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Pitch and Tagline (Creative Writing Exercise)

The lovely Kelley, writing at a coffee shop

Creative Writing Exercise

We talked yesterday about the many different ways you need to be able to describe your story (and you’ll need something similar if you’re working on a blog, or an e-Book, or any other big writing project).

In that article, I recommended starting with the hardest description and working your way toward the shorter ones. That offers all kinds of benefits in terms of the consistency, focus, and strength of your message, but it’s got one big drawback: it’s a lot of work. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by that first task, and never get started.

So today we’re going to set aside my advice for a moment, and do the functional equivalent of a writing prompt. We’re going to do something fun and low-stress to abolish that terrifying blank-page feeling, and get us moving. We’re going to start with the pitch and tagline.

That should be the most interesting, energy-packed version of your story description. It’s some fun marketing material, rather than a grueling blueprint of your story architecture. Tell us, briefly, what your story is about. What makes your story special? What about it is going to grab our interest? You’ve got two to four paragraphs (fewer than 200 words), so keep it focused.

In other words, brag. Tell us what made you fall in love with this story, and maybe we’ll fall in love, too. I’ve seen it happened.

Go ahead and make up your tagline, too. One sentence, short and to the point, capturing the spirit of the work. Make it a comment on this post. Actually, start with your tagline, to catch our attention, then follow up with your pitch, to seal the deal. If you do it right, you could easily get some test readers out of this.

(And then when you’re done with all that…set those two aside, and go back to the beginning. Work the process. You’ll be glad you did.)

Photo credit Julie V. Photography.

4 Responses to “Pitch and Tagline (Creative Writing Exercise)”

  1. Ok. This was really a challenge. But much needed. I’m still having quite some difficulty with the tagline. (One question: is it ok to use present tense on the pitch if the story is written in past tense? It came much easier that way…) Here it goes:

    Flawed, book 1: Empath

    Jade Edward’s mind is a mirror of other people’s feelings, devoid of her own emotions unless she is alone. Raised in isolation since childhood, she must now face the struggle of how to integrate into society despite her handicap. And step one is making it through an entire college class without having a breakdown.

    Being around others is difficult enough in itself – that is until Jade is taken prisoner by an evil man with an extraordinary gift who has plans of his own for her. Suddenly difficult becomes impossible. Followed by a history of murders, there is only one thing the killer seeks in his victims – fear. And there may be only one reason for him to keep her alive.

    Along her path of self-discovery, other people with super-human weaknesses, all very different from her own, begin to show up in Jade’s life. Is there a purpose behind all these flaws? Together, can these abnormal individuals triumph over the killer?

    The challenge of how to contain herself around those with intense emotions – love, hate, and everything in between – is the hardest thing Jade has ever had to endure. Through it all, can she find her own identity and hold on to it, in spite of her empathetic disadvantage?

  2. Aaron Pogue says:

    That’s amazing, Becca! You did an incredible job.

    And, yes, it’s not just okay to put it in present tense — it’s supposed be in present tense. So much so that I feel bad for leaving that out of the article.

    Every one of these descriptions should be in present tense, describing what the character does or discovers (over the course of the adventure or in each act or in each scene, depending on which type it is).

    The tagline can be tricky sometimes, and if you can’t come up with one, don’t feel too bad. It’s not extremely useful, just something most writers eventually end up with. As you find yourself discussing the book more and more (now that it’s done), you’ll probably eventually develop a tagline without even realizing it.

  3. Carlos Velez says:

    Rock! Great job Becca. I really want to read that book!