For many, a pitch is the heart of a story. It should summarise in very few words the who/what/where/why/how. In other words, everything that REALLY matters.
- The MAIN character.
- The MAIN wants/needs/desire/motivation.
- The MAIN obstacle(s).
Without any of these elements we have no conflict and without that, we have no story.
Here’s an example from Game of Thrones, a book most people know.
Ed Stark must help his old friend, King Robert, to keep his throne from many would-be usurpers, including the King’s own family, but at what cost to the Starks.
- MAIN character (Ed Stark – many would argue there are others, but it’s essentially his storyline – and that of his family – which is the foundation of the first book)
- MAIN desire (to help his old friend keep his throne and keep his family safe)
- MAIN obstacles (the potential usurpers and threats to his family)
So there’s a popular example. I’ve taken part in previous pitch competitions and this one has had the most success with likes from different publishers.
Sixteen-year-old E820927 wants to be more than a number. But to get a name, he must kill his mother.
Again, we have main character, wants and obstacles, all clearly stated. And as a result, conflict.
Here’s what our judges have to say on pitching, and they’re the ones you REALLY need to impress!
Sarah Lewis @fictionalsarah
What Sarah looks for in a pitch: “For me, character is king. No easy feat in 35 words but if you can make me care about your made-up human, then I’m yours forever.”
Jo Gatford @jmgatford
What Jo looks for in a pitch: “Tell us what’s different about your story. You only have 35 words – focus on the conflict and why we should care about your protagonist’s quandary. An interesting premise can fall flat without a character we’re rooting for.”
Catherine Johnson @catwrote
What Catherine looks for in a pitch: “What I would look for is something that hooks my interest, Something original and exciting and intriguing.”