My Project Pitch

Here’s the pitch letter that sums up my Capstone project. I think it (hopefully) gives a pretty good idea of what this project is going to look like, though really the interviews will dictate a lot of it. Anyway, without further ado, my letter:

We all have more in common than we think. Every day we go to work or to school, to meetings or events, to activities or responsibilities. Whether we realize it or not, we’re all playing our own parts in a bigger system. On a massive public university campus where tens of thousands of students, faculty, and staff spend hours each day, it’s easy to forget that everyone has a unique voice and a personal story. My project will attempt to explore the threads that link us together and the differences that set us apart; it will display the stories of a number of different individuals and comment on the over-arching conclusions that can be drawn from their stories.

This essay will combine investigative journalism with personal narrative to provide a broader look at the University of Michigan, as seen by the individuals who contribute to it. It is intended to be a written series of interviews that, when combined, give insight into the community as a whole.  It could be published by the Michigan Daily as its own column series, but the final work should also be able to stand on its own as a complete chapter. It will be approximately 20 pages in total length, including a number of interviews of 2-3 pages each, plus an introduction that discusses the connections and broader themes of the combined set of interviews. This introductory brief will give readers an opportunity to synthesize ideas and make their own connections as they consider the interviews both individually and as a group.

The audience for this piece on a specific level is the University of Michigan community, many members of whom will be inherently interested in hearing the perspectives of their colleagues. Though this community is only one specific educated group, anyone with intellectual curiosity would be a prime audience for reading this piece and exploring its deeper roots in not just the University of Michigan system, but in the higher education system as a whole.

Studs Terkel wrote a book called Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, in which he compiles dozens of interviews into chapters. Each chapter speaks volumes on its own, and the full compilation illuminates the state of labor in the country at the time the book was written. The work was highly praised and well received, and a similar piece in the present day on the University scale has the potential to be equally influential.

Ultimately, although I’m coming into it with only my own limited angle, I am open to connecting with different perspectives and different people in an attempt to discover how they work together. As a senior undergraduate at Michigan, I have access to members of the community and can use my connections to reach out to others at the university. I’m coming in to it with an open mind and an open interest. I sincerely appreciate your support, and thank you for your time!

Turn of the Century – My Pitch Letter

I am quite proud of this pitch letter and it actually inspired more interest in me to write this story. I’m looking forward to finally starting this project and am happy I chose it. Here’s the pitch letter:

Turn of the Century

Pitch Letter

Consider this… The media has successfully made many citizens doubt the reality of global warming due to the way it is presented in media, though scientists nearly unanimously agree it is real. If the media can make us doubt something so real, imagine what they could do with a subject that already seems like a joke to everyday society. A subject like UFOs…

Imagine the year is 2098, and global warming has scared developed countries to use much more green technology, but the climate is still in a tail-spin of natural disasters. As people around the world are now well aware that the climate has been impacted by humans, there is a feeling of doom looming over humanity as they struggle to solve the problem. Meanwhile, people are beginning to take notice of the ever-more frequent UFO sightings that have been occurring near natural disaster sites. It begins to spark a media firestorm of coverage. That is when environmental scientist Elizabeth Raya quits her job to begin working with an agency within the UN that investigates UFOs. The more she learns of these sightings, the more she discovers the long history surrounding them. After another large Tsunami hits the Caribbean, Elizabeth learns that a team of the best scientists and world governments are planning to gather to discuss a new solution to global warming… working with an alien species.

  • How would something like this impact humanity?
  • How would people react if governments around the world had to announce to citizens that aliens from another planet are working with us to save the planet?
  • WHY are they helping!?

That is exactly what my new short story will bring to light, in a frighteningly realistic way. It will be approximately 30 to 50 pages long, and will easily be a shorter rendition of a potential novel. The audience that I thought this type of work would be geared toward is high school to middle-aged liberal minded artists, due to their creative mind and openness to new ideas. However it also has potential to capture the interests of environmentalists and scientists.

Audiences are going to eat this story up because of the new perspective it takes on an ‘alien narrative’ in a way that seems very real and possible. This story is actually a representation of what I legitimately consider to be a possibility in the future, after I have spent many years being interested-in and investigating the UFO phenomenon.

The project is not intended to include any graphics, but perhaps a few sketches or digital representations of certain aspects of the story may be included.

This short story will come at a great time in the world of literature, when creative science “non-fiction” and fictional stories that incorporate realistic elements such as the Dan Brown novels (who I will use as a key model) continue to capture the interest of readers. Secondly, there is a heightened attention on the science community right now as global warming continues to be an issue. In combination with my database of UFO knowledge, interest in climate change and activism, and my desire to tell my first fiction story, I believe this project will prove to be an engaging success for readers and myself.


Pitching a Currently Titleless Short Story

Nathan knew how to do one thing. He knew how to step on to 110 yards of freshly mowed grass and remove every outside thought from his brain. For 90 minutes he knew how to not think; or rather, he knew how to only think about one thing: soccer. Not a single distracting thought passed through his mind, and that was what made him so good. It was his ability to separate himself as a soccer player from himself as a person, a student, a son, a brother, and a friend. On the field, in that solace of safety, nothing else existed. He did not hear the fans cheering or announcer’s voice booming. When Nathan stepped on to the field his mind entered a state of pure clarity in which the only thing that existed was soccer.

That was the case until September 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm. For a split second Nathan allowed an outside thought to sneak in to his flawless state of focus. Damn, it’s fucking cold out. That was all it took as #14 of the Carson High Wildcats executed a perfect maradona spin, darted past him, and left Nathan chasing a second behind. What ensued in the following 30 seconds left the Ridgemont Panthers in complete shock, fear, and disarray.

I present to you a fictional short story documenting these 30 seconds in which Jackson, Nathan’s best friend and the top goalkeeper in the state, dives for the ball, miscalculates, and slams his head into the ice cold, metal goal post. In the following 48 hours as he lies motionless in a hospital bed those around him agonize, struggle to cope, and face unbearably hard decisions. Relationships are tested and life as they know it is questioned.

This short story will be reminiscent of works such as Friday Night Lights and The Art of Fielding, where life off the field is just as critical and engaging as moments on the field. Yet in the vast world of sports stories with prominent themes such as perseverance, dedication, and overcoming adversity, this story will present a unique perspective. Themes such as decision-making and guilt will be explored as the characters begin to see how powerful of a role soccer plays in their lives, almost to a negative point of control.

This story will be geared towards an audience of sports fans who can enjoy and relate to the soccer game descriptions and power of sports, yet at the same time it will also have a larger audience in mind. Those who don’t care about sports at all can still engage with the characters and their situation. Despite the high school setting, this story is geared towards a mature audience rather than children or teens. Ideally, it will attract readers in their twenties and older.

As the author of this short story I am an avid sports fan and athlete, I stand at a point in my life where decision-making is of utmost importance, and I have experienced tragedy and loss in areas aside from sports. Molding these three aspects together position me as an insightful and passionate author for this short story.

Magazine Pitch Letter

Dear Shelley-

Have you ever thought about the demographics that aren’t being catered to? Picture this: a digital magazine targeting the female gaming population. The magazine would be comprised of at least 5 separate featured pieces of writing including interviews, lists, current events, game reviews, and more.. The finished magazine will be anywhere between 8 and 12 pages long, depending on how long each piece of writing ends up being. The magazine’s intended audience is specifically the female gaming population but will be crafted to apply to the gaming community as a whole. The project will combine writing and visuals on each page of the magazine – lists will be mostly visuals with less text, while the feature pieces will be mostly text with a few images interspersed. This sample from Polygon would be an example of what my interview with Whitney Hills could look within the magazine (imagine gender representation in the place of LGBTQA representation):

“But for Anthropy, having games tackle a broader spectrum of themes is just an inevitable outcome of having a more diverse community of game creators: “I’m not sure if all my games are about being queer, but my queer identity is always visible in them. I think representation is important … making people aware that queerness exists and representing queerness in games. And also reaching out to other queer people who otherwise feel very alienated in games.”

This magazine would be a fantastic idea because it offers a different perspective from the gaming community and would allow the female gaming community to have a specific medium to use as a source of entertainment and information. Adult women now make up a larger portion of the gaming population than teenage males, so now is the time to target them and offer a discussion of gaming that relates specifically to them. I should write this work because I have been a gamer all my life and have for the past few years been writing about gaming and gender issues, especially spending time criticizing visual media. My experience within the gaming community and as critic of new media would make me a good candidate to tackle a discussion of gender issues within gaming, and my experience with web design will come into play in the magazine’s design.

Thanks for your time,

Pitching A Project

To Whom it May Concern:

Deaths from drug overdose have been rising steadily over the past two decades and have become the leading cause of injury death in the United States, causing more deaths than motor vehicle accidents. Each day, 113 people die as a result of drug overdose, and approximately 6,748 are treated in emergency departments (ED) for the abuse and recreation use of illicit drugs. Unfortunately, these numbers are only increasing, and often times, those that are affected do not have adequate access to recovery-based treatment programs.

In our society, addiction is typically portrayed as being unacceptable, and for that reason, people suffering from substance abuse disorders often refrain from seeking necessary treatment. However, the reality is that addiction affects everyone; the rich, the poor, the young, the old, mothers, fathers, and even children. Although it is easy for people who have never been affected by drugs or alcohol to look down upon people who are suffering from substance abuse as a result of society’s warped construction, every addict’s story is unique. And therefore, it is my desire to describe a select few of these stories through my short creative fiction story targeted towards readers lacking empathy and understanding for the disease of addiction.

“Why is that necessary?” you may ask, but when I said addiction affects everyone, I mean it affects everyone. In the United States alone, the total costs of addiction is estimated at $524 billion a year, where illicit drug use alone accounts for $181 billion in health care, productivity loss, crime, incarceration and drug enforcement. Thus, it is of integral importance that society views addiction as a public health issue, as a means of both global harm and cost reduction. The perspectives afforded by my short account (approximately 20-30 pages) of addiction are important now more than ever as a result of the projected increase in the substance abusing population, and the relevance regarding current social constructions of addiction.

To communicate the importance of this topic, I plan to use both textual (in the form of the story) and graphic (in the form of photographs) elements to evoke emotion, and subsequently empathy from my readers. In addition to the obvious necessity of this work, my experience writing with regards to addiction and substance abuse provides an excellent opportunity to write about a topic I am very familiar with in a new way. Although I think many authors have the ability to write about addiction, it is always those that have personal experience with addiction who are able to do it best. I have never experienced substance abuse firsthand, however I spend 24 hours a week working with addicts in a detoxification program. Additionally I spend four hours weekly volunteering with incarcerated women through the narcotics anonymous program. These experiences have allowed me to gain the perspective necessary to write this piece in a way those without direct experience could not.

In addition to my drive to convey this very important message to those without personal experience in the field, my genuine passion and interest for this topic make this project ideal for the showcasing of my writing abilities, which I hope to have the opportunity to demonstrate to you. Thank you for taking the time to consider my project and I am eagerly awaiting your correspondence.


Erin E. Page

Pitch Letter: But First Let Me Take a Selfie

To My Prospective Publisher:

I’m Carly Skinder, a 21 year old navigating my way with my fellow millennials.

“But First Let Me Take a Selfie.”

Let’s face it – it’s the world we live in – a self-consumed, self-obsessed world. We are the millennial generation, the tech geeks, the social savvies, the gadget gurus. We constantly present a curated self, a filtered self on Instagram, an edited self on Facebook. What is your #unfiltered face? Do you even know? Is there such thing as authenticity in this age of selfies?

I leave the answer to that question up to my peers, the target of my research, and the most skilled curators. I will provide the platform to explore this question and we –my millennial peers and I – will unlock awareness.

This is the way. I will create a multimedia piece that will live on, only fittingly, the web. The site will house the three components of my project: the interview video-collage, the selfie collage, and a personal reflection. I will interview my peers, asking questions about their identity and ways in which they identify themselves. With their feedback, I will explore authenticity and identity construction by producing a video-collage of the culminated interviews. The video collage will be a visual narrative of individual self-reflection on a large scale. I will also ask each participant to take a selfie. I will accumulate all selfies into a selfie collage, which will be both a funny representation of our selves and also a medium to spark conversation. Does the selfie, and do social networking sites conceal authentic identity? I will reflect on this experience in a process reflection where I will situate my findings in the context of existing theories of self-identity construction.

This research is relevant. This research might be alarming. This research will be evocative. We are a generation of smarties and know-it-alls, so we must also be self-aware and introspective. We must ground ourselves in honesty and humility. We must not be distracted by superfluities. I’m guilty of editing and curating myself, but I am also self-aware and introspective. And because of this fact, I believe authenticity exists. Do you? Help me find out.

I think I’ve landed on a real insight here. I hope you’re as excited as I am to explore the results.


Carly Skinder


A sample of my work:

Part of the excitement of this project is that it gets personal. I will ask intimate questions during each interview in order to access the most truthful information about each participant, their identity, and ways in which they identify. I will then ask participants to take a selfie. Ultimately, the information generated from the interview video and the selfie collage will create a visual story. When the selfies are placed alongside one another, we will be able to generate larger conclusions as to self-identity and constructions of the self. For example, words that would be associated with my personal selfie are:

Honest. Sensitive. Extrovert.

Opinionated. Confident. Sister.

I will use the content from the video interviews in order to generate a set of attributes that are unique to each self-ie.

Pitch Letter and Sample

Dear Mr. Paul Barron:


When you look back on college, do you feel the same panic of the end of those four years? Do you remember what people told you? Did you ever give their experiences credit or do you now only realize it after trying to give this same advice to some other kid grappling with the real world?

I’d like to explore this from the perspective of someone who is living it right now. And as a consequence of all this hurried preparation for who knows what, I’m starting to realize the importance of these admonitions from older, wiser people. But I can’t reconcile them. I understand the truth and reality of perspective, but I am very much a prisoner of my present worries. Here at the University of Michigan, I’d say I am part of 500 students who feel this pressure the most. In the business school, we’ve been training for this moment since freshmen year and the final result is all about the job that we land. It’s all consuming. Some say to prioritize it over academics. In the long run, I’d say that’s probably hardly true.

I will only be in this current time, in this current position once, and I’d like to capture it for other people like me. There’s a reason why we have peer coaches. We sometimes believe people who are going through the same thing at the same time more than those who have years of experience. Call it misery loves company or bonding based on age, it’s a connection that we have right now and why I think others will pick up, read, and listen to the message in these stories.

So I’d like to take all the pressures I’m feeling and tell you my side of it. But then, I’d like to write the other side of it that I’ve heard consistently and that I know deep down, but can’t act on. I’d like to write a narrative from 30 years later on what life looks like in comparison to this life at 20.  I’d like to try my hand at a college student playing a mature character commenting on the immature lookout of a college student.

Written for the 20 year olds of today and tomorrow, I want to have a series of short stories with all these conflicting views. But the short story process is foreign to many students, it seems, and I’d like to document my progress and my inspirations on an online website for those who are interested in the backstage effects.

In terms of my final project, I have always been captivated by this idea of time flying by too quickly. My portfolio is based on this theme of running through life and neglecting all the little pieces, that when put together, really matter the most over any material title or societal definition of success. As a final portfolio, I want these two websites to tie together, showing how my thoughts have changed over the years and how, together, we really should take a step back from the nitty-gritty of our lives once in a while and give credit where credit is due.

If you would be interested in helping me craft this work, I would love and value your advice. The area of short story writing is very much outside my norm, but I think that I have the topic that will allow me to succeed. This is something that occupies my thoughts all day, everyday, and I would like to capture it to share with those who may have similar anxieties and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to let go just a little bit.










Everything is go go go.

Head pounding and out of breath, I run, adjust my suit, and stroll casually into the room. My pad folio fills up a little more with the passing hour and I can distinctly feel the makeup on my face, which only gets this makeover when companies come to town.

The colorfully attired entourage at the front of the room closes out with, “Thank you for your time.”


I have 100 unread emails and 30 unread texts. People want lunch, and they want to hear what I’ve been up to, but honestly, I don’t have the time. My little wants to talk about her roommate troubles. My friend from high school wants to go out. My roommate freshmen year wants to grab dinner. Somewhere I feel vaguely guilty, but mostly I feel irritated. Meanwhile, the unread messages pile up.


Pitch Letter

Dear Prospective Publisher,

Everyone has a dream, a passion, an ambition they want to be their career and center of their life, but not everyone goes after it. Some people settle, for less glamorous or more accommodating jobs and lifestyles, and some people push off going after their dreams until it is too late for them but some people go for it. Some people find or know what their “thing” is and make it their world. It’s not easy on either end, to not pursue your thing or to go for it, but the stories can be amazing and it can be inspirational and motivational.

Over the next few weeks I will be interviewing a range of people, from entrepreneurs to store owners to University faculty, and asking “what’s your thing”. What are they passionate about and what makes them get out of bed in the morning everyday excited and most importantly, is that what they are doing? Some answers will be that they aren’t doing it yet and some will be that they gave up a different future for their thing, but every answer will be honest and reflective and make any audience member think about what they are doing now and in their future. This project will come together in the form of a 15-minute podcast, including an introduction, clips of interviews and a reflective passage at the end. In addition to being posted in a podcast form, I will transcribe the interviews and have them available for reading on my website.

The audience of this work will be predominately college seniors, like myself. While the audience is not limited to that group, the project goal is to help seniors think about their future, what they want to do and serve as a reminder to not let their “thing” sit in the backseat for too long. This should be published because the message is important and worth sharing to inspire and motivate others. While it may seem anyone can conduct these interviews or pick people to talk to, this podcast will be special and unique. As a current college senior trying to not only explore job opportunities but also try to find out what my “thing” is, the questions asked and reflection portion will be real and true. Where I am in life not only makes my interest in the project significant, but also the reflective piece can be a real representation of how someone else listening to the podcast will feel. How they would think to interpret the answers in the interview and connect it back to their own life, own passions and picking the career or path that would allow them to go after their “thing”.

This project deserves to be published for others to hear. Too many people get caught up in money or the easy way that they forget their way and what it is that makes them excited to get out of bed in the morning and live their life. This podcast won’t be a motivational speech to tell people to change their life, it will be reflections on how people have or are or want to change theirs and give advice to those who might. The opportunity to hear those experiences and hear me ask the questions that people are sometimes too afraid to ask should not be deprived to anyone because it just might change their outlook on what to do tomorrow.

Attached to this letter is a sample of my project.


Jessica Golden


(a piece of where my inspirational ideas and research will be coming from for the podcast)

Other places I have on my list to be inspired by and conduct my research from are listening to various NPR podcasts, especially popular ones because I want to know what has appealed to the most people. I also plan on looking over my copy of The Outliers, a great book about people who have done things, in my eyes, to the beat of their own drum and become very successful. I think re-reading over those stories will really inspire me with ideas of people to ask to be a part of my project. I also think that TED Talks and Mark & Angel Hack Life (that Shelley recommended) will serve as both inspiration and research for me. I also think that I will be doing some Google searches just on interviews people have done with people like Mark Zuckerburg or other entrepreneurs and see if I can find any college newspapers where students might have interviewed their president or favorite teachers to see what kinds of questions people asked and how direct they were. I hope through these models and additional research that I’ll figure out what questions I want to ask and to who.


Pitch Letter

To Whom It May Concern:

The journey begins the first day of freshman year. As a student at the University of Michigan, the world is yours for the taking. But, you need to act quickly. Freshman become sophomores and juniors in the blink of an eye. Then one day, much sooner than you imagine it to be, you’re a senior thinking about graduation and the “real world” to come. I am that senior now, panicked by all the things I want to do before I graduate from this incredible institution. Here enters the “University of Michigan Bucket List.” 

This project will take the form of a series of short essays. Each bucket list item that is crossed off the list will have a written essay attached to it that explains how I accomplished the activity, why I had it on my list in the first place, the history behind that item, and any reflections upon my completion of it. This written form will be accompanied by other media, like photos, videos, and music, that can enrich the description of that particular bucket list item. I also plan to include a written “reflection” that will tie together all of the experiences and provide a greater takeaway from the project. The bucket list so far includes: paint the rock, eat “hippie hash” at Fleetwood Diner, go to a concert at the Blind Pig, run through the North Campus wave field, visit the hydrodynamic marine lab tank in the basement of the West Engineering building, attend a Michigan hockey game in Yost Ice Arena, and play games in Pinball Pete’s. 

The intended audience is University of Michigan undergraduates who may also have a list of things to do before they graduate, or who are wondering what they should accomplish (and why) while on campus. It may also be of interest to alumni and prospective students.

The final project will live as an online article or website. Ideally, each bucket list item could be easily clicked on and expand to show its written and media components. As a website, this could mean each item linked to a separate webpage. I will intertwine the writing and media to break up text and keep the reader engaged. Thus far, I want to look into building a Wix site, using, or using an existing University of Michigan site. Whichever hosting site I use, I want it to be easily shareable online via social media and interactive for the audience.

I have attached a sample essay portion as if it were online with the multimedia aspects weaved into the text. Through this example, one can see how the multimedia elements will break up the description of each bucket list item to make the project more interesting for readers and how the final project may appear online.

This work should be published because it provides valuable information to Michigan undergraduates hoping to enhance their time at this university. I want this project to be a useful tool so that any student can feel they truly experienced much of what this institution and city have to offer. An online bucket list allows students to revisit the page as they check each item off the list for themselves. 

I should complete this project because I am a creative and engaging writer with extensive experience working with multimedia and online platforms. I also love the University of Michigan, and therefore want to do the best possible job relaying these campus and Ann Arbor experiences to students, so that everyone can experience the magic that is Michigan.


Elizabeth McLaughlin