Pitch Party Alert!

‘What’s this?’ you say. ‘A non-Monday update? THE MADNESS.’ But this is so important that I felt it necessary to spit in the face of tradition and put something up. (There will still be a regularly scheduled update on Monday.)

Okay, so I’m sure you all know what a pitch is. It’s your little blah blah about your book that you use to try and hook a person’s interest in your story. You need to have one if you plan on querying an agent or publisher so that they have some idea of what they’re even looking at, and it’s pretty much the blurb on a book’s back cover that you look at when you’re deciding whether or not to shell out your hard earned cash for this book. It’s what you use to convince readers that they want to read your story. So pitches are pretty important.

Unfortunately, they’re also difficult to write. (You want me to compress my 500,000 word opus into a paragraph?) So, we’re having a pitch party over on Twitter for all we of the writerly ilk to practice. It starts Friday Aug 16th at 10 pm EST and participants should have two pitches prepped and polished.

For the first round, participants use their short pitches of 140 characters or less (small enough to fit in a tweet). I know, I know, it sounds painful. SO PAINFUL.

Then everyone votes for their favorites and we settle in on the five best (unless there are five of us. Then we settle on two). The finalists then pitch their longer versions of 100 words or less. Winner gets COOL POINTS! Possible high fives as well. Maybe even a postcard. You won’t know unless you come! Use the #PitchParty hashtag so we can all keep track of each other and let the party begin! 😀

UPDATE: Okay, this party is spreading. Looks like we’re doing the short pitches over on Twitter, but don’t despair if you’re not on Twitter, because the longer format pitches will be posted in the comments of this post. Round One- twitter. Round Two- here. Everyone is welcome to pitch and to vote for a winner. Tips and suggestions are part of the party, so if you have any, please speak up!

Also, there will be postcard prizes! One for the best short pitch, one for the best long pitch, and one for the most helpful commenter. This is going to be great!

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60 thoughts on “Pitch Party Alert!

  1. FUN THINGS! 🙂 I think the best part of this will also be helping each other better our pitches 🙂 looking forward to the discussion a lot, as I know my blurb-stuff definitely needs work!

  2. So much fun to put this pitch together 🙂 Thanks Jill!

    Aynay lost everything in the Wizard’s War. Creating infinite identical worlds as the scenes for his experiments, he hoped to raise his lost civilization from the dead. But his life’s work shatters when two of those worlds collide.
    Kalia is an ambitious detective in a blundering agency who believes nothing exists outside the dome. Chasing the crooked cop that killed her brother through a seemingly abandoned laboratory, she stumbles into a new world full of fairytale myths and magic. Everything solid in her life is now being questioned by this new way of life she has become a part of.

    • I’m having a hard time tying the two paragraphs together. Are there two separate plotlines here for each of them? Your tweet pitch seems to imply there’s only one. If it’s just Kalia, I’d cut out the part about Aynay and just say that the words are thrown together. I did really like her part of the pitch. If Aynay doesn’t come into it until after Kalia discovers the world-crash, I wouldn’t mention him til then.

    • I agree with Tia. Aynay seems kind of superfluous at the moment and Kalia is a much stronger protagonist figure. By mentioning him first, you make him sound like the more important of the two but I’m not sure what his role is and I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around the “creating worlds” part. I’d need to know more about him (God character? Crazy magic-scientist? Something else?) before accepting that premise.

    • I don’t have much to add that hasn’t been said. I think at this point the first paragraph isn’t needed at all and that the revelation of just where this magical world came from might be more suited for actually in the story. I really like the sound of this though!

  3. Shred away, my writer friends. Shred away.

    Meet Cyrus: Thirteen years old, shy, normal. Meet Sarkan Lokisson: A Trickster god and Cyrus’s not-so-imaginary best friend. “Do you trust me?” Sarkan asks him, mere minutes after shoving him into oncoming traffic to awaken his fledgling magic. Given that the alternative is to be kidnapped and/or killed by a psychopathic Reaper called Athanasius, Cyrus reluctantly accepts Sarkan’s offer of teaching. He soon finds that Tricksters are to be trusted (sometimes), enemies can be allies (with the right leverage), and that even a shy boy can be a hero.

    • I would consider starting with the quote. It’s different for a pitch, and those are great words to start with. Rather than doing a “Meet: and Meet:” I might say towards the end something like “Cyrus had thought your imaginary friends vanished when you became a teenager, not that they became /real./”

    • This is one of my faves 😀 The part about oncoming traffic made me laugh out loud. I love Sarkin already, but I’m not really sold on Cyrus. No one reads about normal people – so why should we care about him? (Assuming he is the MC, which I gathered from the pitch.) But overall I loved the tone and the detail.

    • I really liked this pitch, especially the last line. I would echo the critique that the quote is a better starting line. Also, I don’t really get much sense of what’s at stake. I understand his life is in danger, which are pretty high stakes, but implying that he’s a hero at the end makes me think there’s something more going on. After all, saving your own skin doesn’t really make you a hero. Is he saving anyone or anything else as well?

      • I wasn’t sure if I could get away with starting with the quote for both pitches but obviously I can! I’m going to write about the Pitch Party for my blog post this next Tuesday and included my reworked pitch if y’all want to take a look/shred some more. Totally might steal that sentence, NaNoPals.

        Tia, I do worry about Sarkan coming across as the stronger protagonist of the two since he’s so..himself. Cyrus is great but it’s gonna take a while for him to come into his own and Sarkan is already there and used to be the leader.

        Thanks Elizabeth– Sarkan does have his own goals but they’re beneficial to Cyrus’s health (oncoming traffic aside) unlike Athanasius’s.

        Jill, Cyrus DOES have other people (including Sarkan) to save in the end but I couldn’t see how to work in a specific mention. Now that I have several days to tweak and play, I’ll definitely try to get it in.

    • Ooooo this sounds like great fun. Though as others have said, I would like to know more about Cyrus. If he is normal, why does he have magic and why are people out to get him? Obviously you don’t want to give everything away but it might help to allude slightly as to why this Reaper is after him.

    • Liz, gotta hand this one to you. it carried the spirit of your novel, and made me laugh. My vote right here

  4. Here’s my 100 word (okay, 79 word) one, expanded from my tweet:

    Zayr was a child with an adult’s face, with no past and no life in his eyes. That was the new commanding officer assigned to the damaged ship Persephone and its ragtag crew. Through the process of repairing the ship, Zayr repairs the broken future of his crew and comes to terms with his own broken past. And once repaired, the single small ship becomes a force that will change the face of the galaxy it protects.

    • A little chunky towards the end. I like the idea that you’re tying together repairing the ship with his own mental state/that of his crew, but the wording is clunky. Help me live the action of him repairing it, not just mention that it’s over that time. “He discovers a broken ship is much like a broken mind, and mending the two are not too far apart.” or something like that. And “Change the face of the galaxy it protects” gives us some extra info (they are a military ship? Vigilantes?) but at the same time the additional clause makes the sentence a bit too heavy.

      Still an exciting premise though!

    • I kind of feel like the first two sentences could be combined somehow. And I feel like ‘ragtag crew’ is a little trite (I know, I know, I am the queen of trite). What makes them ragtag? Are they exhausted? Beaten? Conscripted? CONVICTS? Repeatedly overlooked by the bureaucratic so-and-so’s that are supposed to be funding their missions? I just don’t feel like ragtag gives me much to go off of in envisioning this crew. Also, saying that Zayr was a child with an adult’s face implies a kind of innocence that I wouldn’t really attach to an experienced military man and ship captain. I do like the second half, though, and I like the concept of two broken things helping each other to be whole again.

    • What they said. I agree with Jill that Zayr’s “child with an adult’s face” bugs me as out of character for his position as a ship’s captain. Maybe I have too much Firefly floating around in my brain. I’d like to know more about the external threat you hint out in the last sentence and how the now-fixed ship/crew are going to figure in the fight. Do they discover something? Is it some ongoing war? Aliens VS Humans or Humans VS Humans?

      Actually, on second thought (my brain is on the fritz), the whole external conflict feels like it could be expanded to its own book (depending). Focus on fixing the crew in book one and THEN chuck them at whatever is going to change the galaxy.

    • I think the final sentence feels a little clagged on as it stands, like it doesn’t quite fit with the rest. Especially as the start makes it sound super heavy (in the good way) on character development. I could be reading it wrong though, that last sentence sounds to me like epic space fight material is on the way. Also, I’d love to know what they’re protecting the galaxy from!

  5. Nahldria has finally accepted her role as heir of the elfin nation of Alekasyl, surrendering her dreams of the priesthood. Just as she starts to find happiness, war breaks out and her fiance deploys to the distant northern border. Her contacts with the viciously clever human general launch her from the safety of the capital out into the war torn wilderness, armed with nothing more than the knowledge of her fiance’s capture and the loyalty of her friends. But invading soldiers are not the only ones looking for her, and her path is more treacherous than she knows.

    • I want to know more than what you’ve just given me. I almost feel like I’m being taunted by the priesthood part because I don’t get to know why she wanted to be a priest or if priesthood is relevant. I feel like her personal struggles between her dreams and her duty could be relevant, but I just don’t know. I’m also a bit confused about how contacts with the human general send her out in the world? And like I mentioned with the twitter pitch, I’d like something a bit more concrete on what she’s going to face. I imagine she’d have more of a challenge than just finding her fiance since it’s a novel, but what?

      You mentioned that the book has lighthearted moments – is it more lighthearted in nature? If so, I’d change the pitch to reflect that. Something like “Nahldria has finally fulfilled her dream of entering the priesthood. Wait, scratch that. Nahldria has accepted her role as Alekasyl’s next princess. Because [reason].”

      • This whole lighthearted thing is my fault! She has clever side characters that have witty banter. The plot and Nahldria are fairly serious. For the pitch, (again sort of meta-knowing your ending) I think you should put in some more stress into the priesthood/gods of the elves, and I feel like I don’t need to really know about the enemy general that much. That the war comes to her door is enough for me. That said, maybe there should be something about the wonderful characters she meets on the way (and the fates that befall them…)

      • Yeah, personally, I wouldn’t classify this as a comedy. I’m glad that Nanopals liked the chuckle moments with the side characters, but I feel like the mood of the pitch matches the mood of the book. But maybe I’m way off. Which would be sad. Considering I wrote the thing. 😦 But then again, I’m the chick who keeps trying to call it NA when everyone else in the world is saying YA, so who knows? 😀

    • If the priesthood/religion comes into play like NaNoPals says, definitely work it in more. I’m a little confused as to how Nahldria expected to go into the priesthood if she’s the heir (was she not always first in line?) but if the priesthood/royalty are closely linked that makes more sense. I’m also curious as how she has “contacts” with the opposing human general– Or did you mean that HE has spies/agents that chuck her out into the wilderness?

      • The religion is important. Nahldria had an older brother who died unexpectedly while she was training in the priesthood, so she was recalled to the capital as heir, which she REALLY didn’t like. There is a fair amount of magic in the story and the general can’t get to her in person, but he does use a magical discipline called echomancy to basically make magical phone calls to her. It sounds silly, but I think it works in the story. (Back me up, beta readers…) He pretty much strings her along with bits of information to lure her away from her guards at the palace and then hits the capital hard while she’s out in the city, forcing her to run.

        But now that you guys point it out, maybe I should mention the religion stuff a little more strongly. In fact, I had a few beta readers asking for more on that front within the book itself, so I’m obviously underplaying that element. I’ll have to think on it for a bit… HMMMMM….

  6. A war no one remembers. A world, hidden, forgotten, even by those who call it home. In a time where truth has devolved to myth, where humanity attempted godhood, and failed, three people with a different key to the same ancient secret will find their lives intertwined, their paths towards armageddon begun. Whether they save or destroy it, their world will be forever changed.

    LEYLINED

    (AWOOOOOOOOOO!)

    • It’s a great teaser, but I feel like it doesn’t leave me anything to bite into – I don’t know anything about the three people, what secret they’ve found, or what they’re going to do with it. So personally I feel like it needs a bit more meat. Give me something to love even more! 😀

      • Mmm… steak. Okay, try this line instead:

        Three people, one a girl fallen from a star, another a man who lost his soul, the last the daughter of a self-made God. Each is the key to an ancient secret that will change their world forever.

        Something like that?

    • Okay, I’m gonna return the favor and look at your pitch through the eyes of having already read it (or at least the first third- WHEN DO I GET THE REST?). 🙂 I feel like you’re missing a lot of the really cool elements that made me love your world: the power tattoo things, the island world with its complex caste systems, the devolution of magic and technology, the mash-up of steampunk and fantasy. A magical technogod? Potty-mouthed demon machines? PET CRABS? I mean, I LOVED your book, there was a lot of really cool stuff going on. But I don’t see much of what I loved in your pitch. Just reading the pitch, I’m not even sure what genre I would place this as. The sentence you pitched to Tia Kalla here in the comments is much closer and gives us a bit more about these really fascinating characters of yours. Your pitch has a lot of intrigue going on, and the stakes are certainly high, but I don’t see any of the unique elements that make your book so stand-out fantastic. I know 100 words doesn’t give you a whole lot of space to work with, but maybe try to squeeze in a bit more of that stuff? I know this may be a bit extreme, but I kind of feel like you could just drop the first two sentences altogether and free up some room for a different angle on the setting. But that’s just me. (By the way, I love your book. In case you forgot.)

      • Okay, so all of this. What Jill said. I love the pitch as someone who hasn’t read the story, but as someone who has read (a portion of) the story there is so much awesome not being mentioned. Though 100 words is a biayatch. I think the additional sentence with the characters you proposed and a hint to the fantasy steam punk would enhance it.

  7. My pitch. *cowers*

    To Earth, Twyne was our fantasy come reality. Earth was Twyne’s nightmares incarnate. No one yet knows why these worlds merged but in 1943, they did.

    Sixty-nine years later, while trying to earn direly needed money, an ex-journalist and borderline alcoholic stumbles upon a plot that will kill a few thousand people and plunge the two worlds into war. The police are in on it and they ARE out to get him.

    With the help of his moral compass, a fairy with a past and a Sinatra Complex, he decides that this is his chance for redemption.

    • Wow, I love that beginning! Grammar nitpick: I would add one comma after merged. The MC sounds like he’d be a lot of fun. Not quite sure about the emphasis on the ARE – doesn’t seem to need it for me? The last line loses me a bit, partly because I’m not sure what a Sinatra Complex is. Getting ‘help’ from his moral compass also reads a little weird to me. I’d also like to see his name in the final sentence. But overall, I’d read that!

      • I love grammar nitpicks because they pick up on things that I don’t! My grammar is atrocious so I need all the help I can get.

        Hmm, your other comments, I can definitely see what you mean. I was trying to get some of the sarcastic tone of the narrative into the pitch. For example, the emphasis comes from the MC’s paranoia. Both this and the moral compass comment require prior knowledge to actually understand and get the tone I’m going for, so that’s going to have to go.

        See, this is why I need you guys. I never would have spotted something silly like that. Also, sorry if this comment made no sense, I am very tired right now.

      • The “ARE out to get him” did seem to get at some paranoia, so I think it would work if you cemented it in, like “they ARE out to get him – it’s no longer just in his head” or “a paranoid ex-journalist”. On the moral compass, I think it seemed weird because you don’t typically get “help” from it. So it felt like the metaphor streams were crossing. And I love sarcasm, so bring it on XD

    • Your middle P here is the weakest. Don’t tell us he’s an alchie, show us real quick by placing him in a drinking-related scene, like “Sixty-nine years later, MainCharacterGuy stumbles out of the bar and into a plot that will kill yadda yadda yadda. The authorities (never much on his side to start with) are no help, and he’s beginning to suspect they might be in on it too…”

    • The first paragraph has my “WANT TO KNOW ALL THE DETAILS” self begging for more. The “down on his luck” journalist is dinging my cliche radar but I grew up reading the “Cat Who” series by Lilian Jackson Braun so that could be me. Looking at your last paragraph, do you mean to say that the fairy with a Sinatra complex (What’s that?) IS his moral compass, kind of like Navi from the Legend of Zelda game series?

    • Oh, golly, Navi always made me want to punch walls. So irritating!

      Anyway, I really liked this pitch, even the sarcastic, all-caps ARE, and I feel like I can guess well enough what a Sinatra Complex is. Maybe instead of saying “With the help of his moral compass”, try something like, “With a little direction from his moral compass”, or consider making it something other than a moral compass. Or even just clip it down to “With the help of a fairy with a past and a Sinatra Complex”. But that’s really all I’ve got. Great pitch.

      • Bah, I can’t reply to everyone individually for some reason! *shakes fist at WordPress*

        First of all, I can assure you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Tony is NOTHING LIKE NAVI. Dear Lord, just her name now makes me twitch.

        Tia, Liz and Jill: Yeah, the moral compass thing was further along the fail sarcasm route. Fairies don’t come much more foul, immoral or debaucherous as he does. I think I just need to totally cut out the stuff about the fairy and re-do it, I don’t think it’s worked at all. He is actually a corporeal friend and helper, not just giving advice. Hmm, work to be done here. *rubs chin*

        Also, I thought Sinatra Complex was a far more widely spread term as I use it fairly regularly in day to day life (do not ask me why) but upon a Google search I only got one hit for it. Hmm, I may have to refer to it in the book and try make it a ‘thing’ because I do like the term. That said, I think the one hit I got summed it up nicely. From Urban Dictionary: “The condition in which a male develops an insatiable appetite for smart-looking clothes, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, eating out, and hookers.”

        NaNoPals: Yeah, I actually cut something similar to that out as I wrestled with my word count. Your version is better though. *steals* Ahem. Also, I’m a fool. How can I not mention the name of the MC in a first person book?!

  8. Aaralyn’ Choice

    What she doesn’t know might kill you…

    A young woman is heiress to Riverton, a rich and powerful duchy currently aligned with her father’s kingdom. When she comes of age, many men vie for the right to rule Riverton and their powerful army. She must choose a warrior capable of defending her rights, but the wrong choice will lead to war. What she doesn’t know is there are magical forces manipulating things behind the scenes, or that she is descended from elves. Once she chooses a side there’s no turning back for anyone.

    Melanie Francisco

    • I love that opening sentence! It’s no cryptic 🙂 What I was kind of confused about was the sudden idea that there are “magical forces” in this setting. Maybe just putting a description a little earlier, like, “A young woman is heiress to Riverton, a duchy rich in powerful magic…” Or something like that.

      • It’s a little tough, because magic has been suppressed on her world after magical beings nearly destroyed everything in the Great War. Dark sorcery is sponsoring one of her suitors, covertly of course. On the other side are elves who want to come out of hiding. When she chooses a side, war breaks out and the sorcerers move into the open to gain control. Nobody knows she’s descended from an elf, and if they did she could be executed for sorcery. And a whole lot else, but it’s basically a love story.

    • I love that opening sentence, and I do love the premise. I don’t really get a feel for Aaralyn in the pitch though. The pitch tells me why I should care about her choice, but not why I should care about her, and I want to love her. With only knowing a bit about the story, I think it might be worthwhile to set up a parallel between the political forces manipulating things, and the magical forces. I’m not sure how the elves part ties in, so I’d cut that out or expand it as desired. You mentioned over Twitter that this is a second book, so I’d make at least some reference to the relevant events of the first.

      • No this is the first book, but her world just has a lot of back story. Thank you for refocusing me on her character and not her situation. You are right, she’s so fiesty and smart I love her to death. (But hey I’m the author, right I’m supposed to.) She just happens to be in a tough spot and is a little bit too young to deal with it well, which is probably where I should have started the pitch and left the elf part out. Thanks.

    • Did you mean for the first sentence to read “What she doesn’t know might kill HER…” ? As a reader, I feel pretty safe. Sorry, had to get that nitpick out of the way.

      I adore the premise and agree that cutting the elf part would be better– Let us as readers find out with her that she’s of elven descendent and how that will play into the plot. I can see it really being a nice Wham Line chapter ending. Outside of that, yeah, I need to know more about Aaralyn and why I need to be invested in her.

    • I’m not sure about the first sentence in the main paragraph. If it’s her father’s kingdom, why is she heiress to a duchy and not a kingdom? What do you mean by ‘aligned’? Is this just allied, or is there something else going on? And maybe instead of saying “A young woman is heiress…”, try using her name. We figure out from the rest that she’s young.

      So, in the shorter pitch section you mentioned that she was an orphan, that her parents had been killed by assassins and her uncle wants to marry her off. But none of that is mentioned in your longer pitch. Also, you mentioned that she married for love and it started a war, but none of the candidates are even mentioned, just the need for a warrior. I agree that the elf mention seems a little superfluous, especially since it’s not mentioned in this pitch that magic is illegal. Also, I don’t have any idea what manipulation is going on behind the scenes- are they affecting her choices? The candidates? The politics? The catering menu?

      All that junk said, I did like this pitch. This seems like the kind of book I could get into. I read this pitch and I think romance, politics, battles, magic- all the elements that I like in a good fantasy. I’d love to read it!

      • She’s the sole (legitimate) heir of her maternal grandfather’s duchy. MG made her mom marry the “Spare” from the neighboring kingdom (political match), but the duchy has a long history of independents. Suitors are a cousin, do of neighboring warlord, landless youngest prince of distant kingdom, and a rich vassal looking for a promotion. Some have sorcery aligned with them (covertly to avoid death penalty) some are just power hungry. Oh and the one she wants thinks she’s a complete brat.

    • In one of your responses you’ve mentioned this being a love story despite all the rest of the perils going on – which is cool, I just didn’t pick up on it from the pitch (but this could just be me). You say “she must choose a warrior capable of defending her rights” but mention nothing about marrying someone she loves. Does she already have a flame for one of the suitors that she has held for some time before this or does she fall hard for one of them upon meeting them? Or even, is she conflicted between her feelings between more than one of them? Does the person she wants to marry conflict with the region she wants to align with? I just think a brief mention of her opinion on one or more of the suitors would help cement in that this is a love story made complex by politics as opposed to just a political story. Though having said that, you are getting advice from the least capable writer possible when it comes to romance! xD

      I do like the pitch though, lots of intrigue!

  9. Thanks for voting my pitch as the best one, guys– It was a total surprise 🙂 I revised my long pitch and talked about the pitch party on my blog this week. Stop by to take a look and shred anew!

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