Welcome to the PPW January Write Brain, in which you will speed-date your most precious ideas to the audience! You have 30 seconds to pitch your story! And then an audience of thousands of jeering skeptics will mock your ideas by rating them on a scale of one to five, with one being absolute sucktitude and five being an unattainable goal!
Actually, it was pretty fun. Trai Cartwright, a former Hollywood insider posing as a MFA candidate, did a great job on walking us through pitching our ideas, that is, she gave us a few base rules and let us have at it.
Here are the rules:
Right. Get up there and tell us about your idea, your name, what it is (short story, screenplay, etc.), and the idea.
Some of the ideas were finished products; some of them were ideas brainstormed while staring vaguely at Ms. Cartwright and pretending to listen. You know: smile, nod, jot jot jot, smile, nod.
You know how hard it is to practice pitching to an agent? (If you’ve ever gone to an April Write Brain before the PPW Conference, you know what I mean.) Idea “speed dating” is the opposite of that. You stand up, give a 30-second pitch, listen to what other people have to say, and then babble a bit about an answer. Maybe it works so well because nobody expects a “I’ll be your rock-star agent” or “Get away from me, you freak” kind of decision.
After the first couple of pitches, I felt like I had the hang of it and started throwing in ideas and asking questions. I don’t know – maybe some people were miserable getting their ideas tried out, but it didn’t look like it. From what I saw, every person willing to stand up and get bugged by the audience came away with at least some kind of insight, whether from the comments or otherwise. And every writer who stood up had an idea that I’d read (or watch).
I got up near the end and threw out my Chocolate Story idea. Everybody got the wrong idea about it – no, the main characters don’t fall in love. (It would totally spoil the twist at the end.) But I realized that I was thinking of the story in the wrong way, because the story I was describing isn’t the story I’m writing. Then I pitched the idea for a short horror story I’ve been kicking around for six months, and the audience listened, said, “You have great characters, now you just need a plot” and proceeded to supply one. I kind of like the plot, kind of not, but it’s getting me started on how to approach the story.
This whole talking about my ideas to see how they go over thing…I think I like it.