Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fast Pitch Frustration

Well, tomorrow's finally the day! Hope to see lots of new faces and intriguing ideas at tomorrow's pitch contest, where the trick is to hook our lovely editor Deb Werksman in fifty words...or less:-) Sound impossible? It's not. But man, does it take some creative editing!

Writing up a quickie blurb, the fast pitch, is always a challenge for me. It can also be fun, in a sick-and-twisted, semi-painful sort of way, but it has never been easy. You see, I'm what is nicely described as *ahem* somewhat long-winded. Meaning my most frequent writing sin is that I stuff so much information into my drafts that they then require a machete to free the good stuff from the, er, voluminous extra. So I figure having to write blurbs is good for me, though I'm like Cheryl in that no one should expect me to be able to rattle off a snazzy pitch verbally. You'd only have me gaping at you in silent horror, totally floored without a glowing screen and about an hour to whittle the description down.

It's an excellent skill, though, the fast pitch. And you know what? I still have to do it. Deb always asks for a blurb for each of my books to use for various things, and besides that I'm still writing, still trying to get new contracts. The quest for the perfect hook never dies:-) My blurbs for Deb are considerably longer than fifty words, but I can pick a few lines from them and create a fast pitch if I have to. Here, I've just opened up the file with my Wild Highland Magic blurb, so let me see what I can come up with. Okay, check it out:

She's a werewolf searching for her past. He's a Drakkyn fighting for his future. Together, Cat and Bastian will confront the ancient secrets that could destroy them both. And they're about to discover that no matter how impossible love may seem, the Highland moon weaves a magic all its own.

Okay, that may or may not be a shining example of The Bestest Pitch Evah, but it is a pretty fair distillation of the concept of my (shameless plug!) May release, Wild Highland Magic. Plus, it took me a pretty arduous half hour even though I initially thought I knew just what I would do, so please feel obligated to pretend you like it:-) And hey, it's EXACTLY fifty words! Okay, I'm not even entering the contest and I'm psyched I managed this.

Anyway, my point, and I do have one, is not to be intimidated by the word count. If you've got a great story, and are a lover of lotsa-lotsa words like me, you can still get out that machete and have something eye-catching and interesting for our contest tomorrow. It's a great prize! Give it a shot! You can dooo eeet! If somebody like me can squish a book into fifty words, anyone can, believe me.

Best of luck to our entrants, and may the best blurb win!

-Kendra

7 comments:

  1. Oh Kendra, I laughed all the way through your post.

    I don't tend to verbosity but character-driven writer that I am, I am a fan of a thousand subtle external and internal conflicts as well as hidden goals and motivations--all of which make it seem IMPOSSIBLE to say in 50 words who these people are and what the problem is.

    And you're right. I still have to do it.

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  2. Kendra,
    You are so funny! I could "hear" you in every word of this post. That's voice, sister!

    Funny what everyone is saying about the verbal pitches. Dominique surprised me at Nationals by asking me to pitch. Here I am with agent and editor in hand thinking how lucky I was that I didn't have to pitch. Didn't see the dark horse publisher coming at me! LOL! I who am not known for being reticent, was like a deer trapped firmly in the headlights as I yammered out something that made no sense--even to me. Deb took mercy on me, patted me on the knee and said, "Let me, hon." Thank you. A million times, thank you. She proceeds to rattle off exactly what we needed as if it was nothing. Yes, I said, that. What she said. That's what I was going for.

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  3. LOL, thanks ladies:-) MM, I am verbose AND a fan of the thousand subtleties, all of which I am determined must fit into my blurbs. There is not a shoehorn invented yet that makes that possible. I'm going to have to invent some new words that are each worth ten...maybe that would do it. You should see the first drafts of my first and second chapters (yes, for EVERY book). They're forests:-)

    Love your Nationals story, Marie! That's going to happen to me. I mean, I know it is, and yet there's no way I can prepare properly, because I also know that I'll inevitably screw it up. Why is this? You and I are both "talk-y" people, so why does the brain not engage in these situations? A mystery for the ages, honestly. Also, speaking of voice, yours cracks me up too:-)

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  4. You guys crack me up. Verbose and Talk-y? Lolol! Oh yah, me too. I try hard to stop before the glazing over of the eyes.

    I have a friend who is an author and she asked me to give a brief blurb about one of my stories. I’m thinking, brief? See, me and brief we have problems. I thought, hey, I can do this. Three days and seven drafts later I gave her what I thought was brief. Ahem, need I say it was in need of a blood transfusion when I got it back. Then she added the word concise, sigh…I thought two pages was concise. I was a newbie, I admit it. She gave me a helpful clue; think of the back cover of a book. Two days and twelve drafts later I hand her the blurb. Her response? Sia, just how big do you think a book cover is? Oh-oh. The next day and we won’t mention the draft count, I handed it to her. Good word count, however…then came all this stuff about character goal, motivation, conflict word choices, yah, it was still bleeding to death. So, you know whom I went to when I tried to do a 50-word pitch. This time it only took me one day and four drafts—I had been practicing. I got it back, “close but not quite.” My final draft? “Wow, you got it!” Shock, followed by the wet noodle thing, and then elation.

    I’m happy to see that you guys also struggle to do it right. Thanks for the laughter this morning.J

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  5. Hi Sia! Ooh, good, another member of the club!:-) LMAO at your story...there's definitely a knack to whittling down word count, and it's a loooong hard road for people like us. It is, however, a great triumph when it all finally clicks into place. Glad you're here!

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  6. I think I have been purposely avoiding this whole idea of slimming down one's 'pitch' because I too have the tendency toward verboseness! I suppose that is a flaw/positive we authors all possess. The irony is that while you all have been so miraculously honing your skills at perfecting the story pitch, I have been working at doing the same with the guest blogs I am writing! Danielle, our dear sweet wonderful and oh so honest publicist, reminded me that I have a tendency to get wordy in my blogs! Who would have thunk it?! LOL!

    Marie, I think I would have died on the spot if Dominique had asked me to pitch!

    I am so looking forward to the contest. I hope we get lots of folks giving it a shot. You all have done a great job in showing how it should be done. Good thing I am not up again until the 31st because I would have had nothing!

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