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‘Cove Road’: ‘Elevator Pitch’ and Short Synopsis by Paula Tully

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paula tully

Paula Tully

I thought it might be useful to some members to post my ‘elevator pitch’ (less than 10 sentences plus a one-liner), as well as my short synopsis, for my new novel, Cove Road. I’ve just emerged from the W & A Yearbook’s dizzying list of agents, an essential resource if you’re thinking of seeking representation for your writing.

Elevator pitch
Cove Road is a stand-alone YA story told through the voices of two teenage students and their manipulative teacher. It is set in a coastal village language school in Dublin during summer.

Clara and Marko experience the thrills and confusion of being young and in love. Soon after Clara pushes the boundaries of the relationship at one of her house parties, she is viciously attacked. The police are suspicious of Marko who does not remember his exact whereabouts. Mrs Morrison sees an opportunity to protect her favourite student and, at the same time, punish her adulterous husband. When Marko finally learns the full truth, the school has been deliberately set on fire and his beloved Clara is trapped inside.

This is a story about first love and betrayal, hidden trauma, and abuse of power.

Elevator Pitch (one line)
A tragic story of teenage love manipulated by a toxic desire for adult revenge.

Synopsis (just under 500 words) – a summary of the main plot points which must include the ending

It is summertime in a beautiful Dublin coastal village where young love blossoms between Clara and Marko, two bright international students who are studying in Cove Language Academy.

But when the Russian girls show more than a friendly interest in Marko, Clara feels insecure and wonders if Marko would prefer to spend his time with them.

Sandra, one of the teachers, does not approve of Clara. She uses the young couple’s relationship to win back the attention of her adulterous husband, Brian, who was fired from the academy last year, and who now wants a divorce. She also suggests to the school head that Clara should be expelled for hosting student parties.

A video of Clara dragging another boy up to her bedroom is emailed to everyone at school. Later, while home alone in Cove Road thinking about how she has hurt Marko, Clara is suddenly attacked by Brian. She cannot see him and tries to defend herself, but he pushes her to the ground, leaving her unconscious. During her police interview, she insists Marko is innocent when the detective brings up what happened with the other boy as possible motivation.

Marko does not remember how he got home on the night of the attack because, after meeting Brian and his girlfriend in town earlier, he continues drinking. He is distraught about Clara and denies attacking her but, privately, he wonders if he could have hurt her in a drunken rage.

With her husband’s support, Sandra gives a false alibi which will protect Marko for the full night of the attack. She plans to destroy Brian as part of her own revenge for his affair. She does not suspect him as Clara’s assailant. During a second interview with Marko the detective suggests that one of his classmates is to blame for Clara’s attack.

On Killiney beach, after their reconciliation, Clara tells Marko the truth about her family in Singapore. She also tells him she thinks Sandra might be her attacker because of her mysterious alibi story. Wanting to focus on their future together as university students in Ireland, they plan a secret trip abroad.

On the last day of term there is a fire in the school attic. Clara and another student run from the worsening blaze across the landing to the storage room where they try to escape through the roof window. Meanwhile, on the pier, Brian confesses to Marko that he attacked Clara, and that he started the school fire, both as part of a plan to have the school closed. On the school roof, Marko rescues Clara and the other student. But he falls through the burning floor to his death.

Sandra formulates a plan to blackmail her husband. But when Clara’s friend tries to take responsibility for the fire, Clara exposes Sandra’s failure to reveal the truth about Brian. Clara mourns the death of Marko.


Most agents will expect your longer writing sample to be typed in Times New Roman font, 12 pt., and double spaced. This may sometimes be a requirement for your synopsis.

In most cases, your general cover letter and pitch will be in the body of your email and anything else as MS Word or .pdf attachments.

Good luck!

(c) Paula Tully

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