Boiling Down Story – Creating a Pitch

As a competing mentee in this year’s Pitch Wars, I’ve been working on formulating a pitch. It would seem that, having dreamed up, outlined, and written an entire novel (and I won’t even go into the number of revisions I’ve done) that I should be able to write a sentence or two about what the novel is about. It should be cake, am I right? It isn’t. Or at least, it isn’t for me.

Photo by Alexander Tikhomirov

Photo by Alexander Tikhomirov

I wrote a handful of ideas to communicate the heart of my story. I’d prefer to share its emotional payoff, more than the plot points, but I seem to revert to the temptation to describe action. I’d like to arrive at the “benefit” of what the reader will gain from my book, but I also want to avoid being vague. Le sigh. What’s in it for the reader? A story about finding a place to belong, when everyone calls you crazy. But that doesn’t fulfill the book’s title, RADIO HEAD. It is truly a story about the redemptive quality of music. I’ve also tried to keep my pitch ideas between the recommended 17-25 words.

I NEED YOUR HELP! Do any of these jump out at you? Do you have any thoughts about what would make them more intriguing? Do any turn you right off? Your advice is appreciated!

Pitch Ideas for RADIO HEAD:

  1. Haunted by the burden of hearing a song inside anyone who touches her, mentally disturbed Shelby Rey searches for a place to belong.
  2. When you hear music in everything and everyone, the white-coats call you crazy.
  3. Everyone has a song inside. Can Shelby Rey silence hers before narcissistic rockstar Zac Wyatt convinces her to help him write his solo album?
  4. Mentally disturbed Shelby Rey will never be normal, not when she can hear everything, including the songs of everyone who touches her.
  5. Music is the only thing Shelby Rey can trust. When her headphones are bagged as evidence, all she can hear is herself.
  6. Mentally disturbed Shelby Rey can hear rockstar Zac Wyatt’s next album. All she has to do is touch him.
  7. Mentally disturbed Shelby Rey can hear what rockstar Zac Wyatt can’t—his next album. All she has to do is touch him.
  8. A narcissistic rockstar seeks musical healing through a mentally disturbed woman with a secret, and a heroin-addicted prodigy.
  9. Music is a healer, both transcending and transforming. RADIO HEAD is a contemporary adult novel about how we hear.
  10. Blurring the lines between music and self-expression, RADIO HEAD turns up the volume on finding a place to belong.
  11. Shelby Rey can hear music everywhere, and it’s making her crazy.
  12. An unforgettable contemporary novel about finding your song in someone else
  13. Homeless Shelby Rey is haunted by the burden of hearing the songs of anyone who touches her.
  14. Everyone has a song inside. Mentally disturbed Shelby Rey is haunted by the burden of hearing the song inside anyone who touches her.Please let me know if any of these speak to you–and any advice you’d like to share! Leave a comment below, or tweet me @TheRJLacko. Thank you, and happy writing!
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8 Comments

Filed under Fiction Novel Writing

8 responses to “Boiling Down Story – Creating a Pitch

  1. MM Jaye

    I’d love to help, but I need a vital piece of info. You say it’s a contemporary adult novel, but genre-wise where does the scale tip? In other words, how would you like to brand it? As a romance? You’d like to totally exclude the romantic element? Who’s your target audience? Okay, that’s more than one pieces of info, but if you let me in on the above, I could try to help. Blurbs, taglines and such are a hobby of mine, plus my own blurb passed Round 1 of this year’s Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards contest, so there you have it… 🙂

    • Yes–you’re an expert! Thanks for offering to help 🙂
      My story has a romantic triangle between Shelby, Stanford and Zac. It is not a boiler plate romance, however–Shelby doesn’t need a man to be complete, and neither men are anyone’s romantic ideal. So while there is sexual tension (and sex!), I don’t want to chase the romance crowd because it’s an unexpected tale. My target audience is adult music fans, ages 21-45. My book might be considered a grown-up version of Hopeless, by Colleen Hoover, or Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn–but my characters are 20-something, and dealing with adult issues and themes. There are rock stars, Hollywood parties, writing songs in a music studio–and the reality of being homeless in California. Does that help?? Thanks again!

  2. Based on your description of the book I liked 7 the best, followed by 3, 1, and 5. I’m no expert on pitching but these are the ones that stood out for me. I hope it helps! I like the concept of your novel. I’d read it based on those pitches.

  3. MM Jaye

    Hi again! I, too, prefer No. 7 if you want to use both your MCs and play up the romance angle. I wouldn’t go for the “mentally disturbed” attribute as it’s quite strong, and it would probably alienate romantically-inclined readers.

    If you want to focus on Shelby, I would suggest: “Shelby Rae will never feel normal; not when she can hear the song of everyone who touches her.”

    The latter is more of the tagline-type of pitch. The kind that could appear on your book cover. For a book-description, elevator type of pitch, No. 10 is good minus the first phrase. I don’t agree that there are lines between music and self-expression. How about this? “Merging the need of self-expression with the healing power of music, RADIO HEAD turns up the volume on finding a place to belong.” (23 words)

    Hope this helps!

  4. Le sigh indeed, lol! Writing these things is so difficult, and I lose all objectivity when trying to write my own.
    Reading through your attempts I had two thoughts: your novel sounds fresh and exciting; and I didn’t care for the words ‘mentally disturbed’ used together. Maybe: disturbed by her ability to hear the song inside anyone she touches, homeless Shelby Rey gets sucked into ??? of narcisstic rock star Zac Wyatt. ?
    Good luck! 🙂

    • Thanks for your input, Cynthia!! It’s hard to be objective when, in truth, the pitch isn’t exactly what the story is ABOUT, but more what the reader might expect… a promise of what’s to come. Thanks for your thoughts about the phrase, “mentally disturbed.” You’re the third person to bring that up–clearly I need to nix it. I like how you kept the word “disturbed,” but made it a verb instead of an adjective. Good thinking!!
      BTW: Your Pomeranian is beyond adorable. I’ll bet you have no choice but to spoil him 🙂
      Readers, if you have a moment, check out Cynthia’s excellent book reviews: http://cynthiarobertson.wordpress.com/category/book-reviews/

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