• Maggie Brown

Turning Ideas into Stories Shouting to Be Read

If you participated in Storystorm this January, chances are you have a bunch of ideas staring at you with big eyes, shouting, “Pick me! Pick me!” Even if you didn’t participate, I bet you have a list of unwritten ideas lurking somewhere. So, how do you decide which ideas deserve to be written?

This is my plan of attack: write pitches first.

Of my 30+ ideas, I’ll choose the top five. I’ll write pitches for those five ideas, without writing any of the story beforehand. When crafting these pitches, I’ll aim for the most outrageous, enticing, marketable little blurbs of excitement that I can muster. I’ll exaggerate the idea to the point that a reader would hopefully stop and say, “Whoa, I need to read that.” Then I’ll read my five pitches and look for The One that’s screaming to be read the loudest (even though it can’t be read yet because it’s not written yet, but you get what I mean).

And BOOM. That’s The One I’ll write first.

I’ve used the strategy of writing pitches before the story before, and I LOVE it, because:

1. You know if your story has a strong hook. If the pitch sings, you know there’s a winner there. Some pitches fall flat. If one does, that idea never makes it to fruition.

2. You create a roadmap for yourself. The story practically writes itself when you write the pitch first because you’ve set expectations for what will happen. It’s similar to outlining for longer works (but I think pitch-writing is WAY more fun).

3. You push the idea to its limit. There are no restrictions when you write a pitch for a story that’s not yet written. When you set up a pitch that’s insanely funny/full of suspense/has heart beating off the page, your writing will follow. It’s like setting a super-ambitious goal for the story.

If you need help crafting winning pitches, or if you don’t even know what a pitch is yet, I highly recommend the Children’s Book Academy’s Craft & Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books Course. Otherwise, here’s a nifty little formula Karen Yin, one of my awesome critique partners, tweaked from a few sources:

I hope this post helps your ideas take flight! Happy creating (and pitching).