Saturday, January 30, 2010

How Not To Write A Pitch

The verdict's in - my pitch sucked big-time. (Of course, Donna Alward never insinuated this.) Didn't make Top 11 let alone Top 5. So what did I do wrong - boy, where do I start?

Lesson 1. Do not make your pitch too long.
This is me we're talking about - difficulty writing short and succinctly. Whether it's writing fiction or writing progress notes at work. Same problem, different context.

Lesson 2. If you have a hook such as a Marriage of Convenience, make sure you make the need for said MoC personal.
For instance, my hero needs a MoC to convince the board members he should be elected next CEO of the family business. They're old-fashioned and don't like his playboy reputation so have doubts about him being focused enough, dependable and responsible to take over the helm.
This is not enough - why should his personal relationships have anything to do with his professional capabilities? No, what my hero needs is a more personal reason for the MoC.

Lesson 3. Ensure you include why the heroine would fall in love with the hero - and make sure the reasons tie into the story. Being caring, passionate and believing in the heroine is not enough.

Fortunately, the lovely and generous Donna Alward had some extremely helpful suggestions on how to tighten the hook and the story. She was very encouraging.

But I must admit, bombing out with my pitch brought me back down to earth with a thud of the meteoric kind. After all the rumenating and planning and brainstorming, it was discouraging to realise how weak the motivation for the MoC still is.

I feel like I'm trying to make my characters fit into boxes by manufacturing reasons why they need this MoC. And by doing so, I've lost sight of my characters, what they want, and why I even wanted to write this story in the first place.

I'm mulling over the possibility of going back and starting from scratch. At the begining, there was no MoC in sight. Fake fiancee for a month did not have high enough stakes, according to my writing teacher. Let's up the stakes - how about a MoC for six months?

And after struggling with this story for months and months and months, getting lost in the reams of notes on my characters, their conflict, and the story, I'm considering doing something I never said I would do....give up completing the ms.

The process has been so messy, the writing has stalled on a number of occasions as aspects of the story feel 'off'. I long for the freedom of writing a shitty and fast first draft. Not trying to strive for perfection in the first three chapters before I continue with the story.

Unfortunately, I need to continue with the story the way I have been for the purpose of my writing course. I need to submit a third chapter, a love scene, a synopsis and a query letter. Which seems like such a waste, considering I won't be submitting this as a partial but plan to start all over again.


Rachael Johns said...

Wow although I can imagine that you didn't feel too fabulous about that feedback... it is fab feedback. GOLD in fact. Better to hear it now and be able to fix it, than to sub and get an R!

Good luck... I know you can do it!

Angie Peters said...

Thanks, Rach. It's great to hear your optimism after all that negativity that's been swirling around in my head.
True, it is better to fix it now while I still can. Thanks for putting it into perspective for me :)

Francine said...

Hi Angie,

Chin up!

Don't despair, you're not alone in the "outside 11 team".

Trample a large carboard box, stand in the middle of field and scream . . . then settle back and relax!

A fresh start, clear head, and time will fly as words flow forth forth.

I've posted my pitch on blog and haven't had the feedback, yet. When I do I'll post that too. We can learn from our own mistakes when pointed out, and the mistakes others'make are equally helpful.

I've posted 1st chap as well, and hell, maybe because it's white text on black mistakes have leapt out at me like damn little text gremlins.



Sussan Marz said...

Don't despair Angie! Nothing is a waste. So what if what you're working on has a few bugs in it. Every day is a new day, and now you are armed with knowledge you didn't have before. Slap away that perfectionist thinking.

Angie Peters said...

Hi Francine,

Thanks for the encouragement. I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with the job. I was really very lucky to get the valuable feedback from Donna that I did. And I intend to make the most of it.

Good on you for being brave enough to post your pitch and your 1st chap on your blog! And I hope you find Donna's feedback every bit as useful as I have :)

I'll pop by your blog and have a look...

Angie Peters said...

Sussan - thanks for the pep talk, my DSDB buddy :) Perfectionist thinking? Yep, need to blow it up with some heavy duty C4 explosives rather than a slap, LOL.

I appreciate the support and encouragement!

Francine said...


Just a follow-up on Donna's input re our pitches.

You should go see her comments on mine - finally arrived and posted on blog.

Hee hee. It's invaluable, but no way am I taking it to heart. It's not a personal sleight against me, it just points out the fact that I'm crap at writing pitches!

How is your writing coming along, do you feel better now that time has elasped since you first received your reply from Donna?

Angie Peters said...

Francine, you are *not* crap at writing pitches! From what I read, your pitch - like mine- probably just needs a bit of tweaking and tightening.

I let all this shake my self confidence, and Donna kindly pointed out my pitch didn't bomb at all. Now I've got the distance of some time and my head has cleared, I can see that her feedback has helped me invaluably with tightening my hero's motivation!

I'll drop by your blog and see her comments.

Francine said...


How's the writing coming along?

You've gone quiet!



Angie Peters said...

Hi Francine,

It's good to know someone misses me :)

Real Life has gotten in the way during February, and I'm still stalled on the rewrite of my third chapter.

How is your writing going?

Francine said...


Rewrites are a bane, the novelty of first write soon wearing thin as one chips and snips here and there and wonders will it all come together with smooth lines!

My writing - going great guns. Almost finished the Brazilian (polo playing) billionaire plot.

And, have a historical plot (characters) screaming at me to put them on stage!

Mad, or what?



BTW: it's quite difficult posting to your blog. The confirmation box doesn't always scrol down far enough

Angie Peters said...

Hi Francine,

Great news about your writing! And it's always good to have new characters ready and raring to go, huh?

That's the second comment I've heard about difficulties with the confirmation box. Any ideas on how to fix it? I certainly don't want it to be difficult for people to post.

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