up.
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