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can it fit into a paragraph?

2 min read

You know when someone asks you what your novel is about, and you start sweating and doubting yourself, thinking you’re not a real writer because you can’t even describe your freaking book?

It’s like those first scenes in Limitless where Bradley Cooper is at a bar trying to explain his book to some guys, and he can’t even finish a sentence. He ends up drinking a beer to stop talking.

It makes you wish to find a magic pill, doesn’t it? It could make your brain limitless. Suddenly, you’d be able to describe your novel in the smartest way ever.

Well, here’s your pill: write a premise with a hook, and make it fit into a paragraph or a few seconds of an elevator ride.

■ PREMISE is the basis of your story. Like, “someone wants something, but this is happening.” Character, goal, and situation.

■ HOOK is a thing designed to catch people’s attention.

■ ELEVATOR PITCH is a short and persuasive sales pitch. And yes, you’re gonna sell your book with this.

■ TO SELL means persuade someone of the merits of something. Including yourself (if you need it).

Here’s what my novel’s elevator pitch looks like so far: “PROJECT FIRST is about a man who wants to tell you how he started an epidemic and brought the apocalypse to the world, and nobody knows about it because nobody can see it. As you hear his story, something seems out of place, and you might start questioning your own reality.”

It’s still a work in progress, but I think I can use it already. It has a premise and a hook. It needs honing, but I like it.

PROJECT FIRST is just a temporary title. I had this idea in 2014, and thanks to Corona and seven years of trying to put it all together, I almost gave up. My epidemic story idea was no longer fiction, and I thought it would be just another book about a deadly virus. BUT writing THAT pitch reminded me “of the merits” of my book, which has nothing to do with a virus after all. So I keep going.

That’s it. Long story short, write an elevator pitch. One paragraph.

Best,

João

■ PS: Can you describe your book in a paragraph? And if you’re not a writer, can you describe the book you’re reading just in one paragraph?

☕️ first seen on @beardbetweenthelines ↓

One Comment

  • WithloveMasi

    Thank you for those useful tips! Sometimes I find myself sweating like you said above, when somebody asks me about my books. I sit down to write a pitch and suddenly I forget what my book is about. It is incredible that I have to brainstorm more ideas for a pitch than for the finished work.

    PS. I would definitely read your book, you hooked me 🤭

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