In the time since I started my novel, I have honed my elevator pitch. After eight years working on it, I thought I was getting pretty good at it. Every time someone asked “so, what’s your novel about?” I practiced giving them the short version. But turns out – I’ve been doing it wrong.
Here’s what I usually say: It’s a story about a young woman who inherits her grandfather’s ostrich farm in the mojave.
Short, sweet, to the point. But from what I learned at the WOTS conference last weekend, plot is only half of it. And it’s the least important half. I’ve left out the emotional story entirely. How did I not realize this?
In addition to being about inheritance drama, my story is about how we can learn to trust again after we’ve been abandoned. Just about every character in my story has been abandoned in some way, and my main character’s journey is ultimately about trust.
So how to get that into one sentence that also includes the plot?
It’s about a young woman, after losing her grandfather to suicide, who has to learn to love and trust again, in the middle of the family drama that ensues when she inherits everything. And there are ostriches.
meh. I can do better.
It’s about a young woman, abandoned by her grandfather’s suicide, who finds herself the sole inheritor of an ostrich farm that her relatives all want her to sell because she’s too young to manage things on her own.
Still not getting the trust thing in there.
A young woman, abandoned by her grandfather’s suicide, must decide who to trust when she inherits her grandfather’s ostrich farm.
But the suicide is a question in the book. He died in a car accident that she suspects was intentional.
A young woman inherits her grandfather’s ostrich farm after a terrible accident. As her family comes out of the woodwork to tell her what she should do, she has to decide who to trust and what she wants.
She’s not really deciding who to trust. She’s learning to trust at all, after a lifetime of people not being there for her when she needs them.
A young woman inherits her grandfather’s ostrich farm after a terrible accident. As her disreputable family members bicker over selling the property, she must decide what it is she wants, and who she will trust.
Getting close. Now to be specific and use a more engaging turn a phrase.
Tallulah Jones inherits her grandfather’s ostrich farm after a terrible accident. As her disreputable family members bicker over whether to sell the property, she must learn to trust those who will support her, fend off those who won’t, and figure out how to tell the difference.
The end there is a little jagged, but I think I’m getting close. If I can, I’d like to mention the Mojave in there to give a sense of the setting. I love the desert.
The point is, your elevator pitch needs to have both main story and emotional arc.
What’s your elevator pitch?