A pitch is only around 140 words, but it'll likely be the hardest 140 words you'll ever write. That's because you have sell your novel in that space. Notice I didn't say summarize your novel in that space. That's one thing the pitch is definitely NOT: a summary. However, most pitching newbies make that mistake.
A pitch is a brief reason why I want to read/represent/buy your novel. Every single word has to work hard toward SELLING your novel.
That means in a pitch, it's particularly important to use an active voice versus a passive one. An example:
"Jane was so broken up, she was moving to start fresh."
"Jane escaped the place that destroyed her."
See what I did there? I said more in 7 words than 11 words by making each word work harder.
Another tempting thing for pitching newbies to do is end their pitches on a rhetorical question.
"Will Jane heal the wounds of her past and find love again?"
What just happened here? Well, the writer gave away the end of the book. Unless you're writing some dark, dystopian novel, yes, OF COURSE Jane will heal from her wounds and find love again (especially if you're writing a romance)! And you don't want to give away the end of your book in the pitch.
Also, that sentence is so cliché it's painful.
Your pitch should answer these questions:
- What does your heroine want?
- Why does she want it?
- What keeps her from getting it?
Altogether, here's a three-sentence compelling pitch:
"Escaping the place that destroyed her, Jane starts a new life in Seattle only to discover that she can't run from her past. As dark secrets from Jane's old life begin to haunt her, a blossoming romance gets caught in the crossfire of a dangerous game that could destroy her for good."