Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Winning Pitch - The Heirloom coming in 2015 from Vinspire Press

This is the pitch that took more than a year to write. It is a synthesis of no less than 24 synopses, premises and pitches. This one is less than 350 words long.

The Heirloom

Thirty-two year old Dr. Amelia Rimgold is about to testify in a generic drug fraud. Two days before she's to go before the House Committee, she's shot during an intermission at the New York Fowler's Opera. The hit man takes the victim's antique gold locket.  He has a collection of such souvenirs, 'commemorating' his jobs. The locket is an heirloom and once belonged to the victim's ancestor, Rebecca Taylor, executed on September 22, 1692, in Salem. Rebecca had pressed the locket against the octagonal seal on her death warrant and cast her only spell – to protect her female descendants from the kind of persecution and injustice she had suffered at the hands of the cruel and the ignorant. The heirloom does its job and Amelia survives.

But the young scientist still has to give up her life and identity, and becomes the FBI's witness-in-hiding. The hit man, hired by a cartel of pharmaceutical companies, moves on to his next job when the gold amulet begins to exert its power over him. The locket wants to return to its rightful owner. The owner is obligated by the ancestral legacy to keep searching for her heirloom. Trying to convince the FBI agents that forces beyond scientific understanding are at play, Amelia realizes the locket won't let her stay in hiding, as the FBI insists. Even though it means confronting her killer, she chooses to be a part of the hunt. When her FBI contact, Rick Brannigan, takes his bowling buddy Ted Bester to the Maryland sea coast, the last thing the Agency field operative expects is to meet a woman publicly buried as an assassin's victim.

I started summarizing for this pitch and ended up with a 4-single spaced synopsis. A week later that was whittled down to 2 pages. Then I used those two pages to come up with a 500 word pitch. Then I let it simmer for a while but I was not idle. I wrote whatever came to my mind as an "insert" into the last-written pitch. This went back-and-forth for nearly a year before I had a dozen pitches, each less than 350 words and from those I culled what you have above.

Writing summaries, synopses and pitches is very difficult. I find it MORE difficult than writing the actual novel. And each time I come back to a pitch that I left "perfect" I find it lacking. 

No matter how unappetizing, a writer MUST learn to write a succinct, effective and captivating pitch. Don't be afraid to "bolster" your story - if everything is not larger-than-life then the story is not interesting. Whatever you choose to hi-light -- motivation, adventure, suspense, horror, murder, tragedy -- make sure it's sufficiently "larger-than-life" but also make sure you pick only ONE aspect. Do not throw in everything that features in your novel and that drives the characters. Pick the strongest aspect and work it with "interest-catching-big" words. 

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