The Short Pitch – #TeenPit

#TeenPit entries open on April 15th! Now is a great time to work on that short, 50 word pitch. But…where do you begin?

There are a wealth of fantastic posts out there about building the perfect pitch. If you’ve been following Twitter pitch contests for as long as I have, you know what I mean. I’ve used many of those posts when building my own pitches and as a basis for my lesson planning.

When I work with my Creative Writing students on pitches, I focus on three key ideas:

  1. Character – We are talking MAIN CHARACTER here. We don’t want to know about the ex-boyfriend, the dog, the grandmother, or the goofy BFF.

  2. Conflict – What is the main character’s MAIN problem? It’s not the flu, a flat tire, or a bad hair day.

  3. Stakes – What BAD THING will happen if the main character does not solve his/her main problem? Death, loss of love?

Okay. Here’s a very stripped down example:

Character: Seventeen-year-old valedictorian has cheated his way through high school.

Conflict: He is caught cheating on his finals.

Stakes: If he can’t pass a comprehensive monster exam without cheating he won’t graduate.

Your character has a big problem: He’s supposed to be the smartest kid in school, and he’s been living a lie. While your entire story is not only about his cheating, you need to laser focus your pitch down to the big issue. Forget the fact that his main squeeze is planning on taking a gap year in Tanzania, or that he smashed his mother’s Jaguar. Those are great plot twists and arcs but they are not the MAIN PLOT of the story.

If you’ve never written a short pitch before, it can be intimidating. Don’t fret. Once you have written a few dozen pitches, you’ll be a pitching pro, hitting it out of the park even if you’ve never picked up a softball.