Establishing tone, creating a vision, and more reasons a pitch deck could be the missing piece for plotting your next novel
If you’re a writer, there’s a massive possibility you’ve procrastinated the putting-words-on-the-page part of writing in lieu of the scouring-Pinterest-for-photos-for-a-beautiful-aesthetic part of writing. And making aesthetic moodboards is an important part of writing if you ask me.
When you sit down to make a thematic, color-coordinated, moody aesthetic, you’re actually narrowing in on the tone of your book. This is a crucial part of telling a cohesive story. So, how do you take that one moodboard to the next level?
Answer: a pitch deck.
What is a pitch deck?
Pitch decks (slide decks, pitch books, etc.) are brief presentations used across numerous industries for the same purpose: an easily digestible, aesthetically appealing high-level overview of the work.
I use pitch decks during the prepping phase before fully outlining the book in order to establish a few key elements of my story. Creating a novel pitch deck is a fantastic tool you can use to see your story come to life before you ever write the first word.
Typically, I make mine in Google Slides so that I can quickly and easily send it out to my critique partners during our brainstorm sessions.
Why make a pitch deck?
1. Establish a tone touchstone
One of the most important aspects of your story is the tone itself. It’s challenging to create the story you want to if you don’t know what kind of story it is. Is it a heart-wrenching family drama? A spunky romcom? An edge-of-your-seat legal thriller? Creating a pitch deck helps you narrow down the scope of your story so that every decision you make can be vibe checked against the tone you’re working toward.
2. Meet your primary cast of characters
It’s a no-brainer that you need to know the ins and outs of your characters before you can tell their story! Creating a pitch deck and establishing that high-level overview of their misbeliefs, desires, and needs (and, also importantly, how they conflict with each other!) is crucial in establishing stakes and tension from page one.
3. Create the shape of your story
Even before you sit down to plot your story — or dive right in, if you’re a pantser! — knowing the overall shape of your story’s plot arc can be a time-saving exercise. Looking at your plot from a bird’s-eye view allows you to find bridges that lead to nowhere and plot holes that could’ve been easy to miss from the ground level.
How do you make a pitch deck?
Pitch decks can be completely customized to your brainstorming needs and purposes, but here are a few elements that I always include in mine.
Establishing the vibe of your story starts here! I always put the working title and “By Rachel Moore” because it is indicative that I will write this book.
A one-sentence pitch of your book including the general idea and a few notes on tone if you can. Per the advice of Maggie Stiefvater, a formula I like to use is “tone + idea = premise.”
For each project, I choose three words that capture the feel of the book I want to write. It can be difficult to pin these down, but don’t give up! I typically write a few paragraphs about each tone to begin envisioning the way the book makes readers feel as they turn the pages. I come back to this page in the pitch deck the most while drafting.
Pull out your Pinterest! Here’s where you get to put those hard-earned aesthetic-making skills to work. Create a mood board with images that speak to you regarding the novel you’re going to write.
I typically choose eight songs to start a project playlist. Even if I don’t listen to these songs while I write, it’s fun to find music that captures the emotions and overall energy that you want your project to radiate.
Write blurbs about each of your main characters. These don’t have to be neat and tidy. Just start to outline who they are, what they want, and what stands in their way.
Regardless of the genre your book is, you need to clarify some world building. This can be setting, magic systems, family lore, the ins and outs of vampire sociopolitical schemes — whatever your work in progress requires!
Brief Plot Overview
Lastly, I like to start imagining the shape of the arc by writing short paragraphs about each act so that I can envision the rises and falls of the plot structure.
The best part about making your novel’s pitch deck? It doesn’t need to be perfect, and it’s totally malleable. Your story will shift and evolve as you delve deeper into it, but the pitch deck is a fantastic launch pad for writing the story of your heart. If you’re looking for more writing tips, check out these posts for more information.
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