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Pitch Workshop: Your Character

Composing a one sentence logline for a manuscript is hard. It really is! But as difficult as it is, it's a very important step in pitching your novel. You need to be able to express your entire story within one sentence. We're going to break down your pitch into tiny chunks. Hopefully, you'll have a polished, wow-inducing pitch by the end of the week!

As for queries, I'm open to crits as well. If you happen to snag an agent or editor with your logline, you'll need a query. This topic was covered last week The Write Shadow's workshop. I HIGHLY recommend you stop by her blog and go through her shop before submitting, especially if its your first query. Then post it below, and we'll look it over:)

So, today, let's talk about your MC. Beyond his/her name, I want to know two or three adjectives that describe him. A performing mime? Budding ballet dancer? Clown in classroom?

BE SPECIFIC. Think beyond pretty, smart or funny. What makes your MC unique?

Next, write down what your MC's greatest desire is. What do they wish for ore than anything in the world?

In the next sentence, tell me what is stopping your MC. What's his conflicting goal. Two things that the MC wants, one is a desire the other is in the way.

What are they?
Write them down!

This may seem like something simple, but when you break down your pitch in bite size chunks, it is simple. BUT effective!

Feel free to post your information in the comments and we'll work together this week!

Happy logline, beautiful guys and dolls!!


  1. I found the workshop! I loved Jessica's query workshop and I'm looking forward to learning how to pitch. :)

    So here's My homework attempt (looks like we will have some work to do):

    Volleyball Team Captain Honey Wilson is at the top of the social totem pole. When she develops the power of disintegration, all she wants to do is pick up the pieces of her ruined life and survive middle-school. But that's not going to happen with such a destructive superpower.

    1. So what you need to do now, decide which one of these descriptions ( volleyball captain? superpowers gone awry? - my favorite -) and stick with that for this exercise. We're going to whiddle it down to a 140 characters for Twitter!!

    2. Glad you like the superpowers gone awry, because that's my favorite too. :)

      Can I back up and give you my twitter pitch? Maybe you can help me punch it up:

      "Thirteen-year-old Honey Wilson is convinced that her newfound power of disintegration is causing other people's superpowers to backfire. But Honey's not really an evil villain... Is she?"

    3. Hi, Jen! As it stands, your pitch would be 46 characters over the limit, not including the hashtag. I like what you've done here, though. I tried to shrink it down for you:

      A 13-yr-old is convinced that her power of disintegration is causing others' superpowers to backfire. What if she's right? #JustPitchIt

      That leaves four extra characters for YA/F.

    4. Whoops. That's why I'm not the teacher this week--I apparently jump the gun and can't read instructions... *sneaks away*

    5. Thanks Jessica! I really like your condensed version. While twitter allows 140 characters, some contest do only allow 40. I'm so copying that one.
      But I do need help on the pitches like I see submitted at writer's conferences, with the logline, mc, etc., which is where I think Talynn was trying to guide us before I jumped the gun, too. *beacons Jessica back*

    6. My MC: 13yro Honey Wilson, New student at Hidden Hill Jr/Sr High. Former volleyball captain, straight-A student, fashionista. Now has power of disintegration, wears black on black, and has an F in P.E.

      What she wants: To survive middle school, get her grades up, avoid Ellen, and learn to control her superpower. She also wants to tell her former BFF her secret and rekindle their friendship, while keeping her new BFF, Deseree.

      What's in the way: The assignments at school are literally impossible for Honey to complete, because the teachers have never seen her superpower before. Ellen is the most popular 8th grader in school, and therefore is unavoidable. Telling about her superpower, even to Kelly, is prohibited, and the principal is less than sympathetic. And because of Deseree's superpower, Honey and Deseree are destined to be arch nemeses.

    7. I'll pipe down and let Talynn run her workshop for a while before I jump back in. LOL. For 40 character limits, I would just go with, "Pick me! Pick me!"

    8. correction: I think I meant 40 words not characters, lol. Actually, I don't know what I was thinking. :)

    9. Hi Jen!
      Thanks so much for your patience!
      For this workshop, each day I'll offer new tips on what you need to think about to make your Twiter pitch the best it can be. I have a specific list of questions for you to answer and at the end of the week we'll put it all together.

    10. Jen,

      Your book sounds really fun. A little like Savvy meets When You Reach Me, maybe? And I really like the name, Honey Wilson. :)


    11. Thanks for the comp title suggestions. I haven't read either of them, but I'm going to. :)

  2. I actually do better boiling it down to one line than a couple short paragraphs.

  3. Unique characters are always fascinating. Capturing that uniqueness briefly is the challenge.

  4. Hi there. I joined in on Jessica's query workshop last week and learned so much. I'm looking forward to this one, too!

    My main problem with creating a logline is knowing which direction to go with it. I have two protagonists (the brothers) who are also each others' antagonist. Also, for Bryce, (who I'm using below), I'm not sure if I should go the exciting survival route for my logline or the more "family drama"/mystery that unfolds route.

    My MC:

    13yo Bryce: survival enthusiast; know-it-all, little brother


    What he wants more than anything is: #1 to survive #2 his brother's approval/friendship

    What's in the way: #1 wilderness obstacles (animal encounters, not enough food, a climbing accident...) #2 his brother resents him/treats him badly/a family secret that is at the root of their strained relationship

    Thank you for hosting this!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Hi Shari! Nice to "see" you again.

      I hope Talynn chimes in, but what hooked me from the beginning about your book was the near-death experience. I'm not clear which one has it, but I think that definitely gets in the way of their relationship and Bryce's desires. If your book follows both boys, what are Jack's desires?

    3. Relationships beyond girl/boy are big on editor and agents lists too. It would be a great idea to include this.

      I love your other elements, also. Especially the family secret. High on my list of must haves! Nice!

    4. Hi Jen,

      Nice to see you again, too! It's fun watching each others' work evolve. :) As for your comments, I won't give away which boy has the NDE. It's a big part of the hook for my beta-readers. They all want to know which one it is. :)

      Jack's desires: What he thinks he wants is independence (and to be able to please his parents.) What he really needs is true connection and wholeness.

      What's standing in the way: He thinks his parents and Bryce are standing in the way of his independence. But the 'secret' is what's standing in the way of what he really needs.


      Thanks for letting me know that those elements are important! Interesting...


    5. Then the secret is REALLY important to include! I like where this is going. *all the feels* !!

  5. Here is my query if you have time to look at it. I like it a million times better after going through Jessica's workshop but I know there's always room for improvement!

    When two teenage brothers end up alone in the Northern Colorado mountains, the dangers of the wilderness and a near-death experience set up the mystery that soon unfolds. THE LEDGE, a 37,000 word action/adventure MG, explores the boys' diverging paths that lead to the discovery of a family member they never even knew existed.

    THE LEDGE is set apart from other outdoor adventure books by the realistic look at a near-death experience. Unlike many fantasy books, where the experience is dark and mainly effects the near-death survivor, this book looks at how the surreal situation effects everyone around the survivor, as well.

    Sixteen-year-old Jack and his thirteen-year-old brother, Bryce, have a major case of sibling rivalry and are sent to Grandpa’s remote mountain cabin for a bonding trip. Problem is, Grandpa was supposed to accompany them, but he got sick and the boys have convinced him they can go alone. Jack wants to be rid of adult supervision while Bryce wants to hone his budding survival skills—and impress his big brother.

    On the way, the dangers of the wilderness confront them—a raging river, trapping wild animals, and even a bear encounter, to name a few. When one of the boys has a deadly climbing accident and crosses into the afterlife, the other brother risks his own life to save him. Their separate journeys of self-discovery lead them to a long-buried secret at the root of their strained relationship. On the far side of the mystery lies forgiveness that they never thought possible.

    I enjoy hiking and camping in the Northern Colorado mountains with my husband and four boys. I am a SCBWI member and former elementary school librarian seeking representation for THE LEDGE.

    Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your reply.

    Thanks you,

  6. Hey hey! Here's my homework:

    My MC: 21yo Jenna Kramer. Aspiring Lunar Resident/Astronaut, coffee addict

    What she wants more than anything is: to enter NASA's LURE Program and live on the moon, to love someone who actually loves her back.

    What's in the way: Her boyfriend cheats, leaving her stranded half a continent from home, and she fails the entrance exam at the university, keeping her out of the LURE Program.

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Your ms sounds interesting and compelling. I can't wait to hear more about it.

      What really shines is the way you did the homework. I'm going back to my post and borrow your format. I think you laid it out much better than I did. :)

    2. Hi Jess,
      You've got all the unique elements here. Astronaut? Great! And searching for love is great inner turmoil. Well done!

  7. You sound like you have a good clear handle on the complexity of your story. I like that it has astronauts/NASA. Seems like an intriguing layer!

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. I'm always late to these things! I blame my children. They take up all my time with their adorable smiles

    17 year old Elise, a shy but spunky genius, is a contestant in the Time Trials.

    MC Desire was hard for me, since she struggles with what she wants. She wants to use her brains to better her community and to know who her parents are, and at her base desire, she wants adventure and a family.

    What's in her way: The current Timekeeper Queen does not want to give up the throne, but since her daughter is in the competition she will do anything to see her win. She also struggles with panic attacks and uncertainty.

    Thanks for hosting!


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