It’s Pitches All The Way Dow

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Ever seen a good book pitch? Something like “A wizard with a deadly disease tries to reconcile with his past. Before he dies, can he make peace with supernatural entities and his own family?” The idea of a wizard facing mortality is my jam, so I’m for this.

Have you started watching a show based on a great episode pitch, or seen one on a wiki that you used to expose someone else to a show? I love those, there’s an art to something like “The mismatched trio faces a murder mystery on a floating city that might explain the past of two – and the future of another!”

These are great. They’re basically elevator pitches for books and shows, episodes and comics. Sure, some can be BS, but others have that excitement you can feel, where the person making them was into it. Sure they may be into a summary, but they’re into it and you feel it.

As I’ve worked on A School of Many Futures, I thought about so many of these pitches sounded exciting. Many is the time I’d see a pitch and think “is my book going to be that exciting?”

This also got me thinking about Randy Ingermanson’s book on Snowflake plotting a scene. Though it’s best to read the book (it leads by example), he notes the importance of engaging scenes.

I realized an engaging scene should have an engaging pitch.

And wouldn’t an interesting chapter (like an episode) have an engaging pitch?

Then I realized, no, I should look at the chapter, at the scene, and make a pitch for it to help me write it. If I wanted an exciting or interesting chapter or scene, make a summary that sounds interesting to guide you.

This (with my Deplotting work) really helped me with the novel, especially as I’ve been working to get back on track after a complicated summer. Each chapter was more engaging. Each scene was a mini-story packed with things happening – even when characters were arguing (they argue a lot). Thinking in pitches made sure I kept things interesting and kept me exciting.

(If you didn’t read my Deplotting column, basically I realized I write fiction best when I come up with arcs, place events in chapters, and treat chapters more as backlogs. Scenes emerge more easily for me.)

I think this is a great tool for any writer to improve your work or get you out of a funk. Take a look at that scene and make the pitch until it’s exciting – then write to the pitch! Look at that chapter you’re not sure of and ask what summary you’d want a fan to make – then write to that.

Make your novel or short story interesting stuff all the way down.

Of course I’ll let you know what further insights I have, but this was not just useful, it was a lot of fun.

Even when my characters argue, it’s a lot more fun when you have a good pitch about their petty B.S. It becomes interesting and fun B.S.

Steven Savage