Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pitch Critiques Round 19

Here we go again . . . Perfecting Your Pitch.

109. Abi
XXX blends the quirkiness of small town life with that of a magical world, and offers recipes scattered throughout the book. XXX takes you on the journey of eleven year-old Stormy Reed as he grapples with being raised in a family not his own, the realization that unimaginable things truly exist, and a destiny he may not survive.

Lake Come-and-Go is a portal between the two worlds of mortal Glastonbury Proper and the Magical World including a dark and mysterious wood. The wood is full of magic, many legends coming alive within its boundaries. An elderly couple, are the gatekeepers of the lake and bear great responsibility in keeping Stormy Reed safe from the evil Nefarious Nobleman. Stormy is unaware of his magical beginnings or his mystical destiny, and with his dawning of discovery, he plunges into unwitting adventures. Sudden attacks, terrifying confrontations, and excruciating tests, ultimately find Stormy embarking on a life exploding with possibilities he is eager to explore.


This is another instance where my immediate thought is that your pitch is too long and too general. Think of it this way: if this were a series, I’m not sure the pitch would be different for any of the books. What is different about this and how can you tighten it? “Being raised by strangers is not an easy thing, but it's even more difficult for Stormy Reed, a boy with magical powers and a destiny fraught with uncertainty.” Okay, I think I’m butchering this. What you need to do is connect Stormy to Lake Come-and-Go immediately. How do these two relate and why. What is Stormy’s destiny and what does all of this have to do with him? In other words, is the story about the gatekeepers needing to keep Stormy safe or is it about Stormy? If it’s about Stormy, then show me how.

110. r2
Hello, my name is Cohiba Hemingway and I am dead. I am not a zombie. I am not a vampire. I am not Casper the Friendly Ghost. I’m just a man who happens to be dead. Because of a hospital clerical error, I’ve got a Death Certificate and everything. I think I’ve even been cremated.

I’m going to stay dead. That means the people who I used to work for won’t be looking for me. They’re genuine badasses. That also means I’m free to roam around the country messing with them, even if it means killing one or two along the way. These are my stories. Part Destoyer, part Lone Ranger, a little Jack Reacher, this is a fast-paced action/adventure series with suspense, mystery and a little blood ‘n’ guts thrown in. Beginning with “Turn Me on Deadman” each book is about 60,000 words.


Two immediate concerns and personal preferences. The book is too short: 60,000 words is on the short side, especially if you want to write action adventure. You need to try to bring this up to at least 80,000 words. The second, more a personal preference, is I want to hear about your book, but I don’t like it when a character feels the need to talk to me. There might be agents out there who think it’s clever, but I don’t. I think you’d be better off sticking with third person: “Cohiba Heminway is dead. He’s not a zombie or a vampire, but legally he is dead. It was a hospital clerical error, one he intends to stick with....” So what’s his conflict? If he’s happy to be dead, then I don’t want a general look at his stories, I want to know what this particular book is about. Is it about the people trying to destroy him or is it about him killing people? Get more specific about this particular book.

111. Ron Wodaski
Guided by charismatic businessman Julian Pressman, Bobby uses his ability to see the past and future to build a fortune. Bobby discovers that Julian is an agent working out of a dark matter dimension, and he is using Bobby to literally harvest mankind for export. Bobby becomes the bait in a trap to save humanity - but it fails, and Bobby gives up his physical form to fight Julian on his own turf. Humanity must win the day to earn the right to not only survive, but create a powerful home for itself in the dark matter universe.

There’s no life to this pitch. It reads like a book report. Bobby uses this, does this, finds this, etc. My first thought is that your writing style is very choppy and your book probably reads like your pitch. Therefore it’s a pass for me. A much stronger pitch would sound more like this: “For years Bobby has used his ability to see the past and the future to build a fortune for both himself and businessman Julian Pressman, but when Bobby discovers that Julian is using him to harvest mankind for export, he knows it’s up to him to save humanity and put a stop to Julian...” Or something like that. Make it more fluid and interesting. Lastly, though, I’m not sure I understood what this book is about. I don’t get how Bobby went from making money to harvesting humans or what exactly you mean by that. You might want to work on making that more clear without going into a long drawn-out explanation.

112. Heather Wardell
The fiercely private Madeleine-Cora Spencer is the last person who should be on a reality show. But when she's shunned by a friend's new wife because "you can't trust desperate single women", her pain and humiliation drive her straight to the "Find Your Prince" web site. Armed with newly sexy clothes and careful research into the show, she arrives to meet her potential loves, only to find herself dumped... on a remote island with seven of her ex-boyfriends.

Instead of meeting the man of her dreams, MC learns that she will be competing against Kent, the man she nearly married, and his six ex-girlfriends (and one ex-wife) for a million dollars. Amid the joys of jungle life, testosterone-laced struggles, and the most uncomfortable period ever, MC tries to find a balance between the privacy she needs and the intimacy she craves. Along the way, she realizes that not all of her exes are as bad as she remembers, and one just might be more than she'd ever expected to find in a man. But the show has a few more twists up its sleeve, and both Kent and MC have choices to make that will change their lives.


Wow! Totally awesome first paragraph. I haven’t even read the second one yet. Why? The first one is your pitch. It’s perfect and tells me exactly what type of book this is. I think your second paragraph drags things down a bit. The first gives us just the right taste of what the book is about and from there the rest can be a pleasant surprise. If you dump the second paragraph (which makes it too long anyway) I think you’ve got the makings of a winner. To explain why this worked for me . . . it has great conflict—I love that she was driven to a reality show by a friend’s new wife. Great setup. And the seven ex-boyfriends. The perfect twist.

113. Chumplet
When vacationing Amanda Patrone witnessed a murder and helped a Basque freedom fighter chase a stolen Picasso painting through the Pyrenees, she wished she'd brought extra underwear. And her passport.

Too slight. I don’t want to confuse everyone, but there is a difference between slight and short. Two people can use the exact same number of words to describe a book. One can hit the nail on the head while another can sound too slight. This is the latter. There’s no spark here. It feels to me that in the end you thought you should throw in something funny, so tried, but I’m not sure that’s actually the tone of your book. I also want to know more about the stolen Picasso and why she’s helping chase it down. In other words, you need oomph. “The last thing Amanda Patrone had on her vacation itinerary was witnessing a murder or hunting down a stolen Picasso. Joining forces with Frank Hank isn’t all bad, except for dodging bullets, speeding cars...” Okay, I’m not getting the energy. I think I would need to know more about the book, but I hope you’re understanding where I’m going with this. Get right into the heart of the story and show us what is really going to make this stand out. I see a lot of damsels caught up in accidental crimes. What makes this one different?

114. Fairchild
Brash USO singer, ANGELINE WATERS, delivers hope to soldiers who don’t come back, like her father. While spying for military intel, she falls for HENRI REYNAR, a grounded RAF pilot, but his near-fatal shooting sends Angeline running to her next mission, where she’s captured by Panzer COLONEL VON HEIMER and forced to make Nazi propaganda films.

You need a course in commas. And if I notice it you know you need help. Because of comma placement and probably some other grammatical errors that I don’t understand, your first sentence is very choppy and very confusing. Much stronger wording: “It’s 1942 and brash USO singer Angeline Waters has devoted her life to entertaining soldiers...” And here is where it gets even more confusing. How did we get from USO singer to spy? “What few realize is that this sexy starlet is also one of America’s top military spies. While ...” So what is your conflict? It sounds to me, by this pitch, that the book ends with Angeline spending her days making propaganda films. I hope not. What is her conflict? Is it that her father died? Or that she’s in love with an RAF pilot? Is it that she’s trying to escape filmmaking? And would a captured spy really just be assigned to making propaganda films? I find that unbelievable. I would think she would be tortured at the least, but probably killed. In a pitch you need to tell me what the heart of the story is. I’m not sure what this book is really about. I know who it’s about, but I’m not sure what.

115. kol
Fifteen-year-old Anna has a problem. Anna is in love with Oliver. But Oliver isn’t human. He’s a shape-shifter, just like the ones who murdered Anna’s family. Just like the ones who are coming back for her.

Your first few sentences are a little dry. Your ending though is great. What about something more along the lines of: “Fifteen-year-old Anna has fallen in love with the one person on Earth she should be avoiding. Oliver is a shape-shifter, just like the ones who murdered Anna’s family. Just like the ones who are coming back for her.” I think you could still make it stronger. I think it still needs some punch, and maybe our readers can help you out. But you want to get to that ending and keep it really strong. To do that you need an opening that grabs us. A fifteen-year-old with a problem is like a dog that sheds. Of course she does.

116. AmyB
Dalin Archer has no desire to work with Finneas Montague again, not after Finneas set him up and framed him for murder. But the two are forced into an unlikely partnership when Finneas entangles them in a rogue magician’s plot to seize the throne.

It’s missing something. I suspect your real hook or pitch is the rogue magician’s plot. So why not focus more heavily on that. I’m not sure if we need to know Dalin and Finneas’s history, but I do know we need to know what they are battling. I want to know more about the magician’s plot and how Finneas and Dalin are involved and why they have to stop it. I want to know what’s actually happening, not what’s happened.


Okay, readers, it’s up to you now (and no slacking off on me!). . . .

Jessica

25 comments:

Jess said...

I think a few of these sound like great ideas with sloppy execution. Your suggestions seemed spot on, Jessica, that the focus was perhaps a bit off or the writing a wee clouded. And, well, I noticed the comma thing, too.

This is also a personal thing, but why do people capitalize the character names? It's not a script. For some reason that bothers me even though I know it's not technically incorrect.

Kalynne Pudner said...

#114 grabbed my attention, but maybe that's because I, too, have a comma fetish. I do like the suggested revision, though.

The idea of forcing a popular USO singer to make propaganda films intrigues me. Are you thinking along the lines of Tokyo Rose? Angelina appearing on screens throughout the Reich singing about "The Boogie-Woogie Kommandant of der Fuhrer's Blitzkgrieg"...Henri hiding from the Nazi patrol in the balcony of a movie theatre when the lights dim...

Anonymous said...

#112 wasn't crafted particularly well, but grabbed attention because of presumed marketability of the story, right?

Chro said...

109. The first paragraph is vague and too much like a movie trailer. Get to the actual pitch already!

I also found the line, 'destiny he may not survive' both corny and contradictory. If it's DESTINY, he's destined to either survive it or not, so why is there wiggle room?

After that, the pitch just stays general, rambling on without saying much.

110. Seems a bit short, and you're too focused on the 'series'. Focus on the ONE introductory novel, and why it stands out. Your first book has to stand on its own, even if you are going to make a series out of it.

111. Reds more like a mini-synopsis than a pitch. I also just didn't like the writing style. Seemed too 'factual' for me.

112. What irked me here is that she gets 'careful research into the show', and yet is shocked when she ends up on an island with her ex-boyfriends. Is this not how most of the shows work?

I dunno, sounds like this book would be a guilty pleasure worse than watching an actual reality show. Particularly if it goes into great detail about 'the most uncomfortable period ever'.

113. You tried to make this too short, squeezing all your plot points into one sentence. You CAN use multiple sentences, you know. Otherwise I feel like I'm going to miss half the pitch if I blink.

114. None of your sentences seem 'connected'. First she's a USO singer, then she's a spy, then she's making propoganda films. You need a little more transition between your plot points.

115. Never start a pitch with "{Protagonist} has a problem." Tell us what the problem is, instead. It's like starting your pitch with "{Protagonist} had a normal life, but then everything changed." or "{Protagonist} is in trouble." You're not gonna 'create suspense' in a one-paragraph pitch, so get to the point!

116. I think you're working in reverse -- get into the plot first (the magician's plot) and then mention "Oh yeah, by the way, he has to partner with the man that once framed him for murder." The way you have it, it sounds like a fantasy buddy-criminal movie.

Anonymous said...

Number 115 -- Does being in love with a shapeshifter complicate or help her as she struggles to escape from the shapeshifters that killed her parents?

Does Oliver become her ally and key her into a newfound power OR is she now in a quandry as to his true motives? Does she doubt for a few chapters if his love for her is genuine or a trick of the shapeshifters that want her dead? Or is the complication about being in love with a class of people that killed her family?

Other than that, what kind of specific obstacles does she face as she tries to escape the shapeshifters? I have no idea if this involves physical battles, mind games, or the main character somehow proving the shapeshifters hatred/murder of her parents was a case of mistaken identity from the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Umm... chro, I think your insights are generally dead on, but hell, not for Number 112. You must not be a GIRL.

I am a girl, but I don't watch reality TV, nor do I read chick-lit type books. Yet still, this pitch had me jumping for joy. Not just because the pitcher seems to understand how to pitch but because, would YOU wanna be on an island with even one EX, much less SEVEN!

You might not be the intended audience for the book. I don't think I am either, but, come on, baby, the girl's got a fun book there!!!

DeadlyAccurate said...

First read-through of #112, I thought the heroine *unknowingly* ended up on a reality TV show. Probably just me, but I thought I'd mention it in case anyone else also read it that way.

I like the concept of #110, but I don't like this entire section:

These are my stories. Part Destoyer, part Lone Ranger, a little Jack Reacher, this is a fast-paced action/adventure series with suspense, mystery and a little blood ‘n’ guts thrown in.

1) You're selling one book. One. If you can't interest an agent in one book, it doesn't matter how many you've written with that character. So focus your pitch on that one. What's it about?

2) A thriller should be fast-paced by definition, so you can lose the adjective. Don't tell the reader the book is fast-paced, because if it is, that's apparent. If it's not, no amount of telling the agent it is will make it true.

3) I hate the comparisons with other characters, personally. I tried it myself, but it never worked.

4) You have every crime genre listed and the kitchen sink. Pick one, maybe two, and stick with it. I marketed mine as either mystery, thriller, or commercial fiction, but not more than one at a time. But my book has elements of mystery, thriller, action/adventure, science fiction, and chick lit (and one agent even talked of pitching it as romantic suspense). If I'd told agents it was all that, they'd likely think I didn't know my own book.

I'm definitely no query letter expert, but here's my suggestion:

Cohiba Hemingway is dead. He's not a zombie, or a vampire, or Casper the Friendly Ghost. But due to a clerical error, he has a death certificate. He might even have been cremated.

Staying dead means he's free to finally get his revenge on the badasses he used to work for. Badasses like [Insert Boss Name Here], who [did something to affect the hero personally]. But, [something that stands in the way of the hero achieving his goal]. [Finish with a good ending sentence.]

Turn Me On Deadman is a 60,000-word action/adventure [or thriller].

[aside: should it be Turn Me On, Deadman? Or is it Turn Me On[to] Deadman?]

Notice how I wasn't able to fill in any of your plot in my suggested query letter? That's because I don't have a clue what it is.

Chro said...

anonymous 9:56 - I'm sorry if my critique came off as harsh; I tend to put on my 'cruel bastard' hat for giving criticism, so I'm not tempted to be lenient on someone who really wants advice.

And yeah, I'm a guy who's sick of all the 'books about a reality show' out there. So clearly I'm not the intended audience for this book. ;)

I'm sure if I were an agent, I'd pull out the 'This sounds great, but it's just not right for me.' letter. Purely personal preference.

AmyB said...

Chro... it IS a fantasy buddy-criminal [not movie, but book]!

Chumplet said...

"It feels to me that in the end you thought you should throw in something funny, so tried..."

You caught me, Jessica. I threw in that last bit on a whim and it wasn't a wise decision. The novel has adventure and romance mixed in with a little humour, but I was too flippant.

“The last thing Amanda Patrone had on her vacation itinerary was witnessing a murder or hunting down a stolen Picasso. Joining forces with Frank Hank isn’t all bad, except for dodging bullets, speeding cars...”

You read more into the hook than you think you did! Yes, I understand what you're saying. I'll keep trying. Thanks so much for this.

Amy said...

109 (Abi) - I love the idea of the portal and the gatekeepers!

111 (Ron Wodaski) - If Bobby can see the future, doesn't he know that the trap to save humanity isn't going to work?

115 (kol) - Also a great idea, but why do the shape-shifters want to kill Anna?

Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with #114's commas: s/he uses them to set off nonrestrictive appositives and clauses, as well as introductory clauses. Nothing wrong with that. What's wrong is that her sentences don't always make sense: spy for military intel? Presumably, she spies for a country, or in order to gather military intel. She entertains men who don't come home? How does she know that none of them will come home? It doesn't make sense.

Heidi said...

#109 Did anyone else think the first paragraph here sounded exactly like Harry Potter minus the recipes? I would have stopped reading there, because there is only one Harry Potter and I don't want to read a copycat.

I'd leave out that first paragraph and incorporate the necessary information into the second, focusing on what is unique about your story.

#110 I wrote a story just like this about fifteen years ago... I think I ripped it off of Mary Higgens Clark. I'm reasonably sure it was nothing like yours, but the point is, I can't know that for sure because I have no idea what yours is really about. Why exactly is it better to be dead, and what does he do with that opportunity, specifically. Obviously, if he'd rather be presumed dead, there are bad people he'd rather believe him to be dead. This fact doesn't need its own sentence for sure.

I like the tone of the pitch, though, because I think that is probably how the book is written and the voice is very distinct, so kudos for that!

#112 Heather: I really like this pitch. I think it's entirely possible to research a reality show and then have them turn the tables on you once you sign the contract (that no doubt says in small print that they can change the rules, or game, at any time without your prior consent). This is the way new reality shows start: by catching their prey unaware.

Anyway, I like the idea. It seems full of humor, twists, and lots of conflict. It sounds like the kind of book a bunch of my friends would pass around!

Heidi said...

There is something wrong with the comma use in #114. For one, the name of her protagonist doesn't need to be in commas because she isn't the only USO singer. Her name is necessary to identify which singer she is, and so the commas should be left out.

Also, commas break up thought and to have four in a relatively short sentence is considered bad form and difficult to read.

Perhaps, leaving the content alone, it would be better written like this:

Brash USO singer ANGELINE WATERS delivers hope to soldiers who don’t come back, like her father. While spying for military intel, she falls for a grounded RAF pilot named HENRI REYNAR. When his near-fatal shooting sends Angeline running to her next mission, she’s captured by Panzer COLONEL VON HEIMER and forced to make Nazi propaganda films.

This doesn't make it a better pitch, but it does make it more readable.

AmyB said...

Thanks, Jessica. I'm actually surprised to see mine here because I wasn't happy with it, and I deleted it a long time ago. But since it's here... yeah.

I can't figure out how to pitch this book. While the rogue magician storyline is what drives the novel's action, what makes it unique is the messed-up relationship and power dynamic between the two leads. The Finneas character has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, though since this is a fantasy novel it's never described as such in the actual text.

When I pitch it based on the characters' pursuit of the rogue magician, I get a ho-hum response because it sounds like any other fantasy novel. When I pitch it based on the character dynamic, people want to know what the characters do. And I can't seem to fit both in, especially since if I go into any depth at all I need to bring in some world details for it to make sense.

Anonymous said...

Chro --

(I'm Anon 9:56)

Don't apologize. I like your cruel bastard hat. My pitch is somewhere in the 200's and I hope you and the rest of the commentors will rip it to shreds if Jessica continues to do these that long.

Better for a pitch to get picked on here than to get 100 form rejects and not know why.

Diana said...

Heather Wardell - when I read your first paragraph, I suddenly remembered that scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral, when Hugh Grant's character is stuck at that table with all of his ex-girlfriends. That scene made me laugh, so I'd want read your book even though I am not a fan of reality TV shows.

jjdebenedictis said...

109
Jessica's comments mirror my own reaction. Everything here is very vaguely described ("[s]udden attacks, terrifying confrontations, and excruciating tests"), and it doesn't help that the antagonist and one of the settings have Capitalized Descriptions instead of names. I'm sure you have a great story, but it's not coming across in the pitch. What conflict does Stormy face, exactly? What does he want and what gets in the way? We'll empathize with Stormy much more strongly if we know specifically what he's going through and what dangers he faces.

110
I really loved your first paragraph, but the second one lost my interest. If the second paragraph had read, "I'm going to stay dead. There's a few people I want to kill", I would have been drooling to read your book (I luvs me some blood 'n' guts.)

The fact that you had your character talking to the reader didn't bother me a bit. I would suggest structuring your query letter with this pitch first, then an informational third paragraph, written in third person, that has the title, word count, and any publication history you might have.

I do think your first paragraph would be stronger without the word "Hello", and clearer if you changed your fifth sentence to read "legally dead" instead of "dead." I was slightly confused about the fact that the guy was really alive but dead on paper.

111
I read science fiction, so I see the promise in this story idea, even if I agree with Jessica that the pitch itself is not as strong as it could be.

Humanity must win the day to earn the right to not only survive, but create a powerful home for itself in the dark matter universe.

That one sentence is particularly vague and I don't think it gives the reader enough information to be worth the space it is taking up in your pitch. I would suggest you scrap it. Also, your last sentence should really whet the reader's appetite for reading the book, and the thing that makes people frantic to find out what happens next is a conflict they can't see the protagonist resolving easily. I think your last line should be a sort of cliffhanger sentence--something that leaves the reader wanting more.

Think about what Bobby needs to accomplish after he enters the alternate dimension, what stands in his way, and what the stakes are if he fails. Try to sum that up in one or two sentences, but don't give the reader any hints about how Bobby will pull off the resolution.

The rest of your pitch should maybe be streamlined a little so that you can focus more on the juicy dilemma Bobby faces. I would suggest something like:

Bobby uses his ability to see the past and future to build a fortune for he and his business partner Julian. When Bobby discovers Julian is an agent working to literally harvest mankind for export to a dark matter dimension, Bobby must give up his physical form in order to fight Julian on his own turf. [And then you outline a killer-cliffhanger scenario here.]

112
I agree that your first paragraph should stand alone. It's great. The only thing I would suggest is that you dump the ellipses in the last sentence.

113
This is cute, but you need to give us an idea of what the conflict is. I think that would provide the "oomph" Jessica says this pitch needs. We need to know that Amanda has a dilemma--where a true dilemma is having to choose between either two desireable things or two undesireable things. A lack of clean underwear is not a true dilemma.

Amanda obviously would like her normal life (with its easy access to clean panties) back, so what's the up-side to her being on the run with a Basque freedom fighter? I.e. What makes it difficult for her to just get the hell away from Mr. Picasso-chaser? Has he got moral reasons for chasing the painting that appeal to Amanda's conscience also? Is he attractive to her? Does she realize her normal life will never be as interesting as the adventure she's engaged in now?

114
I only see two commas that should definitely go, but there are a few more that could be omitted. You have my sympathy on this matter; comma rules make me nuts. I usually go for the minimalist approach and hope for the best.

It sounds like the story really starts after Angeline gets captured. That's when she's got a real dilemma to solve. Everything up to that reads as backstory and should probably be streamlined. How about something like:
Brash USO singer Angeline Waters does more than just bring hope to soldiers; she also spies for military intel. When her lover's near-fatal shooting drives Angeline into a blunder that sees her captured by Panzer Colonel Von Heimer to make Nazi propaganda films, Angeline must...

After that point, you would want to describe some terrible dilemma for Angeline that the reader can't imagine her wiggling out of. That will leave them curious to read the book.

115
The reason why your first sentence doesn't work and your last sentence does is because the last sentence shows us Anna has a problem--a high-stakes, gripping problem--and the first sentence only tells us that she does.

Show, don't tell, as much as possible.

I think what the pitch needs is more layers of conflict for Anna. What, specifically, does she have to do to survive? What stands in her way? How is her love for Oliver going to complicate an already dire situation? Give us more details.

116
The animosity between Dalin and Finneas is a secondary layer of complication that lies on top of the book's main conflict. I agree with Jessica that you need to tell us more about what really forms the meat of this book, and that's likely the conflict between these two men and the rogue magician. Show us why Dalin and Finneas must stop the magician, and then tell us how their nasty history will make their success even more unlikely.

~~~
Thank you Jessica for not only your work, but also for being good enough to donate your time to doing this. Thanks also to the pitchers for being brave enough to do this. This is really a wonderful learning experience!

LindaBudz said...

I loved #112 too, but ... and maybe this is just the blonde in me ... when I got to the part about the seven exes, I thought, "Oh, what are the chances all the guys on the show are her exes?" I didn't get that it was planned that way by the show's producers until I read partway into the second paragraph. So maybe if you dump the second para, make that a little more clear in the first para. (In case, you know, the agent you're querying has a blonde streak too.)

I agree with Heidi that it is just the type of twist a show like that might throw at the contestant ... excellent viewing material! (OK, so I'm blonde and addicted to reality TV.) But I thought the "uncomfortable period" bit seemed kind of ick.

Good luck, can't wait to read it someday!

Julie Weathers said...

Prefaced with the usual, this is an opinion only and worth what you paid for it.

109. I like the premise and think it could be very interesting. My main drawback would be it does feel like Harry Potter. However, you can distance yourself from that comparison most likely.

Also, destiny is a tricky thing. If you are destined for something, can you escape your fate or change it? I don't know.

I agree with Jessica's advice on how to make it better.

110. This could be an intriguing idea, but it has been done so you need to rise above the crowd. Also it is too short.

I think I have learned from experience you have to sell the first book. A great series doesn't do you any good if you can't sell the first one. Concentrate on pitching it.

111. The style doesn't jump out at me, but it's an interesting idea. I guess what really caught my attention is why does humanity need to survive in the dark mater universe? What happens to take humanity there?

112. I've only watched two reality shows enough to know what's going on. Cowboy U, because they are sadistic and it amuses me to hear someone say, "I have to stick my arm where?" The Bachelor because my son rodeoed with one of the bachelors.

So, I know enough to be slightly familiar with the format, but not enough to know how things work. I can imagine someone being tossed into an entirely different scenario than they thought they were signing up for. Your idea is rife with possibility.

One thing that throws me is if she carefully researched the show, she should know they pull surprise stuff. You can get around that easily by having a friend sign her up for it or recommend it to her or something.

The other thing that confuses me is in the first paragraph she is thrown on an island with seven exes. In the next paragraph she is actually with one ex and his exes. I had to read it a couple of times to figure out what was going on. Might just be me since no one else said anything.

I think this could be great.

113. I have no clue how to fix it, but I think the plotline could be very interesting. It just needs some more detail.

114. This is another idea that could be fantastic. The first sentence throws me because I wonder how she knows to entertain soldiers who won't be coming back.

I think the idea is one of those books that could be a wonderful movie, depending on how it unfolds. It just needs more connecting the dots or something.

115. I like this idea a lot. It just needs some beefing up.

116. Love this idea, but then I like characters who are thrown together with others they would rather kill. This is very possibly a story I would read.

Aimless Writer said...

This almost makes me wish for one universal pitch with form feilds (Like Mad-libs) where we could just imput the names, places and hook. One size fits all. (I do know that's one of the biggest lies in the world!-lol)
#109; Some interesting things there but it kind of wanders. Just the facts please.
#110; This grabbed my interest right away but you kind of lost me after the first paragraph. I need the hook in plainer language.
#111; I think this could be a good story but again, I think I'm missing the main thrust of the story. If you had to tell me in two sentences what would you say?
#112; The first paragraph had me laughing. In this time when reality shows are so popular I think this would find an audience quickly. Second paragraph lost me a bit. Everything I needed was already said.
#113; I need more information.
#114; I was confused because of the two phrases, "UFO singer" and "her next mission". Which is she? Singer or spy?
#115; I like this one. I think the words could be rearranged to flow better but I still liked it.
#116: If Finneas framed Dalin for murder how come he's not in jail? (Sorry, but I wonder about such things)For the rest of it, I need more information about the challenge they face.

Jessica, I'm amazed at how easily you can tighten up a pitch.

Gabrielle said...

I loved the premise of the reality show pitch, especially with a contrasting "shy & quiet" protag.

Quick question about word count: I'm writing YA, which is usually shorter than full adult fiction. Problem is I can't find a full agent/publisher definition of "shorter." Is 60K way too short, or...? I really don't want to have to county every word of "A Great and Terrible Beauty."

Anonymous said...

Gabrielle --

YA is usually between 45k and 70k words, so at 60k you are probably right where you need to be. Fanatasy, because of the necessity of "world building" is usually at the larger end of the spectrum.

The blueboards at Verla Kay's are a great resource for people writing kidlit. You can use the search function there and find the answers to all sorts of these types of questions. Google "Verla Kay" and it ought to come up.

Click on "links" and then on "message boards"

sara said...

112 - I LOVE this first paragraph!! The second paragraph was kind of "meh" to me, though, so I'd agree with the suggestion to cut that out. But wow... what a cool and hilarious idea! I would totally read this book!

pulp said...

Er, fourteen months late, but...
#114: There are only two comma errors. Lots of other pitches had similar errors and weren't dinged for them. In my opinion, they should have been. It's hard to understand how someone can believe in his/her writing ability without having mastered basic punctuation.

Oh, well. When I'm a mighty and powerful literary agent, I shall auto-reject all subliterate submissions no matter how interesting the story. The business is nothing if not subjective.