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« Lesson 8: Don’t Be a Castaway: Prepare Before You Pitch | Main | Lesson 6: Kickstart Your Brain: 9 Approaches to Finding the Right Words for your Book Pitch (part 1) »

Lesson 7: Kickstart Your Brain: 9 Approaches to Finding the Right Words for Your Book Pitch (part 2)

**This Lesson is part of the January series “30 Pitch Lessons – 30 Days.”  Pitch University Pitchfest weeks and Expert-In-Residence weeks kick off the 1st full week in February.**

This is the second part of Kathryn Lorenzen's article.  Find Part 1 HERE.

Kathryn Lorenzen specializes in applying the insights of neuroscience and the psychology of creativity to the unique problems of writers in evolving careers.

She currently coaches artists, especially writers and songwriters, to recognize and push through complex creative challenges, including fear, anxiety, and self-doubt, and to work more productively and happily.   


#5 The boredom factor.

One of the crazy glorious things about the English language is how ridiculously many words we have for the same thing! So why do we use the same ones over and over until they are duller than faded wallpaper? I encourage you to spend lots of time going deep and deeper, and you’ll never really get to the end of your path of options.

I’m a huge fan of -- I never get tired of watching the unfolding fan maps of related words.

And I’ve recently become fascinated with the new google tool for viewing uses of specific words/phrases over the centuries (

Of course you’ll make mindful choices here as well, since you’ll want to be understandable, just not boring.  (This could be a good question for some of our agents and editors: Are there words or phrases you’re sick of hearing?)

 #6 Economy and impact.

I’m noticing the length of this article is not a good example of this. (!) Say it in the fewest number of words possible. The objective is to be intriguing enough that your listener asks to have further conversation. And even then, be alert for the need to edit. (Hint: Also practice what you would say if asked, “Can you tell me more about that?”)

#7 Back to grammar class: figures of speech.

It can be illuminating (maybe even fun?) to examine your pitch for opportunities to use a rhetorical device. No doubt you have your own resources and bookmarks for figures of speech, but here’s one: Let’s see if I can rustle up a couple of examples…

Stereotypical movie pitches (“’Forest Gump’ meets ‘Independence Day’ – our simple hero finds a way to triumph over evil intergalactic forces) use metaphor to link well-known and seemingly disparate images to paint a clear picture for the listener.

A compelling description can sometimes include an oxymoron, such as “This story follows a strikingly beautiful thief whose accidental life of crime…” Or, you may use metonymy to identify something by referring to a related specific term or part closely associated with it, such as using “Wall Street” instead of “stock market.” If you try synecdoche, you might say “fingers” or “fingertips” instead of “hand.”

By the way, I was an English major, can you tell?

If you're stuck, play around with BAD MOVIE PITCHES.  It can jog your muse.

#8 Channel your inner Mad Man.

A different window altogether is through writing a tag line for your story. You may have tried this, and it can be great fun. The standard copy guideline for a great billboard is seven words. (And of course the logo in the corner is the title of your book.)

Get started by getting in the Mad Men frame of mind.

#9 Do something completely goofy.

If you’re not sure you’ve landed on the right approach yet, a creative exercise can loosen your tension and may yield a whole new train of thought. Roger von Oech’s Creative Whack Pack always offers a quick reframing tool for any challenge ( . And, there’s now an app for it! (

 My purpose here was to give you a laundry list of ideas and tools. Do you have some to add? I would love to hear from you.


 Coach Kathryn


In 2010, Kathryn Lorenzen presented three different Creativity events for writers in the Houston, Texas area, and she was proud to recently share a stage with Lorin Oberweger (whose company produces the Donald Maass' Breakout Novel Intensives), speaking for three-days on advanced topics in personal mastery and overcoming creativity challenges.

An observation from one of her coaching clients: “Kathryn’s the wisest, kindest, most sanity-inducing mentor I’ve met.”


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Reader Comments (6)

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Free of Snark, Finger Pointing, and Personal Attack

This is a professional environment. Be professional. No one is fooled by the phrase, "I'm just being honest."

Agents and Editors will be viewing your comments. If you can't be kind toward your own fellow-writers, the thought is you'd make a pretty miserable client.

Don't be* that* writer.

January 8, 2011 | Registered CommenterDiane

Awesome! I've bookmarked all the links so I can 'play' in between beating myself up for the sample pitches I keep messing with.

I've learned to let them sit. Kind of like when you finish your rough draft. It's helpful to take some time away, find something else creative to focus your mind on, then come back to it.

Thanks for all teh great info!

January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCandi Wall

Thanks, Candi! I think you are exactly right about the "sit factor." A fresh look on another day can give you a totally new window on angle or word choice. Or allow you to honestly ask, "What was I thinking?" or exclaim, "What genius!"

January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn L.

Thanks for listing all those great web sites. I had no idea that they existed- I'll be hunting through them tomorrow when I take a break from editing my manuscript. Your info was great!

January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Purcell

Thanks, Candi! I think you are exactly right about the "sit factor." A fresh look on another day can give you a totally new window on angle or word choice. Or allow you to honestly ask, "What was I thinking?" or exclaim, "What genius!"
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