Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Pitch Critiques Round 10

Plodding along and through. Here’s the original post, Perfecting Your Pitch, and you should be able to link back to all previous critiques if necessary.

56. cindy procter-king
(humorous romantic mystery)
Short one-sentence:
A photographer falls for her sexy trainee only to discover he’s an ex-cop investigating sabotage at her boss’s studio…and she’s a suspect.

Long one-sentence:
When a photographer falls for her sexy apprentice then discovers he’s an ex-cop working undercover investigating sabotage at the studio she wants to buy from his uncle and that she’s a suspect, she plays Nancy Drew behind his back, unearthing his uncle’s old blackmailing habit which leads to the disturbing realization that not only has the uncle sabotaged his own business but a secret enemy is now stalking him--and all their lives are in danger.


Holy run-on sentence. It’s bad enough to try to fit everything into a pitch, but one sentence is even tougher. That speaks volumes to an agent about how the work might be written. Remember a pitch is about the hook, but it should also give insight into the tone, voice, and writing of the book. What makes me nervous about this one is that you are trying to squeeze a lot of information in, but none of it is really different or interesting (at least to me). It seems to me that the book is about the secret enemy. That’s the real conflict, and the rest is just getting us to that point.

57. jeannie
Historical Romance Tagline:
A discarded widow and a Duke discover if love can survive scandal and betrayal.

Paragraph:
Michael Ashton, the Duke of Ravensdale, is caught in two scandals, neither of which is his own doing. The first involves a woman (don’t they always), and the second…well, it also involves a woman and a large sum of stolen money. In order to save the reputation Michael has spent his life rebuilding, he must track down the widow of his presumed-dead cousin in order to charm...or seduce her missing husband's whereabouts from her.


I like this. I think your tagline, while not all that different from others, has that certain something. To be honest, it’s the word “discarded”—what an interesting choice—and it says a lot about what we can expect from your heroine. And the paragraph is great. I love the tone of this and anticipate fun reading in the book. This is a case where the plot isn’t necessarily all that unique from other historical romances (they usually aren’t), but the author has put some fun twists in her tone, voice, and word choice that make this interesting to the reader. I would definitely request this.

58. inez kelly
Same name
Same address
same flight
same luggage
same life goals
But if opposites attract, what future do they have?


Interesting. . . . It grabs my attention, but I don’t think it’s enough. Think of a book cover. This would be on the top of the back cover, and then underneath you would have a paragraph telling us specifically what the book is about. In other words, this is your tagline, but now we need the pitch. Who are they and what happens?

59. chiron o’keefe
Sentence:
A wannabe Leading Lady must choose between two drool-worthy contenders for the perfect Leading Man, while masquerading as an assistant to the author of the best-selling book she secretly penned.

Paragraph:
In Adventures of a Dubious Love Goddess, a copywriter publishes the fictional exploits of her alter ego, while pretending to be the author’s assistant. When the How To book for aspiring love goddesses zooms in popularity, the pressure to reveal her true identity forces an uncomfortable realization of just how superficial her perspective might be. Her alter ego’s book features fantasy encounters coupled with flippant advice, pushing her pet theory—available men are either Leading Men or Sidekicks. The perfect example of a Leading Men is the mysterious author who pens the Man About Town column. When a handsome stranger woos Megan, hinting he’s the elusive writer, she believes all her love goddess fantasies just might come true. Except for the inconvenient, toe-curling attraction to her neighbor—the psych professor whose intense eyes and wicked grin leave her fantasizing about hot love with a Sidekick instead of her new Leading Man.


Another case of the dangerous information dump. Even your sentence is squeezing everything possible into it. Slow down and step back. I think you could skip the sentence altogether and go right to the paragraph. I like the first two paragraphs, but after that it gets a little convoluted, which makes me fear that your book is also convoluted. Outside of the romance, what is her conflict? This could be a lot tighter I suspect: “In Adventures of a Dubious Love Goddess, a copywriter publishes the fictional exploits of her alter ego, while pretending to be the author’s assistant. When the How To book for aspiring love goddesses hits bestseller lists, the pressure to reveal her true identity forces an uncomfortable realization of just how superficial her perspective might be. Forced to face reality, Susan is challenged by her own book. Are all available men either Leading Men or Sidekicks, and if given the choice, which is really better?” Okay, that needs work too, but I think you get the idea.

60. mike davis
Valentine is a Child of Loki and one of the original Berserker tribesmen of Norse Folklore. With unobstructed access to the minds of his chosen victims and the ability to assume their precise physical characteristics, he takes what he wants, when and from where he pleases. He is the ultimate identity thief, unconstrained by the password-encrypted barriers his human counterparts face. Only a conscience and the inherent loneliness his immortality brings, stand between him and the decadent life of leisure lead by his brothers and sisters.

I love this! I really think this sounds cool. My only suggestion is not to let it dwindle out. Give us the conflict in the last sentence. What is this book about and what does Valentine face? I hope the book isn’t entirely an internal battle for Valentine on whether to use his powers or not. That would be boring. No, I want to know what he’s going to be up against in this book. If you can nail that last line you have an absolute winner here.


You all must be learning. Great work, everyone. And now to the readers and your feedback. . . .

Jessica

11 comments:

Diana said...

Until I reached the last line of inez kelly's pitch, I thought it was going to be a thriller about the wrong person being arrested for a suspected terrorism threat. Still, it's an interesting idea.

Aimless Writer said...

I liked the beginning of the Loki story (thats my dog's name) but did lose it toward the end.
Cindy-loved the story idea. The run on sentance made me breathless.

Thanks Jessica! This is like Pitch school and I love it. Writing the story is the easy part. Pitching/Query is like torture! But you have made it so much easier.

Mike Davis said...

Thanks guys for the suggestions - which make perfect, forehead-slapping sense!

Two chapters to finish, then I'll get back to polishing the pitch.

Very much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Jessica,

The pitch for Jeannie's novel that you praised misused language several places in a way that would have led me to expect it was poorly written.

"Discover if" should be "discover whether" but the word "discover" isn't really the right choice for
what the author is trying to say.

"In order to save the reputation Michael has spent his life rebuilding, he must track down the widow of his presumed-dead cousin in order to charm...or seduce her missing husband's whereabouts from her."

"In order" is used twice here in one sentence which also starts out very clumsily.

Jael said...

Ooh, I love the Valentine/Loki pitch too. Good luck with it, Mike!

Heidi said...

I'm not usually a romance reader, but I really liked Jeanie's pitch because it was full of character. The voice was so strong, it kept my interest, even though Dukes aren't really my cup of tea. The casualness of the writing didn't bother me - there are a lot of writers that write with a more conversational tone than a formal writing tone, and I think it's possible to make it work if your narrator has a strong voice, which this one seems like it might.

I likes everything about inez kelly's pitch except that I also felt like I was missing important information about what the story is really about. Is it a thriller or a romance? It definitely reads like a thriller until that last line. It's a great idea, though!

Thanks, Jessica!

HollyD said...

I just found this blog. Is it too late to add my "pitch" for the critique?

I look forward to making this a daily read.

Jeannie said...

Thanks, Jessica! I'm tickled you liked it. I will send you a query later today.

Heidi: Thanks for the comments! You guys are making my day!

Anon 10:00: The choice to use if instead of whether is perhaps questionable, but the intent is a casual style, especially given I'm writing a historical, which uses more formal dialogue. This pitch has proven very successful for me (three requests thus far). However, I always appreciate constructive critism, it can only help my work.

Cindy Procter-King said...

Thanks, Jessica!

I wrote that long, one-sentence pitch because I thought that's what we were supposed to submit to this thread. Completely guilty there. I really appreciate your comments and look forward to applying them when revising my pitch.

Cindy Procter-King said...

Thanks, Aimless Writer. After I sent it, I knew it was too long, but it's great to get Jessica's feedback anyway.

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Thanks so much, Jessica! I'm pleased that you like the first two paragraphs and will take to heart your advice on how to clarify my query.

I appreciate your time and energy. What a generous gift you're offering this holiday season!

--Chiron O'Keefe