I participated in the speed date pitch for Love Inspired Suspense last year. Not only was it fun getting to talk with everyone in the chat room and encouraging each other, congratulating those who got a great response....I was one of the ones who got a request for a full manuscript!
So today, I thought I'd share my method of crafting a 100 word pitch that reveals not only all the elements of your story, but also your voice. Let's face it, a hundred words isn't that many, especially when you're trying to look exciting and professional and make your story sound amazing.
The first thing I did, was this:
Now I'm gonna break down for you what I discovered and what that meant when crafting my pitch. Here it is:
Sabine Fraternau, CIA agent, is on the hunt for her brother’s killer. When the Delta Force soldier she loves barges in, the mission goes from bad…to busted. Doug “MacArthur” Richardson is all military, a man of faith with no room in his life for love.
When Sabine is accused of betraying her country, Doug is the only one who believes the woman he’s falling for is innocent. But after her ex-husband’s betrayal, Sabine doesn't believe in happily ever after. Together they have to find the killer and prove Sabine’s innocence, before the nightmare of her past comes back…to kill her.
My maths teacher (they don't call it 'math' in England) from high school used to say, "break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks."
Sabine Fraternau, CIA agent, is on the hunt for her brother’s killer.
The main character, her job and her GOAL.
When the Delta Force soldier she loves barges in, the mission goes from bad…to busted.
Conflict in the form of romantic interest, which fits the Love Inspired Suspense line (know who you're pitching to and what they want). Also, a little bit of voice in the, "bad...to busted" that says my story doesn't take itself to seriously - which is very 'me'. *chuckles*
Doug “MacArthur” Richardson is all military, a man of faith with no room in his life for love.
The other main character, the 'love interest'. His job, his GOAL (same) and his obstacle in what will become their journey to happily ever after.
When Sabine is accused of betraying her country, Doug is the only one who believes the woman he’s falling for is innocent.
Plot, the suspense and the romance all tangled up and complicated with some high stakes.
But after her ex-husband’s betrayal, Sabine doesn't believe in happily ever after.
The obstacle to their happily ever after that's specific to HER.
Together they have to find the killer and prove Sabine’s innocence, before the nightmare of her past comes back…to kill her.
More stakes. A little of how the situation is going to be resolved.
So you can see that it is possible to present a HUGE amount of information in only 100 words. And let me tell you, I re-wrote this about a million times (ask my sister!). Let it shine, but don't get obsessed with it. If you have time, walk away and then come back with fresh eyes.
Check that it has these elements in the 5 (ish) sentences:
1. Main character #1 - who is this person in a nutshell? If their job isn't relevant don't put it in. But what do they WANT?
2. Main character #2 - do the same. What is their goal?
3. What is going to keep them from this goal? Let your editor know this book has CONFLICT that won't easily be resolved. Lines like Love Inspired Suspense need conflict in the plot and conflict in the relationship. Make sure it's there.
4 and 5: How is the situation going to be resolved? How will the characters work it out? Does faith play in? What about the Antagonist (if there is one)? What's he up to?
And, what the hey, add in some more conflict :-)
The manuscript itself is the most important thing. But you can achieve SO MUCH with a short pitch. Give it everything you've got!
And let me know how you get on, yeah?
Lisa Phillips pretty much lives on Twitter @lisaphillipsbks. She's the secretary and worship leader for Idahope, her local ACFW chapter. If you want to know more, check out www.lisaphillipsbks.com
Her first novel, The Ultimate Betrayal is COMING SOON.