This year’s Great American Pitchfest was terrific. The gathering out at the Marriott Burbank sponsored by Signe Olynyk and her fabulous team was even better than last year, and despite the heat — or maybe because of it — it was a sizzling success.

And I loved, loved, loved the time I had meeting with all the writers in attendance.

I had a packed house for my speech on Saturday morning and I want to thank all of you who were so kind in your enthusiasm. We had a lot of fun! And we got down to business too! What a fantastic time!

I got to test out some new theories on how to “turn out” your movie idea, how to find the “grabber” of it — and by doing so not just have a better pitch but a better story! And the enthusiastic response from all the writers I met with afterward only reinforced my confidence that I am on the right track.

Storytelling gets simpler the more you exercise your skills, that’s the good news. When I hear a pitch — and hear a problem in it — the fix is usually easy. There are basic things that misfire, and those are usually just a matter of adjustment. But the hurdle is what it’s always been for creative people. Can you let go of your preconceived notion of what it is, and hear what listeners are telling you? And if you keep getting the same rejection over and over, can you huddle in your creative place and come back out with the solution?

This, to me, is what it’s all about. Story is a puzzle. And getting all the pieces to fit just right is not just a good sales tool, it’s the point of the job. The challenge also has to be fun!

Here are some things found in the pitches that don’t work:

– An idea that’s a gimmick, not a story

– A hero with no goal and no obstacle in the way

– Concepts that are too simple, or flat when you hear them and…

– Confusion of ideas. Like I said in my talk, a confusing idea is like a Chicken Omlette; you can’t quite put your finger on exactly what’s wrong — but there’s something about the concept that just isn’t right!

Mostly, I thank one and all for your love and support. I genuinely felt welcomed by every person in the room Saturday, and whatever your reason for being there, God bless you! I wish you all real success in the world and think about you every day hoping today will be the breakthrough that changes your lives!

Yes, even you.

Have a great writing week everyone, and thanks again to all my new friends I met this year at Pitchfest. Hope to see you all again soon!