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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Elevator Pitches

   
Author Topic: Elevator Pitches
Meredith
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All right, assuming that my registration for the SCBWI Agents Day conference didn't get screwed up by the post office returning it to me one day after the registration deadline, I need to work on my "elevator pitches". Probably should anyway. And I really need help.

Note: I've allowed myself three sentences.

So, for my WIP of one sort or another, here they are:

BLOOD WILL TELL (Urban Fantasy, currently in revision)

quote:

A half-werewolf and a dragon in disguise join forces to rescue an innocent woman from a murderer who's after her inheritance. They're drawn closer together as they each try to solve the mystery in their own ways, but his true identity could tear them apart just when their enemy has found their hide out.

Version 2:

quote:
A half-werewolf and a dragon in disguise join forces to rescue an innocent woman from an unknown attacker. Without knowing who or why, each tries to solve the mystery in their own way. But a decades-old crime and the dragon's true identity may destroy their collaboration just when their enemy has found their hide out.

MAGE STORM (Upper Middle Grade Fantasy, currently being queried):

quote:
All Rell knows of magic is the damage it caused in the Great Mage War when all the magic users destroyed each other and parts of their world, like the Blighted Forest just beyond Rell's home. People believe that the magic died with the mages until Rell develops an unexpected ability he can't restrain. With every strong emotion sparking uncontrolled magic, Rell has to find someone who can help him learn to control this gift for his own safety and everyone else's.

SEVEN STARS (Young Adult Fantasy, currently in first draft):

quote:
Because she bears the berserker curse, Casora has been raised to be a warrior from birth. After releasing the berserker in battle, Casora has two goals: to fight the enemy that overran her home and to find a cure for her curse. She might accomplish both with the help of Tiaran, a young prince whose gullibility and desire to prove himself strand him on the wrong side of the marauding army.

THE BARD'S GIFT (Currently in development/world building):

quote:
Whether she wants it or not, Dorata has the Bard's Gift. Along with the ability to tell a compelling story, sometimes the ancient gods give her the story she must tell. A believer in the new god, Dorata struggles against this gift until she realizes how it can help her people as they face the challenges of wresting a new home from the wilderness, dragons, and malevolent neighbors.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited April 11, 2011).]


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Corky
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Ever notice that three of your stories appear to be about the same problem: an unwanted magical gift?
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Corky
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Now for specific comments on BLOOD WILL TELL:

quote:
but his true identity could tear them apart

Who's "he"? I'm guessing the dragon, because I know that the half-werewolf is female, but couldn't you just say "the dragon's true identity"?

Also, I still have problems with the "half-werewolf" idea. With that coming right at the first, I'd bet anyone you pitched this to will get caught on that as well, and ask you what you mean by "half-werewolf" and that will distract them from the story idea.

I'd recommend "a woman cursed with a werewolf ancestor" or somesuch, except that it still seems like TMI for an elevator pitch.

How about just saying that you have a man and a woman, each with their own magic secrets, who join forces to rescue an innocent woman, etc, etc. Without the magic, it sounds like an ordinary thriller, and for that, the real question might be "why do they care enough to get involved?" And maybe that's what your elevator pitch should be about?


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Meredith
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Thanks for the input.

Bump for new version of BWT pitch.


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Tryndakai
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Of the pitches, "Seven Stars" caught my attention the fastest and best. The first line has me intrigued. The "berserker curse?" So being a berserker is something that's born in you, not trained or taught or anything, and it defines you from birth. That alone is terribly interesting to me, and fairly unique. I'd nix the "after releasing the berserker in battle" bit--it confused me, and you can just skip it and go straight for her goals. I also liked the description of the gullible prince. In those brief sentences, you've given me two distinct and potentially quite strong characters, as well as the main plotline. Great pitch, IMO.

2nd place goes to "The Bard's Gift," because I'm intrigued by the idea that the gods impose stories (prophecies?) on a Bard, and the conflict of her not even accepting that old religion. On the other hand, it's not as punchy or rich as SS, and the whole "unwanted magic" thing *is* pretty cliche, so I'd not lead with that. I'd rather lead with "Dorata hears messages from the old gods . . . even though she doesn't believe in them." A much more interesting and unique angle, methinks, and gets more to the crux of the issue.

"Mage Storm" and "Blood Will Tell" both sound, from their pitches, painfully cliche. There's not much in them that catches my eye as unique, though I'm sure within the stories themselves, things may play out much more engagingly. I do love spin-offs of classics, and new ways to use cliches . . . but these two pitches tell me nothing of *how* you'll be spinning it, only that you're using plots and characters that are used and overused in every amateur fanfic on the internet. Specifically coming out with a "half-werewolf" and a shape-shifting (I'm assuming) dragon in the first go. These "halfbreeds" are the kind of character specifically excluded from many an online role playing game, as instant "Mary-Sues." While yours may very well be excellent characters, that doesn't come across in the pitch. Aside from that, you again should focus both of those pitches more on the unique angle you're taking, and the most compelling conflict. Rell learning to control his magic sounds more like the set-up than the ultimate problem, for instance.

These are just my reactions to your pitches, of course, and not intended to be digs on the stories themselves. After all, even cliches can be done wonderfully well, and it's the combination of the familiar with the strange that makes a story truly engaging. You just need to emphasize a bit more of the "strange" side of the equation here in you pitches. Meantime, I may have to look up whatever 13 lines you have up here, and see what I really think.


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Meredith
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Thanks. Good points.
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LDWriter2
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This is for "Blood Will Tell". I will get to the others on another post.

I like the second version better. Even though the third sentence is not the best. I think instead of "had found" "finds" sounds better.

But I kinda agree with Tryndakai. I believe you need another word than disguise. It fits and everyone knows what it means but it's used a lot. And even though I have no idea how, if you can make it sound fresher that would help.


In the first version whose crime? And it almost feels like you're trying to cram too much into it. Of course you are but don't be too obvious about it.


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LDWriter2
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"Mage Storm"

Too long. You don't need the blighted forest in just an elevator blurb.

Instead of "until Rell develops" try "But Rell develops". And try to shorten that last sentence, especially the first part.


"Seven Stars"

The best so far but that second sentence needs help. "After releasing" sounds not right and interrupts the flow.


"The Bard's Gift"

Not bad but again that second sentence could use help. I had to read it three times to get what you meant with the "Along". Of course that might be just me... I have been at the computer for a few hours.

All of these could be made fresher; not so cliche-ish, but I'm not sure if that is possible. Or necessary.


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