Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bait and Pitch Week 8: Query Pitches


Note: If you’re here looking for fishing tips, you’ve come to the wrong end of the blogosphere.

Okay, this week we are working on QUERY pitches. That means you are giving us your best pitch paragraph on a single manuscript and we will give you our communal feedback. Read the full list of rules with all their glorious explanations here

The Rules
Bait and Pitch is open to ALL fiction categories
This is open to manuscripts of any status. 
One pitch per week as a comment to THIS post. 
Bring a writer friend. The more the better for all involved!
You post, you crit. 
You edit, you critique again.
If you revise, post it as a REPLY to your original pitch. 
Critiques must include AT LEAST one piece of positive feedback. 
Don’t be an asshole. 
If you cross the line, *I* will critique your pitch in a similar manner. K? *grinz*

Formatting Your Pitch

NAME: The Jackal  (bonus points if you get this late 90s/early 00’s TV reference)



PITCH: This is where you will write the pitch paragraph from your query. NOT the whole query. Please limit it to no more than four sentences. Really, if you go beyond that, your pitch paragraph is too long. No, really; and don’t be getting all crazy with the semicolons to fit in extra sentences—you know who you are.

The Wicked Pitch of the East (aka Dannie)


  1. Really, nobody yet? OK, I'll bite (no pun intended).

    Also, is it breaking the rules if the pitch paragraph is actually two paragraphs (but still >4 sentences)? It just feels better to break it up...

    Sorry if people on here have been seeing a lot of me lately on websites/Twitter contests. I'm struggling. :-)

    NAME: Beck of the Yukon

    GENRE: Adult/Low Fantasy


    PITCH: Anadel means breath in the language of our ancestors. It is the Spirit of Earth, the hidden force behind all life. And like everyone else in in 21st century, Ellie Shandon has no idea it exists.

    These days all she can think about is the heartbreaking reality that, far from her childhood dreams of becoming a National Geographic explorer or the next Jack Hanna, life as a wildlife biologist is harder than she ever could have imagined.

    1. And I went back and re-read a bunch of previous bait-and-pitch workshops...this is only the first paragraph (er, 2 paragraphs), but there are 2 more in the query. It seems a lot of people posted whole queries before, so keep in mind, the whole story isn't presented here - just the pitch! But it goes on to explain how Ellie realizes the Anadel exists - and that it's in danger, and Ellie must risk the disbelief and ridicule of the public in order to save it.

    2. Hi Beck. Courage points for going first. Color me intrigued. It sounds like there might be some stuff missing here, so maybe my comments below won't make sense in the context of your full query.

      Two thing strike me immediately upon reading this. It's fantasy, so I'm looking for some element of that I think your heading there in the first paragraph, but then your second paragraph doesn't really connect back to the first in way that pulls me in. You've said, "there's a thing over here that might be interesting", but my MC isn't aware of it.

      Second--If this is the pitch part of your query, I need some kinds of stakes and some sense of what your character is MUST DO OR EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE BAD. Your second paragraph basically says she's disappointed with how hard her job is. Is that really heartbreaking?

      I think you should focus on how what she doesn't know is going to be good/bad for her/the world, what she has to do to related to that unknown thing, and what will happen if she fails.

  2. NAME: Christina J. Williams


    TITLE: The Brand
    PITCH: Abiligente, a 18 year old girl, goes to a job interview where she gets kidnapped and put in a girl’s camp where she has to fight for her life. Little does she know the two men behind the kidnapping and the camp are her uncles.

    1. Remember that in a query, every word counts. You could probably do away with the "job interview" part unless it's crucial to the story/rest of the query. The first sentence is a bit lengthy, and "little does she know" is a cliche - can you write that some other way? Also, "a(n) 18-year-old girl" could be removed; just say "18-year-old Abiligente is kidnapped..." and your pronouns will tell us she's a girl.

      I'm also trying to remember that this is just the opening paragraph, so for that reason, I think you told me a lot about the story, which is good; but I hope the rest of the query delves a bit more into a) the girl's camp and what she has to do there to "fight for her life" and b) what exactly her uncles want by putting her there. Stakes, stakes, stakes! Does Abiligente just want to survive, stop her uncles' evil plot (if there is one), or escape and seek revenge?

      Just my two cents, hope it's helpful.

    2. Hi Christina. Sounds like a thrilling, if not a little bit disturbing, read.

      This is a good start, but reads like more of a summary than a query. Why are her uncles kidnapping her? What is their plan? What is Abiligente trying to do about it? We need to root for her to do something and understand what will happen to her if she fails to do it.

      She's fighting for her life? Against who and to what end?

      Provide a little more context and then put into clear focus the path, the challenge and the outcomes facing your MC.