Friday, June 11, 2010

The Pitch

As any one who's read this blog for a period of time knows, I've struggled with the lovely query letter. S-T-R-U-G-G-L-E-D!! In fact, the query gives me nightmares. Ever been chased around in your dreams by an almost blank piece of paper with the words query letter across the top? Oh, did I mention the paper is able to laugh. Yeah, I know, a bit strange and demented! A. Bit! Ha!

I think I can put writing the query up there with my fear of spiders and bees. Okay, I'm not afraid of bees, but I just don't like things that sting . . . repeatedly. Ever been chased by a bunch of hornets? Oh, I have, and I had the 21 (well, maybe not that many, but multiple) stings to prove that theory. It wasn't pretty, but it was quite humorous to my friends watching me run up the street screaming and swatting at the dratted beasts. Yeah, I didn't get the humor either.

So, I've struggled with the query. S-T-R-U-G-G-L-E-D! I'm still struggling, but, there is hope.

I was working on my one sentence pitch earlier in the week. Yeah, one sentence to describe 120,000 words of brilliance. Yes, I know, too many words, working on that one.

I'd write a one sentence pitch.

I'd scratch it out.

I'd write another one sentence pitch.

I'd scratch it out.

I'd write . . . well, I'm sure you get the picture. Repeatedly writing and scratching, writing and scratching, my stress level rising and not a margarita in sight. Then . . .


I realized (I'm a bit slow every now and then) that I was approaching my one sentence pitch from the wrong angle. You see, this book I'm going to query has multiple (remember that word, it's very important) perspectives. M-U-L-T-I-P-L-E! So, I'm like focusing the query on a single perspective, which is what you're supposed to do, but . . .

It was the W-R-O-N-G perspective. GEESH! I had the brilliant idea to write the one sentence pitch from one of the other perspectives and - BAM, Emeril time - the sentence began to gel together. It's not that what happens to the other character(s) isn't important, because it is. It was only that, for the pitch, I needed the strongest, most powerful, greatest impact perspective to grab (hopefully, fingers crossed) an agent's attention. Well, DUH!

Yeah, I told you I'm a bit slow at times. All this time I've been focusing on a single character (yes, supposed to do that, check marks for effort), just the wrong one. Once I focused on a different character - wham, bam, give me a slice of country ham - I knew (goosebumps) I had the right character! Woo-hoo!

So, if you're struggling with your query, your one sentence pitch, take my advice: shift your focus a bit, especially if you have multiple characters perspectives within your however many words of brilliance.

Last, but never least, here are some links to help with one sentence pitch. The first three are all from Rachelle Gardner's blog from a recent contest, and the others just offer up some helpful advice.

Now, off to the linkity-links and may wisdom come to you sooner on this subject than it did to me!



Robyn Campbell said...

Oh man, I finally got mine. I think. I love my query now. And my pitch? Totally awesome. Thanks to QUEEN Elana! And you, and Davin, Scott, and Michelle. So when you have friends in high places, you learn. Or at least you should.

Sounds to me like you have. Congrads. Getting that pitch, it AIN'T easy, my friend.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

You just given me another reason to write novels from a single pov. ;)

Great new look to the blog, btw.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Hoorah for the epiphany! Love the new blog renovation.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

I had such a similar problem! So much going on in my ms -- how was I going to sum it up in one sentence! Just a few days ago, I realized the biggest storyline in my book was not the one I was focusing on. After that, everything fell into place. Love when that happens!! Congrats on getting your one sentence figured out!

Scott said...

Robyn – you actually put in writing that I’m a ‘friend in high places’. Ha! It was a long time coming – both your admittance of my greatness (ha) and figuring out my pitch! Ah, the joy of sweet success. Now for those agents . . .

Stina – don’t let me stop you from writing in multiple perspectives. One of the best aspects of multiple perspectives is – sometimes – showing the same scene from different viewpoints. I’ve been alternating between multiple and single perspectives with various projects. Fun, fun, fun. As for the new look, I thought I’d give the blog a bit of a boost for the summer. Ha!

Angie – definitely ‘hoorah for the epiphany’. Geesh! The blog renovation really was just a simple click of the mouse . . . but don’t tell any body. Blogger has some new design templates.

Amy – it looks like we had similar problems. The character I was focusing on is a main part of the book, but . . . there are other perspectives as well with just as much importance, but probably a little better impact when trying to get the attention of an agent.

Heather said...

Writing the pitch/query is so hard - good for you for figuring it out! A few people in my writing group entered Rachelle's contest, and everyone in the group helped with their pitch, then it sort of turned into a pitch free-for-all where we just worked each other's pitches. In the end I think everyone came out with a pretty solid one, so if you have someone (or multiple people) you can trust, having them help can be amazing, too.

ali said...

Ah man! I was hoping you'd tell us what your pitch ended up being! Booyah for getting it down! Yes! ♥

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Nice new look! Did you do the rain because you're dying of the heat right now? Hah.

Queries. Well, I haven't really written any good ones yet. I'm still struggling with that. I think I'm pretty good with one sentence pitches, but I'm still struggling to get the right one for Cinders. I'll keep at it!

Scott said...

Heather – I think once you have the pitch, the rest of the query falls into place. That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it. Rachelle’s contest really helped me get everything in line, even though I didn’t participate. I know what worked for her, might not work for another agent, but every little bit helps.

Ali – maybe next time. Ha!

Michelle – It was 80 degrees at 5:30 AM! Yesterday, the humidity was so bad in the afternoon that when I walked outside I could barely breathe! Geesh! I think for some of us, the query will always be a struggle, for others not so much. I’ve struggled for a long time with the pitch and it finally just gelled together. You’ll know when you get it right.

Annah said...

Here. Think this might help.

Good luck!

Margo Berendsen said...

Ah, another clue to help me! Change perspective, good idea. Thanks also for the links to all the other good pitching posts!