I hope you’re not getting bored with these yet. I think we’re finally well beyond the halfway mark. Thanks, everyone, for submitting and commenting, and please continue to do so. I think making this a forum where everyone can improve her pitch is terrific. This has been fun for me. Here’s the original post, Perfecting Your Pitch, and you should be able to link back to all previous critiques if necessary.
Making the choice to risk your own life to rescue a friend requires great courage and selflessness. Add having to abandon $15,000,000 in gold during the process raises the stakes significantly. Following through on it, as a fifteen year old, provides reason for pause, but for Jack, the commitment must be made in an instant.
My first concern is that grammatically this is really awkward. Wouldn’t it be stronger just to say, “. . . Abandoning $15 million in gold in the process takes even greater selflessness, but for 15-year-old Jack the decision must be made in an instant when . . .”? I think we need just a little more here. I love the opening two lines, but I think we need to know a why or a what happens to force this decision.
78. anon 11:21
‘See Lotty Run’ is an 85,000 word Romantic Thriller:
Lotty killed her baby didn’t she? With a new face and a new start, it all seems to be working out. Till she falls for a cop.
It’s missing that special oomph. My first concern is the question: Did she or didn’t she kill her baby? I wouldn’t advise starting with a question and certainly not this one, it doesn’t entice me. Why not just say, “After accidentally (you’ll need to let us know immediately how sympathetic we can be for this character) killing her own baby, Lotty starts out with a new face and a new start…”? I hope your entire conflict is not that she’s fallen for a cop. That’s not enough and, truthfully, pretty easy to get out of. You just walk away. Something more has to be happening to Lotty in this story. Something to really up the suspense. If this really is a romantic suspense I need to see the suspense in your pitch and not the romance. I’m not quite as concerned with that. If, however, you’re calling it a thriller, you need to up the stakes even more. Agents will expect a lot of fear in a thriller. We need to see that in the pitch.
Becky Miller is stunned to discover that her husband, Walter, is having an affair with a mentally challenged cocktail waitress. Even worse, Walter’s girlfriend has suggested that she and Walter would both be better a lot off if Becky were permanently removed from the picture. Becky thus decides to teach Walter a lesson that he’ll never forget, but as she sets her scheme into motion, things go tragically wrong and Becky suddenly finds herself in danger of becoming the principal victim of her own carefully constructed plan…
I’m sure I’m going to take a hit for this, but you want honesty, right? From your first sentence I would reject this. I have a really, really hard time with the fact that her husband is having an affair with someone who is mentally challenged. Granted, there are definitely extremes to this definition, but my first thought is that if he’s having an “affair” with someone who is mentally challenged then he is as bad as a pedophile. In other words, he’s clearly taking advantage of someone and the least of your concerns is their plot to do away with Becky. I think the real concern is that she’s married a man who is essentially a criminal. To rectify this you’ll need to clarify how challenged this waitress is, and I’m not sure that needs to be done in the pitch. Hopefully it comes across better in the book. Beyond that, though, I think your real hook is that, “Becky discovers her husband’s affair and in an attempt to teach him a lesson things go tragically wrong. Instead of simply enacting revenge on her cheating man, Becky finds herself in danger…” I think you need a little bit more, a little bit more of an idea of how dangerous the danger is, but I hope you get the idea.
Pathology Assistant, June Marigold is moving up in the world thanks to the magical ring given to her by her mother, which allows her to see and speak to the dead. After solving a notorious, deadend case, June found herself with a brand new apartment up in the Thirties, high above the dreadful waterways of a now flooded lower Manhatten. But when the corpse of a merman shows up in the morgue and then mysteriously vanishes overnight, June finds herself caught up in an ongoing struggle between the Mer and a corrupt part of NYC that wants the City’s newest residents permanently removed. Having to delve into the murky underwater world of the lowest Manhatten is the last thing June wants, especially accompanied by the mysterious and unnerving Mer, Bolen, who serves her pagan mother and absurdly refers to June as ‘Princess.’ The entire problem would have been washed away if, when she tried returning the stupid ring to her mother, June hadn’t discovered the power to see the dead didn’t lie in the ring at all, but in her.
Too long! Let me ask you this: What really matters to the core of your story? In other words, if you want to attract a reader, what is your biggest hook? Is it that the ring came from her mother? That she’s moving up in the world? That she lives in the Thirties? No. I think the real core of this is that she’s a pathologist with the ability to see and speak to the dead. That’s amazing. That’s a book I want to read. The rest of it is just padding. The rest is what creates the book and builds your characters. A pathologist who can see and speak to the dead and is forced to use her powers to uncover a struggle between the Mer and the residents of NYC. I like this idea a lot; however, based on your pitch, my conclusion is that you don’t have a very fleshed-out story. That you’re trying to do too much and not really focusing on writing a great, amazing, and really coherent plot.
Neska has never been out of her native mountains and knows nothing about leading armies or defeating a usurper. She has never cast a spell or decided the course of a kingdom. All she knows is that the usurper has killed the king for the throne and had her own family murdered for their loyalty. Neska is on the run, and has no idea how she will surivive much less bring about justice. But all that will change when a mysterious mage dies transferring his tattoos and his magical power to her.
The pitch here is what happens when the mysterious mage dies and what really happens next. To me the fact that Neska has never been out of the mountains, etc., is merely backstory. Why not shorten, tighten, and get to the point faster? I’m also not entirely sure what’s going on here. Is Neska related to the king? Why is she responsible for bringing justice? And what is this story really about? Is it about Neska being on her own, outside of the mountains, or is it really what happens after the mage dies? I think you need to give a better sense of who Neska is as well as a better sense of what the story is really about. I assume it’s about the need to bring justice, but from whom and why?
Secret Lore of the Dolphins is an epic story about a seven year old girl shipwrecked in the Bermuda Triangle, who is rescued, then befriended by dolphins, and taught their language. Now an adult, she returns to civilization appointed as, “Ambassador of the People of the Sea to the People of the Land.”
Try not to give any pitch that says something along the lines of, “title is an…” It immediately reads like book report material and takes the life out of the pitch. What about something like, “When seven-year-old Tina is shipwrecked, alone, in the Bermuda Triangle, she learns to rely on a group(?) of dolphins to teach her survival….” Reading that, however, I immediately think this is a YA book, and a great idea at that. It’s only when I read your next line that I’m utterly confused. What exactly is this book about? I assume it’s not about the girl living on the island and getting to know the dolphins, but instead about her life as an adult. What does that entail and what is her conflict? Most important, though, what exactly is the Ambassador of the People of the Sea to the People of the Land and what does all of that mean?
Now I turn it over to the readers. And don’t slack off on me. If I can keep coming back with critiques, comments, and suggestions, so can you. We’ve got a lot more coming!