No, this isn’t a comment about the American Idol judges. We’re not talking singing here, but about that elusive, nerve-jarring elevator pitch. A few cohesive sentences that have the potential of interesting an editor or agent in your novel.
How to do it without sounding practiced and without gulping a bottle of wine? First, write your nugget (see March 14th post Nugatory Nougats Have Nothing to Do With Nuggets). It’s only forty or less words and completely manageable. Basically, per Blake Snyder in his wonderful book, Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies, it’s this:
A protagonist overcomes various obstacles in order to achieve his goal or goals.
Memorize it. Practice it. Become it. Try it out on a friend to see if your premise is clear. Have your friend ask you questions, and tweak your pitch. The good thing about a verbal pitch is that you can emphasize words. Be expressive, but natural. Not Sarah Bernhardt-ish.
Leave the wine at home for celebrating your positive prospects with your writing buddies.