Unlike any other story “slams,” Story League’s contests are semi-curated in the sense that three expert judges pre-select which stories they most want to hear. Many good stories do not get chosen because A) We get more submissions every month; B) The pitches are not as good as they could be. Here are a few tips to help you convince the judges to pick your idea (Note: The judges do not see the names of the pitchers)
- Step outside yourself and give it the So What? test. This is more about how you choose what story you want to tell, but: Is it 1) something no one has heard of before; 2) a well-worn subject but you bring a totally fresh angle to it? Those are a good start.
- Brevity is best. We ask that you keep your pitch to 100 words, and if you do it right, that is enough to entice the judges.
- Don’t bury the lede: Knock us out with the first line. Make us say, “I HAVE to hear what happens!” Think hard about why you want to tell the story, then put that into words as punchily as you can.
Here are three examples of pitches that got the story selected for inclusion:
You would think that an obese teenage geek girl would be a compassionate protector of fellow geeks. So I thought, as a skinny, uncool, and nerdy Asian geek in high school. But this obese geek turned out to be the villainess of my life in high school. This story recounts that torments she incurred on me, and the story concludes five years later at a bus stop at UC Berkeley. [70 words]
I have a psychic superpower: Everything that I draw happens. It started when I drew myself surrounded by dollar signs and subsequently received a mysterious check for $900, and my salary was doubled. I have successfully drawn numerous engagements, dream jobs, successful childbirth, my arch nemesis getting fired, etc. But I made a dreadful mistake when I drew a friend (who was desperate for money) with dollars coming out of his pants… it caused him an unexpected problem at work. [80 words]
I found myself lying on the pavement in Wuhan, China. It seems the cab I was in collided with a truck. But I didn’t know that. I only knew that my eye—I was sure!—was missing and I couldn’t find it. My eye was fine, but I spend the next 16 days in a Chinese hospital repairing the rest of my face, grappling with police and the media, and trying to remember what happened. The food was BYO. The meds were self-serve. But hey, at least there was booze! [90 words]