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Pitching longform

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by CoolLesterSmooth, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. CoolLesterSmooth

    CoolLesterSmooth New Member

    Hi all, I've got a pretty strong high school narrative story that I'm trying to pitch. The story is about a hockey team that wins its first state championship after the coach's father passed away mid-season. The last three wins were late comebacks. There is much, much more to the story, but I don't want to bog down the post/give away too much.

    Essentially what I'm looking for is publications I should try pitching to. SI is obviously a huge reach and from what I can tell ESPN.com has done away with most of their high school section. Outside of that I was thinking SBNation.com Longform or Yahoo!'s The Post Game.

    Advice regarding longform pitching in general would be appreciated as well. I've been published in a couple dailies and interned at two more. I've just never pitched any longform freelance stories before.
  2. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member


    The pitch is really important, especially if you don't have a relationship with the editor previously. You may even consider writing the whole thing on spec (which essentially means for free, hoping someone will like it) so that you can show people why your high school narrative is worth publishing. Yahoo and SB Nation seem to be looking to give writers an opportunity to write long and build their brand, so you're instincts are correct. Those would be a good place to start. Some advice: Don't write long and ramble on just because it's "longform." You're trying to tell the most interesting story possible. Think of it in cinematic terms. If I'm an editor, why do I want to keep reading this after 500 words? Try to think in universal themes as well. What does this story say about this community? About these people? To be honest, a story about the coach's father dying doesn't sound all that compelling to me. It's going to need to go deeper than that. Or it's going to need a lot of really good writing. Try to come up with an outline, even if it's just for your own purposes, and ask yourself why this story is worth telling. What access did you have an emotion were you able to capture?

    Here is my most honest advice: Write a draft, then show it someone you trust, someone who is a friend and an even better writer than you are. Get their notes, then rewrite it. Try to tighten it up. Look for redundancy. Ask yourself again: Why is story worth the reader's investment? Then, when you've got something that works, pitch it to a few places.

    Don't get too discouraged by rejection. Again, a story without a theme that's going to appeal to a larger audience is going to be a tough sell. A lot of coaches have fathers who pass away. How are you going to show an editor that yours is special? If you can do that, then you can maybe get your foot in the door. An editor might say "This story isn't for us, but feel free to pitch me other ideas." Depending on your POV, you might consider that a success.

    Best of luck.
  3. CoolLesterSmooth

    CoolLesterSmooth New Member

    Thanks Double Down. There is much more to the story (for instance the team is a joint team between two rival high schools) and I've already polished the pitch with the help of peers/mentors. I have not found a taker yet, but did receive an invitation to keep pitching.

    At this point, I'm really just looking for more target publications.
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