Freelance writers are all too familiar with the pitching process. In order to get any sort of freelance work, publications expect you to pitch rough article ideas to editors for approval. But the process doesn't end there: The angle and tone of the suggested article need discussion before writing even begins. The editing of a first draft is included in this to further fine-tune inconsistencies in tone and structure.

Regardless of whether or not you're looking to break into the enthusiast press, these are skills all writers should have. Brainstorming ideas and refining them into a finished product helps focus your initial concept while also allowing you to adjust your approach as the article forms — especially when you have to work within the framework of a larger predetermined theme. This is where the December Writing Challenge comes in: It's time to put all your good ideas to the test!


The Prompt

For this challenge, we're going to simulate the pitching process, from initial pitch to final edit. Since that alone is a pretty broad task, we're going to add an extra wrinkle into the mix. Because many outlets rely on different topical themes for their sites, participants will have to pitch within the bounds of a theme. This is the December challenge, so you'll have to deal with perhaps the most tired and topical theme in games writing: “The Year In Review.”

That's right. The theme that inevitably permeates every site and magazine at the end of the year is the one you're going to be pitching for. While you usually see something like “Best Games in a Genre of 2010," you're going to have to be a bit more creative. After all, people will probably have taken all the obvious choices. Hopefully, this challenge will not only allow you to practice pitching ideas, but it will also exercise your brainstorming skills in the process. It's a bit of a continuation of my last challenge, Editor's Choice, because you will be collaborating with your pretend editor (me) to form your final work.

1) Send me an e-mail at rocker_boy518 (at) hotmail (dot) com with your pitches. All pitch e-mails should contain:

  • Your full name as seen on Bitmob
  • Several writing samples that best represent who you are as a writer
  • Pitches that adhere to the theme “2010 in Review”

Make sure your pitches are as concise as possible. Editors are less likely to consider your  idea if it's a giant wall of text. Also, I encourage multiple pitches, but make sure you don't go overboard. That has the same effect as a single lengthy pitch.

2) Wait for a response that will either accept one of your pitches or will reject them all. For the purposes of this challenge, I'm going to be picky about article ideas. You'll need to wow me with a creative idea. If I'm intrigued enough by something, I'll ask for a more detailed description. If one set of pitches fails, don't fret. Keep on trying.

3) If I approve an idea, I'll get in touch with you to discuss more specific aspects of your article, including tone, structure, and angle. This is where our brainstorming session will get more specific. The article will start to take shape at this point.

4) When the brainstorming session is done, write your article. It should be about as long as a realistic feature article — 600 to 1500 words is fine for this challenge. Don't post it yet.

5) Send your completed draft back to me for editing. I'll do some general copy editing and check on the direction your article took. If it contains something that doesn't seem to work, I'll ask for a rewrite of specific parts. After editing is done, I'll send the edited piece back to you and ask if you want to change anything.

6) Post your story to the Mobfeed with the tag “Pitch of the Year.”

Pitch e-mails will be due December 16, 2010. Final submissions are due January 1, 2011. I'll collect the finished products into a single post soon after.

These roundups are usually seen by a lot of people. By participating in this challenge, you increase your chances of getting your work noticed. And as always, this challenge will hopefully help you improve your writing skills. Happy pitching!