Pitch with Power: High Concept

Pitch with Power: High Concept
(Part III of the Pitch with Power 3-part series)

From Dave Butler, Acquisitions Editor for WordFire Press and author (as D.J. Butler) of City of the Saints, and the Rock Band Fights Evil series

When you and your audience are both crushed in a crowd of one hundred thousand people, you have to pitch fast. That means pitches that are short and punchy and make the customer want to open the book and look inside. Our previous posts have addressed raising questions in the customer’s mind and provoking the customer with surprising and fascinating ideas. Now let’s talk about high concept.

11127670_429814100512016_4642570679129754163_nHere’s a high concept pitch forChemical Burn, Quincy J. Allen’s sci fi noir revenge thriller:

Chemical Burn is Blade Runner if its central character was Deadpool.

What’s the goal here? I’m trying to connect the story in my hand to stories I think the customer already knows and loves (this is a pitch I might try on someone wearing a Deadpool t-shirt). Note that even in a pitch this short, we have elements of surprising awesomeness in the juxtaposition of two very different stories; in fact, it’s very important if you’re going to use a high concept pitch that your two combined elements not be obvious (another pitch for Dandelion Iron would be “This is one part Firefly, one part Hunger Games, and one part Little House on the Prairie”). In the Chemical Burn pitch I also pose questions (hey, what would Deadpool do if he had to solve the replicant problem?).

I’ve broken these three techniques apart, but that’s an artificial division. Really, I did it so I could write shorter blog posts that wouldn’t overwhelm with too many examples. Any book can and, in the right time and place, should be pitched using all three techniques.

Your Homework: write three pitches for your own stories that combine two or more of the pitching techniques we’ve covered. Make sure each pitch is as pithy as you can make it.

Then try the pitches out on your writing group. Invite them to help you make the pitches pithier without sacrificing the elements that post questions, surprise with awesomeness, or make high concept connections.

Good pitching, and good luck!