by Mary Margret Daughtridge
As the other Casababes and I have already discussed in this blog, the need to pitch, and pitch well, doesn’t go away once you’re published. In fact, it intensifies. It behooves us all to keep polishing our skills. As soon as she's approved one manuscript for publication, do you know what Deb wants? A pitch and synopsis for another book. Thank God she doesn't demand I cram it into 50 words or less, but trust me, she'll judge it by exactly the same standards as she judged the Casablanca Pitch contest.
All my life I've been a teacher of one kind or another. I tend to view every experience as a lesson. I saw the contest as a wonderful teaching/learning opportunity for myself and everyone involved. I don't know about you, but I learn best by studying examples. Everyone got to see every entry, form their own opinion about how successful it was, and then to see which ones Deb picked.
And for those of a competitive nature (and I’ll be the first to confess there’s more than a touch of it in me) it was a chance to see and measure oneself against the others in the game.
So gather around class. Let's see what can we learn. Let’s look at Kelsey Browning’s In the Red.
Briefs. He writes them. She sells them. When Roxanne retains Jamie as her lawyer and lover, his partnership dream implodes. His firm thinks a woman peddling panties and prophylactics is no match for an up-and-coming attorney. Too bad because Jamie’s already tangled up in her lawsuit, her life…and her lingerie.
The hardest part of writing a pitch is deciding what details to put in and what to leave out.
What’s there: the names of the hero and heroine, a sense of what they do, and Jamie’s conflict. With every word doing double and triple duty, we see the primary ingredients of a romance plot—what will bring them together, and what will keep them apart. The conflict is universal. Liberal standards versus conservative ones. We understand the problem at a glance. Jamie’s internal conflict is equally clear. He’s caught between ambition and love.
What details are not there? Setting. Where or how Roxanne sells underwear. What the lawsuit is about. Is she the defendant? We don’t know, and it doesn’t matter.
What’s also there. Witty writing. Lots of it. Starting with the pun on briefs and ending with the alliteration and more puns in the last sentence. For all its simplicity, and utter clarity, the pitch isn’t dumb and it doesn’t assume the reader is.
All right. I did one. You be the judge now. You pick a pitch and tell us what, specifically, in your judgement makes it work.
Here are the pitches. I don't know if this link will work. You might have to copy and paste. https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=2802601138878132017&postID=3107576917862110213
You can find the list of all the people whose pitch caught Deb's attention in yesterday's blog.
Ground rules: comment only those pitches which Deb selected. Don’t settle for saying “I liked it.” That’s easy. Point to a specific quality, word choice, plot ingredient, or other element that makes it effective. Feel free to add to and comment on other comments.