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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » The Hot Pitch Contest - RFC

   
Author Topic: The Hot Pitch Contest - RFC
MattLeo
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When Trina finishes up her "no-hook" contests, I intend to run a manuscript pitch contest, but with a twist: entrants have to pitch *somebody else's* manuscript. I am soliciting ideas and comments for this contest, which is based on the following observation: most writers are the worst advocates for their own manuscripts, because they can't see the forest for the trees.

Here's how I envision it working. In this contest, everyone will be paired with two other writers, one of whom will pitch for him, the other form whom he will pitch.

The pitchEE will explain his manuscript to the pitchER as best he can, and answer the pitchER's questions. IMPORTANT: the pitchER is the final arbiter of what goes into the pitch. Author stubbornness about what goes into a pitch is a major problem I'm trying to avoid.

I'm thinking that we probably even want to limit the feedback authors have on the pitches for their manuscript. Possibly not show the pitch to them at all, or maybe allow them to comment on one draft only. This is to avoid the problem of authors chasing their own tails with endless tweaks to the pitch.

When all the pitches are submitted, everyone will vote for all the pitches that make them want to read on, and the pitch that makes the most people want to read on wins.

I'm thinking about maybe running this contest in two rounds. Half the pitchERs will advance to the second round, and pitch a manuscript that didn't make it. The rationale for this is to give every pitchEE the greatest chance of getting paired with a strong pitchER. This would add a lot of work for participants, but I think it has tremendous value.

Another wrinkle I'm thinking of is letting authors if they want pitch their own manuscripts. That way they could see how their pitches compare to their pitchER's.

Each pitch will be about 300 words, suitable for use in entering a novel contest or as the kernel of a query letter. The pitchERs who gain the most "would read on" responses receive the honorary title of "Pitch Master".

Any thoughts?

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extrinsic
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A consecutive entry bracket and double elimination. Consider keeping the challenge anonymously blind. Blind challenges allow the host to participate, avoid popularity conflicts, and keep the field as level as possible. Entry one goes to second entrant for commentary. Final entry goes to first entrant for commentary. And so on. Survivors for the second elimination round could reverse the sequence. Writers who pitch their own might do so once each for both rounds, if they survive, and not be in the selection brackets but be in the voting brackets.

I'd suggest that a writer may offer an abstract but otherwise shouldn't color a pitcher's impression by providing content that missed the page.

A full manuscript to review would be ideal for a pitch contest; hence, a word-count limit might be a consideration. Though an opening act could, maybe should be adequate for getting a handle on middle and ending acts. Maybe just a reasonably complete and more or less stand-alone scene should do.

The "Battle Royal" scene from Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man, 1952, is a strong example of a scene excerpted as a short story from a novel. Not to be confused with H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man, 1897.

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MattLeo
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The problem I see with anonymous submissions is that so many of us know each others' work so well. What are the chances a Dr. Bob manuscript won't be immediately apparent?

The chief concern I have is how to bring the pitchER up to speed without saddling him with hundreds of thousands of words of reading. Some pitchEEs may have query letters, synopses and other materials to offer.

I'm thinking that a pitchER should be prepared to read about five thousand words, consisting of anything the pitchEE chooses to send him up to that limit. That could include excerpts which represent the best of the MS. If the pitchER requests more, then the pitchEE can send more.

I also think we should take our time with this contest, both to limit the workload intensity and to give manuscripts the biggest boost possible.

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History
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quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
The problem I see with anonymous submissions is that so many of us know each others' work so well. What are the chances a Dr. Bob manuscript won't be immediately apparent?

Hey!
Am I that predictable?
Even if there is nothing Judaic present in the story at all?
I have written (a few) such stories, y'know.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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MattLeo
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Well, my intent was to make it possible for pitchEEs to get help with whatever MS is currently most near and dear to their hearts without worrying about being recognized.

For what it's worth I think I'd have a better-than-random chance of recognizing works by a number of other writers here too by their thematic content. Meredith for one. MartinV for another. Also, I know for a fact that a number of writers here still only have one or two manuscripts they could pitch. Not everyone concentrates on novels -- or should we open this to short stories too?

To make this contest interesting, we really need to have a fair number of manuscripts -- six at a minimum I'd say, sixteen would be ideal.

[ March 21, 2013, 09:38 PM: Message edited by: MattLeo ]

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Meredith
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Sounds interesting.
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Owasm
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How would you link pitcher with pitchee? A random pairing?
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MattLeo
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A random ordering. Imagine I sit you all down around a table in random order. The person on your right is your pitcher. The person on your left is your pitchee.
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genevive42
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This sounds interesting. Looking forward to it.
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babygears81
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Interesting indeed. I'd participate. Also, I like the idea of taking our time with it for all of the reasons MattLeo mentioned above.

I do think some kind of writing sample is necessary though. If the pitchers just take the author's word for it, I don't think their pitch will vary much from the author's.

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Robert Nowall
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"John pitched the pitch-covered ball as intently as though he were fighting a pitched battle, while Mary, singing in a high-pitched voice, pitched a tent."

I just had to say it.

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