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Monday, April 1, 2019

How to Write a One-Sentence Pitch


When people find out that you’re writing a book, they’ll ask you what it’s about. Having a short one-sentence summary (aka logline) as your go-to resource will help you quickly share what your novel is all about. It’ll save you the frustration of floundering around for the right words so you don’t have to tell the backstory of your secondary character and explain why something important happened 10 years ago, blah, blah, blah.

You’ve likely been in that situation before, whether as the writer telling what your book is about or as the listener feeling sorry for the writer struggling to share the plot succinctly. This list of 10 examples comes from a mix of movies and Newberry Award winning novels.

When people find out that you’re writing a book, they’ll ask you what it’s about. Having a short one-sentence summary (aka logline) as your go-to resource will help you quickly share what your novel is all about. It’ll save you the frustration of floundering around for the right words so you don’t have to tell the backstory of your secondary character and explain why something important happened 10 years ago, blah, blah, blah. You’ve likely been in that situation before, whether as the writer telling what your book is about or as the listener feeling sorry for the writer struggling to share the plot succinctly. This list of 10 examples comes from a mix of movies and Newberry Award winning novels.

Using a Logline Generator to Help You Write Your Own Loglines


A logline is a one or two sentence description that condenses your book’s dramatic narrative into the essence of your story’s plot. As you read through these examples of short novel pitches, you’ll begin to see a pattern. But before you dive in, I’ll go ahead and share the formulas with you so they’ll be more recognizable. The first variation applies to the first four examples. Replace the ALL CAPS with your own words. The second variation (among others) can be applied as well.

Quick Pitch Formula


Variation 1: When CHARACTER ACTION (ie. finds, is thrown back, recruits), he/she ACTION (uses, must make sure, discovers), STAKES (but, or, before).

Variation 2: CHARACTER must ____ STAKES, but ____.

Tips to Remember When Writing a Novel Pitch

  1. Keep it short.
  2. Avoid using names.
  3. Include the main character, the conflict, the goal, and the stakes.

Elevator Pitch Examples for Authors


  1. Aladdin: When a street urchin finds a lamp with a genie inside, he uses the lamp to turn himself into a prince in order to win the heart of a beautiful princess, but an evil vizier is after the lamp too.
  2. Back to the Future: When a 1980s small-town California teen is thrown back into the '50s during an experiment that goes awry, he must make sure his parents fall in love or he'll cease to exist.
  3. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: When a sixth-grade girl recruits her 9-year-old brother to run away with her to a museum, they discover a mystery they must solve before returning home.
  4. The Phantom Tollbooth: When a bored ten-year-old comes home to find a large toy tollbooth sitting in his room, he drives through the tollbooth's gates and begins a memorable journey, meeting all kinds of interesting characters.
  5. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH: A widowed field mouse with four small children must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death, but her youngest son has pneumonia and must not be moved unless someone can come up with a solution.
  6. Holes: Stanley Yelnats, a very unlucky boy, gets shipped off to Camp Green Lake to serve a sentence he doesn’t deserve: digging holes all day, but when he discovers a secret, he tries to expose the truth to lift his family’s curse.
  7. Where the Red Fern Grows: Billy and his two coonhound pups roam the Ozarks trying to catch the elusive raccoon and win the gold cup in the annual coon-hunt contest.
  8. Bridge to Terabithia: A 5th-grade boy befriends the new kid in school (a girl) and they work together to oust the school bullies, stand up to parents, and face their fears.
  9. Aquaman: The human-born heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis goes on a quest to prevent a war between the worlds of ocean and land.
  10. Black Panther: Faced with treachery and danger, the young king of the African nation of Wakanda must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.

You might also like "How a Book Pitch Changes with Each Revision".

If you would like to see more writing related "how-to" guides, you can read How to Get Published, How to Personalize a Query Letter, or How to Overcome Writer's Block.


Now try to write your own novel’s logline with a one-sentence summary using this simple pitch formula. Share your comment here.



Outline Your Novel 

With a Simple Plot




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