Write the Pitch Before You Draft with Annie Neugebauer

Save time, work, and heartache by writing your pitch before you draft your novel. Then use that pitch to work backward, creating a functioning, sellable project from your seed idea.

Your Instructor: Annie Neugebauer (two-time Bram Stoker Award nominated author)

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: October 3, 2019 - October 31, 2019

Enrollment: 16 Students

Price: $325

Class Description

Better Pantsing, Better Plotting, Master Planning.

Not sold on pantsing or plotting? Try pitching.

Logic-oriented organization pro Annie Neugebauer will teach you the best of both worlds and then some with her unique approach to pre-writing. Annie has drafted eight completed novels—some the hard way and some the easy way—and she’s never going back to the hard way.

If you end up doing massive overhaul revisions no matter how much you plan ahead, Write the Pitch is for you. If you always wing it and end up stuck in the mud, Write the Pitch is for you. If you love plotting but feel like the choices you make are often somewhat arbitrary, Write the Pitch is for you. If you have a basic seed of an idea for a novel but aren’t sure how to turn it into a functioning concept, Write the Pitch is for you. It’s recommended that you begin this course with a novel idea in mind, but not yet drafted, although the material can be modified to apply to any stage in the novel-writing process. Write the Pitch is for all novelists, compatible with any other methodology.

Over four weeks we’ll learn the art of the pitch—the same thing whether it’s a query letter for agents, pitch letter for editors, or back cover copy for readers—and then utilize that skill to prepare for drafting your novel. We’ll learn why and how that pitch is the master plan for efficient plotting and drafting, how to avoid common pitfalls, and how to maximize both impact and eventual project salability. Once we have a solid foundation for our manuscripts, we’ll dive into character building to save time and heartache on the back end. Finally, we’ll discuss other ways to front-load our effort to produce the quickest, smoothest, and most effective first draft possible.

You’ll graduate from this course with the knowledge and tools you’ll need to plan every novel you’ll ever draft—and how to fix the ones that are already drafted. Don’t just pants it or plot it; pitch it.

What This Class Covers

Week 1: Concept and Protagonist

Lecture: In the first week, we’ll cover the premise, main concept, and protagonist. We’ll learn how they’re part of any good pitch and discover why those are also the basic parts of any good novel. We’ll focus on common mistakes, weak points, and how to set your book up for maximum impact and salability. We’ll also learn how to take any parts you already have formed and use them to generate the parts you’re still missing.

Ideas addressed:

  • How to catch attention for your project
  • High concept ideas
  • Essential premise
  • A protagonist with a goal
  • A protagonist with motivation
  • High stakes
  • Characterization

Assignment: Students will be asked to create the first part(s) of their pitch skeleton from their novel’s seed idea, to be critiqued and revised in the following week.

Optional Additional Assignment: Students will be given ideas for ways to deepen their knowledge of their protagonist’s character before they start drafting.

Week 2: Antagonist and Conflict

Lecture: In the second week, we’ll take all of the components we learned to flesh out our protagonist and do the same thing with our antagonist. We’ll focus on common weak points and how to avoid them, as well as focusing on the interplay between the protagonist and antagonist, and how to utilize it for maximum effect.

Ideas addressed:

  • A three-dimensional antagonist
  • Your antagonist’s goal
  • Your antagonist’s setbacks
  • Raising the stakes
  • Being flexible with your ideas to improve your novel
  • Fixing weak spots ahead of time (less revisions!)
  • Strengthening contrast and correlation for maximum impact

Assignment: Students will be asked to create the second part of their pitch skeleton from their existing material, to be critiqued and revised in the following week.

Optional Additional Assignment: Students will be given the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of their antagonist’s character like they did their protagonist in week 1.

Week 3: Supporting Character and Hook

Lecture: In the third week, we’ll choose and develop a primary supporting character to deepen our projects (as well as the protagonist and antagonist). Again, we’ll apply the skills from weeks 1 and 2 to week 3’s character, focusing on common mistakes and ways to maximize ease of drafting. Finally, we’ll discuss how to “hook” your reader to sell your book.

Ideas addressed:

• Which characters “deserve” pre-work, and how much
• Why having characters fleshed out ahead of time is important
• How to remain flexible with characters during drafting
• Which aspects of character are most important to know
• Methods for developing character details
• How to keep a reader intrigued
• Endings and how plot plays into theme

Assignment: Students will choose and develop a supporting character and pinpoint their closing hook.

Optional Additional Assignment: Students will be given the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of their supporting character like they did their protagonist in week 1, and/or use their new knowledge of them to deepen their protagonist and antagonist.

Week 4: The Pitch

Lecture: In the final week, we’ll take all of the components defined and chosen in the first three weeks and combine them into a complete “skeleton.” Then we’ll turn that skeleton into a multi-paragraph pitch suitable for selling the finished novel, coming from the angle of using it as a master plan to draft the manuscript. We’ll discuss ways to use this master plan to best write your novel.

Ideas addressed:

• The full skeleton of pitch components
• The order, length, and format of a pitch
• The importance of tone in a pitch
• Common pitch mistakes and weaknesses
• How endings apply to pitches

Assignment: Students will be given the final week to turn their multi-part skeleton into a functional pitch, which will then be critiqued for flow, tone, and polish.

Optional Additional Assignment: We’ll cover several options to continue preparing for a quick, clean writing process that fits with your book, including research, theme work, detail plotting, and more.

Goals Of This Class

Goals Of This Class

  • Create a usable pitch (whether pitch letter for editors, query letter for agents, or back cover copy for self-publishing) to sell your novel once it’s finished.
  • Learn how to turn that pitch into the master plan for your novel itself, troubleshooting major problems before drafting (and revising).
  • Finish preparing for fast, easy drafting with other pre-work, including characters, themes, research, and more.
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