Arp Laszlo Talks Elevator Pitches and a Giveaway

Arp Laszlo rings in day three of our countdown with excellent advice on creating short-but-sweet pitches. Arp is a web designer, developer, and consultant, and an Indian-American comics creator, illustrator, writer who also blogs really helpful tips for comics and graphic novel creators at his website:

He’s also kindly offered a website critique for one lucky winner. Enter to win at the Rafflecopter below.

Your Story’s Elevator Pitch

We’re going to focus on one very useful aspect of a pitch packet in this post: the Elevator Pitch.

What is it?

The Elevator Pitch is a super short description of your story, limited to 1-2 sentences. It should include: your main characters as well as the story hook & central conflict.

The hook is the Why of the story – what are the stakes & sources of tension? This can often be presented as a problem & solution. You want to condense this all into a single sentence if you can.

Why is it useful?

Being able to describe your story succinctly is important. You need to be clear on what your story is about, which in turn helps you to tell others about it.

If you can condense it into a logline – a one-sentence summary that’s commonly used in the film & tv industry – that’s even better. But it’s not necessary for publishing.

I would still try to create a logline if you can because they are super useful for Twitter pitch parties where you have a limited number of characters to work with.

Here’s an example

Let’s compare two descriptions of a story. The first will mimic a creator who does not have an elevator pitch, the 2nd will be a proper elevator pitch:

#1: It’s the story of this boy who finds out that he’s a wizard, and then goes to Wizard School. And he’s an orphan, so it’s like an orphan school story, but with magic. And then he has to fight this evil wizard who everyone thought was dead, who killed his parents and it turns out that he’s a natural at magic.

OK, I might have stretched that a bit, but I was trying to capture how it felt for me to describe a story that I wasn’t totally clear on. 

#2: A boy wizard begins training and must battle for his life with the Dark Lord who murdered his parents.
– Elevator pitch by Randy Ingermanson

See the difference? The faster and more effectively you can explain what your story’s about, the better. 

You’ll feel confident about it and it’ll make it easier for an editor or someone else to understand if your story is something that they want to know more about. 

Creating a good elevator pitch for your story is a win/win for you and anyone you want to share it with.

Looking for more info on what to put in a pitch packet?

I have a full blog post on how to pitch a graphic novel on my website. Every agent or publisher is going to have different requirements but I researched pitch packets and collected the general recommendations into my blog post.

Good luck with your pitching!

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Teresa Ho Robeson
October 3, 2021 10:45 am

Excellent advice! I’m adding this page in my list of resources for a talk I’m giving this month. Thanks, Arp!

Arp Laszlo
October 5, 2021 12:57 pm

You’re welcome Teresa!

Halsey, Kathy
Halsey, Kathy
October 3, 2021 3:35 pm

Oh, yes, Arp, I like to have the direction a log-line provides and I’m interested in in what you consider the “hook.” Ty.

Arp Laszlo
October 5, 2021 1:12 pm
Reply to  Halsey, Kathy

The ‘hook’ is really the ‘why’ for the story. For the Harry Potter example, the hook is that he’s an orphan with a sad life but is really a wizard. The whole first book is all about him learning about this new world, with its ups & downs (and conveniently teaching us about it at the same time). The conflict with Voldemort is not the focus – we read that first book to learn all about Harry and the new world.

The hook for the Hunger Games is about a sister partaking in a survival contest to save her younger sister.

You might find movie loglines helpful for this 🙂

October 3, 2021 6:25 pm

Thats so true! Loglines are important, but so hard to write!

Arp Laszlo
October 5, 2021 1:12 pm
Reply to  Mirka

They are! I like looking at movie loglines for inspiration, as they do a great job of stating hooks & conflicts as economically as possible.