This older post from über-blogger Nathan Bransford (a former lit agent and author of a middle grade adventure book - if you aren't following his blog already you should!) shows how to craft a one sentence pitch.
I love the framework he suggests:
When OPENING CONFLICT happens to CHARACTER(s), they have OVERCOME CONFLICT to COMPLETE QUEST.It doesn't have to be exactly like this, but the basic elements of the conflict and the quest to overcome it should be there. I played around with my pitch for a bit and found that instead of focusing on the theme of the story, which ends up sounding really generic when it's pared down to one sentence, getting into the core conflict shows what drives the story.
So, here's a go at a pitch for my WIP, a YA supernatural mystery:
When a girl's unexpected resurrection prevents her soul from crossing over to the afterlife, a long-dead teenage investigator must travel to the living world to bring her back.This sort of works, not sure yet. There's obviously more that happens, and a reason why she has to get "back" to the afterlife, but more explanation weighs down a pitch. It's really hard to edit down because you have to say enough without overloading with detail.
Have any of you had success with a short pitch? Did it help as you continued to write or edit your unfinished work? If you are brave enough to share your own, please do!