Monday, September 19, 2011

In Which I Have Pitch Problems

So, a few months ago, before I started writing Break Free, I set a goal for myself.
I wanted to participate in Authoress's Baker's Dozen Auction for this year. I missed it last year, since I didn't have anything ready at the time. But this year, I knew I could do it.





I mean, there's 300 YA entry spots and only 35 chosen to be part of the auction, so the odds are low for me to actually be in the auction, but I don't even care. I just want to be able to submit my first page and pitch for consideration.

This seems like a "do-able" goal, but I keep running up against some issues.

First issue, you need to submit a pitch along with your first page.

I don't typically write pitches. I'm not very good at it. Queries, no problem. Pitches? Bit of a problem.

She's having some pitch crit sessions next month, and I'm going to try hard to get into one of them, but they're run on a lottery, so it would be pure luck.

I've got my pitch down to 4 sentences, but I'd really like it to be 2-3 sentences. To be fair, last year the pitch had to be under 100 words, and mine is at about 75 right now, so it's not like I'd be disqualified or anything, but it's just the spirit of the idea of it. If that makes sense.

Does anyone have any good tricks or tips in regards to writing a good 2-3 sentence pitch?

Here's what I have so far...

Seventeen-year-old Kiel Reaux is two steps away from paying off a debt and earning his freedom from the Baron of Old Town when he is captured by slavers. Sold to Izzy, a foreign priestess, she promises to set him free if he leads her through a deadly jungle of wild magic. But when the Baron comes to collect, earning his freedom is the least of his problems. You can’t enjoy freedom when you’re dead.

I have issues with the length of the first sentence but am too close to it to decide what I can cut without messing up the rest of the pitch or losing the reader. Anyone have any thoughts?

Otherwise are you planning in participating in the Auction? Did you want me to look at your pitch or 250 words?

21 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I suck at pitches too. I participated in the auction last year (getting the pitch right almost killed me), but didn't make it as one of the selected few YA in the end.

I'm not sure if I'm going to participate this year. One of my characters sounds cliched in the first 250 words. He isn't, but I purposefully set him up that way in the beginning. Sooooo I know what kinds of comments I'm going to get if my entry get selected. Of course if I can show in the pitch he isn't a cliche . . . . :D

Dan said...

About the only way I can think of to shorten your pitch without losing anything is to change "paying off a debt and earning his freedom" to "buying his freedom".

BTW, I awarded you the Versatile Blogger award on my blog yesterday.

Anne Gallagher said...

I didn't have a problem with the first sentence it was the 3rd.

Seventeen-year-old Kiel Reaux is two steps away from paying off a debt and earning his freedom from the Baron of Old Town when he is captured by slavers. Sold to Izzy, a foreign priestess, she promises to set him free if he leads her through a deadly jungle of wild magic. When the Baron finds him and wants to collect on the remainder of the debt, having his freedom is the least of Kiel's problems. You can’t enjoy freedom when you’re dead.


But that's just my opinion. I don't think it's too long at all. I think all 4 sentences are right on the money, with or w/out my changes.

Anne said...

you already got my feedback on this stuff. So quit expecting more from me!

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

Anne - pshaa. Well maybe your opinion changed or junk

Slamdunk said...

I have no experience in writing pitches, but I like yours--it grabs my attention and makes me want to hear more about Kiel.

Tara said...

I'm horrible at pitches! But...

The last sentence seemed out of nowhere, somehow. I had a few ideas for the rest - you can email me if you want to brainstorm. I'm always up for that. :-)

Holly Ruggiero said...

I've not done one yet so I can only give a totally amateur opinion.

I would loss the "two steps" phrase. The last sentence to me too seems to pop out of nowhere. I'm confused by what the Baron wants to collect, the last few days of service?

Carrie said...

This is a cool pitch. It sounds like a great story.

I would start out with his name and not have the age of the character in the pitch.

Maybe something like this.

Kiel Reaux is two steps away from earning his freedom from the Baron of Old Town when he is captured by slavers. Sold to Izzy, a foreign priestess, she promises to set him free if he leads her through a deadly jungle of wild magic. But when the Baron comes to collect, freedom is the least of his problems. You can’t enjoy freedom when you’re dead.

Ninja Girl said...

Hey Falen,
I decided to give it a shot, but I'm not the best pitcher(?) either. Here goes nothing:

Seventeen-year-old Kiel Reaux is this close to paying off his debt to the Baron of Old Town and earning his freedom when he is captured by slavers. Sold to Izzy, a foreign priestess, she promises to set him free if he leads her through a deadly jungle of wild magic. But when the Baron comes to collect, the jungle becomes the least of Kiel's problems: Freedom means nothing if you're dead.

In the first sentence, I just though the Baron should come a little sooner, but I was wondering...is it a "life debt" that Kiel owes? I just love that phrase and think it adds a degree of danger/raises the stakes. Anyway, just my opinion; take what you want, leave what you don't :) Hope you get great feedback in the Dozen! I'm thinking of entering, but don't know yet. I love my story, but so far not getting great responses. What? No, that's not me crying...what are you talking about?!? JK Hope you have a great one!
Ninja Girl

Nikki Jefford said...

I agree with Carrie about not starting the pitch out with Kiel’s age. Love the last line!

I’m getting much better at pitching. The hard part is it gets me all excited when I win a one-on-one with an editor, like at last year’s Emerald City Romance Writers Conference, then have a request for a full manuscript followed by a rejection. It’s almost easier to get turned down from the beginning. All these “all mosts” start to drag a girl down.

Best of luck!

Michael Offutt said...

I don't have enough to go on but maybe something like:

The book is like Dicken's "Oliver Twist" meets "The Jungle Book".

If that is totally wrong then substitute any other two movies and/or books and you've got your pitch.

Maria Zannini said...

I love doing pitches!

They should accomplish several things.

1. Introduce the MC.
2. Show us what he wants
3. …and why he can’t have it.

A pitch should be specific. What are the stakes? What will happen if he fails?

Your instincts are right. The beat is a little off, but you’re almost there.

I’m emailing you so I can send you my thoughts on the blurb. I have some questions the pitch didn’t answer.

Anne said...

i say definitely go with Michael's suggestion- he's spot on

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Summarizing my work into just a couple sentences is tough! Make that next to impossible.
I'd think if you're well under the word count, that would be good enough.

LD Masterson said...

Well, pitches are not my strong suit so I won't try to advise you on that.

But Dan wasn't the only one who gave you an award. You have one waiting on my blog, too.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

LD - aww thanks! On my way over right now!

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

here's a good post:

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/05/one-sentence-one-paragraph-and-two.html

and i'll butcher yours for a lark! :P
hmmmm...
Kiel is twice fucked when it comes to slavery.
:P

don't like that?
hmmmm....
how about:
A teenage slave guides his master through a deadly jungle in hopes to gain his freedom.

don't like that either?
well... shoot.
this IS hard!

Ishta Mercurio said...

I don't know any thing about your book, which I guess is good in a way, because I can't fill in any "blanks" with stuff I already know.

I'm thinking the last two sentences need a little work. Is he literally leading a priestess through a literal magical jungle? If so, how is the Baron coming to collect? Or is it a metaphorical jungle? And what is the baron collecting - his life? Does the Baron actually kill him? These are the questions I have after reading this.

You're so close! Keep at it.

Hannah Kincade said...

I like doing pitches, but I'm horrible at doing them until I'm finished with the ms...*ahem* downloading it into my ereader tonight, so I can finish it. I swears.

Jason said...

Love it! Great blog - awesome design! Followed! Great game! Good update!

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