I’ve heard thousands of pitches in my 30 years as a screenwriter. What I’ve found is that the majority of pitches were too long, unfocused and boring.

First of all, you should pitch what your story is about, not what happens in your story. Pitching what happens in your story is a recipe for disaster. It becomes an excruciatingly painful unfolding of scenes that lack a cohesive core.

When you pitch what your story is about, your focus is sharper. Only essential details are included. Your logline becomes concentrated and condensed. You do not summarize your story from beginning to end. I’ll repeat that for emphasis. You do not tell what happens in Acts 1, 2, and 3! You are giving the premise or set up of your material. That premise should be intriguing and compelling. Pitching a unique premise draws the listener in and prompts them to ask to read the entire script. That’s what High Concept is all about!

The best practice for pitching is to pitch any movie in one sentence. Every film ever made can be reduced to a one-sentence logline. If you can pitch your material in just one sentence, you’re forced to include only essential information and nothing extraneous. Once you can pitch your script in one sentence, then you can later add a few more sentences for detail, color, and texture.

For more practice, choose three films you’ve seen recently and pitch each of them in just one sentence. It’s a great way to practice and hone your pitching skills.

Watch for Steve on Screenwriting the first Thursday of each month. Read the Your Screenwriting IQ series.



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