An Exercise in Pitch Writing

I’ve been working on my pitch for my YA fantasy novel this past week and I couldn’t help feeling my pitch wasn’t hooking the way I wanted it too. So I came up with a little exercise to help inspire me to make my pitch hook more and I believe it has helped me write a more effective pitch. I thought I would share it with my fellow writers.

STEP ONE

Go to your bookshelf and find books aimed at the same age group and same genre (if possible find books with a similar premise/catalyst) as your novel. For example, my novel is a YA fantasy where the main character is transported to a strange land, so I picked books like The Wizard of Oz and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

STEP TWO

Have a look at the blurbs of each book, then on some note paper (or on Word) write out a blurb for your own story based on the blurb for each book. For example, this is the blurb on the back of Alice in Wonderland:

When Alice decides to follow the white rabbit down a rabbit hole, it is the start of a most extraordinary adventure in the nonsensical world of Wonderland.

There she meets some strange and delightful characters, including the King and Queen of Hearts, the Mock Turtle, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Duchess and the grinning Cheshire Cat.

Now here is the blurb again rewritten using my own novel:

When Katie is transported to a strange woodland, it is the start of a dangerous and magical adventure in the mysterious parallel world of Middle Realm.

There she meets new friends and enemies, including oddball Travis, twins Hannah and Ava, an old healer woman, a reclusive wizard and the foot soldiers of an evil sorceress.

STEP THREE

Grab a highlighter and go through all your blurbs (I ended up with six altogether). Highlight the lines that stand out at you. For example, in the blurb above I highlighted ‘the foot soldiers of an evil sorceress’.

STEP FOUR

Rewrite the highlighted parts on a separate piece of paper and cut them out individually (or if you can’t be bothered doing that, you could just cut out the highlighted parts without rewriting them).

STEP FIVE

Rearrange them until you work out a suitable order and stick them onto a piece of plain paper in that order. Use a pen to fill in parts that are disjointed or cross out parts that are repetitive. One of my blurbs was in a different tense to all the others, so I had to change the tense with that part to make it fit.

STEP SIX

Write it out neatly in its new form. Use this ‘blurb’ as inspiration for writing your pitch. Just remember when you write your pitch to avoid ambiguous words like ‘mysterious’, etc., which are often used on book blurbs. And please DO NOT plagiarise the wording of the original book blurbs in your pitch. Make the pitch your own. This is all about inspiration, not copying from other books.

Have fun with it and see if you can’t improve the hook part of your pitch.

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