Recently I got into a Twitter Tiff with another writer over my rewriting of their log line. I tried to help with clarity and brevity. I took onelong sentence of mixed ideas and made it two sentences of a single subject each. I thought it an improvement. That’s not what the writer thought.
“You don’t understand the semantics,” he wrote back.
“Semantics?” I backed off. I didn’t understand the writers initial rambling sentence, semantics or not. I thought that if I didn’t understand the pitch how did the writer expect a potential reader to understand? This would be an argument that was futile to pursue.
More and more writers are using Twitter to market their books. To refresh your memory, a log line is a single sentence (preferably) that sums up the overall theme of a writers’ novel, short story or screenplay. The log line for Hamlet might be: “Two youths from feuding families try and find love.” Or the pitch for The Maltese Falcon: “A femme fatale, hard-boiled detective and host of odd characters search for a gold and jewel encrusted statue.”
I think you get the idea. A recent short story of mine could have a log line of: “A dying father’s gift puts his son in a moral and spiritual dilemma.”
Writing a good elevator pitch is not easy. I follow quite a few writer’s feeds on Twitter and see all sorts of pitches. Below are some real examples.
“The Dragon, could be persuaded to babysit your hatchlings.” This is good news…if it’s date night for Mr. and Mrs. Dragon.
“Is a realistic coming-of-age novel about redemption.” I think my initial response is ‘from what’?
“The Webb brothers set out to extinguish the monster under the haunting glow of the Kentucky moon.” What does the Kentucky moon have to do with extinguishing a monster?
“Was I so weak that any pretty face had the power to overwhelm me & turn me from my vow to stay sober?” I would say yes. And never use “&” instead of ‘and”.
“She has a caring grandmother that is willing to give her the world” This is nice and cannot be a suspense novel unless granny is really a zombie and the tea she serves is that kind of tea. But that should be in the pitch.
“An adventure like one you’ve never experienced. Awakening colors from…” The end was cut off, so we will never know where from the colors awaken.
“The interaction, character development, and emotion are handled well.” This is more like a ho-hum review than a pitch to get you to read the book.
“Demons are coming to take Dr. Allsdipp, a Nobel Prize Winner, away. But he doesn't want to go.” This is an example of a pitch I would suggest be cut into two short punchy sentences. Try: “Demons are coming to take away Nobel Prize winner Dr. Allsdipp. He won’t go willingly.” I think that makes my point.
So, when writing your pitch in 140 characters or less remember to make it interesting, punchy, something that will pique the interest of your reader.