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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » MAGE STORM Pitch---HELP!

   
Author Topic: MAGE STORM Pitch---HELP!
Meredith
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I feel like a mushroom.

So, I've been asking for over a week. Now I find out that the revised pitch for Pitch Wars is due on Monday and that I won't be able to use the query (like I did for the first round). No. I need a short pitch. The shorter the better because the shorter the pitch, the more of my first page can be included (300 words, max including both pitch and excerpt).

Here's what I've got so far:

quote:

When eleven-year-old Rell is infected with magic that isn't even supposed to exist anymore, he must learn to tame the magic before it kills him or someone close to him. But all the mages died in the Great Mage War before he was born, so finding a mentor is easier said than done. Worse, not everyone who offers to help him really wants Rell to survive or realize his dream of healing the damage done in the war.

Help!
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MAP
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Okay, I hate to do a rewrite, but I'm mostly just moving your words around. I think there is a lot to cut without losing the impact.

quote:
Eleven-year-old Rell is infected with magic that hasn't existed since the Great Mage War. He must learn to tame the magic before it kills him or someone else. But with all the mages long dead, finding someone who knows anything about magic isn't easy. Worse, not everyone who offers to help wants Rell to survive.
I know it isn't perfect, but something like this still works, but with less words. Good luck!
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extrinsic
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An item of mystery in the whole is also a plot hole. How come Rell is infected by the mage storm cinders and survives when the storm lore he knows says he should be consumed by the infection. Immediately if not sooner.

If the title has Rell's name in it and expresses the mystery of the whole, that's a few words that won't need to be in the pitch proper.

A pitch is an elevator speech: memorable, able to be expressed in a pinch by an intern screening reader on an elevator ride between staff and administrative floors. The senior associates need to remember the pitch so they can likewise pitch the project to yet more senior associates, all the way to the top. If they can't remember, they won't repeat the pitch and its project will be passed over and forgotten. A dozen or so words is ideal. Twenty-five words is a best practice maximum for memorableness.

Each of the one hundred most common English language words is cause for discerning consideration: words like the, and, but, so, that, be, of, in, a, when, from, before, must, and so on. This is critical because these words are subject to overuse, misuse, and abuse--as discourse markers, often nonsensical--and little if any meaning contribution when so used. In other words, everyday conversation with spoken-in-person's benefitting from vocal intonation and nonverbal gestures to lend meaning and emotional emphasis, when prose's ideal expression reads as easily and simply as everyday conversation but is artfully concise, vigorous, and expressive.

The evolution of the Mage Storm pitches have been more and less direct statements of the novel's plot in such detail that not much mystery is left to entice interest and excite curiosity.

Syntactically, placing Rell in subject position in the first sentence I think expresses less emphasis than is desired and puts him as character in the foreground of the whole. That doesn't parallel or coordinate with the title. I feel the mage storm is the best practice subject of the pitch. Magic infection is an event, a dramatic event, the most signficant dramatic feature of the parts and whole.

The mage storm also is a more dramatically central expression of the setting and milieu than the character. First and foremost in literary drama is event for its easily most tangible dramatic complication influence, followed by character and setting as character-like object vying for significance. In equal standing to those essential existents of event, character, and setting, are voice, particularly emotional attitude, and dramatic complication.

The pitch as it is and has been expresses a dramatic complication and its events directly, that Rell has a central problem and want to satisfy due to the mage storm cinder fall. Here is where I feel the pitch should focus and develop mystery and intrigue: implying that Rell has a problem due to the mage storm, that he is not immune but for an as yet ungiven reason, barely able to survive his first exposure to the cinder fall, where everyone else has been consumed by the slightest touch of a mage storm cinder.

As to voice, again, I see a sophisticated voice in the pitch that does not accord with the novel's target audience, especially their nature of emotional expression. The voice is neutral, detached, and lackluster. Those hundred most common words again, particularly the connecting prepositions and conjunctions, though serve in scholarly reporting and argumentation; however, they blunt the voice, signal another composition genre than performance (fiction), and rather than smoothing flow, they disturb pace from melding the whole into one overwrought bland mass.

[ January 17, 2014, 08:26 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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I don't want to be discouraging, but I do agree with the above analysis. It is a somewhat bland pitch that doesn't do much to inspire interest. If you know the final recipient and what they're expecting, and if this meets their expectations, then groovy.

I would probably stop reading here, however:

quote:
When eleven-year-old Rell is infected with magic that isn't even supposed to exist anymore, he must learn to tame the magic before it kills him or someone close to him.
Extrinsic explains it better, but the bottom line is that none of this pops off the page. The tone is way too passive. 'Rell is infected with magic' would sound better with 'Magic infects Rell'. 'Magic isn't even supposed to exist anymore' sounds better as 'Magic died'.

'He must learn to tame the magic' reads, in my mind, better as something like, "Rell fights the magic consuming him'.

And yeah, if this is targeted to young adults, it might help to slip in some youthful lingo to spruce it up.

quote:
Pimples, chicks, and now kooky incantations? Eleven year old Rell already has enough on his plate, but when the mage storm hits, he has to keep a new gift in check before it kills him.

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Meredith
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Thanks everyone.

Second attempt:

quote:
A violent mage storm infects eleven-year-old Rell with magic that disappeared after the Great Mage War. The magic will kill him if Rell can't master it. But all the mages died in the war so finding someone who knows about magic won't be easy. Worse, not everyone who offers to help can be trusted.

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shimiqua
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So this is me rewriting. Sorry. Feel free to use or ignore. I was trying to say what I meant, but I figured I'd just show you instead.

I want to encourage you to go into specifics, speak concisely, and leave things to the imagination.

Again, feel free to use or ignore.


Magic is dead. The only remnants left after the Great Mage War are the violent storms everyone knows to stay away from. Everyone except for eleven year-old Rell*. When the Mage Storm infects him with magic, he has one choice -- find someone to train him, or die. But the only ones left with the knowledge he needs to survive are the riffraff that the war didn’t think to kill**.

* Leave them asking a question like, why doesn't he know better? If you can leave them asking a question, then they're already hooked. Don't give them everything. Now is the one time to withhold info, and let them wonder.
**I don't need to know the words you can't trust them...I want to know the reason why. Tell me the why, not the what.

Finish with a button.

[ January 18, 2014, 04:44 PM: Message edited by: shimiqua ]

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extrinsic
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Briefer, more concise, not much more vigorous, expressive, or memorable.

These words neither add or change meaning in a meaningful way: that, but, so. "That" functions there as a conjunction joining a dependent clause to the main idea of the independent clause. How can magic infect Rell if it disappeared? This is a non sequitur: does not follow. Magic mastery might have disappeared but not magic altogether, not if wild mage storms walk the earth.

Beginning a sentence with a conjunction word like "but" is a bit of discretionary expression for character voice or a subjective narrator voice; however, that use does not fit the otherwise matter of fact expression of the whole. Same with "so" being in a different register from the whole. Which "so" in that use is also as a conjunction, though one prescriptively preceded by a comma.

The three sentences after the first are negation statements. Negation statements are problematic due to requiring a little more in the moment interpretation than positive, affirmative statements; slowing, stalling, confusing the flow. Also, because negation statements in rhetoric express irony types: understatement, overstatement or hyperbole, or litotes; they are subject to mistaken interpretation and inference.

The tense overall is future conditional, pending, potential, subject to different possibilities and hence different interpretations and inferences. I feel an overall straightfoward past tense of the present past, a best practice tense rhetorical substitute for present tense most common and most used in prose for creating the illusion of reality and expressing objectivity is called for.

Those last two sentences of the second version change the main idea of the prior two sentences from the infection to what Rell wants to do and other problems he encounters. That's three dramatic complications, where for pitch memorableness one will, should stand out on its own.

For example: A lethal mage storm infected the boy Rell with wild magic. Magic craft long lost since the Great Mage War killed its masters--he struggles on his own to tame the wild magic, before he too dies.

Leaving ample mystery for enticing interest in the whole or a more detailed synopsis. But, of course, in my voice offered for example.

[ January 18, 2014, 06:51 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Meredith
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Thanks again.

Third try:

quote:
Everyone says magic died in the Great Mage War. But then a violent mage storm infects eleven-year-old Rell with magic that threatens to kill him like the mages of old. In a world turned hostile to magic, he must find someone who can teach him to master it.

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legolasgalactica
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How about:
[QUOTE
quote:
Everyone says magic died. Yet a violent mage storm infects 11-yr-old Rell with magic. He must learn to control it or die. In a world now hostile to magic, those who can help him and those who want him dead are hard to tell apart.
[/QB][/QUOTE]

[ January 19, 2014, 03:21 AM: Message edited by: legolasgalactica ]

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legolasgalactica
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I also liked the ideas presented in Denevius' pimples and chicks version, although not having read the story, I'm not sure whether that style and mood fit or not.
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extrinsic
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Briefer yet, stronger, closing on memorableness, still matter of fact.

Meaningless and distracting conjunction splices again though. "But then" either word individually is a conjunction word, and starting a sentence with a conjunction again. Either the phrase lacks a tangible contrastive when context or is used as an idiom meaning "on the other hand," similarly contrastive to magic being dead. The term also has expletive charateristics, nonsensical sentence pronoun subject (then) depending for meaning on a subject given later, usually in sentence object position, that's not given.

And "that" conjunction, I feel the second sentence's two clauses' main ideas should stand alone for impact and memorableness' sake; that is, the mage storm infects Rell, and the infection might kill him like the mages.

"Turned" in the third sentence feels to me superfluous. And a "must" again. Verbal auxialliaries like "must" construct verb phrases that blunt impact from tending toward conditional expression. A stronger, more exacting verb would be more meaningful, like discover, uncover, struggle, strive, or in a different perspective, travel, journey, flee, etc.

"Everyone says" is akin to the platitude "they say," who everyone is or they are opens with a vague subject, when lethal mage storm infections are to me what the subject of the pitch ought best be focused on. Again, "magic died" is contrary to Rell's awareness of mage storms walking about and received cautions about being caught out in one.

While part of the novel is Rell's journey of discovery, finding a magic instructor puts him secondary to others and less proactive than him mastering the magic infection on his own. For the pitch, foregrounding him proactively I think develops stronger tension.

I also second legolasgalatica's recommendation using an interjection-type exclamation like Denevius' "Pimples, chicks, and kooky magic?" Though not as a rhetorical question and more inline with middle grade expression than young adult.

[ January 19, 2014, 05:26 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Meredith
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Okay, thanks everyone.

Here's the final version after some consultation with my mentor:

quote:
Everyone believes usable magic died in the Great Mage War along with its practitioners. Then a violent storm infects eleven-year-old Rell with leftover magic which threatens to kill him. In a world now hostile to magic, Rell's survival depends on finding a mage to help him--one who doesn't want him dead.
For those who read the other thread, the title is now STORM OF MAGIC.
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extrinsic
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Final revision, okay, useable enough, Meredith. Best wishes on most successful outcomes.
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Denevius
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Best of luck!
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