My novel experienced a major overhaul today, courtesy of my critique group. This weekend, many of them entered a pitch contest on an agent's blog. I wanted to join in, but I had a small problem.
I had no pitch.
I've heard at conferences before that ever story needs to have a good pitch, or a short plug that you could give if you were in an elevator with an editor. I just never got around to writing my own. This contest in particular wanted a Twitter pitch: 140 characters, maximum. That couldn't be too hard to write, could it?
An hour later, I still didn't have my pitch. I had a number of questions, which I decided to use to guide my revisions.
1. Who is the protagonist in my story?
2. What motivates her (or him, but her in this case)?
3. How does this motivation effect the plot?
4. What is the conflict at the heart of my story?
5. Would my reader know the answer to these questions by the end of the first chapter? The first three? The first seven?
Ironically, as I looked over these questions, I realized I did have a pitch after all. I had to boil my story down to its basic elements, the evaluate it. In the process of finalizing my pitch, I got a better look at the imperfections in my story. Now I'm excited to go and make those changes.
Now it's your turn. Go write a pitch for your novel, whether it's finished or not. Figure out what's really going on at the heart of your story. If your story feels slow or your revisions feel stagnant, you could diagnose your problems in 140 characters or fewer.