Okay, we’ve already started out with a lie.
There isn’t simply one master formula for writing elevator pitches, if you’ve surfed the internet highway I’m sure you’re aware of that fact. But I have a method of getting to the bare bones of a story that makes the most sense to me. Let’s see if you agree.
YOUR GO-TO-THE-TOP-FLOOR ELEVATOR PITCH FORMULA:MAIN CHARACTER + WHAT HE WANTS + WHAT’S STOPPING HIM + WHAT HAPPENS IF HE FAILS
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Yeah, I know. Let’s try writing an elevator pitch for a well-known story:
When Dorothy Gale (main character) finds herself whisked away to a strange land, all she cares about is going home. (what he wants) But a wicked witch (what’s stopping him) wants to kill her. (what happens if she fails) And her little dog too.
Alrighty, that’s the bare bones of what happens in the story. Now, let’s add the rest of the information a pitch should convey, as discussed in my last post.
In my 40,000-word middle grade fantasy, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a tornado whisks 12-year-old Dorothy to a dream-like land, yet she’s homesick for Kansas. A tin man, a lion and a scarecrow accompany her on the journey home, while a wicked witch attempts to kill her. And her little dog too.
Go ahead, check me. All eight pieces of information in 52 words. You know who the story is about and what she wants, who’s trying to stop her and what will happen if she does, and you even get an idea about the fantastical nature of the world. (A man made of tin? A friendly lion and a sentient scarecrow?) We’ve got all the statistics and even a bit of voice. Note that we stick with the main plot–nothing about the killing of the wicked witch sister, the Munchkins, the good witches, the actual wizard or the silver shoes. (Yes, in the book they are SILVER.)
Next time, we’re gonna look at those little details that separate the pitching men from the pitching boys.
So much wonderful information! Thank you. I have a question if you are taking them?
Is what finally happens is also part of this formula ? The end? Or that is left out? Only stake should be included.
Thanks so much again.
Query letters are sales pitches–you’re trying to entice an agent/editor into requesting your manuscript. Usually, you want to leave ’em hanging, so they’ll ask to see your manuscript to see how the story turns out.