Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The 5 W's of Writing a Pitch Line

Next week, along with a bajillion other writerly-type humanoids, I'll be jetting off to Nashville for the ACFW Conference. We'll all have one thing in common. Besides stalking the keynote speaker Ted Dekker, that is.

We'll all be pitching our little hearts out to agents and editors. And that means we all need to craft a fantastic hook, or log line, or 1-sentence pitch -- pick your poison, they all mean the same thing. How exactly does one do that?

The 5 W's of Writing a Fantastic Pitch Line

1. Who is the main character?

2. What is the conflict (usually the inciting incident)?

3. What are the stakes?

4. Where is the story set? Note: This one can be optional.

5. Why is the action taking place?

Once you've got those 5 questions answered, then it's time to flesh it out into a 25 word sentence. Sure, you can write more at first, but then whittle it down to only 25. Here's an example of the one I wrote today . . .

When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler.

Can you identify all the answers?
Who = prim and proper governess
What Conflict = must leave her position to travel back home
What Stakes = falls in love with a smuggler, a big no-no
Where = England
Why = she's going to comfort her dying father

And yes, if you count it, that's exactly 25 words.

Writing a pitch line takes a LOT of thought and effort to condense your story down to the barest essence. You won't get it right the first time, or the second, or possibly the third or fourth. But here's a nugget of advice . . . it's better to put the thought into it now before you're face to face with an editor or agent, because then you'll really be tongue-tied.


chappydebbie said...

Have fun! Praying for safe travels.

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