In a couple of weeks, I will attend a major writers’ conference. So it’s time to tune-up my pitch (aka logline). I’ve been reading the first few chapters of Save the Cat! By Blake Snyder, and he gives excellent advice about a winning pitch. Snyder says it must contain four key elements: 1) irony, 2) a compelling mental picture, 3) a sense of audience and cost, and 4) a killer title.
Let’s explore whether my one-sentence pitch fits the bill: An inexperienced, big-city private investigator teams up with a wilderness-savvy alpha woman, a man on the autism spectrum, and hard-core Sasquatch believers to find a missing six-year-old boy in rural Colorado.
1) Irony: This is what hooks the moviegoer (or reader, in my case). It’s that bit of something that’s unexpected and draws you in. Is my pitch ironic? I’d expect a novice big-city PI to be smart enough to hook up with folks who fill his knowledge gaps. While I suspect the alpha woman might help him figure out how to navigate rural Colorado, the man on the spectrum and Bigfoot believers are unlikely comrades. So, perhaps my pitch fills the ironic component.
2) A compelling mental picture: Snyder says the pitch should give you an idea about the story (i.e., more than just the overall subject). For example, how much time the story will cover, whether the piece will be a comedy or drama, or what is the primary conflict. Does my pitch have a compelling mental picture? We see that the story takes place in rural Colorado, most likely in the mountains since the alpha woman is wilderness savvy. We might assume that the story starts when the boy goes missing and ends when he is found (either dead or alive). A missing 6-year-old is never a joking matter, but there might be some comic elements with the Sasquatch believers. Also, there could be a bit of romance between the detective and the alpha woman. Maybe it’s good that these last two issues are ambiguous as readers might want to know more and look for the book.
3) A sense of audience and cost – While cost relates more to screenplays, ‘audience’ would be relevant in a book pitch. This speaks to who would be interested in the story. If the answer is ‘nobody’ then the logline falls flat. Who would be interested in my book? I suspect it might appeal to adults and mature young adults with a soft spot for unusual characters and interested in mysteries, cryptozoology, or magical realism. If you are wondering what cryptozoology is …. it’s the study of animals that might exist. Examples include Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster.
4) A killer title – Snyder says the title must “nail the concept.” Other sources say the title should grab the reader’s attention, be memorable, and provide an idea of what the book is about. The title of my book is Crimes of the Sasquatch. The title tells the reader there may be a Bigfoot in the story, or at least there will be crimes and a mythical creature takes the blame. Perhaps either concept might be intriguing? I’ve been told not to spend boatloads of time on the title, as an editor/agent/publisher would likely change it. So for the time being, since I believe it’s an attention grabber and gives an idea of what the book is about, it will remain as is.
I’m open to hearing views about my pitch. So, I plan to post it on my Facebook page and ask for comments. If you read my blog on this website and want to give your perspectives, please click on my Contact tab, and send me a message.