Our application helps us get mutually acquainted. It includes questions about your main character’s emotional journey, and how you present your marketing pitch.
Below, two sample questions may help you determine answers to the following: How well do you really know your story? Are you ready to pitch it to an editor or agent? These questions may unearth useful material for your manuscript, synopsis, and/or query letter.
Write a one- or two-sentence “pitch” about your novel, distilling it to no more than 40 words. Don’t try to compress every important event into this sentence; just answer: “What’s your story about?” Be specific. Include protagonist’s age (deleting “years old” saves words); time and place, if not contemporary; and the main character’s driving, well-motivated need or desire (internal and external conflict).
In You Can Write a Novel, James V. Smith compares the brief nugget statement (a term he coined, aka pitch) to “your novel on the head of a pin.” Smith adds: “If you don’t envision a truly heroic character with heroic goals, on an action-packed journey, encountering obstacles and a worthy opponent and arriving alive and wiser at the end of your novel after having engaged in a titanic struggle, it’s not likely your novel will be seriously considered in the publishing business.” [Note: Interpret "heroic" and "titanic" to mean something age-appropriate of immense consequence to your young reader.]
A pitch also indicates your novel’s premise. In The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children, Nancy Lamb says a premise is “the most fundamental idea in your book that must be proven by the actions of your characters... the underlying glue that binds your story together. [A premise] also keeps your plot on track... supports the plot... is the essential truth you want to convey [that] gives shape to your story and meaning to the lives of your characters.” In How to Write a Damn Good Novel, James N. Frey says writing a novel without a premise “is like trying to row a boat without oars.”
Examples of a Pitch
What is your novel’s blurb? Don’t be surprised if this single sentence takes you a few well-spent hours to construct!
Optional; may be deferred. Faculty will discuss some responses at the workshop.
Imagine you’re an editor presenting this manuscript to your publisher’s editorial board for a vote. What’s the hook that will help us market this book; what distinguishes it from others of its genre? How might this story touch adolescents’ emotions and cultivate their thought processes? Why do you think this novel would appeal to readers? (Why are you passionate about writing it?)
Be matter-of-fact. No sermons, self-praise or “infomercials.” Keep this statement handy when you query agents and editors! (75 succinct words, max)