What Can you Say in Three Words or Less?

I leave in a week for a writing conference in New York City for which I’m nervous, excited and will somehow never be quite ready. After New York I will visit Washington DC, get needed friend time with a college roommate, and revisit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, among other planned visits. I’ve been to the museum before, but now I have a very specific purpose. I’ve requested to see Henry’s papers and artifacts again. I got an e-mail today that they are waiting for me at the reference desk. I haven’t seen them for ten years.

Heard of a pitch slam? It’s not baseball, it’s your chance in five minutes or less to convince an agent or editor that your book is worth their investment of time and money. Summarize your entire project into 1-2 sentences – that’s a log-line, as in a movie trailer or title. It’s all someone may see if they’re perusing any web site that lists books, so it had better be good. 

Now summarize your entire project in ten words or less. Three words is better. You have thirty seconds to impress. In life, as in a Pitch Slam, first impressions do count, and are lasting.  I’ve attended two of these sessions, and it’s true. As soon as someone begins to speak, you can tell instantly who’s prepared and rehearsed, who’s making it up on the fly, and who’s just totally clueless. 

Ten words or less, can you do it? Here’s two examples I remember from an earlier conference. 
1.  Name this movie: “Jaws in space.” (3 words)
2. Name this character: “If there was a name for adventure it would be _______ ________.” (I’ll skip the ‘a’ and let it count as 10.)

Answers – 1 – ‘Alien.’  2.  ‘Indiana Jones.’  

Photo – taken by author.

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Tags: On Writing