This phrase comes from the idea that if you got into an elevator and a conversation with a stranger, could you say what your book is about before two floors pass and one of you steps out?
On the 16th of this month I’ll be presenting a session on this at the 2nd annual Cuenca International Writer’s Conference up in the Andes in Cuenca, Ecuador. I’ll be combining it with how to write a synopsis that sells…but I’ll save that for another blog post so we can focus right now on the elevator speech that describes your book in one sentence.
This is your mini sales pitch. Most start with the main character’s inciting incident, describes his/her problem or challenge, and introduces the deadline and/or consequences.
If your story is historical, you want to establish the time period:
“In 18th century Suriname, wealthy black plantation owner Elisabeth Samson schemes to get the one thing her money can’t buy—and Dutch law forbids—a white husband.” — Elisabeth Samson, Forbidden Bride
You want to introduce your main character and say just enough about the plot to make your listener or reader curious to know more.
If your story location is critical to the story, you want to identify that:
“When the world’s most famous magician dies in a Las Vegas roller coaster escape stunt on national television, single mom detective Cheri Raymer faces the most devastating personal threat in her career when her teen-aged son, fascinated by magic, becomes the protégé of a suspected killer.” — Magicide
If there is a deadline key to the story, you want to say that:
“The search is on for six million dollars hidden in a vintage Las Vegas Hotel/casino destined for destruction.” — Implosion
You want to use powerful high-drama words like, schemes, devastating, threat, incredible, unimaginable, inconceivable, forbidden, destruction…to spark curiosity.
And keep it short. Most elevator speeches can be under 100 words.
Check out the bestsellers in your genre at Amazon.com for more examples that will spark the ideas to describe your novel.
Then share your one-line story “pitch” with us in the comments section below.
In preparing to print a calendar of famous writers’ quotes for the 2nd annual Cuenca International Writers’ Conference next week, I read this one by Stephen King:
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Once I asked a woman in a writers group who was writing a romance novel who her favorite romance author is. Honest to God, this is what she said, “Oh, I don’t read romance. I read science fiction.”
Am I the only writer who thinks it’s important to know what readers are reading in the same genre in which I’m writing?
Do you have a favorite writer who inspires you? Whom you would like to emulate in your own writing?
My favorites are Carl Hiassen, Elmore Leonard and Harlan Coben. Who are yours?