Pitch Slammed!

For those who don’t know about Pitch Slam, check it out here or search #PitchSlam on Twitter to get a taste of the fun. For those who know all about Pitch Slam (and those who don’t have the time or inclination to look it up)… proceed. As always, comments are welcomed!

Query:

Set in a world in which strength and cunning are prized over all and kindness is seen as weakness, GRIT OF BERTH AND STONE is the story of one girl’s discovery of truth, goodness, and beauty and her struggle to let go of all she has known to embrace a new way of life, even as she holds onto her innate strength.

At sixteen, Grit has no doubt of becoming a famed warrior until she breaks the first rule of Theshan society: Never approach a stranger without a ready weapon. Overpowered by a frail, old woman and exiled for her foolishness, Grit leaves her village in shame, heedless of her sparring partner’s vow to avenge her enemies.

As she distances herself from her past, her resolution to trust only her dagger proves futile against a string of strangers: a rebel leader who knows her name; an elegant girl who overlooks her coarseness; a mangy dog who won’t leave her alone. As a blind pearl diver reveals unseen truths to Grit, she begins to understand that alliances run much deeper than self-preservation. When she discovers an awful secret about her former sparring partner, Grit returns to Thresh to correct a vow gone seriously awry and rally her people to stand against a rising enemy set on destroying the last vestiges of her country’s ancient beauty.

Pitch Slam Pitch: 

One reckless act of forbidden kindness banished her. One ally took his vow of vengeance to gruesome extreme. As their village chooses between life and death, one fight will redeem and destroy them both.

Pitch Slam Feedback: (Here’s where it gets ugly…)

This comes off disorienting due to us not knowing WHO your MC is. Also, it comes off like an announcement for a movie which is something you have to be careful not to do. Starting your pitch in the middle of action leaves us with questions that need answers. And while you want to have your readers ask questions, you don’t want them asking so many that they give up because they’re lostt. What makes the act of kindness forbidden? Who is this ally and are they important to the plot? If so, is their vow of vengeance against her or the person/thing she showed kindness to? Also life and death isn’t even a choice and comes off as cliche. Why would they choose death? The answers to these questions and focusing on the main conflict in your plot will really help this pitch shine.

Revised Pitch: (Here’s where I remember how much I prefer penning 81,000 words to penning 35).

Grit shrugged when Coil vowed to repay those who orchestrated her exile, but when she sees the effects of his promise, she must return home or live with the blood of innocents on her hands.

 

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “Pitch Slammed!

  1. First off – I really love this story premise. Very unique with a bit of a Red Sonja feel to it.

    One main point of concern – she’s been exiled, therefore she can’t see what Coil has done. I would recommend:

    Grit shrugged when Coil vowed to repay those who orchestrated her exile. But when news of his misguided slayings reaches her, she must return and stop him or live with innocent blood on her hands.

    That’s exactly 35 words and for me it still conveys the meaning you were going for.

    Best of luck.

    • Thanks! It’s always good to hear the perspective of someone who hasn’t read the story. In this case, she does see the effects of his promise (through a group of refugees), but I understand how that would be confusing. I’ll fix it so it doesn’t trip anyone up! Again, thanks!

  2. I like Sharon’s suggestion as well. Additionally I would recommend this:

    Grit lives by a warrior’s code, but a mistake means her exile. When she hears of her sparring partner’s vengeance on her behalf, she must face her enemies, or have their blood on her hands.

    It’s exactly 35 words.

  3. Here’s my comments for your query. I could be totally off base, but hopefully you can find something here to help you:

    Set in a world in which strength and cunning are prized over all and kindness is seen as weakness, GRIT OF BERTH AND STONE is the story of one girl’s discovery of truth, goodness, and beauty and her struggle to let go of all she has known to embrace a new way of life, even as she holds onto her innate strength. [[All I’m learning about this world is that kindness is seen as a weakness. I’m picturing Klingnon society, or Viking society, or a post-apocalyptic society. They all work. These terms are so abstract that I don’t think they’re saying much at all. Be specific. Focus on what’s unique to your story.]]

    At sixteen, Grit has no doubt of becoming a famed warrior until she breaks the first rule of Theshan society: Never approach a stranger without a ready weapon. Overpowered by a frail, old woman and exiled for her foolishness, Grit leaves her village in shame, heedless of her sparring partner’s vow to avenge her enemies. [[Like the set up here, but I’m not sure I understand the sparring partner. Does everyone get just one? Is there a romantic interest here? Also, if this is a society that devalues weakness, is it such a surprise that the old woman is packing?]]

    As she distances herself from her past, her resolution to trust only her dagger proves futile against a string of strangers: a rebel leader who knows her name; an elegant girl who overlooks her coarseness; a mangy dog who won’t leave her alone. [[These seem like a random group of people. Is that intended?]] As a blind pearl diver reveals unseen truths to Grit, she begins to understand that alliances run much deeper than self-preservation. [[Is the blind pearl diver seen as a bum, since he’s “weak?” Why does he reveal these truths to Grit in particular.]] When she discovers an awful secret about her former sparring partner [[The same one?]], Grit returns to Thresh to correct a vow gone seriously awry [[What vow?]] and rally her people to stand against a rising enemy set on destroying the last vestiges of her country’s ancient beauty. [[How’s she going to do that when they exiled her? It’s interesting, but I’d like to know what her plan is.]]

    Definitely intriguing! Best of luck!

  4. Interesting premise! I think your revised pitch does a better job at conveying the story than the first one. However, I’d like to see a little more of the query voice in your pitch. See if you can bring that out and make the stakes a little clearer.

  5. Your query promises such an interesting story, but I was completely lost in what seemed like extraneous details and wanting a LOT more in the way of explaining the crux of the society. I assume Coil is the sparring partner, but he is never named in the query. Could we find out more about this relationship? I think it would go along way if you would identify the linear elements that must be explained in the pitch and limit the detailed plot points that clutter up the query.

    Your pitch is already stronger. I’ve given it a go but I’m not sure that what I’ve written holds true.

    (Name-of-society) prizes cunning over weakness. Warrior Grit displays an act of kindness for which she is banished. When her ally Coil exacts a ruthless vengeance, she must fight to save the innocent – her enemies.

  6. Don’t forget to include the genre and wordcount with the title in the query!
    I had to do a double-take to realise Grit was the MC’s name. Saying ‘sixteen-year-old Grit…’ would clear that, but it’s personal choice there. I think ‘never’ should be lowercase.
    What makes a Threshan warrior ‘famed’? I’d like a little more specifics to understand what Grit is close to and what she loses when exiled. Family? Friends? Or simply fame? Same with ‘her past’, even if it’s just ‘her past mistakes/failures’, etc. I’m also not how the old woman overpowers Grit.
    The amount of character ideas mentioned in the third paragraph threw me. I think you might remove ‘blind pearl diver’ and just suggest that the people in the previous sentence or a ‘stranger’ reveal a true side of Grit.
    There’s good writing in the query, but I feel it could be explained more: I don’t feel pulled into the world enough, but I certainly think the plot is good enough to want me to be.
    Pitch: Having two characters in the pitch already muddies the water. Understandably, there isn’t room to say ‘her sparring partner’, but if I hadn’t read the query, I would have been confused by the pitch’s first clause.
    Reading the comments, I do like Sharon’s alternative, though I myself am not keen on her first sentence, which sounds over-wordy for me. However, ‘misguided slayings’ definitely ramps up the stakes.
    “Grit accepted her exiled from Thresh until she learnt her sparring partner’s promise wasn’t all it seemed. She must rally her people against his misguided slaughterings/slayings or have/feel the blood of innocents on her hands.”
    Hope my thoughts help!

  7. I love the idea of this story! And the revised pitch is so much closer to where it needs to be. It’s still a little vague–and I’m definitely wondering why he’d be killing “innocents” when his vow is to make those who exiled her pay. Is there a way to maybe tighten this up?
    It’s SO HARD to boil an entire book down to 35 words, but like I said, this feels really close to me! 🙂

  8. Hey! Just wanted to leave some feedback; I’m a finalist in the Like a Virgin contest, but we were allowed to put our entries with the pitchslam folks. Would love any feedback on my blog!
    As to yours, let’s see:
    Query:
    This is a personal preference about queries, but I prefer queries that jump right in: give me the MC, give me the age, and give me what you want me to know about him/her. So, while I like the intro about the setting, it’s not where I’d start. That said, this is just preference, but I just wanted to keep it on your radar in case any other folks are impatient like me, 🙂
    Otherwise, query:
    “At sixteen, Grit has no doubt of becoming a famed warrior until she breaks the first rule of Theshan society:” <– this seems a little wordy to me. Specifically the "has no doubt of becoming a famed warrior." I'd prefer something like: "Sixteen-year-old Grit knows she will become a famed warrior until…" The word count is the same, but yours has an odd noun phrase "doubt of becoming a famed warrior"– I think if you wrote it much more straightforwardly it'd flow more smoothly.
    I liked the overpowered by the frail old woman bit, but the intro of the sparring partner and his/her vow felt left field to me. This might be a construction issue: is the sparring partner avenging her or is he/she avenging Grit's enemies? As written, it's the latter, and I think that's causing some of the issue (You avenge the victim, not the trespasser– the victim is Grit, not her enemies)
    I'd prefer the rebel leader, elegant girl, and mangy dog sequence to be done with commas– ie. "a rebel leader…,an elegant girl… and a mangy dog…", but this may be just preference
    Part of me wonders since the sparring partner comes back if you shouldn't just give him/her a name in the query. He/she sounds important
    I also wasn't sure about the stakes of the query– she's doing this to preserve Thresh's ancient beauty? Is that high enough stakes– that the beauty may be ruined? Not sure that would convince me this is something I need to read (and it sounds like the stakes are in fact higher, looking at your pitch)
    Really enjoyed your revised pitch– think it's a great move in the right direction!
    -Steve

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s