How To Write An Elevator Pitch

One of the hardest things about writing a novel or screenplay is succinctly summing up the plot–but that’s exactly what you need to do if you’re going to pitch it to an agent, editor or studio.

To help you out, here’s the formula I use. I find it incredibly useful to fill it out at the start of the process, before I start writing, in order to make certain I’ve got all the essential ingredients of the story in place.

Here it is:

In order to [avoid problem] a [flawed character] must [try to achieve goal] but when [complication] they realise they must overcome [antagonist] and [personal flaw] by [action] before [deadline].

Wherever you see brackets, insert the relevant parts of your plot.

Want an example? See if you recognise this:

In order to ensure others haven’t fallen victim to the monster that killed her crew, a trauatised spacer must return to the planet where the killings started, but when she and her marine escorts are trapped on the surface, she realises she must defeat the aliens and her own feelings of loss for her daughter by facing the queen alien and escaping before the nuclear power plant explodes.

Yes, it’s ALIENS. How about this one:

In order to respond to a distress call from a princess, a naive farm boy must travel to the stars in order to return the plans she hid in his newly acquired R2 droid. But when his hired ship is captured by the Empire, he realises he must deliver those plans to the rebellion and exchange the cynicism of his uncle for a belief in the Force before the rebellion is forever destroyed.

Still not convinced? Here it is applied to my novel, EMBERS OF WAR:

In order to redeem herself a disgraced warship who accidentally developed a conscience must rescue the passengers of a crashed star liner. But when she comes into conflict with former comrades, she realises she must learn how to outhink rather than outfight her opponents, and solve the mystery of the alien objects in the star system known as the Gallery, before their skirmish sparks another devastating war.

Try it with your work-in-progress. It might point out gaps in your plot, and it will certainly make your pitching easier!

Any input? Comment below!

Author: Gareth L Powell

Writer

5 thoughts on “How To Write An Elevator Pitch”

  1. Many thanks for the examples (including your own 🙂 ) of the elevator pitch. Clear character/plot story arc in each. I’m always aiming for concision – on which note, I shall take my leave! Best wishes.

  2. To prevent the Cult from destroying the empire of the Moors and all civilisation ex dragoon Laqua is recruited by the Keepers of the Light to help protect a secret an isn’t Scroll. Ahead of him lie spying, fighting, live, tragedy and the discovery of a dreadful truth .
    As Ants to the Gods.

  3. To prevent the Cult from destroying the empire of the Moors and all civilisation ex dragoon Laqua is recruited by the Keepers of the Light to help protect a secret an ancient Scroll. Ahead of him lie spying, fighting, love, tragedy and the discovery of a dreadful truth .
    As Ants to the Gods.

  4. This is brilliant! Thank you!
    I’ve been grappling for with the dreaded elevator pitch for a long time, and here it is! So simple, so concise. Fantastic 🤩

  5. Cheers Gareth, very useful. It also helped crystallise the plot in my mind and invited some tweak ideas.

    In order to save human space from a despotic religious leader a refugee and a group of misfit insurgents must try to keep hidden the location of the key that will herald the end of times, but as her journey progresses, she realises that her life has been a lie, that in order to save humanity and the universe she must first confront her past, to save herself before she can close the Reality Rip and deny the Emissary what he seeks.

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