You’ve probably heard a lot of published authors, editors, agents – anyone in the professional writing scene talk about elevator pitches for your latest stories. It’s the less-than-30-second explanation you would, theoretically, give someone about your book in the time it takes to ride with them on an elevator.
My elevator pitch for my current book is this: “A high school junior finds a book dedicated to her late father, who has only been gone for a year. The author isn’t answering her emails.”
It’s quick. It’s simple. Yet, it has a way of stumping and surprising you.
There’s a reason we’re not including this post in our Let’s Get Published! series. Because writing isn’t just about getting published. There are plenty of other reasons to put a lot of time and effort into formulating your elevator pitch besides spinning the pitch that’s going to get you noticed by an editor.
Here’s why coming up with an elevator pitch, even when you’re nowhere near ready to actually give the pitch, is important during the writing process.
Defining your specific audience
It’s important to know who you’re writing for as soon as you can. Are you writing for an older or younger audience (or somewhere in-between)?
The main character, who will ideally be central to your elevator pitch, says a lot about who your audience is. A young adult MC will usually indicate your story belongs in the young adult umbrella genre, for example.
Narrowing down your theme and defining your motifs
Once you know who you’re writing for, you can focus on the message you want to communicate to that audience. This can be a bit more complicated than your basic freshman-level English practice worksheets. Remember, there’s a big difference between themes and motifs. Your overall message, and the smaller ideas that fall underneath, are vital in your elevator pitch, too.
My elevator pitch wraps around the story’s main theme – character – and also ties in a few motifs, like companionship, literature, grief, avoidance. The pitch itself might need a little work diction-wise, but its center has really helped me focus on the most important elements as I’m writing.
Staying in touch with your original inspiration
Every writer has a specific reason for writing a story, as well as a specific inspiration for that story’s original idea. As you write, as you’ve probably noticed, that inspiration tends to fade in and out the longer you spend on a project. It’s often really hard to find the motivation to keep going when your inspiration fizzles out.
Referring back to your elevator pitch when you’re stuck is often the match you’re looking for to spark your inspiration again. I was inspired to write this book because of a personal experience, which is nestled right in the middle of my pitch. Every time I’m stuck, I go back to that pitch, and I’m reminded why I started writing in the first place.
Sure, your ultimate goal might be to get published. Keeping that in mind is still important. But never forget your initial reasoning for starting your book in the first place. You have someone you’re trying to reach, and a specific message you’re trying to hand out. That is, always, the most important thing. You may never get this story to print. But that doesn’t mean it matters any less.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.
Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.