Sunday, November 20, 2011

Elevator Pitch: Your Thanksgiving Homework

Quick- in 50 words or less, tell me what your novel is about.

Can you do it?

When you're living your daily life you're probably thinking about your novel all the time, but if you're like me, you don't always have a quick way to describe it.

Somebody at a party says, "I heard you're writing a novel. What's it about?"

You stuff a handful of chips in your mouth and start inching away, thinking, Who told you that? I want them eaten by zombies.

But we need to have something ready. They call this our "elevator pitch." It's the pitch that's short enough to present to somebody in an elevator. You could also call it the, "quick-before-her-eyes-glaze-over pitch."

Give the essence without character names or place names. Tell me the gist as if you were a squeeing fan of this novel.

I'll quickly do the three novels that happen to be on my table right now and I promise I won't cheat.

An orphan learns he can do magic and must save the world from an evil wizard by keeping him from getting a magic rock.

~Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

It's about the thirteenth sister in the Twelve Dancing Princesses and she has to solve the mystery and break the enchantment on her sisters.

~The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler

A guy learns his best friend's an alien and the world is getting blown up and he has to leave. He travels the galaxy and learns that mice are hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings.

~The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Okay, all of those need improvement, but you get the gist. 

So, your assignment, if you're a NaNo'ing American, is to write an elevator pitch for your NaNoWriMo novel, memorize it, and utter it at some point on Thanksgiving, preferably before everyone is in an overfed stupor.


Joylene said...

Amanda, I'm not a NaNo American, but I'm game with 2 examples:

1. Canadian mother must save her children from the cartel's revenge by pretending to be FBI's "dead" witness.
--Dead Witness

2. Canadian wife & mother has her life torn asunder when she witnesses a double murder in the States and is kidnapped by the FBI so she’ll be alive to testify.

I like #1 because it hints that she's the one that will save them.

1. Metis English professor races to save her daughter from the deranged son of a powerful politician bent on being Canada's Prime Minister.
--Broken but not Dead

2. Metis English professor will have to confront not just her stalker and the highest leven of Canadian government, but her own fears and prejudices to save her daughter.

In this case I think I like #2 because it states the conflict: native woman against the white establishment.

But either way, the pitch is tough to master. I'm still working on the above.

Great post, Amanda.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Joylene, you're a pro at this!
Well, you are a published writer- so you are a pro! I shouldn't be surprised you're able to nail it! :)

Joylene said...

Thanks for that, Amanda. Here I am thinking I'll never nail it. I keep visualizing speaking to Mr. Maass at the next Surrey Writers Conference. LOL. Wow, thanks.

Kara Hartz said...

So. . . in all your examples, I didn't see one for either of your novels. Come on - *poke* - you have to play too.

Here's mine off the cuff:
A research team's failure to recognize an intelligent alien species puts their mission and their lives at risk as they struggle to find a way to communicate.

Guess I may need to work more at that.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

LOL You caught me, Kara.
Okay, but mine needs tons of work and I think it goes over the word limit:
Twelve Keys -my work in progress-
"If a teenage girl is to have any hope of seeing her brother again, she must team up with a cowboy and a unicorn to mend the space-time continuum by finding the numbers for a magical pocket watch. It's like a mash-up of True Grit, steam punk, and Dungeons and Dragons."

Yay, yours is super! Nice and tight. :)

Shelley HW said...

Oh man, I never thought of that. But now I am. Thanks.
And I love "I want them eaten by zombies."


Amanda Borenstadt said...

Maybe the blurb I wrote for NaNo was better-

When magical forces blend modern times with the old west, forming a barren quake ridden steampunk landscape, a teenage girl teams up with a cowboy and a unicorn to piece together a mysterious pocketwatch with the power to repair the space time continuum.

And it sticks within the word limit.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

LOL Shelley! Yeah, when in doubt, always bring out ths zombies. ;)

Kara Hartz said...

Wow - that second one is way better. Explains more about what's going on without giving much away. That one is great.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Kara- Cool, I'll keep it. :)
Though, he's not technically a cowboy, but he's cowboy-ish enough that it works for the purpose of the pitch. I mean, he'd kind of an old-timey guy riding around on a horse.

I think the purpose of the pitch is to *pop* the key images out there so people get the idea.
My first one doesn't pop. It rambles.

nissa_loves_cats said...

My elevator pitch is: man discovers that all elevators are living alien creatures who eat all humans who know that all elevators are living alien creatures who eat people. Best said in an elevator.
So, I wrote an elevator pitch. Do I gotta write a novel to go with it now???

Amanda Borenstadt said...

LOL Nissa, the literalist.
And yes, I want to read that novel now!!! :)

Lydia Kang said...

I've had to do my "elevator pitch" a lot after my book got sold. And just like those pitches you listed, it never sounds as good as it really it when it's condensed like that!

Amanda Borenstadt said...

So true, Lydia, because the pitch has to leave out all the cool juicy bits!

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