When you write stories of any kind, people will eventually ask you about them. It’s a golden moment to have someone express interest in what you do. It’s also a moment of panic for many people. No matter what, a writer must always be prepared to pitch.
Pitching means you must speak your story out loud to another person. The main issue I see with this verbalization is that, well, I’m a writer not necessarily a stellar speaker. Fortunately, I do seem to be okay at talking out my ideas. And I do mean okay, that’s a sincere self assessment. I wish I could say awesome, but that would be hyperbole.
It could be worse. I know several writer friends who stutter, ramble, and generally get nervous when speaking their stories. I mean serious flop sweats.
Even more odd is that pitching often happens after the story has already been written. Every writer I know would rather have someone just read their work than have to verbally sell them on it first. The truth is that the people with power would rather find out they don’t like your story with a short pitch. If they realize they don’t like your story in a thirty-second elevator pitch, then you just saved them an afternoon of reading.
More likely it saved their interns an afternoon of reading, but that’ll have to be another post.
The need to pitch can happen at anytime and in practically any place. The moment especially seems to happen when you least expect it.
The short elevator pitch comes out of the random opportunities to speak your story. Basically, a person of import gets on the elevator with you and the next few seconds in the metal box provides a chance to sell your work. Of course, you could also be called upon to pitch when you run into a producer at the coffee shop or a literary manager at the laundry mat.
Then again if they’re at your laundry mat, they might not be much of a power player. I like to imagine the big producers and publishers have magic little elves to do their laundry.
You can even be asked about your work in an interview. Yes, this did happen recently. I was interviewing for an internship and the interviewer asked about the Nicholl Fellowship Quarter Finalist script listed on my résumé.
That’s when I suddenly found myself giving an elevator pitch during an interview. It was nerve wrecking excitement. Perhaps if I get the internship, I might get a read from the company at the end. I was told my story sounded interesting, which sounds pretty good to me. Beats the flop sweats.
So, brush up those speaking skills. You never know when you’ll need them.