Last night (or possibly last week–I’m not sure. Still on California time) I spoke to the Central Coast Writers meeting in Pacific Grove. A truly lovely group of people who made me and my daughter feel very welcome. My daughter was there to assist me in my talk, which was about how to use pitches to help you sell your book, but also how to use them to diagnose problems with your novel.
I am a self-confessed pitch addict and find them very useful in figuring out if a writing project is worth pursuing. It’s also a great way to figure out if the structure of your novel is working. For example, one of the things you want to include in your pitch is a sense of the conflict that will fuel your story. Ideally that conflict should happen fairly early on. Ideally it should happen around the first chapter. But what if you’re writing your pitch and realize that nothing happens worth writing about until page 218?
That can be a sign that your novel is not starting quickly enough. In fact, a gentleman at the meeting who’d just had a book published said that his editor wound up chopping the first 30,000 words of his book. And it didn’t hurt the book.
Tomorrow (or today) I’m off to the New York Pitch Conference, so will report back on that later.