‘Pitch Perfect’: Paul Bolding’s feedback #1
November 18, 2010 1 Comment
We’ve had a good response to ‘Pitch Perfect’: our online freelancing workshop-come-experiment designed to give YOU the chance to pitch to an experienced former editor.
It’s taught us, even more than previously, that pitching is an artform. Packing enough details into a 100 words or so (who you’re speaking to, why them, someone from the opposite view) whilst giving the editor a sense of the piece is a tough balencing act. We had the following pitch, from a young lady known as ‘Mel’ who had a good stab at it…
but could improve on a few areas.
The man next to me adjusts the position of his semi-automatic rifle and gestures to the birds
clamouring overhead. ‘Jays’ he whispers. ‘They’ve been disturbed. It could be because of us, or it
could mean there’s an animal in there. But for now we must wait for the dogs.’
The proposed piece details a day spent with French hunters as they track – and eventually
kill – a wild boar. It debunks the myth of trigger-happy drunks with no thought for safety
and discovers a group of dedicated, thoughtful men in love with nature and the thrill of the
Paul Bolding had a look and made the following comments:
“This is great. It might also be worth saying where in France this takes place. I would also add a line
about the author and make clear that it’s a feature. If it’s targeted at a particular publication, that
should be in the pitch too so that they know it’s been written with them in mind.” PB
From our point of view (if it counts for anything) ‘Mel’ ticks the box of giving the editor a flavour of the piece. The use of ‘clamouring’ and ‘whispers’ may be more at home in a fictional novel (something she’d have to be wary of – she wants to make the editor realise there is substance to the piece); it gives a real sense of her writing style and has the potential to be a really good long-form journalism piece.
However, this intro sentence uses up almost half of her word count – some of which perhaps could be better used noting who she would talk to (presumably anti-hunting groups as well as the French hunters) and why this is relevant and readable now e.g. has there been a court case in French news about drunken farmers, which has led her to try and debunk the myth.
In addition to this, it’s always good to try and give your pitch a proper headline to let the editor know where you may be going with it – ‘The thrill of the chase’ would be a nice one for ‘Mel’s piece.
Any advice for ‘Mel’ about pitching? Don’t agree with Paul’s advice or our comments? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or tweeting us (@wannabehacks)…