Monday, July 18, 2011

Elevator Pitches Part One

Real quick - "Sananora," you're the winner of Roseanna M. White's Jewel of Persia. Please email me with your mailing address, and we'll get that sent to you.

Traditionally on Go Teen Writers, we do writing prompts every other Monday. (If you're new to GTW, click here for an example.)

But because we're talking about elevator pitches today...

And because I'm running the elevator pitch contest for NextGen Writer's Conference...

And because I think elevator pitches are a critical skill...

We're going to do elevator pitches instead of a writing prompt this round.

Let me introduce our wonderful judges, and then I'll talk about some more details and what makes a good elevator pitch:

Carla Stewart’s writing reflects her passion for times gone by as depicted in her first highly-acclaimed novel,Chasing Lilacs. Carla launched her writing career in 2002 when she earned the coveted honor of being invited to attend Guidepost's Writers Workshop in Rye, New York. Since then, her articles have appeared in Guideposts,Angels on Earth, Saddle Baron, and Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine.

In her life before writing, Carla enjoyed a career in nursing and raising her family. Now that their four sons are married and they’ve become empty-nesters, she and her husband relish the occasional weekend getaway and delight in the adventures of their six grandchildren.
Carla enjoys a good cup of coffee, great books, and hearing from you, her readers. You’re invited to contact her and learn more about her writing at her website.

A true Southern woman who knows that any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux and who never wears white after Labor Day, Christa is a writer of not your usual Christian Fiction. She weaves stories of unscripted grace and redemption with threads of hope, humor, and heart.

Walking on Broken Glass is her debut novel. Her next novel, Edge of Grace will be released by Abingdon Press in August of 2011. Her essays have been published in The Ultimate Teacher, Cup of Comfort,Chicken Soup for the Coffee Lover’s Soul and Chicken Soup for the Divorced Soul.

Christa is the mother of five adult children, a grandmother of three, and a teacher of high school English. She and her husband Ken live in Abita Springs, Louisiana, where they and their three cats enjoy their time playing golf, dreaming about retirement and dodging hurricanes.

Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers . Betsy is multi-published through Steeple Hill and has been published inChristian Communicator magazine andPraise Reports: Inspiring Real Life Stories of How God Answers Prayer. One of her short stories appears in a Tyndale compilation book, and she is also multi-published through The Wild Rose Press. She has a BA in Christian Communications and regularly freelances for her local newspaper. Betsy is a fireman’s wife, a mommy to a busy toddler, a chocolate-loving author and an avid reader who enjoys sharing the wonders of God’s grace through her stories. Look for her recently contracted YA novel in January 2012!

I don't know about y'all, but that list leaves me feeling a little starstruck...

Your elevator pitch must be 30 words or less, and is due by Monday, July 25th at 11:59pm. One entry per person, and you must be 25 or under to enter. You may email your entry by clicking here, or at Stephanie(at)GoTeenWriters(dot)com. (Note, if you're registered for the NextGen conference and wish to enter your prompt in both the NextGen contest and the GTW contest, you need to specify that when you email me. If you've already entered the NextGen contest pitch-it contest, email me again with your prompt saying you're entering in GTW contest too.)

Let's get started talking about what makes a good elevator pitch.

What I'm sharing is coming from Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, which is meant for
screenwriters, but much of the advice applies to novelists too. Especially his advice about a "one-line" which you'll also hear called an elevator pitch or logline.

The job of the one-line is to create a compelling mental picture that implies an entire story. It should also say something about who your characters are, what kind of dilemma they're facing, the tone of the story, and a clue about the intended audience. (A one-line for a regency novel will sound different than a one-line for a romantic comedy.) All in about 30 words.

Here’s an example: A self-sufficient, small town girl must work through her prejudices against out-of-towners when a conceited tourist turns out to be everything she needs. (23 words)

Blake Snyder suggests that all good elevator pitches have 4 components:

1. A sense of irony

2. A compelling mental picture.

3. Audience and cost (for novelists, that cost thing doesn't count, but audience does)

4. A killer title.

For our purposes, we'll talk about those first two Wednesday, then deal with titles later this week.

Have a great Monday everyone!


  1. My dad is a lawyer so he does verbal pitches all the time. So he gave me some pointers, but its a lot different when you have 30 words and not 30 seconds.

  2. Yay for smart parents!

    I prepare 2 short pitches - a written and a verbal. We'll talk about verbal ones too. Usually it's fine to just make your written pitch more conversational. 30 seconds is a great target time.

  3. Cool! This sounds like a lot of fun!:)

    - Elisabeth Greenwood

  4. Goodness! I totally forgot that when I commented that I was entering to win a book. When I saw the little beginning of your post on my dashboard I was wondering "Uh oh, what did I do now?"
    Anyway, I am sending you my address right...NOW.

  5. Haha, Sananora, that makes the win even better! Congrats :)

    Awesome, can't wait for the next posts :D

  6. I'm glad, Elisabeth!

    Sananora, I totally relate. I'm always paranoid about getting in trouble :)

  7. Yay! What fun to have a pitch contest! Reading those winning entries this time is going to be Fun (not that reading 100 words isn't, but theres a lot of mystery hidden in 30 words, don'tcha think?)

    Anyway, does that mean that the Title has to be included in the pitch itself? If so, oops. :)

  8. No, the title doesn't need to be in the elevator pitch though I can see why my post made you think that. We'll take it one step at a time!