Next Saturday morning at 11 a.m. out at the Marriott in Burbank, I will be doing something I love!

No, it’s not partaking of the all-you-can-eat buffet, or the joy only true Angelenos appreciate — valet parking — it’s being on stage talking to a hundred or so of my closest friends, AKA screenwriters.

The event is The Great American Pitchfest, organized by Signe Olynyk, and it is a wonderful opportunity not only for me, but for any screenwriter interested in sharpening his or her ideation skills.

Last year’s Pitchfest was a huge success with thousands in attendance, and this year promises to be even bigger and better with outstanding speakers and a chance for attendees to stare across the table from actual producers, agents, and managers — all with the same question: What’ya got?

It is the golden chance to test drive your latest notions, sure, but that’s not the real reason to attend.

I always tell writers not to go to Pitchfest expecting a sale, for there are very few magical pitches that will get you a “Sold!” right there in the room, even though it occasionally happens.

The real purpose is networking, meeting not only potential buyers, but fellow writers who are on the same path.  As screenwriters, we don’t do nearly enough outreach to each other. And if there’s anything I’ve learned from my association with the Romance Writers of America (to whom I will be speaking in San Francisco in August), it’s that there is not only safety in numbers, but tremendous benefit. It’s what I am trying to promote with our Cat! Writing Groups, and quite successfully! (More on that in blogs to come!)

The primary goal for anyone going to Pitchfest is two-fold:

1. Meet a lot of people, and that means all kinds — writers, producers, agents, and experts.

2. Practice a most important skill: pitching.

Can you tell me what your movie is about?

Have you practiced pitching to enough strangers in line at Starbucks to know the good points and bad points of your story? And when push comes to option or possible sale, when you’re finally in that office at the studio with decision makers who really can say “Sold!” right there in the room, will you blink?

Or will you deliver? Will you stand at the plate, bottom of the ninth,  game-winning runner at third, and have confidence? It’s up to you, all eyes are on you, the pressure is on, we’re counting on you to win!

Do you have the stuff?

It takes practice, and what Pitchfest is most useful for is practice under near-game conditions.

My talk to screenwriters Saturday morning will be about that moment not just “in the room” with a decision maker but the importance of  “the big idea” — the fact that now more than ever “concept is king.”



And I will be giving audience members a preview of that chapter about pitching and “the idea” from my new book Save the Cat! Strikes Back, in which I reveal for the first time my experiences getting loglines from readers from all over the world, and my brand new tips on what works… and what doesn’t:

– What are the three types of loglines that DON’T do it for me, and why do all the ones that don’t work tend to fall into these three categories?

– What is the thing I am most anxious to “hear” in your logline or pitch; it’s not the “commercial” value — although that plays a part.

– What are the 4 new must-haves I am recommending to writers interested in amping up an idea.  Can that be done? Or is a bad idea so fatally flawed that it’s often best to toss it. How do you decide?

I can’t wait to meet all of you and get on that stage and tell you everything I have been lucky enough to learn about this very important skill.

See you at the Marriot! I’ll be the one in the suit with the valet stub in his pocket — speaking is my number-one favorite activity, but valet parking is a close second!