This was my first thought when I signed up for the Pitch Fest in this years Emerald City Writers' Conference at the end of the month... well to be more precise, in 3 days.
Apparently an 'Elevator Pitch' is a two to five sentence recap of your novel that, once completed, should also allow you time for your victim... I mean captive audience to ask you any questions they might have about your story.
The one thing I have to say is that I've already practiced narrowing down a description of a story or movie to one sentence, so broadening the field to about 3 sentences will be a breeze, or atleast should be :)
Think of the move Snow White (the G rated one), here is one way to describe it in one sentence:
Escaping from a Stepmother who wants to kill her, Snow White struggles to make a life for herself away from her Stepmothers evil ways.
I'd suggest trying this with other movies. Remember you want to be as broad and general as possible because you want to get the general point across without going into too much detail. You save that for later when they ask you questions or request more information.
So after taking this reduced sentence down of the description of Snow White, lets expand upon it to make it more of an elevator pitch:
Escaping from a Stepmother who wants to kill her, Snow White with the help of seven dwarfs attempts to make a life for herself outside of her Stepmother's evil influences. Her Stepmother won't let her go without out a fight and Snow White and the seven dwarfs must use all their physical and mental skills to keep her Stepmother away.
Now, lets see if I can do this with my novel (it's always harder to do it with things we created :) )
Here's my one sentence:
In love with her neighbor, Beth finally gets the chance of a relationship with James, but his ex isn't done with him yet.
Okay, lets see if I can expand upon it without getting too complicated:
Beth has always been in love with her neighbor, but when she finally gets the chance to build a relationship with him it comes with some unwelcome strings attached. James' latest ex has decided that she's not done with him yet, and will do everything in her power to try and break Beth and James' lives apart.
If you can complete this successfully (and please note, I haven't received any input aside from myself for the above pitch, I won't know how well it works until the conference. Notes to be added below later) this is also a very helpful tool when writing your query letter.
I found this link to 'Kick Butt Elevator Pich' by Kristen Stieffel very helpful.