I'm working my way through the second draft of my first novel, a gritty heroic fantasy tentatively titled Chains of Gold and Iron. My elevator pitch still needs work (people on trains are great practice for when I eventually meet an editor or agent), but so far I've boiled it down to this:
"Two elven siblings - one devoted to a god of healing, the other a god of war - are sold into a pit fighting circuit by a merchant lord who sees their divine gifts as an opportunity for profit."
Sure, it cuts to the meat of the plot, but it leaves out the things that I find most interesting to explore within the story. The book alternates between the perspectives of two very different people, and I think that comparing and contrasting their inner workings is what turns a fairly straight-forward concept into something more. (Intro to Psychology tied with Writer's Craft as my favorite elective in high school; the two interests became inextricably entwined, and since then I have not enjoyed reading or writing about well-adjusted people.)
We have Kortesh: a brash spitfire who's spent all his life in his elder brother's shadow. Embracing the teachings of Cevarius, a human god of war, gives him something to strive for, but sparring matches and history lessons get a bit repetitive after 120 years. Bored and untried, he jumps at the chance to see the world and find out what he's capable of.
Then there's Elestyne: younger than Kortesh by one year, and the lone agnostic among a family of clergy; however, any elf who wants to be seen as a medical professional associates themselves with Leiana, patron deity of their race. She packs up her kit and heads for the frontiers, hoping to share her knowledge and talents in a place where most people acknowledge the rule of neither kings nor gods.
A merchant friend of the family offers to let them stay with him until they get on their feet, in exchange for a favor or two. But when someone tries to rob the merchant and threatens both siblings, which one of them uses magic they didn't know they had to accidentally kill the would-be thief?
Not Kortesh. *grins*
This leads to the stuff mentioned in the pitch, and then the real story begins. I get to subvert and deconstruct some of my favorite tropes in the genre, both for horrific and comedic effect - occasionally at the same time!
(I mean, seriously, pit fighting elves? I've had almost 2 years to adjust to the concept and I still think it's weird.)
My only hope is that one day my skill will match my enthusiasm, and I'll have the writing chops to do the story justice.