Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bait and Pitch: Query Pitch Workshop

****We've officially broken blogger!****
If you scroll down to the very bottom of the comments it gives you the option to load more. That loads the most recent comments, regardless of which query they're in response to. Since this is getting complicated, PLEASE DO NOT POST ANY MORE QUERIES THIS WEEK OR ANY REVISIONS OF ALREADY EXISTING QUERIES--comments on existing queries are fine, but remember you may need to go to the bottom and click "load more". There will be a new post next Thursday for additional people to get feedback. It will open at 12AM EST on 8/7/14. Thanks for all the excellent participation this week!


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)

CATEGORY/GENRE: YA/Fantasy

TITLE: WHERE ARE THOSE WILD THINGS, ANYWAY?

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.

Cheers!
  
The Wicked Pitch of the East (aka Dannie)




233 comments:

  1. NAME: E.G. Moore
    CATEGORY/ GENRE: MG Contemporary
    TITLE: ROWDY DAYS OF DOM SANDERS

    PITCH: 12-year-old Dom’s summer’s getting better. He’s beaten up his rival, Taylor, and kissed the new girl in town, finally got his horse, and built an awesome fort in an abandoned forest service compound with his big bro. But while squirrel hunting, Dom sees a local outcast kill a deputy, and he’s pretty darn sure it’s related to the marijuana that seems to be all over town.

    Unsure of whether the killer saw him run away, Dom pretends he didn’t see anything. That is, until Taylor’s pocketknife and Dom’s boot prints, identical to Taylor’s, are found at the crime scene, and Taylor’s arrested.

    Dom must decide whether to swallow his guilt and let an annoying, if innocent, jerk go to juvie, or take the stand and risk his own life and freedom by revealing what he knows. And worst of all, if he does the right thing this time, will he have to keep on doing them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do not have a whole lot to offer as this is already a well-written query. The first of my few suggestions would be to somehow break up the second sentence. It goes on for a while, and while grammatically correct, doesn't really flow when read aloud. Then again, that could be a personal cadence thing with me, so nothing to dwell on.

      Second, I exchange sees for witnesses in the third sentence. "But while squirrel hunting, Dom witnesses a local..." Or swap it for another see later. I just feel the word witness(ed) needs to fit in here somewhere. Plus there's lots of see(s) and saw present, so swapping one out might help.

      Lastly, I know what the them refers to in the very last sentence of the query, but my mind won't let it go because there's no plural noun or pronoun to associate it with. Again, this could simply be in my head. Also, this is a late night critique, I hope everything makes sense.

      Still, you paint a great picture of who Dom already is as a person and who he has a chance to become by the end of the story. Nicely done.

      Delete
    2. I had "witnessed" in there before and someone said that it works against the kid's voice of my query. :( Not sure. I felt like something was off on the last sentence too, just not sure how to correct it yet. Thanks for your suggestions.

      Delete
    3. Excellent job establishing your conflict and clearly showing the stakes for your main character. I already have a sense of character from this brief glimpse of your story and that's not an easy thing to pull off so kudos for that!

      One thing I notice right off the bat is your pitch is longer than Dannie asked for. I know, I know, it seems like a silly, small thing. But it's a habit every single one of us has to get into - follow the submission rules to the letter. Sometimes you can get away with bending the rules, but more often you'll end up penalized for it.

      While the first two sentences are nice, your query really starts with the third sentence. The others are back story and we don't need that yet. I'd suggest dropping them. If you do eliminate the first two sentences, move the other paragraphs up and combine them into a single paragraph.

      "That is, until Taylor’s pocketknife and Dom’s boot prints, identical to Taylor’s, are found at the crime scene, and Taylor’s arrested." This sentence is a bit convoluted with lots of clauses, is there a way you could simplify it? And if you do eliminate those first two sentences as suggested, make sure you add in who Taylor is to this sentence as well.

      "And worst of all, if he does the right thing this time, will he have to keep on doing them?" This last sentence isn't a huge dilemma so it feels a bit flat after the previous sentence. I'd suggest leaving it off. Unless Dom is a bad boy type who's never done the right thing before, whether he has to keep doing the right thing now isn't a major conflict area and from the earlier sentences the reader isn't given the sense that he is a bad boy.

      Hope some of this was helpful!

      Delete
    4. This has gotten really good! Yeah! I think you've done a really nice job of clearing up what's going on and the conflict Dom faces. I'd echo Tangent's comment on the second sentence. I think you could make it two sentences, i.e. stop after the kiss and then go again. That's how I naturally read it, and I think it would help your reader keep focus. Only other possible change-- do you need the "seems to be" with the marijuana? I think you could just say the marijuana is all over town and run with it. Overall, great work!

      Delete
    5. I think I've seen your query before :) Like everyone said, this is a really good pitch. You've established the stakes and conflicts. I can't really add much because everyone said what I wanted to say ^

      Delete
    6. Sounds like you’ve got a great story here! The first line lacks punch for me. When you say, it’s “getting better,” I'm left wondering how it was before. In the second sentence, I think four things is too much. Maybe simplify it by taking one out. I agree with others that sees isn’t active; I like witnessed, as suggested, or stumbles upon if you could rework the sentence (and it makes sense with your MS). The other critiques address anything else I’d point out. All the best with it!

      Delete
    7. Hi Emily! I'm intrigued. I hope you'll apply to me for PitchWars. :-) The first sentence is a little general, but the rest of the first paragraph is great. The second paragraph and first sentence of the third, though, get a bit convoluted and confusing. Why was Taylor's knife there? Did Dom end up with it after their fight? And the last sentence: "And worst of all, if he does the right thing this time, will he have to keep on doing them?" This really loses me. How is this the worst part of this situation? That he might have to keep doing good? I think the stakes are high enough that you leave it that he's risking his own life and freedom - especially if you clarify that section. I hope I get to read pages!

      Delete
  2. Name: L. L. McKinney
    Genre: YA Cyberpunk
    Title: Children of Canaan

    Pitch: In the futuristic city of Canaan, being born a Talent—an individual with psychokinetic abilities—means you belong to the Federation, making you an enforcer or an experiment. There’s nothing extraordinary about fourteen-year-old Maxwell, he’s just a Reg, but that doesn’t keep the Fed from blowing down his front door. After a military grade artillery shell decimates his home—and most of his internal organs—Maxwell makes a deal with the devil. To stay alive, he’ll share his body with Death himself.

    Jaded, and lonely, Death accepts. Maxwell gains the power to avenge his murdered family, and Death gets five years to stir things up on the earthly plane. It’s a win-win until, three years later, there’s a snag in the plan. Isaac “the snag” Nizal is intelligent, attractive, and supposed to be on vacation when Maxwell sneaks into his house during a data extraction. Rather than call the authorities, Isaac begs to join the Alliance. The Federation is forcing his scientist father to conduct brutal experiments on imprisoned Talents. That and they also killed his mother, so he’s holding a grudge.

    As the boys’ mutual admiration grows into something more, it starts affecting Maxwell’s performance. There’s something off with this Nizal kid, and while Death can’t put his finger on it, he sees it reflected in his vessel’s behavior. Maxwell’s a smart boy, but mortals go all funny in the head when it comes to matters of the heart. If this keeps up, he's going to lose more than his chance at revenge, and uncovering the truth behind the persecution and execution of so many.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have a lot going on here.... I think first part of third sentence is a tad repetitive, and you could probably combine it with the fourth. I also feel like you could condense second and third sentences of last paragraph. And I am left wondering if Maxwell actually gets his revenge, or if the job becomes about his love interest's grudge. I love the concept, but I think you need to streamline this a tad, give us more specifics on the MC, and make the stakes less vague. Would love to see a revision of this and help more if I can.

      Delete
    2. There's definitely a lot of interesting stuff going on in your query! I think it needs a little reshuffling to get its claws into people though. Your first sentence can definitely be broken up into smaller bites - it runs a little long. The second sentence seems like it should be two - "There's nothing extraordinary about fourteen-year-old Maxwell. He's just a Reg, but that doesn't keep the Fed from blowing down his front door." I also think this paragraph could be reorganized to be a little more hooking. I almost want you to start with Maxwell's deal with Death and work in the worldbuilding around his character.
      The second paragraph reads great until I get to the Alliance. You don't mention it earlier in the query, so I'm not sure what the Alliance is (from context, I'm guessing it's a rebel group?). You definitely need to establish it before throwing the term at us.
      The third paragraph is throwing me off because it paints Death as the main character and seems to be told from his perspective. Prior to this paragraph, I'd thought that Maxwell was the protagonist, but now I'm not sure. I think it would benefit the query to focus it on a single POV, either Maxwell or Death.
      I love cyberpunk, and I'm really interested to see where you go with this!

      Delete
    3. Interesting story with a lot of angles- sci-fi, romance, and the whole deal with Death. That said, sometimes it felt like three different stories. I suspect that's not the case in the book. Your first line sets the stage for your world concisely, but it's not much of a hook. Your second line had more emotional pull. Can you explain build the world after you give us a character? I think that would be more compelling. Also, I wasn't clear that "blowing down his front door" was synonymous with killing his family and hurting him (I envisioned more people coming through the door on a search warrant, but in sci fi ways). Maybe play with this phrase to let us know immediately he has not just been harassed, but attacked.
      Interesting premises and good integration of diversity with Maxwell and Isaac's relationship in a genre where I wouldn't immediately look for it. Good luck!

      Delete
    4. Gonna take another stab at this.

      After a Federation grade artillery shell decimates his home—and most of his internal organs—fourteen-year-old Maxwell makes a deal with the devil. To stay alive, he’ll share his body with Death himself. Jaded, and lonely, Death accepts. Maxwell gains the power to avenge his murdered family, and Death gets five years to stir things up on the earthly plane.

      Over the next three years Maxwell uses his abilities, natural and otherwise, to secure his place as an Extractionist with the Rebel Alliance. Their uprising against the Fed will bring him that much closer to his goal of revenge. It’s not a perfect plan, but it’s enough. Enter the snag: Isaac Nizal is intelligent, attractive, and supposed to be on vacation when Maxwell sneaks into his house during a data extraction. Rather than call the authorities, Isaac begs to join the Alliance. The Federation is forcing his scientist father to conduct brutal experiments low-class citizens. That and they killed his mother, so he’s kinda holding a grudge.

      As the boys’ mutual admiration grows into something more, Isaac’s inside knowledge of Federation workings helps the Alliance even the playing field. There’s talk of a strike to topple the government for good, but the strategy calls for sacrificing their newest recruit. Isaac has no idea and warning him will upend the plan, destroying any shot Maxwell has at revenge. Death reminds him he doesn’t have time to reach this point again. He must decide if he’s willing to live in a Federation controlled word with Isaac, or give him up to take the shot and take them out.

      Delete
    5. This second version is a lot stronger and clearer, but I think you could probably condense it. It's a rather long hook paragraph, honestly paragraphs. This isn't a synopsis it's like a brief window into the soul of your story. And I know just how hard it can be to reduce it down to that. I'd really try to trim each paragraph down to a few sentences each. I think the crux of paragraph one is the sharing his body with death and the ticking five years. We could cut why he got hurt except to say "on his deathbed" or something. Then jump right into the conflict with Isaac. We probably don't need to know why Isaac wants in on the alliance just that he does. And I see in paragraph three that the stakes and conflict, it's good, but again, it needs to be reduced down to essentials. Isaac is useful and romantically involved with Maxwell? Maxwell must decide if he would rather have this person in his life or carry out his mission? Good stuff, it just needs winnowing. I hope this helps.

      Delete
    6. I'd TOTALLY read this. Just a couple of things that are totally subjective! I'd take out the comma between "Jaded, and lonely." I would also take out the "It's not a perfect plan, but it's enough" line. It seems extraneous. Other than that, it's tight and to-the-point.

      Delete
    7. I read both queries, and agree that the second one is a lot stronger than the first. I think the second query is also a lot more clearer too. The only thing I would recommend is cutting down any unnecessary words or sentences that aren't generally needed. I agree with Jessica above and think leaving out the reasons why Isaac joined in a query would help cut down some of it. Also one question(which I don't think it needs to be answered in the query): after five years with Death does Maxwell die or does Death just leave him alone? It sounds like Maxwell only gets five years to avenge his family before he dies. All in all, I would definitely want to read this! Good luck!

      Delete
    8. Notes sent via Twitter DM. But I freakin' love that first paragraph.

      Delete
    9. Definitely getting stronger. Go you! One quick question: Does the line "Jaded and lonely, Death accepts" pull you out of Maxwell's perspective and into Death's? It's a beautiful description, but I wonder if the query works better without it.

      Delete
  3. Name: Emily Skrutskie
    Genre: YA Sci-fi
    Title: The Abyss Surrounds Us

    Pitch: For seventeen-year-old Cas Leung, bossing around sea monsters five thousand times her size is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission, slaughters her favorite Reckoner, and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

    There’s no time to mourn it. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on the ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

    Cas has fought pirates her entire life, and she’s not about to quit. But when she starts to fall for one - the captain’s prickly, swaggering apprentice girl - she begins to see the complexities of the NeoPacific in a different light. As she grapples with her old values and her new perspective, Cas must decide whether taking vengeance against her captors is worth becoming even more monstrous than the Reckoner pup she’s raising.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, I love this pitch from start to finish! Good luck!

      Delete
    2. Lovely query with great stakes identified! Just one suggestion: while I love the voice of "dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water," it follows the slaughter of her favorite Reckoner, which makes it come across as flip to me. And the next line reinforces it: is she mourning the loss of her dream, or of the Reckoner? Not that you need to identify the "it" but it seems her only concern is her career.

      Other than that, this looks great!

      Delete
    3. This is great. I was a little unclear exactly what the Reckoners were in the first paragraph and I agree that the "dead in the water" line falls a little flat. Other than that, it's super clear, stakes are good and it sounds like a compelling story. Good luck.

      Delete
    4. Okay, I laughed at the "dead in the water" line, so YMMV. I thought it was great: the line and the whole query. Plus, already shipping Cas and the apprentice. Can't wait to read the whole thing.

      Delete
    5. :) I really liked "dead in the water" too! I'd love to give you great advice since your feedback for me was quite helpful, but I think you're there. It sounds like a great story!

      Delete
  4. NAME: Jenn Racek
    CATEGORY/GENRE: YA/Contemporary
    TITLE: CHEESUS WAS HERE

    PITCH:
    After so-called miracles begin turning up all over town, tiny Clemency, Texas, is overrun by news vans and religious pilgrims searching for God in the discount aisle of the grocery store. Sixteen-year-old Delaney Delgado knows miracles aren't real - if they were her kid sister wouldn't have died from cancer. Determined to prove the miracles are fake, Del unearths the truth behind Clemency's sudden miracle mania. But exposing the hoax will threaten Del's relationship with her best friend, her town and someone she's known and respected her whole life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love this idea! I'd read it! And I think your pitch is already strong, but here are my thoughts on how you might improve it.

      I'd take out "in the discount aisle of the grocery store." Is sounds sarcastic. Are they really looking there? If so, why? If not (and we get that they are fanatics), then perhaps list a location or two where they are looking.

      I'd like to know a little more about Del. She sounds no-nonsense and determined. But why is she pushed to prove that the miracles are fake, rather than just laugh at the pilgrims and go about her life?

      Last, I'd love more specificity about "someone she's known and respected her whole life."

      I hope that helps!

      Rebecca

      Delete
    2. I really like your idea here, and I have to disagree with the comment above mine. I don't think you should take out "in the discount aisle of the grocery store". It was one of the things that perked my interest and I like that it's sarcastic.

      As for your last line: "But exposing the hoax will threaten Del's relationship with her best friend, her town and someone she's known and respected her whole life."

      I'm unsure about the last part. I felt like you were talking about her best friend again (and you probably weren't). And isn't said person already included in "the town?" I'd consider rewording this along the lines of, "Exposing the hoax will threaten Del's relationship with the whole town -- including her best friend."

      Again, great work. I'd read this just based on your pitch!

      Delete
    3. I love your first sentence. It’s funny, and tells me much about your story. However, I wonder if you’d do better starting with your main character, and somehow combining the punchiness of “searching for God in the discount aisle of the grocery store” with Delaney knowing miracles aren’t real. Other than that, I love this; great job!

      Delete
    4. Ooh, I LOVE this! I'd read it in a heartbeat. Small-town secrets are super compelling, and the pitch has a great voice. I'd also prefer beginning with Delaney, rather than the town, but honestly, I love it.

      Delete
    5. Nice work! I'm intrigued. I'd love some specific details about the miracles that are happening around town. I vote in favor of the discount aisle. :-) It's contrasted nicely by the kid sister with cancer in the next sentence. I feel like I want more about what's at stake for her, though. I don't care about the threat to her relationship with the mysterious someone if I don't know who it is. I'm mentoring MG, but if I was going to YA, I'd totally be interested in the pages.

      Delete
    6. I'm jumping on the discount aisle bandwagon. Love the sarcasm. Of course I'm a sarcasm junkie. Anyway, overall a good pitch. I'd like to have a little more clarity on the last sentence since it makes it seem like the best friend and important person are the same and I'm guessing that they aren't and you also probably want to start with your character rather than with the town. Readers are usually looking to connect with character first and setting second. Good luck.

      Delete
    7. I like this pitch and the grocery isle. I guess my only concern is that I get a lot of info on the town and miracles before I get anything on the mc. I'd like to know the mc first, then find out what she's up to. otherwise, very interesting story. I'd read it.

      Delete
    8. Woo-hoo a four sentence pitch! I can learn a lot from this one too--you do a great job of condensing without confusing. And the title--oh my gosh, laughing too hard. You obviously have a sense of humor and it shines through. Can I give an all-round thumbs up? :-)

      Delete
    9. I freaking LOVE your title, and your pitch delivers. I'd read this in a heartbeat! The last sentence seems a bit vague, since it includes a best friend and someone she's known and respected her whole life. I'm not sure how they're connected to the previous sentences or why exposing the truth about the miracles will hurt those relationships. Not much else to add because this sounds so awesome!

      Delete
    10. Thanks for the suggestions everyone! They really help and I'm already tweaking the pitch to reflect the excellent feedback here. I also appreciate the enthusiasm :)

      Delete
  5. NAME: Dakota Shain Byrd
    CATEGORY/GENRE: YA/ Urban Fantasy
    TITLE: The Black Night Rave

    PITCH:
    At seventeen, Skyeler Anders is an exile, a failed mage, and wanted for the suspected murder of his best friend, Jessica, who just happens to be a princess of Darkaria, a magical island nation hidden in the Bermuda Triangle. Skyeler didn't kill her, but he accidentally created the freak storm that whisked her away when he tried to prove his magehood. His crime against the Crown demands a procedure that will either strip him of his magic or execute him. Now on the run and desperate to retain the magic he has discovered, Skyeler and his boyfriend flee to the Black Night Rave, following a lead to rescue Jessica.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting story! I love the idea of something hidden in the Bermuda Triangle. You've got character and conflict in here clearly, and I have a since of the world. I'm not sure why you are urban fantasy rather than fantasy, but that may be clearer in the book.

      For the pitch: I think the first sentence runs a little long. Do you need the "who just happens to be"? Any phrase that can come out might help. Also in the second line, the phrase "prove his magehood" sounds a lot like "prove his manhood" which brings certain images. Is this what you're going for? Do you need this phrase?

      In sentence three, I think you can tighten again- could you remove "demands a procedure" and instead jump right to the (very high) stakes, i.e. "If he's caught, the Crown will either ..."

      Good luck!!

      Delete
    2. Interesting premise. I agree that you need to lose the "who just happens to be" it's a little clunky. You could likely streamline the whole sentence for clarity and it would be punchier. In the second sentence I'd just say, "Skyeler is innocent" Also we really need to know more about the boyfriend and the Black Night Rave. It sort of comes out of left field in the last sentence when up until now it's just been magic, accidents, death sentence. Good luck.

      Delete
    3. oh I'd read this for the magical component you describe. But I do think the first sentence should be broken up. And is this LGBT? I think that should be mentioned in the genre, but not sure on that. sounds good, though. I'd read it.

      Delete
  6. Name: Geni P
    Category/Genre: YA Contemp w/ Magical Realism
    Title: Poison Apples

    Pitch: Sixteen year-old Bianca Snow loves animals. Almost as much as they love her. But after the pet-like devotion of a family of opossums makes her the laughingstock of the junior class, she’s starting to reconsider.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like it, it's a good hook, but I'd suggest adding a few more sentences so that readers can get a sense of the plot.

      Delete
    2. This sounds more like middle grade than YA, except that your mc is 16. Perhaps if I knew the conflict better, it would show how this is YA. If the character were 12, this sounds like a wonderful MG story full of silliness and adventure. so if this is more mature, perhaps show us that in the pitch. As it is, I love MG and would read it for that quality.

      Delete
    3. Great job condensing the plot! I also got the sense that this is MG rather than YA. And I also love MG, can you make it for a younger audience? I'd definitely read it! I'm wondering how the title fits in with the story?

      Delete
    4. I agree with the comments above. This has a very young feel to it, but that may be due to the fact that you've done so good a job getting it down to the bare bones. Maybe flesh it out a little bit and give us a little more insight into your character and the conflict. You could give us a better sense of the fact that Bianca is a teenager by pointing out how her love of animals affects her social life. Random Example (not your story at all, I'm sure): Sixteen-year-old Bianca Snow loves animals, but the clinging fur and the faint reek of urine is seriously messing with her social life, etc . . . I think if I you give us the context a little better, you can really bring your story to life within the pitch. Also, if there's Magical Realism in the story, it would be great to get a hint of it in the pitch itself. :)

      Delete
  7. Name: S.A Jeffrey
    Category/ Genre: YA Fantasy
    Title: Blood Reign
    Pitch:
    Seventeen-year-old Alice finds herself trapped between the men who killed her mother and a five-hundred-foot drop. Rather than face the killers’ dark plans for her, Alice jumps.

    But instead of death, Alice wakes up in a blood-soaked battlefield in an unfamiliar world, where armoured men are slaughtering peasants. Terrified, she flees and encounters a seer, who reveals the only way to return to her world is to seek a witch with the power to transport her back.

    In this alternate reality, Alice is forced to disguise herself as a man to protect against marauders preying on women. She must survive the war between the queen and rebels while battling the flesh-eating monsters stalking Wonderland. Her lust to avenge her mother’s murder fuels her desire to find her way home.

    As Wonderland falls into chaos, Alice finds herself drowning in violence and bloodshed. Struggling to keep her sanity, she discovers that slaying monsters has its price. If this world falls apart before she can return home, Alice risks becoming the worst monster of all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. wow! GREAT CONCEPT! I truly love this! Just a couple of things: Alice lives in our contemporary world, before jumping? There is no logical connection here between Wonderland and those who killed her mother, but I suspect they are somehow connected (or not?) maybe you should give a hint on that? I don't know the story, so it's just a guess.

      Delete
    2. I'm a sucker for retold Alice stories and this is a pretty cool concept. Honestly, I don't really see any major issues here. It's concise, has great stakes and makes me want to know more. The only thing I might suggest is trying to inject a bit of the voice of your novel into the pitch, no easy feat I know, just so we, as readers, can get a sense of how this Alice differs from Carroll's.

      Delete
    3. Hi SA! I second what Jessica says re: Carroll and add to that you will also need to distinguish this from SPLINTERED by by A.G. Howard, which is a YA Alice retelling that I love. This does *sound* different, but I want you to convince me it's better--really sell this book. Now that retellings are a "Thing" show me how your book ups the ante.

      Delete
    4. I love this story idea! What fun! My only concern with your pitch is that from time to time it seems like things are happening to and around Alice. I'd like to see what choices she is making and what the consequences of her choices are. otherwise, sign me up. I'd read it.

      Delete
    5. This is a great pitch! As I was scrolling down, I stopped at this one as it caught my eye. I'm hooked and like the first two paragraphs but for some reason I'm losing interest during the last two paragraphs. I agree with Dottie's comment, however, by writing about what is happening around her, it really creates the setting, mood and fantastical element. I especially like all the action in your pitch.

      Delete
  8. Name: Rebecca Smith-Allen
    Category: MG science fiction
    Title: MASH-UP

    Pitch:
    Twelve-year-old Jared lives for video games. When the black, mirrored sunglasses handed out as part of a marketing trial start turning everyone at school into their favorite avatar, he gets his game on. Ray guns, swords and fireballs appear in everyone’s hands. Battles spread through the school.

    Maxine, Jared’s younger sister, feels safe behind the library doors when the trouble starts. But she views medieval knights battling space marines in the hallways as a threat, not a fun break from classes. When a student hit by a sword vanishes in a flash of light, she decides the game must stop.

    Jared worries his sister will get annihilated and postpones his game time to search for her. But he doesn’t find a scared girl looking for her big brother’s protection. Max has always been annoying, but her determination to shut down the Best Game Ever ignites the biggest battle yet. And since their school has turned into a video game mash-up, that’s saying something.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I absolutely love this concept! This query is really strong already, but I think the third paragraph could be even stronger. I really like that the core conflict seems to be brother against sister, and this paragraph is crucial in establishing that. Maybe being a little more specific about the way that Jared and Max duke it out would help emphasize that core - you might replace "biggest battle yet" with something that gives an idea of how Jared plans to settle his issue with Max or vice versa.
      I also think that you could lose the first two sentences of that third paragraph - while they establish character details, they slow down the query because there isn't much conflict in them. By the time you're in the last paragraph of the query, you should be really honing in on what's hooking about the clash between Jared and Max.
      This story sounds like a bucket of fun, and I can't wait to see where it goes!

      Delete
    2. This sounds awesome! And I like that the main conflict isn't that the glasses are turning users into avatars but that the sister is trying to stop it. Is this a dual pov? If so, how old is Max?

      Good luck with this!

      Delete
    3. Is this dual POV? If it's not, you need to keep the second paragraph focused on Jared. If it is, I want to know more about Maxine. If she's such a shy, fearful person that she's hiding in the library, what gives her the guts to make the game stop? What are her personal stakes? Is the student who vanishes someone important to her? Has something terrible actually happened to them? I'm a bit confused about how much is truly at stake. Once Jared is worried his sister will get "annihilated" - does he still really consider it a game? I'm a bit confused in the last paragraph as to what the stakes are - I think you might cut Jared's concern for his sister and go straight to the fact that they must confront one another. Sounds like a cool premise - good luck!

      Delete
    4. Wow! Thanks for the help! I really appreciate it. I was so stuck this morning and you've helped me see the query in a new way. And, yes, it's alternating POV (mentioned in the next paragraph in the query letter but not here).

      REVISED

      Twelve-year-old Jared lives for video games. So when the black sunglasses handed out in a marketing trial turn everyone at school into their favorite avatar, he gets his game on. Ray guns, swords and fireballs appear in everyone’s hands. Battles spread through the school.

      Eleven-year-old Maxine, Jared’s sister, is lost in a mystery novel in the library when the trouble starts. She views the mayhem of medieval knights battling space marines in the hallways as a threat, not a fun break from classes. When a student hit by a sword vanishes in a flash of light, she decides to investigate what’s running the game, and more importantly, how to shut it down.

      Jared has always thought his sister was an annoying teachers’ pet. But her determination to shut down the Best Game Ever makes him crazy. Max doesn’t want Jared’s help, but even she’d admit she’s a bookworm, not a gamer. To save their school from chaos, Jared and Max must first learn how to work together, and then take on the game.

      Delete
    5. Ok, so I'm a HUGE video game nerd, to the point I'm actually studying design in college. I'd have been all over it if I'd seen it at 12 (not saying I wouldn't read it now -- I WOULD -- just saying that if your target audience is kids who love games, then I'm sure they're going to pick it up and read).

      I've got no problems with your revised query and I think it's great. I do wish, however, that the girl was the gamer and the boy the bookwork, but OH WELL. It's your story, not mine. I wish you the best of luck with this because it's amazing and if it's published, I *will* go nuts over it.

      Delete
    6. I like this idea a lot. My concern with the pitch is that it is in two different POV. Which one is the mc? or is it both? I'd like to see it from the perspective of the mc or state that it is in 2 POV.

      otherwise, count me in!

      Delete
  9. Name: Diana Pinguicha
    Genre: YA Fantasy
    Title: Mind Witch

    Pitch: Sixteen-year-old Zéphyrine has the most powerful mind in the world—and she’s tired of using it to hurt others.

    Her father, known as the Ravager of the East, forces her to brainwash countless others, even her siblings. As her father’s power grows, she’s commissioned to do yet another task she’ll hate herself for later. Sent deep into the heart of enemy territory, the next country in her father’s list of conquests. The task is simple—infiltrate the castle, manipulate her way into a noble family, and get close to the king. Zéph has been given four months to succeed. It’s manageable, so long as she doesn’t form any attachments, which isn’t easy when you can see and control others’ minds and memories.

    For the first time, her predictions are wrong. But she might have found a way out of her father’s grasp. She allies herself with prince Jasen and together they find a way to bring down the Ravager of the East— a young girl whose powers rival even Zéph’s.

    Zéph must choose between obedience and defiance. The first is a life of slavery, while the latter may result in her torture, but could also free the world.




    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My only problem with this is that it's not clear who her dad is. I assume that he's an evil king or something, willing to conquer other countries, but it's an assumption. I would add a quick sentence to explain who he is (a king? An evil wizard?) and then you should be OK. I would read this book, if it can help!

      Delete
    2. I like your concept, and the pitch seems strong too.

      Nitpik - I think you need a subject in the "Sent deep into the heart of enemy territory" sentence.

      Otherwise, I was surprised by the "for the first time, her predictions are wrong." The previous paragraphs are strong, but set her up to understand and control people, not tell the future. So I'm not sure how that ties in with seeing the future. I also wonder why Zeph has decided to bring down her father. I mean, he sounds like a bad guy. But on the other hand, he's her father and she's done what he wanted up until this point. What's different now? Just that she has found the girl and she can escape now, or has she had a change of heart about her father?

      I think the pitch is pretty clear, but if you were going to tighten it, those would be the things I'd look at.

      Good luck!

      Rebecca

      Delete
    3. What has brought her to this point that she will finally go against her father? Why are her predictions wrong if she can read others' minds? Just a few things that popped into my head as I read. Otherwise, the protagonist sounds so brave. I already know I will like her strength of character.

      Delete
  10. Name: Louisa Klein
    Genre: Urban fantasy
    Title: Supernatural Freak
    PITCH:
    When paranormal expert Robyn Wise is offered an outrageous sum of money to cure a boy who is turning into a dead tree, she's very sceptical. A politician ready to pay that much to make his son stop growing branches instead of hair? Come on! She's more likely to be abducted by aliens. This is a trap. Or much worse. And, of course, it's much worse.

    The child is turning into a dark portal, created by a powerful entity determined to absorb Fairyland's power. This means that not only queen Titania and her court are in danger, but the very balance of the magic fluxes.

    She'd rather stick a pencil in her own eye, but to learn how to destroy the portal, she has to sneak into the Wizardry Council, a place full of wizards who are hiding something—though it’s certainly not their dislike of Robyn.

    There, she discovers a secret that could help to overthrow Fairyland's enemies for good, a secret that puts her in the midst of an ancient and deadly war, and not as a bystander, but as the main target.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is interesting, just one question: does the whole world know about the existence of fairies and the like? I like how you put voice into your pitch =). You can probably cut out and of course it's much worse.

      Delete
    2. Hey Louisa! Nice pitch! I have a few questions/comments.

      First, what makes Robyn skeptical? The fact that the dad is a politician? That's a bit cynical for kidlit! ;) I'd also like to see more of a transition between the first two paragraphs. It seems like we lose track of Robyn in paragraph 2. What makes Robyn take the job? I'm also not sure if the info in paragraph 2 is "narrator" knowledge about what's happening to that kid, or if Robyn herself figures this out. Finally, I'd like to see some language that signifies a change in the conflict at the end, and then makes it clear what Robyn has to do/wants to do, and what's at stake. Example: "But when she arrives at the Wizardry Council, Robyn discovers a secret that puts her at the center of an ancient and deadly war. If she wants to X, she'll have to Y."

      I hope these notes are helpful!

      Lauren Spieller
      @laurenspieller
      #PitchWars mentor

      Delete
    3. I love the voice in this. very well done. my concern is that this is a paranormal expert who doubts this. can't she look at the boy and see he's got limbs (the tree kind)? and why does she have to do this? she's an expert, but he's offering her money. she can just say no. what is her motivation? does she need that money for something specific that she'd be willing to risk so much to save this boy?

      Delete
  11. Name: Candice Conner
    Genre: YA Magical Realism/ Fairy Tale Retelling
    Title: THE WILDNESS IN MELLIE FEYE
    Pitch: Some things are people problems and not the troubles of wild things. In her cursed skin, sixteen-year-old Mellie can't hold onto them, they detach and float away, unimportant as expelled air bubbles. She doesn't want to choose between her family or being free. She can either break her curse to reunite with her fellow triplet sisters or embrace her wild, cursed side that she's grown to love, but be alone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the feel of your pitch, it gives a sense of the tone of your story.

      In terms of things you could improve, I am not sure exactly how the first two sentences fit together. "Mellie can't hold onto them" what is them? People or problems?

      The stakes, choosing between her family and choosing to be free, are clear but I think it needs a little more clarity elsewhere.

      Maybe a little more in there about her curse and why she loves it? I think knowing more about why the curse (which otherwise has a pejorative connotation) is something she actually likes/loves/wants to keep would go a long way toward making this more clear.

      Hope that helps!

      Delete
    2. I agree with the comment above. It sounds like you've got an interesting concept, but there aren't enough details to pull me in. What is the curse? What can't Mellie hold onto? Why does she need to chose between her family and freedom?

      I think you might try the standard screenplay pitch format just to get the bones of your story down. "When happens, must or ." You don't need to stick with this format. But all the key elements of this format must be clear in your query. If you get them down with the standard format, then you can make the pitch your own.

      Good luck!
      Rebecca

      Delete
    3. I remember this story from a workshop we both participated in. It’s great to see your pitch here. That said, I believe your first two lines need to grab us right away with the MC, the conflict, and something that shows the snarky-sweet voice I remember. Why is Mellie being asked to choose between her family and being free? If you can show that here, it will up the stakes presented in your last sentence.

      All the best with this; I already know the premise of your story is fantastic, and your writing is beautiful.

      Delete
    4. You stated that the genre is fairy tale retelling. Reading your pitch, I can't figure out which retellings it is *scratch head* I love retellings btw :)
      I have a couple of issues. I'm not reading the above commentors so it could be repetitive.

      'Some things are people problems and not the troubles of wild things.' I like this. It sounds magical to me. I think you're saying people are the problem?

      In her cursed skin, sixteen-year-old Mellie can't hold onto them, they detach and float away, unimportant as expelled air bubbles. -- Uh oh, what does this mean? What/ who is they? You have not said anything about this at all and I can't figure out why the skin is cursed and what is 'they'.

      She doesn't want to choose between her family or being free. She can either break her curse to reunite with her fellow triplet sisters or embrace her wild, cursed side that she's grown to love, but be alone. - Sounds like Elsa from Frozen to me hehe.
      But I don't understand why the stakes are freedom or family because you haven't established what this curse thing is in the first place.

      Delete
    5. Oops! It looks the symbols I used in my last comment didn't make it. I'll try again, hopefully with a bit more clarity!

      I agree with the comment above. It sounds like you've got an interesting concept, but there aren't enough details to pull me in. What is the curse? What can't Mellie hold onto? Why does she need to chose between her family and freedom?

      I think you might try the standard screenplay pitch format just to get the bones of your story down. "When INCITING EVENT happens, MAIN CHARACTER must ACTION or CONSEQUENCES." You don't need to stick with this format. But all the key elements of this format must be clear in your query. If you get them down with the standard format, then you can make the pitch your own.

      Good luck!
      Rebecca

      Delete
    6. This is lovely and lyrical but I think you should mention the fairy tale it's derived from to help ground it and give us more of an idea for the plot.

      Delete
    7. Hi Candice,

      I agree with all above. Taking a stab in the dark--is this a retelling of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE?? If so, I definitely want to know more about this story. Very curious as to how you'd develop that plot into a YA. If it's not, can someone write one of those cuz that'd be awesome. ;P

      Back to the query pitch at hand I do love the writing here, but I need more info. You tell us who your MC is and what her dilemma is, but I don't really understand what specifically is standing in her way? What's the conflict? Like I said, I want to know more about this!

      Delete
    8. Thanks for the feedback y'all! It's the fairy tale based on Melusine, the Lady of the River (Starbuck's logo). It looks like I have a good bit of work ahead of me! Thanks for hosting Dannie. This has been very helpful.

      Delete
    9. i think there is a very compelling story in here.

      But as it is, I don't know what's going on. you say she can't hold on to it, but i don't know what it is. this is too vague as is. you don't have to give away the ending, but we do need to see who the mc is, what they want, and why they can't get it.

      Delete
  12. Name: Lucy Hallowell
    Genre: New Adult/LGBT
    Title: Double Clutch
    Pitch:
    In 1943, eighteen year old Louise Lomax is the star of the Kenosha Comets but she has none of the grace or polish off the field that she exhibits at shortstop. Victoria Sterling is the glamorous and slightly wild daughter of Walter Sterling, the team's owner. As Louise becomes one of the league's brightest stars, Walter Sterling asks his daughter to help Louise become more comfortable as the face of the team. Their friendship blossoms as they spend more and more time together.

    Being the face of the league while carrying on a secret, and expressly forbidden, romance with the team owner’s daughter is a dangerous game for Louise to play. It’s only a matter of time before she loses something she loves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK, 3rd time's the charm for me, I'm having issues today.
      I'd read this. My only issue is with comma placement. In the 1st sentence of last paragraph I would move the comma after forbidden to be after daughter.
      The only other thing I might add is a small descriptor of the team owner.

      Delete
    2. It should be eighteen-year-old. With hyphens. I think it's a great pitch! ( haha softball pun). The only thing I would recommend is infusing it with more voice so we get a better idea of the tone of the story. Maybe in that very first line. Perhaps ending it after Comets. And then using your MC's 1940's voice to explain her shortcomings? Hope this helps!

      Delete
    3. Eighteen-year-old should be hyphenated and I agree that if you could inject some of the voice of the novel in your pitch it would pop a bit more. Otherwise, great pitch. Interesting idea. I love exploring forbidden lgbt stuff in the framework of a historical novel. So often the past gets so "straight washed" and I like when it isn't.

      Delete
    4. Thanks to all three of you for the feedback. You've given me some good stuff to think about (like how to cram a little voice into this sucker).

      Delete
    5. i think there is a great conflict here and choices she has to make. my only concern was that when you mentioned the name of the team, i had no idea what kind of team it was. it wasn't until i read a second time that i realized baseball because of short stop. i would mention baseball with the name. keep in mind, agents rush through queries and might miss that as well.

      Delete
  13. Dying is one thing, but soul transference is a whole other issue.

    A broken heart can make a person do stupid things. When seventeen-year-old Max wrecks, his soul is thrown from his body and into the form of his spirit animal, a white fox. Max is trapped as a fox until his soul can merge back into his comatose body. He must get his body back and save the love of his life from a certain soul-sucker. If he can’t, then she will become like the others, a walking corpse, and he will be stuck as a fox forever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry forgot to include the first part lol.
      Name: Raven Hudgins
      Genre: YA PNR
      title: Kiwaku

      Delete
    2. Okay, I really like the premise of the coma patient on a sort of mystical vision quest-y kind of thing. That's a cool trope to play with. I was a little thrown by the sentence, "when seventeen-year-old Max wrecks." it took two sentences to get that he'd gotten into some sort of accident. Car? Motorcycle? You might want to clarify and specify here. Other than that I want to know more about the soul sucker. These are the stakes, he's having out-of-body shenanigans and a baddie is on his tail, if he isn't careful the baddie is going to eat him and he'll never be a real boy again? Is that what's going on? We need a few more careful details about the soul sucker to really make the stakes come alive. Does that make sense? I hope this helped.

      Delete
    3. Lots of questions raised, the second sentence implies that Max made his soul transference happen, or is it that a soul-sucker has the love of his life? Or is the stupid thing Max getting into a wreck in the first place? Clarity! But this is based on a legend, right? I think I've seen this elsewhere? That's cool; I love retellings.

      Delete
    4. Here is my whole query not just five sentences lol. Revised a bit.
      Dying is one thing, but soul transference is a whole other issue.

      Seventeen year-old Max has decided this is the year he will ask his first love out. Two problems: she is his best friend, and a newcomer has stolen her attention. If that is not bad enough, the new guy is trying to steal her soul. Confronting his love only leads to anger and heartbreak. Rejection sucks when trying to save a girl who does not want to be saved.

      A broken heart can make a person do stupid things. When Max wrecks his car, his soul is thrown from his body and transferred into the form of his spirit animal, a white fox. Max is trapped as a fox until his soul can merge back into his comatose body. Max must get his body back and save the love of his life from a certain soul-sucker. If he can’t, then she will become like the others, a walking corpse, and he will be stuck as a fox forever.

      Delete
    5. Here is my whole pitch and a bit revised lol.

      Dying is one thing, but soul transference is a whole other issue.

      Seventeen year-old Max has decided this is the year he will ask his first love out. Two problems: she is his best friend, and a newcomer has stolen her attention. If that is not bad enough, the new guy is trying to steal her soul. Confronting his love only leads to anger and heartbreak. Rejection sucks when trying to save a girl who does not want to be saved.

      A broken heart can make a person do stupid things. When Max wrecks his car, his soul is thrown from his body and transferred into the form of his spirit animal, a white fox. Max is trapped as a fox until his soul can merge back into his comatose body. Max must get his body back and save the love of his life from a certain soul-sucker. If he can’t, then she will become like the others, a walking corpse, and he will be stuck as a fox forever.

      Delete
  14. Name: Jessica
    Genre: YA/SF
    title: Silverblood
    Pitch:
    Fifteen-year-old Izzy Silverstein knows she should be paying attention. There's major life stuff going down. But what's the point of listening when all they're saying is that her family is about to be reduced by one-third? When Izzy hears the death sentence, “congestive heart failure”, for her “little-miss-perfect” sister Leah, how else should she feel? Leah is circling the drain. In a hail-mary pass of sparkly wish fulfillment, their father takes a major risk, stealing top secret technology to save Leah's life. Leah is better – sort of– but before Izzy can figure out why Leah has gone from hospice patient to superhero, the Silversteins are on the run. It turns out the downside of stealing from crazed scientists is that said scientists are going to come after you–with a vengeance. Izzy will have to pay very close attention from now on if she wants to have half a chance of saving her unhinged cyborg sister and herself from the operatives coming to collect Leah, dead or alive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jessica,
      This sounds like an exciting story.
      At first it sounds like Izzy is maybe jealous or not so fond of her sister Leah, but then she is trying to save her. (I guess I can see the love hate relationship thing between sisters... but is that what you are trying to portrait?)
      Is Izzy in any danger herself? Or just her sister? (Maybe this isn't important I don't know... but I am interested.)
      I also think that instead of saying she is "better sort of" you can up play her new special abilities. Give it more of a punch.
      Of course these are just my opinions. It is hard to try to get the story across without giving too much away. (This is my personal struggle:))
      I wish you good luck. I would be very interested in reading it myself!

      Delete
    2. Izzy loves her sister a lot but there is a massive element of you're the favorite and I'm the other one going on. Also, I don't mention Leah's abilities because it's a slow reveal. Things go from being weird and off kilter to super strange and scary but the information is parsed out over several chapters. Thanks for the crit. This novel is with two agents now and fingers crossed it gets picked up. I shall scamper upthread and try to find yours so I can give feedback.

      Delete
    3. Congrats on the agent requests you've gotten. But I agree with Ann and while a couple agents have bitten, it could definitely keep other worthy agents away. (I'm a Pitchwars mentor and it definitely turns me off.) Izzy sounds like she's glad her little sister is dying, so I have a hard time connecting to her. You've got a rhetorical question in there that I don't think I answer the way you want me to. (She should feel sad! About her dying sister!) And don't hold back in a query. If you hold something back because it's a slow reveal, you risk losing an agent who might not have enough to hold her interest. So yeah, it sounds like you have a great concept, and your pages are probably strong if you've gotten some requests, but I'm confused about Izzy's motivations and having a hard time connecting with her.

      Delete
    4. Thanks. I will look it over. It's been a bit hit or miss, two fulls requests right away and then two form rejections and one query still floating out there. I will tweak those bits.

      Delete
  15. Name: Dottie
    Genre: MG/urban fantasy
    Title: RATMAN'S REVENGE

    Pitch:

    Eleven-year-old Cody runs away to an underground city with crystal caves, slugs-and-bugs soup, and friends with amazing paranormal abilities. But when Cody tries to solve the mystery of why their people are disappearing, he discovers a bigger problem—there’s a stinky man-sized rat determined to exterminate him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dottie,
      This sounds like a very interesting premise. I have some questions...When you say their people are disappearing are you referring to the people of the underground city? Also, Why does Cody care if they are disappearing?
      I think you need a few more details.
      Overall, I think it sounds like a fun story and one I think my son would enjoy! Good luck!

      Delete
    2. Hi Dottie! Sounds fun - so now we want more details. I specifically want to know what sets your manuscript apart from other similar books. (The Underland Chronicles springs to mind, and I know there are other underground cities with giant rats books.) So why does Cody run away? What does he want & need (internally and externally)? Does the giant rat have something specific against him, or is he just hungry? Why is Cody trying to solve the mystery of the underground disappearances? What's his personal stake in all that? Good luck!

      Delete
    3. You guys are great! Thanks for the help. Here's a revised version:



      Eleven-year-old Cody runs away from his too-busy-to-care parents to an underground city with crystal caves, slugs-and-bugs soup, and friends with amazing paranormal abilities. Cody is eager to help his new friends solve the mystery of why their people are disappearing, until a stinky man-sized rat tries to exterminate him. No one but Cody sees the freaky fur-face, and Cody’s clues point to Ratman as the one kidnapping the missing people. Now it’s up to Cody to find out who the real man is behind the giant rat illusion in time to save himself and the missing people from whatever that whiskered weirdo is plotting.

      Delete
  16. NAME: Ann Rose
    CATEGORY/GENRE: YA/Speculative Fiction
    TITLE: Road to Eugenica

    PITCH:

    Seventeen year old, Drea, doesn’t know she is the first genetically modified form of Artificial Intelligence. Or that she’s in real danger from the man who has been haunting her dreams.

    When an accident steals her father’s life, Drea’s mind starts to work like a computer and her body like a machine. Feeling like a freak and determined to find out what is happening to her, Drea goes off in search of what or who she really is. On her journey to self-discovery, Drea finds out she was created in an alternate dimension. She is hunted by the people of Eugenica; who want to use her as a means to deploy their own agenda for the fate of the world.

    Drea’s alliances will be tested. She will be forced to choose between two worlds: one she has known her whole life and one she was destined to be a part of.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The idea of a genetically modified form of Artificial Intelligence intrigues me. I find myself going "is that a cyborg or something?" and who doesn't like cyborgs? Well, I do, at any rate.

      A couple things about the physical makeup of the query: You don't need commas in the first sentence and seventeen-year-old needs to be hyphenated. "Seventeen-year-old Drea doesn't know..."

      At the end of the paragraph, you mention a man who's been haunting her dreams but never bring him up again. What does he have to do with the story overall?

      In the second paragraph, what kind of accident? Car, construction, hiking, biking, one word will be enough to give us what we need. And what about his death triggers these changes in her physiology? Is it the trauma of witnessing what happens? If yes, tell us. Or maybe something on the scene triggers a memory/file? I have a feeling it's something uber cool.

      The alternate dimension thing seems out of left field. How does she find out about this alternate dimension? Does she discover a portal? Does someone tell her? The line about Eugenica (no idea who they are, is it a company? The other world?) is vague.

      The stakes, the choice between worlds, hasn't really been set. We don't know what she'll gain or lose by choosing one or the other, so there's nothing for the reader to root for. At this point she could choose either, and it as it reads that choice wouldn't have an affect on the world. Give a hint of what she'll have accomplish or give up in this choice.

      Otherwise, it sounds cool. Best of luck!

      Delete
    2. I think you have a clever concept. I’d be interested to see where you take it and would read more to find out.

      If you tighten your writing, expound on a couple things, and maybe rearrange a few sentences, it could make for a more intriguing pitch.

      Here are a few suggestions. Keep in mind this is my opinion and may or may not work for you. I know how hard it is to show a story you know so well in a few short paragraphs. I’m dealing with it myself.

      Paragraph 1: Seventeen year old should be Seventeen-year-old. Delete comma after “old”, and also after “Drea”, they are not needed. Second sentence: Maybe for a more concise statement, delete “has been haunting” and replace with “who haunts”. A good rule to remember is the fewer words it takes to say something the better. If one word can replace two or three, try it and see if it works.

      2nd Paragraph: 1st sentence raised a question. What about her father’s death caused her mind to work like a computer and her body like a machine? If you answer that in your story great, you may want to at least hint about it here. 2nd Sentence: To avoid using the word “like” again, maybe consider rephrasing. 3rd sentence: “Drea goes off in search of what or who she really is.” Where does she go off to, and if it’s interdimensional travel, how does she do it? Maybe rearrange the sentence a little, reverse your “who” and “what”. 4th sentence: Maybe change “finds out” to “discovers” or “learns” (one word instead of two). Last sentence: “She is hunted by the people of Eugenica; who want to use her as a means to deploy their own agenda for the fate of the world.” In the 1st paragraph you mention Drea is haunted by a man. Maybe reword here to something different than her being haunted by the people. Maybe mention “Eugenica” earlier, possibly in the 4th sentence so the reader can connect the interdimension to Eugenica and its people.

      Last Paragraph: Remember to stay active rather than passive in your word choices. Maybe change “will be” (passive) to “are” (active) and/or “is” (active) for more impact. Consider “Drea’s alliances are tested when she is forced to…”

      Whenever possible try to show what’s happening. Even if it’s just how the MC feels (describe the feelings/emotions) about the changes she’s going through and strange new worlds she encounters.
      Maybe think about describing how her mind works like a computer and how her body works like a machine. Don’t forget to include her reactions to her new found abilities. We want to connect to your MC.

      Again, I love your premise and would read your story!

      I hope this helps! Good luck to you!

      Delete
    3. I agree with Debbie Dorris. Tighten your writing. Spend a month or two reading grammar books, study Noah Lukeman's 'The First Five Pages', and write random things that mean nothing. Work on the flow of the sentences within themselves. Due to having so much going on in your story, the pitch is rather jumbled.
      It does sound interesting and I know a few who would probably enjoy this story. Keep at it.
      Good Luck!

      Delete
  17. NAME: Rebecca Waddell

    CAT/GENRE: YA/Contemp

    TITLE:WOUNDS HEAL, SCARS REMAIN

    PITCH:
    Wilted flowers, a blood stain, and the remnants of police tape mark the place where seventeen-year-old Allison Stone was brutally attacked twelve days earlier. Barely able to walk due to the damage done by a gang rape, she returns to school where it all happened determined to get her life back. Supported by her best friends, Allison must survive court, school, and the dark recesses of her own mind. Skittish, but determined, she fights for each step on her long road from victim to survivor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You’ve got a great pitch here, and I bet an exciting story. I just worry you give away the ending with your last line. Perhaps your last two sentences could be twisted a bit to something like: When her case goes to court, Allison must find the will to survive (does she face her attackers? does the trial go bad?) the trial without giving into the dark recesses of her mind. Then another sentence that states what will happen if she doesn’t find that will. Give us true stakes (do the attackers have power in town? That might work here). Telling us she fights for each step toward recovery basically says she’s going to be okay. You want the last sentence of your pitch to grab the reader and leave them begging to know what happens, not tell us everything works out. All the best with it!

      Delete
    2. Rebecca,
      WOW... this sounds like a powerful book. It is not an easy topic to talk about. I am very curious on how you approach it.
      I feel like you might give it away that she makes it from victim to survivor (and maybe you have to because of the topic... I don't know.)
      I like that it seems you are pushing the envelope and talking about something that is hard to talk about.
      Good luck!

      Delete
    3. Should I add a line something like: Her recovery is compromised when she also has to decide what to do with the baby.

      Delete
    4. The pregnancy is really what driving her now, yes? It's the ticking clock, so to speak. Everything in the past is just what she's reacting to, so I'd like to see you pare it down to that essence.

      Delete
    5. One question that immediately comes to mind for me is where the YA elements are. Obviously there is a huge plot and conflict here. But you've not yet sold me that this is a YA story. Just because it's got a teenage main character doesn't automatically make it YA. So I'd like to know more about the coming of age themes that are unique to adolescence. As a gritty YA writer, I've had agents and editors tell me that there is such thing as "too much grit" and you balance that out in a query with showing how your story appeals to a teenager. For me, that's the missing element here.

      Hope this helps!

      Delete
    6. When I read your original pitch I didn't get that the gang rape resulted in pregnancy. Like Dannie said, being a teen doesn't make it YA. Being gang raped doesn't necessarily either. BUT put a growing baby in the mix, and, yeah, you've got a YA. At least that's my opinion.

      I think your pitch is strong. It hooks from the first sentence, even though I knew it wasn't my kind of read by the end. (A little too real for my taste)

      Delete
    7. REVISION:

      Wilted flowers, a blood stain, and the remnants of police tape mark the place where seventeen-year-old Allison Stone was brutally attacked twelve days earlier. Barely able to walk due to the damage done by a gang rape, she returns to school where it all happened determined to get her life back. When she should be enjoying her last high school track season, Allison must survive court, pregnancy cravings, and the dark recesses of her own mind. Skittish, but determined, she fights to create a future beyond being a victim and decide what to do with the baby the rape started inside her.

      Thank you everyone!

      Delete
  18. Name: Ramon Ballard
    Catagory/Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
    Title: CHASING ETERNITY

    Pitch:
    Colin Harcourt is immortal, but he doesn’t want to be.
    Born in England in 1066, Colin lost his chance to die while on a Crusade in the Holy Land. A mysterious necklace thrust upon Colin by an Arab mystic rendered the young crusader ageless and immortal—a gift, which soon became a curse as Colin watched his family, wives, and friends grow old and die.
    Colin seeks out dangerous times and places, searching for a way to break the curse and die. The last thing he wants is to keep living—until he finds himself in the early nineteenth century, in the arms of Beth, a woman who melts Colin’s frozen heart and gives him something to live for. But when an unforeseen accident takes Beth’s life, Colin discovers that grief may hold the key to breaking his curse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really like this; it sounds like you have an exciting premise. In your last sentence, however, I feel you're giving away the ending. You set it up nicely with Colin being unable to figure out how to die, then tell us the answer lies in grief. I think instead, it could be something like: When an unforseen accident takes Beth's life, Colin must ...? I'm unsure what to put here but what does he have to do, or else? Basically, that's what you want: the MC must do something or...? Something hooky, that makes us eager to find out how it all turns out.

      All the best with it!

      Delete
    2. Hi Ramon! New genre for you! It's not my genre, but I'll give it a go. Play with your very first sentence, because I bet you can find a more compelling way to state that. I got confused by "Colin lost his chance to die." That becomes clear in the next sentence, but you could rearrange things so that you don't confuse your reader so early. For "Colin seeks out dangerous times and places" - can you give us a few specific, evocative details, instead of being quite so general? And I agree with Martha - I don't want to be told where the answer lies. What does Colin have to do to overcome his challenge? Leave us wanting to know more. I think you've got an interesting premise - it just needs a few tweaks to really compel the reader to want to read pages of the manuscript, IMO. Good luck!

      Delete
    3. REVISED

      Born in England in 1066, Colin Harcourt becomes an unwilling pawn for the Duke of Normandy during the first Crusades in the Holy Land. While stripping victims of the valuables an Arab mystic thrust a mysterious necklace into his hands, which rendered the young crusader ageless and immortal—a gift, which soon became a curse as Colin watched his family, wives, and friends grow old and die.
      Searching for a way to break the curse and die, Colin joins the British Army in its fight to maintain their control of the Colonies. A battle he intends to lose. The last thing he wants is to keep living—until he finds himself in the early nineteenth century, in the arms of Beth, a woman who melts Colin’s frozen heart and gives him something to live for. But when an unforeseen accident takes Beth’s life, Colin discovers that time won’t loosen its grip on him even in grief. Alas, there is no solution for Colin’s problem. No way out, no hope. He is destined to travel the world alone, too afraid to love again. Watching another loved one age and die would be a misery that he is not prepared to handle.

      Delete
    4. Ah, now this is more like it!

      Born in England in 1066, Colin Harcourt becomes an unwilling pawn for the Duke of Normandy during the first Crusades in the Holy Land. While stripping victims of (their) valuables (comma) an Arab mystic (thrusts) a mysterious necklace into his hands, (rendering) the young crusader ageless and immortal—a gift, which soon (becomes) a curse. (With endless life), Colin (watches) his family, wives, and friends grow old and die.

      Searching for a way to break the curse (and die <could cut; this repeats), Colin joins the British Army in its fight to maintain their control of the Colonies. A battle he intends to lose. The last thing he wants is to (go on) living—until he finds himself in the early nineteenth century, in the arms of Beth, a woman who melts Colin’s frozen heart and gives him something to live for. But when an (unforeseen <you could cut this; most accidents are unforeseen) accident takes Beth’s life, Colin discovers that time won’t loosen its grip on him even in grief. Alas, there is no solution for Colin’s problem. No way (out. No) hope. (Destined) to travel the world alone, (he’s) too afraid to love again. Watching another loved one age and die would be a misery that he is not prepared to handle.


      Ramon, you had me on the edge of my seat until that last sentence. You need to really milk this. Something like watching another love die is worse than the gift of everlasting life. Only way more exciting. You know?

      The rest are just suggestions. You were a little off with tenses in the first part, and the rest are just tweaks to change the flow.

      Delete
    5. REVISION OF THE REVISION

      Born in England in 1066, Colin Harcourt becomes an unwilling pawn for the Duke of Normandy during the first Crusades in the Holy Land. While stripping victims of their valuables, an Arab mystic thrusts a mysterious necklace into his hands, (rendering) the young crusader ageless and immortal—a gift, which soon becomes a curse. With endless life, Colin watches his family, wives, and friends grow old and die.

      Searching for a way to break the curse Colin joins the British Army in its fight to maintain their control of the Colonies. A battle he intends to lose. The last thing he wants is to go on living—until he finds himself in the early nineteenth century, in the arms of Beth, a woman who melts Colin’s frozen heart and gives him something to live for. But when an accident takes Beth’s life, Colin discovers that time won’t loosen its grip on him even in grief. Alas, there is no solution for Colin’s problem. No way out. No hope. Destined to travel the world alone, he’s too afraid to love again. Watching another loved one age and die, the curse of immortality.

      Delete
    6. Loving the revision of the revision. I would read the CRAP out of this! The thing I would change is the ending. It reads bleak, and I think it would read better with some hint to a resolution.

      I could be completely wrong about that though...

      Delete
    7. I like the idea of this story very much. The one question I had was why he would join a war to lose if he already knows he's immortal.

      Delete
    8. I enjoyed the query very much! (Also I read the latest revised one) I think that you make everything quite clear, but I would maybe change the ending of the query. I don't think it's bad if that's how it ends on a bitter note. However, in a query, I would end it with hinting that something's going to happen to Beth. It would compel me to want to read more if you end with stakes of life and death, and not a summary of the ending of the story in general. Overall, I think this is an interesting concept and stands out to other stories I've seen. Good luck!

      Delete
    9. I read your query (the last one is very strong by the way) and thought of Miles Tuck in Tuck Everlasting. It's like you're telling his story! I love it.

      Delete
    10. I loved your query only thing that you could change is switch the words around on the last sentence

      Delete
  19. NAME: Marty Mayberry

    CAT/GENRE: Young Adult Science Fiction Thriller

    TITLE: PHOENIX RISING

    Sixteen-year-old Lesha Clement figures she has six months left to live if she remains on Earth. Her once-green planet has withered so fast it’s as brown as the color of her skin. She dreams of growing old in an unpolluted world and escaping the clutches of Riley, her possessive Team Leader. With Operation Abandon Earth in full swing, Lesha flees to Eris, a colonized planet halfway across the galaxy. The ship veers off course and crashes in Eris’ wasteland, stranding her far from civilization with seventeen survivors... including Riley.

    The government was dead wrong when they labeled Eris safe. If lack of food and water doesn’t kill them, flesh-eating snakes just might. As fellow survivor, Malik Romero, vows to get the group to safety or die trying, his smoldering eyes pull Lesha in as much as his savior complex pushes her away. His over-protective attitude clashes with Riley’s obsession, and grates on Lesha’s frayed nerves. Having lived through famine and riots back home, she’ll take care of herself, thank you very much.

    After a missing member of their group is found as a mutilated corpse in some sick desert shrine, it becomes clear Riley and Malik's egos are the least of Lesha’s worries. Something hunts them. To reach safety alive, she must put aside her feelings and work with Riley and Malik before they're picked off one by one for morbid decorations in an alien desert shrine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marty!
      Great pitch! I was confused about Riley's obsession; is it Lesha? I like how you put a bit of her voice in the pitch and think you did a great job with the stakes, characters and scene. I guess this isn't very helpful, haha. Good luck with this! How is your MS from the workshop coming along?

      Delete
    2. Hi Candice! Thank you for the critique. I'll make sure the obsession is clear-it's Lesha. My MS from the workshop is in queryland, with good results so far. I see you've posted your pitch above; I'll run up and critique!

      Delete
    3. This concept sounds interesting, and I think your pitch is in good shape. I just had a couple things I wasn't clear on:

      I was confused about the difference between where she was going (Eris) and where she ended up (Eris' wasteland). Was the second planet one destroyed in the making of the first? Or was it false advertising? Eris was supposed to be colonized, but was actually a mess?

      What is Riley's obsession? Is it it Lesha? You mention in the first paragraph that he is possessive, but I didn't realize he was possessive b/c he wanted Lesha, and not that he just wanted her time/labor.

      In the last paragraph, I would consider dropping or rewording "for morbid decorations in an alien desert shrine." The "sick desert shrine" in the first sentence gets this across.

      Good luck!

      Rebecca

      Delete
    4. Hi Martha!

      This query is very strong and almost perfect already! It's something I would love to pick up and read if it was in a bookstore! I think the only thing that needs to be clearer is Riley's obsession. At first I thought he was just an annoying Team Leader that got on her nerves. Later, I realize that it might be darker than my first thoughts. However, I still love the query itself and you made the stakes clear and makes me what to find out what happens next! Good luck!

      Delete
    5. REVISION: I hope this makes things clear. Riley is the first, but not the last stalker.

      Sixteen-year-old Lesha Clement figures she has six months left to live if she remains on Earth. Her once-green planet has withered so fast it’s as brown as the color of her skin. She dreams of growing old in an unpolluted world and escaping Riley, the Team Leader who tried to rape her. With Operation Abandon Earth in full swing, Lesha flees to Eris, a newly colonized planet halfway across the galaxy. The ship veers off course and crashes in Eris’ wasteland, stranding her far from the colony with seventeen survivors... including Riley.

      The government was dead wrong when they labeled Eris safe. If lack of food and water doesn’t kill them, flesh-eating snakes that erupt from the sand just might. As fellow survivor, Malik Romero, vows to get the group to safety or die trying, his smoldering eyes pull Lesha in as much as his savior complex pushes her away. His over-protective attitude clashes with Riley’s ongoing obsession with Lesha, and grates on her already frayed nerves. Having lived through famine and riots back home, she’ll make her own way, thank you very much.

      After a missing member of their group is found as a mutilated corpse in some sick desert shrine, it becomes clear Riley and Malik's egos are the least of their worries. Something stalks them. Something predatory. Something else. To reach safety alive, Lesha must put aside her feelings and work with Riley and Malik, before their alien hunter picks them off one by one.

      Delete
    6. Great revision! I like it! I get what's up with Riley now, and that they hit the right planet, but not the right part. I just have a couple nitpiks for you to consider.

      The "some" on sick desert shrine makes the thing seem more distant to me. I'm imagining that they saw the mutilated corpse and the shrine. that ups the stakes a lot. I'd change the "some" to "a" and even think about changing the sentence to "After they find a missing member of their group as a mutilated corpse in a sick desert shrine..." (This assumes they did find the corpse.) It just makes it a bit more personal.

      I love: "Something stalks them. Something predatory." But something else is a bit flat. I'd think about something more specific. Maybe "Something far more predatory than the snakes."

      Great revision! Good luck!

      Delete
    7. Thank you so much, Rebecca, for coming back and critiquing my revision. I love your suggestions!

      Delete
    8. Oh good, I'm glad they are helpful! The comments here have been so helpful to me! Thanks for hosting, Dannie!

      Delete
  20. NAME: Dana

    CATEGORY/GENRE: NA/Urban Fantasy

    TITLE: VESTIGE

    PITCH:

    When Violet Mason meets Evie, Vi's to-do list becomes all about survival: learn to kick ass while on the lam; find out whose soul is in her body; and, most importantly, stay alive as she embarks on a twisted, deadly road trip across the American southwest. No problem. The body count may be rising, but she’s got this.

    Nineteen-year-old Vi wants to get some sleep, but she’s never had sweet dreams. They tend to be cold and bloody, leaving her perpetually grumpy with bonus under-eye circles. Lately, she's been thinking she either needs to get some serious therapy or pop an Ambien, but before Vi can do either, she meets Evie—beautiful, bubbly, and bloodthirsty—who comes out of nowhere to drop this cluster bombshell on Vi:

    The nightmares are memories, connected to a single soul they share. The kicker: a coterie of treacherous immortals fears the power the girls could tap into by reuniting and wants them dead.

    Before Vi can call shenanigans, she’s sucked into Evie's world of monstrous assassins, idle gods, scheming demons, and Toby, an amnesiac possessed by an entity who can’t decide whether to kill Vi or kiss her. Evie knows all about guns and wicked implements of destruction, which is great, because their soul is a hot commodity. What sucks is that Vi’s feeling increasingly less human as her nightmares become reality.

    Evie gave into her inner monster years ago and wants Vi to follow her down. While their growing attraction tempts Vi, she'll have to decide whether to become a monster herself to survive or cling to her humanity and die.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really don't know enough to offer advice here. I just think it is a bit too long and sounds more like a whole query than just the pitch. The content sounds very interesting though... Good luck :-)

      Delete
    2. I don't know much about queries, but I'll let you know what works for me and what doesn't.

      First, I'd read this. It sounds interesting.

      Second, the first paragraph is amazing and then you drop back. Is that advisable? This is where my lack of skills in critiquing queries comes in... I'm not sure having a pitch that explains the story beginning to end and then jumping back to the beginning for a lengthier pitch is a good idea. It confused me. On their own, if you separate the first paragraph from the others, BOTH grabbed me.

      Third, I'm thinking about particular word choices. The first word that really caught my eye was coterie. Awesome word. If you get rid of "treacherous" I think it might work better though, IMO. The next word that caught my eye was shenanigans. I may be biased by the movie Super Troopers, but that word has a more light-hearted connotation for me, and it doesn't seem to fit with the mood of the query: dark.

      Anyways, that's what I've got. I hope it helps!

      Delete
    3. Full disclosure: I'm new at this.

      I agree with Katie about jumping back in your pitch. I read the first paragraph and immediately I am wondering what about Evie changes Vi's to-do list. Then you sort of back track and give a little history of Evie, then she meets Vi, again. I feel like the first paragraph is a super short, pared down summary of the rest of the paragraphs and may not be needed. I'd just begin with the second paragraph.

      Delete
    4. Thank youuuu everybody! I think what I was trying to go for was a hook and over-hooked. I'm going to play around with a re-hooking and post my revision. Thanks again!

      Delete
  21. Name: Corinna
    Category/Genre: Fantasy/MG
    Title: The Moon Whisperer
    Pitch: Luna Nimue has a hard time fitting in at an Irish convent, since she is a witch who is obsessed with the moon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Corinna,

      I like this concept. I would love to know more about what the stakes are, and I've entered a few pitch contests and learned they all want an age on your character in MG and YA. Hope this is helpful.

      Rebecca Waddell

      Delete
    2. Hi Corinna,

      Very interesting that a witch is trying to fit in at a convent. Tell us more! I think you have at least 3 more sentences to let us know more about the stakes/conflict and how Luna handles it. Nice start!

      Delete
    3. Great honing down! Wow, I can see the conflict just with witch and convent! I agree though, use those three more sentences! No more than though:-)

      Delete
    4. Yeah, what they said. Like, why is she in an Irish Convent? How'd she get there? Why is being obsessed with the moon make it hard for her to fit in? And what type of witch is she? "Is she a good witch or a bad witch?" Also, how old is she?

      This would be a great Twitter or Contest pitch though.

      Delete
  22. NAME: H Brady

    CATEGORY/GENRE: YA/Cont. Romance

    TITLE: THE GISELLE PROJECT

    PITCH: When She's All That meets The Black Swan you have The Giselle Project. Josh, a hot ballet dancer, makes a bet with his former partner Elsa that he can't turn Bree, a snarky violinist, into a ballerina by the end of camp. But as Josh and Bree write their own version of Giselle their hearts raise the stakes. When Elsa calls their bluff and reveals the wager, Bree finds out Josh may have been playing her along. But the secret he's been holding for the grand finale could break them all.

    Lunch break is over, I'll do my crits tonight!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Heather!

      This is a great query! It's short and sweet. The story and characters are clear, but the secret at the end is unclear. I don't think you have to tell what exactly the secret is. However, seeing The Black Swan mentioned, I would make hint that it's sinister or allude to what it might be. Just so we know what direction the story is going to be taken. That's my only critique for it. :) Also the concept of She's All That and The Black Swan sounds so cool! Good luck!

      Delete
    2. Hi Heather, Love your comps. The only crit I've got this late at night is that I stumbled on "their hearts raise the stakes."

      Delete
    3. It sounds more like Black Swan meets Cruel Intentions, almost point by point. I don't think a person could turn a violinist into a ballet dancer in a week, and that doesn't seem like a selling point. I'm also stuck on the 'hearts raise the stakes' to 'calls their bluff'. Maybe a second sentence between those can clarify a bit.
      However, as Cruel Intentions and Black Swan were both amazing, if the writing on this is good, I bet it would sell fast.
      Good luck.

      Delete
  23. NAME: Katie Doyle

    CATEGORY/GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance

    TITLE: The Changeling

    PITCH: Amanda Strange spent five years institutionalized after she claimed an evil creature killed her sister with just a look. Out of the hospital and in high school, she discovers she might not be crazy after all. With bullies tormenting her and cornering her in the girl’s locker room, it’s hard to believe going to a public high school was a good idea. When the boy next to her in art class draws the exact creature she thought she saw, she wonders who he is and what he knows.

    From the moment they met, Ronin forms a fierce need to protect Amanda. And if she’s the one his family-his clan-has been looking for, she’s going to need it. He leaves her clues to her life, her past, and who she really is, but whether she’s willing to accept the truth is another story.

    The truth is a difficult pill to swallow even for Amanda whose daily regimen of medicine is meant to keep her from returning to Clarkwood Institute and a padded cell. But life on the outside is crazier than she ever thought possible. Uncovering a plot by the school principal to fraud the state out of funds puts her parents’ lives in danger and puts her, her best friend, and Ronin face to face with a caged animal none of them expected.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Katie,

      I was totally hooked by the last sentence in your 1st paragraph. I almost think you could delete, "With bullies tormenting her and cornering her in the girl’s locker room, it’s hard to believe going to a public high school was a good idea." Then, the 1st two sentences in your second para. sound like Twilight. While I loved that series, I think agents want something fresh. The part about him leaving clues is confusing to me. Good luck!

      Delete
    2. The last sentence of the 1st paragraph made me go "oooooohhhhh." Totally creepy, but makes me want to know more immediately.
      The sentence beginning "With bullies...", I'm not sure that is needed.
      The last sentence of the whole pitch sort of confuses me. I thought it was a story about weird creatures killing people, but now out of nowhere there's a plot with fraud. I'm guessing they are interconnected, but it just seemed out of the blue to me.

      Delete
    3. That first sentence sucked me right in! I would totally want to read this story. :) The only question I have is if this story is told from both Amanda and Ronin's point of view? If it's not, then I would take out Ronin's part in the middle, and add in Amanda's viewpoint on Ronin and their relationship. All in all, I really love the concept and think it's a great query!

      Delete
    4. REVISED

      Amanda Strange spent five years institutionalized after she claimed an evil creature killed her sister with just a look. Out of the hospital and in high school, she discovers she might not be crazy after all. When the boy next to her in art class draws the exact creature she thought she saw, she wonders who he is and what he knows. He leaves her clues to her life, her past, and who she really is, but whether she’s willing to accept the truth is another story.

      The truth is a difficult pill to swallow even for Amanda whose daily regimen of medicine is meant to keep her from returning to Clarkwood Institute and a padded cell. But life on the outside is crazier than she ever thought possible. When the stigma attached to her hospitalization lands her in the principal's office one too many times, she uncovers a plot by the school principal to fraud the state out of funds. This puts her parents’ lives in danger and puts her, her best friend, and Ronin face to face with a caged animal none of them expected.

      Delete
    5. Love it! I honestly don't see anything that needs changing. :)

      Delete
    6. Only thing is we don't know who Ronin is now b/c he's not mentioned earlier. And I actually really liked the line: From the moment they met, Ronin forms a fierce need to protect Amanda. And if she’s the one his family-his clan-has been looking for, she’s going to need it. I'd reword his family-his clan because I tripped over that sentence. And say from the moment they meet, Ronin forms a fierce need... but I liked the introduction of Ronin to the mix.

      Delete
  24. Name: Shari Schwarz
    Genre: MG Adventure
    Title: The Ledge
    Pitch:
    Thirteen year-old Bryce doesn't understand why his big brother, Jack, has such a chip on his shoulder. Sixteen year-old Jack doesn't understand why he's always felt so alone and incomplete. It's finally summer break, and the boys can't wait for their backpacking trip, alone, to Grandpa's remote mountain cabin. Jack just wants freedom, while Bryce wants to hone his budding survival skills—and impress his big brother. Tension between the brothers doesn't help as they set off on their hike, and the wilderness seems set against them as they battle a raging river, a black bear who steals their food, and hunger they hadn't anticipated. However, overcoming these challenges is nothing, especially for Bryce, compared to the deadly climbing accident he endures. While unconscious, Bryce journeys into the afterlife and has a near-death experience (NDE). Meanwhile, Jack, who blames himself for Bryce's fall, risks his own life to save him—and finds a strength and singularity of purpose he has never known. Their separate journeys of self-discovery lead them to the root of their strained relationship—and the reason why Jack has always felt a hole in his life. Jack desperately hopes he will get a second chance to make things right with his brother.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this is a great story line. My one question is, which one is the mc? I think your pitch should stay focused on that person and put everything in their perspective. otherwise, it sounds compelling!

      Delete
    2. I have a couple of things I want to mention.

      First, I'd get rid of the (NDE). You don't mention the acronym for the rest of the query, so it's really just taking up space.

      Second, I'm thrown by the two of them setting out alone. At thirteen and sixteen, no matter how advanced the survival skills, I really don't see that happening without an extremely good reason. If there is a reason, you might want to mention it in your query so that there can be that suspension of disbelief with agents.

      Aside from those, it sounds like a great story and one I would love to read=)

      Delete
    3. Wow, this sounds like quite an adventure!
      Few things: "deadly climbing accident" implies that he actually dies, but the next sentence says he has a near-death experience. Could you change it to life-threatening accident? Or even just say he has a climbing accident that leaves him unconscious and he journeys into the after-life?
      I also feel like the last sentence is maybe not needed. Or maybe it just needs to be reworked in there.

      Delete
    4. Hi Shari. It sounds like you have quite an adventure story here. Bells go off for me though, with the pitch split between a 13 year old and a 16 year old. Does the story focus on them both? If so, it's going to be a pretty hard sell as MG. If it focuses on Bryce, make him the focus of your pitch. I want to know more about Bryce's emotional stakes. You mention him wanting to impress his big brother - if you focus the pitch more on Bryce, you could hone in on this a bit more. A journey into the afterlife and a near-death experience seem like two different things to me, so you might want to clarify - but that threw me. We were in a realistic adventure, and then there was this paranormal/fantastical element. Finally, it reads more like a synopsis, a list of things that happen. Can you try writing it focused on Bryce, and answer these three questions: 1) What does Bryce want? 2) What obstacles are in his way? 3) What will he have to do to overcome them? Good luck!

      Delete
    5. Thank you all for your feedback....lots of great ideas. An NDE is an out-of-body experience. I did a lot of research on NDE survivors and combined the most common elements between their experiences. Some would call it "paranormal" or "fantasy" but it is something that is real....hundreds of thousands of accounts over the past 2 thousand years of people going through NDEs. So, I wanted to come at it from the realistic side of an NDE.

      Also, my story is told in dual-POV. Bryce is the mc but Jack goes through a lot of change as well. It's hard to write a query for both. Not sure how to go about it. I feel like I've gone round and round with this and don't know what to focus on...I'll give it another go.

      Delete
  25. Name: Mary L.
    Genre: YA Contemp
    Title: Passenger
    Pitch:
    Unlike most siblings, Kate and her older brother Kyle were best friends. When your dad is in the ARMY and you move around every couple of years, you tend to stick together. But then Kate's world came crashing down on her and now she's starting college without Kyle.
    James was a stereotypical All American boy. Until he wasn't. Now that he's at Mountain State, he's ready for a fresh start.
    With James, Kate finds that she can let down her walls, or at least most of them. But as their relationship blooms, their pasts catch up with them. Will Kate be able to accept James and face her own guilt?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mary,

      I like the concept of this a lot! The only part that is vague is the part about Kate's world crashing down. What happened? Also, the statement, "until he wasn't" implies something happened to James. I think we need more info about that. Being vague in a pitch isn't helpful since it doesn't usually hook the reader. Can you bring out more specifically what happened? Good luck!

      Delete
    2. I know, I know. Vague. That's my whole problem. Both things you mentioned are revealed later to the reader and I'm not sure if I can give them away in a pitch.
      But I'll share, and maybe that will help: her world crashing down is she and her brother are in a car accident (brother drunk driving), she survives, he doesn't. James was also in a (separate) car accident, driving while intoxicated. He survived, his passenger did not. He went to jail for it.

      Delete
    3. I really like the idea for this story. Yes, the pitch is vague, but when you explain it, I think that would add tension to the pitch. You don't want to give away the end, but you should give away enough of the plot to make the agent want to read more, not ask, "What is the about?"

      Simply add in the stuff about the car crashes and I think it would be a great pitch.

      Delete
    4. I really like the concept! Your post below about her brother dying and James' past actually really interested me the most. I think that I would somehow try to add in that her brother died in the query(James background I could see being too much in a query). Also why is James a stereotypical All American boy, and then wasn't? I think I would rework that line. Overall, I think your query is strong. I would just make the death of her brother clearer. :) Best of the luck!

      Delete
    5. REVISION: Did I just enhance the vagueness?


      Unlike most siblings, Kate and her older brother Kyle were best friends. When your dad is in the ARMY and you move around every couple of years, you tend to stick together. Kate finally loosens up at a party one night, only to have her world came crashing down on her and now she's starting college without Kyle.
      James was a stereotypical All American boy. Until he wasn't. Now that he's paid the price for his mistake, he’s at Mountain State and ready for a fresh start.
      With James, Kate finds that she can let down her walls, or at least most of them. But as their relationship blooms, their pasts catch up with them. Will Kate be able to accept James and face her own guilt?

      Delete
    6. Sorry, I didn't see the new critiques before I posted my revision.

      Delete
    7. Hi Mary--

      A few things stand out for me here that may be red flags:

      (1) I think it's arguable that siblings aren't often best friends. I know a lot of siblings that are very very close friends and have each other's backs more than any of their friends. So I think that first sentence fragment may be off-putting in its assumption. (My instinct is to think of arguments against it which means I'm paying more attention to that little three-word fragment than I am your story.) I'm also not sure it adds anything to the query.

      (2) If they are in college, this is a New Adult story, not YA. That matters if this is for PitchWars because as a YA only mentor, I'm going to look at this query and say, "why did she send this to me? She wasted a slot for herself. This is New Adult, and I'm not taking New Adult this year." :( If it isn't New Adult and I'm wrong here, there's a miscommunication happening in terms of how you are selling this. I see Mountain State and think college. College=New Adult.

      (3) I think you do yourself a disservice by not stating how Kate's world comes crashing down. For me, that line comes off as a cliche and doesn't have enough specificity to tell me what your story's hook is. I hear what you're saying in terms of not wanting to give away the whole story in your pitch, but I feel like you've left me out of the conflict as a consequence. In your query, you want the agent to know what the MC's dilemma is, in a way that shows how your story is unique. You give away that piece of information to sell the story, and you tease us into wanting to read more by leaving us out of how the dilemma/conflict is resolved.

      (4) This is small potatoes, but I don't know why you have Army in all caps?

      Hope this helps!

      Delete
  26. Name: Amanda M

    Genre: YA Contemp Fantasy/ Fairy Tale Retelling

    Title: Lullaby of Beasts and Roses

    Pitch:

    Beware the daimons. Sixteen-year-old Evangeline Bellaire never had reason to believe her mother’s message of warning on the side of an old brass key until scaly, winged beasts snatched her off to rural Alaska because of a mark on her wrist.

    Locked in their castle, she comes face to face with Scorpio—a daimon prince who wants her for the power she can gift him. The strange mark on her wrist bounds her to him for life, and he to her. Together, they must fight a pack of possessed wolves, a loony king, a mysterious eye-gouging killer, and even Evangeline’s own mind.

    Death isn’t the worst thing waiting for them if they fail. No, Evangeline considers losing their minds and being trapped in a portal for eternity to be the top contender for worse place. That is, if you don’t count being tortured by a psychotic killer an option.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really like this. My first thought when reading was that you misspelled diamond. Not until I saw it again in your query did I realize it's a race(?) in your fairy tale world. I'd suggest capitalizing both references so the reader knows right away the spelling is intentional.

      Besides that initial gut reaction, I thought the writing was quirky, hinting at the voice of the book. Your second sentence is long an kind of hard to read. Unless the key is important to the story (and even if it is) I personally would cut that part to make that line easier to read.

      Also "The strange mark on her wrist bounds her to him for life"; I think that should be 'binds'.

      If you want a beta reader let me know. I'm really curious about this one.

      Delete
    2. Hi Amanda, This is another fascinating sounding fantasy--another truly unique premise. I'm going to sound like a broken record here, but it's always good practice honing down to just four sentences. Maybe start with Sixteen year-old... Then take out "a daimon prince and tie into the next sentence about the strange mark binding them? Then take out Death isn't the worst... I like that you tell us what the characters do--it makes this an active query.

      Delete
  27. NAME: Brandon Brown

    CATEGORY/GENRE: NA/Adult/Paranormal Urban Fantasy

    TITLE: DREAMWALKER

    PITCH:
    Daniel: running from the demons of his past.
    Emma: driven by rage, and a lust for power and absolute control.
    Leah: thrust into a seductive and dangerous new world.

    All three: vampires connected by dreams and blood. Leah, a blind psychic fledgling, must uncover the secret of her dreams or lose Daniel, her independence, and possibly her life to a madwoman.

    (It's the last line that bugs me the most)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where you really hook my interest is "dreams and blood." The individual lines you have connected to each character read a little vaguely for me. "Demons of his past" could refer to just about anything or maybe actual demons? "Dangerous new world" is another term that could have any number of meanings. If you can find ways to make those lines specific and unique, it could work much better. I love how well you've illustrated the stakes, but I think you could flesh things out a little. What about her dreams needs figuring out? Is Emma the madwoman? Is Leah the main character? There are a lot of questions we're left with. If you answer even a few of them, it'll make for a much stronger pitch. :)

      Delete
    2. Hi Brandon, This sounds like an interesting read with three strong characters who have a lot to lose. Do you follow #tenqueries on twitter? One of the things I keep seeing is that the agents are putting aside queries that don't nail their genre down to just one specific type. I don't see much about Emma in that last line--you tell us about Leah and Daniel but not her. Who is the madwoman? And how does she tie in? I'd also like to see how the characters' actions propel the plot.

      Delete
    3. How about this:

      What do you see when you're a blind psychic newborn vampire? For Leah the answer is everything. She sees her surroundings through the minds of those around her. She sees the dreams of her vampire companion, Daniel wherein he tortures himself over his past demons. She sees the memories of Emma, a vampire older than both Leah and Daniel, who is driven by both rage and a lust for power and absolute control. What Leah can't see is the connection between them all. Leah knows her dreams hold the key to uncovering that connection. But unless she can master her powers and her bloodlust: Daniel and Leah both will fall prey to Emma’s power and lose everything.

      Delete
  28. NAME: Kimberly VanderHorst

    CATEGORY/GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

    TITLE: WHAT LIES BETWEEN

    PITCH:

    Seventeen-year-old Grace Armstrong craves sanity how some girls crave chocolate. But every time she catches a glimpse of her reflection, a snarling horde of nightmarish beasts crowds out her image. Either she’s crazy or monsters are stalking her. Hell of a choice.

    When a boy replaces the monsters in her bedroom mirror, Grace realizes nothing's crazier than falling for one of her hallucinations. But Luke teasingly persuades her that even her twisted imagination couldn’t invent someone as amazing as him. As Grace risks both her life and her grip on reality to save Luke from the monsters on the other side of the glass, she’ll discover that sanity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    And that long distance relationships don’t suck half as bad as inter-dimensional ones.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One piece from me and then I'll let the masses torture you ;P --I want to see more of your gorgeous narration and voice here. This is a good query. You've got the elements in place. But it doesn't show off your writing of which I know YOU are capable.

      Delete
    2. Hi Kimberly, I'm starting at the bottom and working my way up:-) I love this premise, it's unique and I've never seen or heard anything like it! I wonder though if you could trim it to just four sentences--someone up top mentioned this in their critique of another query. Those submission guidelines can be killers, but they are good practice at honing the story:-) I really like the first line. It's good voice and gives us a pithy glimpse into this girl's world. For this exercise you might could cut the last two lines in the first paragraph. I'd love to hear a detail about how Luke persuades her. Also great play on words in the last line--isn't all it's cracked up to be!

      Delete
    3. Dannie, you're so right. Every time I try to add poetic prose to my query, it gets clunky and confusing though. But I've made an attempt! ;) Shelly, great insights, thank you! I'm really struggling to get this down to four lines and appreciate the help. :)

      REVISED VERSION:

      Seventeen-year-old Grace Armstrong craves sanity how some girls crave chocolate. But inky plumes of monster-dark keep blotting out her reflection, and the burning-boned beasts stalk her through everything that shines. When a boy replaces the monsters in her bedroom mirror, Grace discovers that nothing's crazier than falling for one of her hallucinations, and that believing in Luke long enough to love him is like handing him a hammer and telling him she’s made of glass. As Grace risks both her life and her grip on reality to save Luke from the monsters within the mirror, she’ll discover that sanity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

      And that long distance relationships don’t suck half as bad as inter-dimensional ones.

      Delete
    4. That first paragraph is awesome. If Dannie doesn't see voice in it, then, wow, you must have VOICE. I do agree with "shelly's dog blog" that your real stakes are in the second paragraph, where they should be in a full-length query. However, in a Pitch Query you need to do some combining.

      Maybe mention the mirror in the first sentence? - "Every time 17-year-old Grace Armstrong catches a glimpse of her reflection, she craves sanity the way some girls crave chocolate. Either she's crazy or the snarling horde of beasts crowding out her image are stalking her." Or something better to make room for Luke in the first paragraph.

      I also love the very last sentence of your query and hope you can find a way to incorporate the thought into the first paragraph as well.

      Delete
    5. Looks like I was critiquing while you were revising. I like the second attempt better. Normally I'd say you cheated with such a long sentence, but, no, your sentence works. I don't get lost. But I do get confused. Can she hand him a hammer?

      Delete
    6. Thanks, Jen! Your first crit definitely won't go to waste. It can still help me with my full length query. :) The hammer thing was supposed to be a metaphor, but a really ineffective one if that's not clear. I'll tinker with it some more. Thank you! :)

      Delete
  29. Name: Shelly Steig
    Genre: MG mystery
    Title: Just Fred
    Pitch:
    Twelve-year-old Fred Nellen thinks all his problems hang on one issue—he’s not named Bob like the other guys in his family. He’ll do anything to identify with the Bobs, even if it means getting shocked in a homemade electric chair. However, there’s an even bigger problem: his palindrome-obsessed father is actually a burned CIA agent with an assumed identity and determined enemy. Fred must use his wits to figure out who's who, and in the end decide if he'll imitate the Bobs or follow his own conscience—and further alienate his father.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The story sounds like there will be a lot of quirkiness and idiosyncrasies. I do want to know why there are an abundance of Bob's, and why Fred may make a decision to "imitate the Bobs." Sounds like there may be a conforming versus be original theme going on here. I think the biggest thing to strengthen this pitch is to make the problem more up front - Fred needs to figure out who is after his father (explicitly explain who [unless that's part of the mystery, then make it vague]), and the only way he can help is by losing originality and become a Bob, or "follow his own conscience" and alienate his father more. Why is becoming a Bob so bad?

      Delete
    2. Hi Alden my first critiquer:-) The name Bob is a palindrome! And you nailed the theme: Do we find our identity by identifying with others, or choosing who we want to be? Arrggghhh it's so tough to nail the pitch in just four sentences. I have a longer query that gives more details--now to figure out how to incorporate it all! Thanks for your comments, I'll go back over this and see how I can improve it...

      Delete
    3. I also find this interesting. I would love to know if the palindrome issue is a world issue or just this family's issue, and why. I would like to know if Fred helps his father with the enemy. I love the title. I'd read this. However, as a critique of a query. I think letting us know if the 'Bob' thing is only in his family will make the 'silliness' of the situation less of a gamble.
      Good luck!

      Delete
    4. Thanks Amy, had never thought of that!

      Delete
  30. NAME: Alden Gilroy

    CATEGORY/GENRE: NA Contemporary

    TITLE: Look How Far You've Come

    PITCH: - Twenty-two year old failed student Sherwin “Diggs” Diggmon doesn’t have a lot going for him, whittling away printing photos in middle-of-nowhere Jade’s Pounce, Wyoming. His world changes when plucky college graduate Marianna Gonzalez bursts in, needing to fax an 11th-hour petition to put on the town’s first (and likely only) half-marathon. Marianna is short one signature. Diggs saves her by signing the last slot. What Diggs signed wasn’t a petition though; it was a commitment to run. If the race fails to start, the only home Diggs and Marianna have ever known is doomed to extinction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alden, I learned a lot about Diggs from the first sentence! Love the name too. Your voice comes through quite nicely. For some reason on first read I actually thought whittling meant, well, whittling. I wonder if you could just go straight to "printing photos..." For this short pitch, I'd also combine sentences 3,4 and 5.

      Delete
    2. Hi Alden! I think we need to know what's at stake a little sooner. The real exciting part for me comes right at the end where you mention how Diggs has to run this race or their town will be destroyed. You might want to mention the issue about the town a little sooner. Also, does he have something to prove to Marianna? Does he hesitate to run this race? Is he out of shape? If he drops out, will the race fall through? I think the more you can integrate real stakes into this query, the better it will be. Also "failed student" reads awkwardly to me. I would take it out and focus on more "showing" with the character. So perhaps you could fuse those first two lines to read, "After dropping out of college his freshman year, Sherwing 'Diggs' Diggmon has spent most of his days printing photos in middle-of-nowhere Jade's Pounce Wyoming until one day plucky [incidentally, can we think of a better adjective? Do all spunky heroines have to be described as "plucky"?] Marianna Gonzalez bursts into [specific place--drugstore?] needing to fax..." etc.

      Delete
  31. NAME: Colleen Halverson
    GENRE: Urban Fantasy
    TITLE: THE CHILDREN OF THE FIANNA

    After the brutal murder of her advisor and the theft of the subject of her Master’s thesis, graduate student Elizabeth Tanner is plunged into a centuries old Celtic civil war filled with fierce warriors, scheming Faeries, cunning Druids, and the powerful dark lord Bres who will only stop this eternal struggle if she agrees to marry him. Elizabeth’s only ally is Finn O’Connell, the Chicago commander of the Fianna, a mythical race of Celtic warriors sworn to defend the mortal world from its magical enemies. As Elizabeth travels from the urban streets of Chicago to the wild hills of western Ireland, Elizabeth’s fate intertwines with her mother’s shadowy past as she unearths the powers of the aisling, the ability to break down magical wards, travel across space and time, and even walk through dreams. Elizabeth and Finn must battle against those who would coerce Elizabeth into the age-old marriage covenant that would tear their love apart and destroy the veil between the mortal world and the land of the Fae. Taken into the Faerie realm against her will and faced with the demons of her mother’s past, Elizabeth soon learns that the powers of the aisling will come at a great price …

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay Urban Fantasy! It's one of my favorites :D You have a lot of intriguing elements in your pitch and I like the title. I'm a sucker for Celtic mythology.

      Your first sentence is really, really, really long and complex. It's easy to get lost in. I think that's something the pitch, overall, is suffering from. You're cramming a whole lot of story into a tiny space. I know as authors we're utterly in love with our stories and, especially in fantasy where you've worked so hard on your world building, it's hard not to show off all of those fantastic details. But that's what your novel is for :D Your pitch needs to be the extreme Cliff Notes version - the story pared down to its bare essentials. And give just enough detail to create a sense of your story and incent an agent to want to read more.

      Hope this helps!

      Delete
    2. Hi Jenn, That helps so much. Thank you!

      Delete
  32. Name: Trish Knox
    Genre: YA Contemporary
    Title: WAIT FOR ME
    Pitch:
    Becoming a ghost wasn't part of Kylie's plan. Dying was supposed to be easier than living. But now she's stranded with her mom, Jack, and her best friend Mel . . . in their lives.

    Dying was the only choice because she'd ruined everything. Even though she had the best boyfriend. Except she drove him away so that now he's hanging out with the empty, pathetic crowd. And she had The. Best. Friend. Because how couldn't you love the only girl in the world who doesn't care about clothes? Who reads your lyrics and offers suggestions no matter what time of the day or night you send them. She also had this thing called depression and she couldn't tell anyone about that. And she couldn't live with it - pain everywhere and that feeling that she couldn't breathe - and her head, like it didn't belong to her anymore. Traitor. But now instead of dying, Kylie sees the future. And the more she sees, the more she finds she very badly wants to live.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've done a really good job of creating a distinctive character voice in a tiny space. Nice job overall :)

      I'm a little confused overall about what is happening. Did Kylie succeed in killing herself? Is she a ghost now? Why is she stranded with her mom, Jack & Mel. I assume Jack is the boyfriend, incidentally, but you need to introduce that detail when you give his name.

      In the first paragraph it's implied that Kylie Died. In the second to last sentence, however, it says 'instead of dying' which implies she doesn't. I'm also confused about how she can see the future and how that ties back into her death/not-death/ghosthood.

      Have you read If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver and The Everafter by Amy Huntley? If not I recommend reading all three. They have plots similar to your own. What you want to do is focus in on the details that make your story distinctive and different from books like the ones I mentioned above. Kylie's depression and attempted/successful suicide are one aspect that immediately springs to mind. Details like that will help intrigue an agent and show them that your novel will stand out from the crowd and is a new take on an area that has been covered a decent amount in recent YA releases.

      Hope this helps and good luck with your pitch!

      Delete
    2. I love your title! You have a good start on your pitch. Now it’s time to polish it up a bit.

      Here are a few tips and suggestions I hope will be helpful to you. Keep in mind this is my opinion and may or may not work for you:

      Try not to start the beginning of your query with an adjective (Becoming). It tends to make a weak opening. Maybe think about starting it with a noun, or if you must, a verb. Avoid overuse of –ing words.

      You've done a good job explaining what Kylie had in life, but I couldn't pick up on what her conflicts are and what choices she must choose between and why (what’s at stake) since she died (or didn't die?).

      1st paragraph Question: Did Kylie die, or is she in a coma or some kind of limbo? After reading the 2nd paragraph, I wondered if she could be having an out-of-body experience before death.

      2nd paragraph: Again, avoid starting with an adjective (Dying) if possible. Maybe consider rearranging the words in this sentence to make it stronger. Avoid using the word “that” when possible. You use it 4 times in one paragraph, most of which can simply be deleted to tighten the writing. Also, maybe consider deleting “about that” after “…she couldn't tell anyone”. Try not to start a sentence with “And” if you can avoid it (sometimes it works, sometimes not). You do it twice in the same paragraph. I think your sentences are stronger without it.

      Does Kylie’s best friend run around naked, or does she just not care about fashion (or fashion trends)?

      The main thing that threw me is “But now instead of dying, Kylie sees the future.” This suggests that she didn't die after all which led to my comments in concerning the 1st paragraph. It’s a little confusing. I questioned her being a ghost (Spirit of a dead person) as you alluded to in the 1st paragraph.

      Sometimes writers are too close to their stories and know what they intend to reflect in words, but they can forget readers don’t have a clue. Usually queries consist of three parts: The Hook (some agents don’t require this, some do), the Book (about the story), and the Cook (info about the writer). There is a simple formula to use when writing the Book section of a query. Tons of people use it, including The QueryShark (QueryShark.com). You might find it helpful in structuring your query:

      “What does the protagonist want? What’s keeping him/her from getting it? What choice/decision does he/she face? What terrible thing will happen if he/she chooses _______. What terrible thing will happen if he/she doesn't?” OR “The main character must decide whether to ________. If she decides to do (this), the consequences/outcome/peril he/she faces are _______. If he/she decides NOT to do this, the consequences/outcome/peril he/she faces are_______.

      There is still plenty of time to tweak your query before #PitchWars. I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you, but I’m confident you can have a fantastic query!

      Good luck to you!

      Delete
    3. thanks for the feedback - and helpful - yes. Sometimes we don't state the obvious - this will help with revisions.



      Delete
  33. NAME: Amy Kidd
    GENRE: Speculative Thriller
    TITLE: The Bones Beneath

    Being an alcoholic womanizer, Randy was oblivious to the war being waged on the Gays, until his only friend shocked him by coming out, just before going underground. When Arkham, a senator in a blue suit, murders Hunter, Randy seeks revenge by taking over leadership of the resistance Hunter started in Manhattan years before.

    Completely out of his element and wishing for some whiskey, Randy is busy dodging a covert army of men in suits armed with only his smart ass, anger and luck. Randy enlists the help of Hunter’s right-hand man, James, who is disfigured by the war, a crazy lady with screwed up priorities and a woman doctor who has been fighting the war in her own way. Through encounters and narrow escapes, Randy unravels Arkham’s story, using the man’s passions and weaknesses against him in the only way Randy knows - with sarcasm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amy - love this line - completely out of his element and wishing for some whiskey! There's just a couple of too vague things: a woman doctor who has been fighting the war in her own way. I think you need a bit more on what that is. And the last line - the only way Randy knows - with sarcasm - seems a bit vague and doesn't really up the ante on the conflict.

      Delete
    2. Hi Amy! For me, it's not clear in the beginning that the friend who came out is Hunter. I would also be very careful about "character soup," where you throw a lot of character names around. Readers have a lot to juggle here in a very small space: Randy, Hunter, Arkham, James, a "crazy lady," and a "woman doctor.. I once read an agent say that it's a good idea to limit your query to two *maybe* three characters. I would probably cut the part about James and the nameless female characters as their references are too vague and it's hard to know why they really *matter* to the integral conflict. I would also work on the last line as Trish said, and work on raising the stakes. Take out "through encounters and narrow escapes" as it's too vague and try something like, As Randy unravels Arkham's story, he must [INSERT DIFFICULT CHOICE] or [INSERT THE CHALLENGE RANDY MUST TAKE ON] or [MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN HIS OWN SELFISH INCLINATIONS OR SAVING THE *WORLD* or whatever]. I agree that the fighting with sarcasm feels a little anticlimactic to me. I want a better understanding of the choices this character must make or the challenges he must overcome. I hope this helps :)

      Delete
  34. NAME: Aileen Santos

    CATEGORY/GENRE: Literary / Women’s Fiction

    TITLE: Someone Like You

    PITCH: Thirty-four year old Vanessa Soares has just peed on a stick to find out if she is pregnant. Is it her husband, Curtis,’ or is it John’s, her first love from when she was sixteen? At sixteen, her father beat her up regularly while her mother stood by silently. John was her rebellion. He was her escape. She now thinks of John often even though she is married to Curtis (especially of their last encounter that has led to peeing on a stick).

    Vanessa is resentful of her cold mother that did not protect her and often wonders if they are similar in any way. Her mother Maria has had to endure adversity of her own after her father’s untimely death during the chaotic political times of Manila in the 1970’s. Both mother and daughter are resilient, living through hardships like abuse, heartbreak and moving to new countries, but can mother and daughter heal their relationship and who will Vanessa choose in the end: her husband or her first love?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be fair, I stopped reading after the first paragraph. I'm trying to critique based on Dannie's rules.

      First, I like your first two sentence hook. I was confused at first how she could be pregnant via John, because "first love from when she was sixteen" sounds like she's wondering if having sex at 16 makes her pregnant at 34. The impossibility is laughable and I know that's not what you meant.

      I think that if you change "her first love from when she was sixteen" to "the old flame from her teenage years" or something better, then we will get the sense that he's a lover from her past come back into her life.

      My next suggestion is to combine sentence three, four, and five. Maybe simply say that John had been her rebellion and escape from her abusive father and enabling mother.

      Your last sentence in the first paragraph is strong. It gives a sense of the stakes and we want to read more to find who the father of the baby is and what Vanessa is going to do about it.

      Delete
  35. NAME: JEN Garrett

    CATEGORY/GENRE: MG/Fantasy

    TITLE: DetnoGirl and the Superpower Meltdown

    PITCH:
    When things start becoming dust in her hands, 11-year-old Honey Wilson is transferred to the famous school setting of her BFF’s favorite reality TV show. Instead of learning to control her newfound power of disintegration, however, Honey finds everything disintegrating: her grades, her style, her social life, mechanical pencils, and other people’s superpowers. Honey Wilson struggles to save her classmates from injuring themselves with their own superpowers, thinking she is the cause of their backfiring abilities. Now she must harness her own villainous abilities before her BFF finds out and before someone else gets hurt – or worse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a fascinating concept! What a unique power she has. So many possible ways for it to go wrong. Love it! I found the pitch a wee bit confusing in a few places though. You say that when her power manifests, she's transferred to the famous school, etc . . . then at the end you say "before her BFF finds out." Prior to that, I thought she was transferred to the school BECAUSE of her power. So perhaps clarify that? And a tiny nitpick: I would only use her full name once. It seemed overly formal when you used it a second time. :) Sounds like a fabulous story!

      Delete
  36. Jen, this is my second attempt to comment! For some reason the first didn't work--anyway, Love this pitch. You did a great job condensing to just four sentences. I know the stakes and I feel like you've got the MG reader's sweet spot. Just a few nitnoid things--I'd take out her last name in the third sentence. Also, can you tell us the name of the reality TV show? I'd love to know and it wouldn't require another sentence. Great job!

    ReplyDelete