Hey, gang. I’ll make this short and sweet. I’ve got a six-issue limited series that I’m about to pitch. The only thing that I’m having trouble with is the synopsis. Any advice on how to summarize the entire story in a short, succinct manner?
When trying to come up with a succinct summary, I often find a good way to think about it is to take a step back from trying to cram every detail in, and imagine you’re in the pub with a mate and you want to tell them about this amazing new thing that they’ve never heard about before.
What is the most important aspect, the main hook, that you tell them about first? What are the key details that someone coming to it fresh would need to know? What’s going to get their attention?
It’s tempting to try and cover everything in the smallest space possible, but I think it’s more important to identify the key aspects and focus on those. If you can capture their imagination and make them want to learn more, then you’ve done your job: that’s what the full-length rundown is for.
(I’m presuming you’re asking about a short précis-type synopsis rather than the more detailed run-through of the story that can also be a part of a pitch. In that case a more complete point-by-point breakdown is going to be necessary.)
Dave, that pub ideal nails it. I’ve been in that scenario dozens of times, and to imagine the pitch like that makes things so much easier. Great, and I mean GREAT, advice. Would you recommend posting the synopsis in the threads for critique before pitching?
I guess it depends what you’re pitching for (and who to) whether it would be appropriate to post it in a public forum first. But if you’re comfortable with doing that then I’m sure you will get friendly and constructive feedback here.
Very true. Thanks again, my friend.
You get one sentence.
I’ll take that dance with the devil.
I understand you’re supposed to say exactly what happens and how and keeping it as straight forward as possible, but I’d like input on how to convey tone. For instance, “and then a piano falls on the bad guy” could be humorous or grotesque.
Specifically for my project, the dialogue is (hopefully) witty and humorous in the vein of Joss Whedon or Guardians of the Galaxy. How should I convey this? Do I just state it?
I once saw a guy at a movie-pitching event pitching a comedy and repeatedly telling the panel of judges that his script was full of gags and was very funny. They told him: “don’t tell me it’s funny. Tell me a line or scene that will make me laugh”.
I don’t know how universally relevant the advice is necessarily, but it has stuck with me. ‘Show, don’t tell’ can go for pitches too.
Didn’t feel this deserved its own thread, but as it is pitch related…
Specifically, my goal was to put together a Writer submission package for Dark Horse. Under the Script heading, they say: “You must include a full script for any short story or single-issue submission, or the first eight pages of the first issue of any series.”
I had envisioned my story as a standalone graphic novel, around 100 pages. Does this count as a short story? Should I break it into four issues and treat it as a limited series? The difference is whether I print all 100, 24, or 8 pages. I tried e-mailing Dark Horse for clarification, but never received a reply.
To be honest Reo I think pitching a graphic novel as your first job is highly ambitious. I can’t say it has never happened but it is very rare. It’s not at the moment a business model that works very well for US publishers.
If it’s 100 pages then split into 4 or 5 and submit as a mini series.
Be ambitious but also think about the marketing/profiting aspect as well… if u break it up into a mini series then u can profit from the individual issue sales as well as the combined graphic novel sales…
If you’re about to pitch I would read Jim Zubkavich’s tutorial on this before you do. It’s perfect and it’s gotten me gigs with two known publishers. It’s also good for creator owned books.