Yesterday I participated in #PitMad and had an incomparable learning experience as I first prepared 8 pitches, then figured out how to schedule them so I would be sending Tweets into the void every half hour for 12 hours. The second half was something I should have figured out eons ago, but just never quite got around to, I never had anything to say that I needed to wait for.
I had an awesome time, and I made several new writing friends and saw a large number of cool looking books that I’m excited to see appear on shelves in the near future. I also saw some of my WriteOnCon favorites fly past, which was the same buzz as seeing a familiar stranger.
The actual pitching, however was the biggest learning curve of the day. I started with this:
17yo Mel didn’t mean to ditch the party to perform a blood sacrifice. Now to figure out her new powers before Ragnarok.
And made five different variations on that theme.
They were okay, but they definitely didn’t resonate.
On a whim I threw in these two:
Norns and Valkyries shouldn’t recognize 17yo Mel, but after a confusing night on a barrow, it’s the least of her problems.
This isn’t about the Chosen One. This is about Mel, who chose him, even though he set her 4th-grade math book on fire.
And the difference in response was HUGE. Retweets, even some favorites! Same story, different aspects. The later two, those are how I’d describe the story to myself.
For the Norns and Valkyries:
If I understand correctly what happened, I gave fun bits of the premise and a bit of the character that it’s happening to by making her reaction to the fun bits be a downplay of what others would think is huge. I also added an implication of stakes without saying what they actually are by comparing the results to being greater than Norns and Valkyries.
This isn’t about the Chosen One:
This is almost nothing to do with the events of the story, this is about the story itself. I don’t have good comps. I have comps that compare tone, but would mislead on content. I do, however, have tropes I play with. A LOT. There are tropes throughout my book that have been used, spun and twisted, and this is the biggest one. This is the one that resonates most with the readers. This is the one that’s the most fun. It also happens to be about the central relationship.
The second sentence gives you character, context of the story, the tone of the relationship. The trope of the Chosen One is what handles stakes. He has to be chosen for something, or else why choose? If it’s a Chosen One, it’s not the one who will run out for dry cleaning. It’s a ‘BIG DESTINY’ ™ that has implications throughout the universe (or universes in my case).
So, the lesson I learned:
Going forward I’m going to write pitches that aren’t what I think people want to hear about the story. I’m going to write pitches that are what make the story special and fun for me. Why I wrote about those characters in that particular time and place.
Because, really, my end goal is to connect people who are drawn to that story with what I wrote.