Pitch Pit #5: Shows wheel potential

Note:

This is my first pitch to travel writing and I haven’t published anything at all (aside from blogs post).

To Editor,

My name is ________ and I am avid writer and traveled professionally for many years. I will be traveling to Japan for a personal vacation and I have a following story that may be an interest to your readers.

There’s sign of some imperfect grammar here, which is definitely no deal-breaker, especially if the idea is good, but it might be wise, if pitching to an English language title, to have a native English speaker look over this first. Secondly I probably wouldn’t mention that you’re travelling to Japan for a vacation. Again it’s no deal-breaker and certainly there are no rules against writing about your vacation experiences, but just in terms of selling this story, it might make more of an impact if you imply that your trip was all about this experience: ‘I will be travelling to Japan [next month?] to take part in one of the country’s most exciting driving experiences – and I thought it may fit the Adventure section of your website.’ – might be a better alternative (adapted to fit the title you’re pitching).

 

Headline: Driving on the Dragon’s Tail

Excellent to include a headline (have you been reading my blog?!), but I feel this doesn’t quite have the punch that it could. What is it about driving the Dragon’s Tail that makes this a story worth telling? ‘Driving the Dragon’s Tail: Japan’s scariest road race’ – some kind of qualifier is needed I think (as long as it’s accurate and true).

 

Hook/Byline: Start your own racing legend in Hakone, Japan

FYI Byline is what we call the author credit. ‘By James Durston’, for example. So this is a ‘Sell’ or ‘Dek’ or possibly even a ‘Standfirst’. And a bit like the headline I feel it lacks a bit of impact, possibly because it lacks detail. Go to any content website and see how they structure the headlines and sells – the headline draws you in, and the sell adds some extra detail to draw you in even further until you can’t help but click. We need something like that here that leads on from the headline. ‘You (probably) won’t die, but you might need a change of pants. How Japan’s mountain driving experiences are the next big thing in adrenaline motoring’… or something like that.

 

Body:

In legend, at the bottom of Lake Aishi in Hakone, Japan is Kuzuryu, a 9 headed dragon god. Hakone’s mountainous roads are interweave into intricate detail, an aftermath of a dragon’s tail. These roads have now become a playground for racers as they are windy and dangerous. Racing legends were molded from these types of mountain passes. Fun2Drive company allowed me to start my racing legend through their driving tours. Their fleet of cars comprising of old classic super-cars such as the Honda NSX and the Ferrari 455 or drive modern Lamborghini Gallardo and Nissan Skyline. My experience in circuit racing has not prepared me for the spirited drive through the touge (mountain pass). The guides visited picturesque places such as Mount Fuji, and Lake Aishi.

I feel like the stuff about the dragon god is a bit of a distraction here. The story is about these beautiful mountain roads in Japan and how they’re being turned into racing circuits by adrenaline-fueled motor-heads. I knew nothing about touge/toge until reading this pitch, and if I was still commissioning travel content I would absolutely want to assign this. Or at least write back and get more info. But I would skip the dragon legend stuff and get straight into the meat of the story – which is about you going on an organised high-spec drive through these hills, replicating the ‘real-life’ races that have inspired video games etc, but minimizing the risk. I think you need to introduce some details – the concept of toge racing first (thrill-seeking drivers have turned Japan’s mountain passes into death-defying, unofficial race circuits), the details of these races (the kinds of races that go on, has anyone died, is it illegal etc) and then how anyone can now take part, but safely, with organised drives with companies like Fun2Drive.

 

Details: 500 to 750 words. Pictures & Videos are also available.

Excellent. Always good to make this point, and double excellent that you have video – depending on the quality.

 

Please contact me through this e-mail if this works for you.

Thank you,

Summary: A story with excellent potential that I think many publications would be interested in buying, but the pitch needs significant re-working. The Dragon legend stuff might be worth mentioning in the story, but it’s a distraction in the pitch. The pitch needs to focus on the thrilling aspect of these toge races, which I think might be a new concept for many editors, and how anyone can now replicate the experience with these driving companies.

One final thought – for this to be a real winner, it would be great if you could also offer an interview with a real-life toge racer – someone who can add some genuine drama to the story. Do the guys who run the Fun2Drive company have real life toge racing experience? Or do they know and can they connect you with someone who does these crazy races? That would be a great addition to the story that would make it an absolute no-brainer commission.  Good luck and let me know how you get on!

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