February 9, 2015

Pitch Madness Pitch Practice

Brenda Drake's Pitch Madness, Sorry! Edition is almost here — and that means it's time once again to prepare your pitches! Submission window opens February 20th. Submissions consist of a 35-word (max) pitch and the first 250 words of your manuscript. Remember you should only be submitting if your manuscript is complete, edited, and ready for an agent's eyes. 

Shorter variations of your pitches (140 characters) can also be used for #PitMad on March 11th, even if your submission isn't chosen for the top 60 entries in Pitch Madness.

Last year, I opened up the comment section of my Pitch Madness post to those hoping to get some feedback on their pitches. People seemed to find that useful, so I'm doing it again! 

Guidelines: 
  • Post your 35-word(max) pitch in the comments 
  • Please offer constructive feedback on others' pitches
    • I will try to offer feedback as well, but I may not be able to respond to every post or revision, so please help each other!
  • Feel free to post revisions and share with others
  • Inappropriate or malicious comments will be removed at my discretion
    • Basically, please be polite

That's it! Feel free to also enter my 2-Year Anniversary Giveaway.

27 comments :

  1. A homeschooler with the ability to see fairytale creatures living among us must abandon her dreams in order to stop a ruthless changeling from using his magic to rule both worlds.

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    1. Middle Grade Urban Fantasy
      Thanks!

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    2. So, I'm curious why you feel that you have to tell us she's home-schooled. I'd be more interested in a specific age (which you specified in your followup comment, but may be good to see in the pitch) and in what "dreams" she must abandon. Why does stopping the changeling mean abandoning her dreams?

      & No problem :)

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    3. Is this better?

      A 12yo with the ability to see fairytale creatures living among us must abandon her chance of becoming their princess and embrace her troll heritage to stop a ruthless changeling from dominating both worlds.

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    4. Yes! This gives us so much more information, about both the world and the stakes :-)

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    5. Thank you so much, Aria. I think this helps a great deal. Gearing up for #PitMad and #PitchMadness. Fingers crossed!

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  2. Seven students in face masks and robes force Mira Whittaker into a dark room on her first night at a school for theatre. The Underground knows who she is and wants her to join.
    Middle Grade novel, 52,600 words

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    1. This does make me want to read and discover what the underground is but without genre listed I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to expect! I can give a full critque if you list it. I dont think you need to say robes by the way, that gives you 2 more words to elaborate. Also i don't think last name is needed either, unless its important. Finally, you can change "First night at a school for theatre" to "First night at theatre school". You gain a lot of words. Make these changes and you'll have like 5 more words to work with!

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    2. So, I agree with the comment above that you have a few ways to be more concise, giving you a bit of leeway with word count. The problem I see is that "wants her to join" doesn't seem like stakes. Because this could just mean she goes to school, they have this tradition, and she has insta-friends! Every new kid's dream. Or this is an elite group, and only some people get to join, but she's one of them — still all good.

      What is actually at stake? Why wouldn't she want to join?

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    3. The first night of theatre school, masked kids of the Underground haze Mira. Her foes are widespread and she doesn't know who they are. Their scare tactics could make Mira lose her scholarship.

      (This is a heck of a lot harder than it seems!) ;)

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    4. (Yes, pitches are SO tough to nail!)

      This is definitely stronger, with a better idea of the stakes. The first sentence is fantastic. The last bit is still really vague — is she going to lash out and beat someone up? Is she hiding in her room, unable to do her work? Is she too terrified to try out for a specific role, but she must do X performances to keep her scholarship? There are too many options, which could take your book in wildly different directions, so try to hone in on the detail even more. How does the hazing threaten her scholarship?

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    5. The first night of theatre school, masked kids of the Underground haze Mira. Their scare tactics could make Mira lose her scholarship--or be expelled--when she won't explain why she's forced to break rules.

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    6. How about:

      "The first night of theatre school, masked kids of the mysterious Underground haze Mira. Keeping their identities hidden, they repeatedly intimidate her into breaking school rules, risking her scholarship — or expulsion."

      That actually leaves you 5 more words, if you want to add something :-)

      Delete
  3. 18-year-old reincarnate host Emmett wants nothing more than to keep control of his mind. And if he teams up with a criminal hybrid, and stops an assassination his past initiated, he can..so he thinks.

    YA SCI FI 86000 words

    I suck as pitches so any help is loved!

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    1. Why is he in danger of losing his mind? That's really the biggest thing, making the stakes clearer — i.e. what's making him lose his mind, and even why stopping the assassination is related, in his mind.

      I'm also not sure what you mean by "reincarnate host," and I'd definitely recommend finding a word to cut so you can say "past self" to make it clearer that he had a hand in the assassination plan.

      But the idea does sound interesting!

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    2. 18-year-old reincarnate host Emmett wants nothing more than to keep control of his mind. And if he teams up with a criminal hybrid, and stops an assassination his past initiated, he can..so he thinks.

      I think you can delete "And" as first word in 2nd sentence. I'm not sure how the teaming up with the criminal hybrid and stops an assassination "his past initiated" is going to allow him to control his mind... Can you make this more clear? e.g., in exchange for ...or how teaming up allows him to keep control of his mind?

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  4. Would love some feedback on my pitch. Thanks so much, will look at the others! -Justin

    GENRE: Thriller
    35-WORD PITCH: When expat linguist Max Ziegler is framed for murder in Berlin and his grandparents kidnapped, he and young German historian Julia must scour Europe to complete the deadly, decades-long search for the Belt of Ulm.

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    1. Hi Justin. My biggest question is how the two pieces are connected — he's framed for murder, so he's searching for an ancient artifact? How will finding the artifact clear his name or save his grandparents?

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  5. I'm a bit late to the party, but hoped you would give some feedback:

    A rookie speech therapist moves to an isolated town where she falls for Hank. Spencer can’t say his name, and as ‘Hank’, hides his debilitating stutter from Hanna – until he walks into her therapy room.

    NA 93 000 words

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  6. This is my other option:
    Spencer can’t say his name. He hides his stutter from new love, Hanna, by speaking in French – until he walks into her therapy room. She could lose her license if they so much as kiss.

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    1. I like this one better, since the stakes are clearer — her medical license vs. their relationship, plus his secret exposed. The thing is, without the "Hank" context, "Spencer can't say his name" becomes superfluous. You could just say "Spencer hides his stutter from his new love, Hanna…" and gain 5 words.

      On the flip side, the previous version of course gives us a stronger sense of setting, the info of Hanna being new in town, etc. which is helpful. The Spencer vs. Hank info just feels confusing rather than necessary. Although, in the second pitch, you're saying that Hanna also speaks French, then? (And why does that help his stutter, especially if he can't say Spencer but can say Hank?)

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  7. HI Aria
    Thanks so much for your feedback. That's the thing with the 35 word pitch - I can't explain all the questions people have - but I guess that's why we read the book, and hopefully the pitch entices you to do so? Basically, "h" is easier to say for a stutterer whereas 'sp' is difficult with the consonant that flows followed by a stop consonant. My story is set in Canada, so Hanna understands French, although she isn't fluent. So 2nd one wins? I like the drama that the sentence - Spencer can't say his name offers though... Thoughts?

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    1. "Spencer can't say his name" is more ambiguous than you think it is, really. It could go in the paranormal direction — saying his name means unleashing demons from the underworld; or a thriller direction — people are hunting him, and he's hiding; etc.

      Of course it's your pitch :-) But yes, I happen to like the 2nd better of those two.

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