Pitching Your Cartoon: Catchy Characters

Concept, characters, and the world they inhabit are each crucial parts of your cartoon pitch, but without a doubt,

The most important piece of your animated series pitch are the characters.

The general concept of your show may draw people in, but by and large, it’s the characters who keep them coming back.

Children latch on to characters more than anything else in a show. (Okay, in some cases, they latch on to those annoying songs!) Studio execs will be looking to see if your characters are flat and unoriginal, or robust and interesting. Obviously, you want your main characters to have depth.

The character section in your pitch needs to be impressive. It needs to not only describe your characters, but show that they are appealing and worthy of watching!

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How do you do that?

Instead of describing a character as “brave” or “grouchy”, use memorable comparisons. You want the execs to instantly get the analogies, similes, and metaphors that describe your characters. It makes re-pitching your idea much easier.

For example, you could say that Headley the Talking Hat is like a young Han Solo mixed with Kermit the Frog and Caillou. (Please, no one make that show.)

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Another way is to add an interesting, unexpected quirk to your character. If you have an intimidating, drill-sergeant-like character, what if you gave him a weird voice, an odd talent, or a secret obsession with bubble wrap?

Why the lame examples? The point is that the people you’re pitching to rarely ever have the final say, so your characters must be memorable.

Long gone are the days when powerful CEOs bought shows with no input from others.

Your idea will be pitched “up the flagpole,” so your job is to make it enticing, exciting, and easy to remember. The execs should have no problem pitching your talking hat idea to their bosses. Especially when they remember the Han Solo mixed with Kermit the Frog and Caillou part.

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In a semi-related note: Keep your created world simple. At least in the initial pitch.

Unless a bulk of the stories hinge on a feature that sets it apart from our world, don’t even bring it up. But if, for example, your show is set in a world where it rains curry powder—the source of your main character’s super strength–you might want to mention that.

Simply put, pitching an animated series is all about telling a story.

A story with interesting characters.

Characters that illicit a reaction—first from the buyer, and later, but most importantly, from the audience.

You’re selling the story while telling the story.

See what I did there?