Pipes of Pitches

A lot of new writers are bowled completely over by the idea of a pitch line or summary.  It’s unfortunately one of those things you have to master in a professional sense.  Brevity is the soul of wit, as they say, and both pitch lines and summaries are exercises in that.

A pitch line or logline is one sentence that describes the premise of your book.  It doesn’t have to resolve any climaxes or establish any characters.  It just has to present an interesting possibility.  You can find most pitch lines on the inside flap of a book under the publication date in new books.  Examples:

A cop comes to L.A. to visit his estranged wife and her office building is taken over by terrorist. – Die Hard

A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend – Pretty Woman

A ring capable of destroying the world of men falls into the hands of a hobbit that has never ventured outside his home.  – Fellowship of the Ring

If you find yourself unable to pitch your projects or novel’s premise one sentence, odds are your story might be overly convoluted and in need of some cutting. Pitch lines rarely include fantasy terms or names (no Ringwraiths or Sauron mentioned in LOTR’s pitch, you’ll notice, but not everyone would have known what a hobbit is before Tolkien’s time!)

Pitch lines are important because they’re quick and snappy.  My pitch line is under my Facebook’s “about” page: A young dolphin and her human ward, both with the potential for the psychic abilities of Highsong, discover they are the only defense against a massive alien onslaught.

If you can be brief in your pitch lines and summaries, odds are you can be brief in your writing.  That’s attractive, especially in a sea of 14,000-75,000 ebook writers, many of which never bothered to read how to write.

Awww, yeah, dolphins versus aliens theme song!

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About coyoteclockwork

I am 29 and living on the outskirts of the North Austin, TX area. I'm an illustrator and a writer of YA fantasy. I'm also an avid video gamer and have a lot of background in good-old tabletop RPG, when I'm not editing manuscripts for myself or part of my writing group at the Austin SCBWI.
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4 Responses to Pipes of Pitches

  1. ampbreia says:

    Good advice. Definitely something I need to work on. Brevity isn’t my strong suit.

  2. keyanadrake says:

    Oh! Just the sort of place I need to start. Thank you ❤

  3. Stormy says:

    This is just my 2c, but with your pitch line of:
    A young dolphin and her human ward, both with the potential for the psychic abilities of Highsong, discover they are the only defense against a massive alien onslaught.

    Seems at odds with the advice to not include fantasy terms.

    I’d cut it down to: A young dolphin and her human ward, discover they are the only defense against a massive alien onslaught.

    Because then you’ve got people asking:
    *Ok, how does a dolphin look after the human?
    *Can the dolphin talk human, or is it the other way around?
    *Are the dolphins the descendants of the ones that fled during Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? 😛

    And so on.

    I’d have no problem with the expansion during the blurb, but the pitch line is supposed to cast as wide a net as possible, and it seems like the “both with the potential for the psychic abilities of Highsong” bogs it down a little, takes away from the brevity that the other pitches have.

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