Surprise #PitMad Pitch Critiques!

Photo credit: Jorge Quinteros on Flickr
So this year’s #PitMad event is a week from today (so on 3/11/15), and I’m on Spring Break which means extra time which means I’m doing one of my favorite critique events right here on Writability. 

For the first time in about a year, I’ll critique your Twitter pitch right here in the comments from today, March 2nd to Thursday, March 5 at midnight. (Or rather, I’ll critique late night Thursday ones on Friday, but they will be critiqued if they're posted before midnight).

Some rules!

  1. You must read this post on how to write a great Twitter pitch, FIRST. Granted, there’s no way for me to check, but I’m going on honor system here. The reason this is pseudo-mandatory is because I promise it’ll help you with Twitter pitch basics. And my past experience says I tend to refer people back to that post a lot.

    Bonus: read this post on the top 5 Twitter pitch mistakes I saw during #PitchMAS

  2. Pay it forward by critiquing at least THREE other pitches. Two reasons for this: first, it’s just plain nice and second, it’ll help you figure out what works and doesn’t work in a pitch (which you can then apply to your own pitch! yay!). Also, you'll be more likely to get critiques from people other than myself, as well as my critique. Which is good for everyone. :) 

  3. You may post as many pitches are you want, HOWEVER, I can only promise to get to one per person. I will do my darnedest to try to get to them all, but these events have gotten pretty hugenormous in the past, so I can’t guarantee I’ll get to every single pitch if you post more than one.

    Related: if you post more than one, please post them in separate comments (unless they’re super similar, i.e.: which version do you think is better?). This makes it easier for me to critique and get through the pitches in a more organized fashion. 

Helpful tips:

  • For examples of winning pitches (i.e.: pitches that got requests), check out this awesome round-up from a past #PitMad event from Carissa Taylor.

  • For tips on the event itself, look at this post (and also don’t do this. No really. Don’t).

  • You can check your character count without accidentally tweeting here.

  • UPDATE: Alyssa in the comment recommended this really awesome post from my agent sister Diana Urban about what #PitMad is with great tips, and it includes a downloadable spreadsheet where you can schedule your posts and it automatically counts your characters. It's pretty fabulous. Check it out! 

  • Don’t forget to save room for your genre, category and the hashtag! A quick rundown:

    PB = Picture book
    MG = Middle Grade
    YA = Young Adult
    NA = New Adult
    A[genre]/Adult = Adult

    SF = Science Fiction
    F = Fantasy
    UF = Urban Fantasy
    PNR = Paranormal Romance
    CR = Contemporary Romance
    WF = Women’s Fiction
    HisFic = Historical Fiction
    SpecFic = Speculative Fiction

    Others I've frequently seen written out/abbreviated to the best of the writer's ability.

And that's it! Let’s see those pitches! :) 

UPDATE 3/6/15: While I will not be critiquing pitches posted after midnight on 3/5/15, feel free to keep posting pitches and critiquing each other! The forum has been super lively and awesome, so I've decided to keep it open. Happing critting! :)

Twitter-sized bites: 
Are you entering #PitMad? Get your pitch critiqued before next week's event! (Click to tweet)  
Thinking about entering #PitMad? Get a free pitch critique from author/assistant editor @Ava_Jae here. (Click to tweet)

176 comments:

Alyssa said...

Ooh, so this is the surprise you teased on Twitter ;) Thanks so much for doing this, Ava!

My pitch: To save her son, a social upstart must challenge a kingdom, confront a childhood friend and dead queen, and condemn her husband. #PitMad #A

And slipping in a second one which I'm considerably less certain about: Mulan was sold into the army. She gave up her family for a crown. 8 yr after her execution, she leaves behind a segregated China. #PitMad #A

*taps fingers nervously* Exactly 140 for both, hopefully made sense. Looking forward to reading everyone else's pitches!

P.S. By the way, for Twitter pitch parties I use this handy spreadsheet created by Diana Urban; there are time slots and everything, and the spreadsheet automatically tells you the number of characters. Here's the link for those interested: http://dianaurban.com/how-pitmad-helped-me-get-a-literary-agent-and-tips-for-the-next-one

Tamara said...

Thanks for doing this, Ava! I read through your posts, and one noted to avoid a phrase like "secret" since many pitches use that. My pitch used that, so I included the pitch I entered for Pitch Madness and a variation of it. Thanks so much for your feedback!

Her only love sprang from her only hate & spying on his dreams. Can she kill enemy king knowing his secret? ROMEO&JULIET + REIGN #YA #F

Delania spies on dreams, making her a powerful ally in a deadly war. Too bad she can't pick what side she's on. REIGN w/magic #YA #F #PitMad



Thank you!
Tamara

Alyssa said...

Hi Tamara, I really like your second pitch. Great rhythm there. I do think the adjectives could be trimmed down to make space for describing the war and/or the sides -- in particular the enemy king mentioned in the first one.


As for your first pitch, the Shakespeare reference and twist made me smile, but the latter bit is a little vague. What secret are we referring to? I'm assuming it's something in the dreams, but since we don't know what it is, the rhetorical question sort of sets it up for a less-than-empathetic response. How does this secret actually make her hesitate? (That's the issue with the word secret, I guess; secrets can be "He kicks puppies in his spare time" to "He's actually a zombie with an army of undead lions hidden in his dungeon". Exaggeration, but you see what I mean, hopefully?)

Taylor Lavati said...

Wow, this is really awesome! Thank you so much for being so kind. I think I've spent three hours at work going through all the pitch madness, pitmad, etc articles. I've changed around my pitch madness one and narrowed it to exactly 140 characters :)

Ex-foster-kid Lana is kidnapped after National assault. She falls for her captor and they run, fighting Eaters along the way. #Pitmad #NAdys

Can't wait to read everyone else's too! Such great experience.

Ava Jae said...

Yes! This is indeed the surprise! :) And you're so welcome!


Okay, this is interesting! You've got your stakes set up (saving her son), and I like the mention of the dead queen and condemning her husband, but I have a few questions. Firstly, I don't think "confront a childhood friend" is necessary—that could mean just about anything, and it doesn't really add much to the pitch, to me. That then saves you room to maybe squeeze in what she's condemning her husband TO (death? exile? a boring job?). Also, I'm not sure if the #A here is supposed to be Adult or something else (Adventure?). If it's adult, I might just use the genre tag instead (Fantasy, I'm guessing?). Oftentimes if there's a genre tag without a category tag, it's assumed it's adult.


Good luck!


P.S.: That link is excellent! I'm going to add it to the post. Thanks, Alyssa!

Ava Jae said...

Hi Tamara,


I agree with Alyssa about your second pitch being stronger. I also like your book comps (Reign with magic? Cool!). That said, in both pitches, the biggest problem I'm noticing is I'm not sure what the stakes are. What will happen if Delania picks the wrong side? Why does this conflict matter to Delania? What is she risking? If you clarify what this means to Delania and what she could lose, this will be much stronger.


Good luck!

Ava Jae said...

Hey Taylor!


Firstly, I'm giving you a big high-five for writing NA SpecFic. That's a super challenging segment of the market, but I love it. :)


Now for your pitch. The biggest issue I'm seeing is you've got too many terms that are making your pitch a little difficult to understand. In a Twitter pitch, it can be REALLY difficult to get a made-up proper noun term across, and in this case you have two (National and Eaters) and I have no idea what they mean, which then lessens the stakes and conflict of your pitch because I don't understand entirely what's going on. I recommend removing the proper noun terms and replacing them with something that everyone will be able to understand.


Secondly, I'm not sure what's at stake for Lana or what her goal is. Yes, she falls in love with her captor and they're on the run, but so what? What do they want to accomplish? What will happen if they don't accomplish their goal? This is really important to try to get across in your pitch, because it gets to the heart of your story.


I hope this helps! Good luck!

Taylor Lavati said...

Hey Alyssa! I'm definitely intrigued by the condemning husband. I wonder what the girls name is. And her age and a quality that's unique to her. I've read that agents look for that. I like the "to save her son" because the wanted outcome is clear.


Nice spreadsheet, too!

Taylor Lavati said...

Tamara--


I definitely like your second pitch. But I think there's too many filler words. I want to know more about Delania, something extra. It doesn't feel explosive. I don't watch Reign, I'm guessing it's a show. I think it's a lot to elude to a tv program because you might cross off some agents who don't know about the show.


Other than that, awesome. Definitely interesting. I want to know more!

Patchi said...

Ava, you're awesome. Thanks for giving us a forum to critique our pitches and sharing your expertise. What do you think of these two?

Waterbending in the rainforest: 17yo Sophia awakens the Water Goddess and sets out to bring peace to her ravaged homeland. #YA F #Pitmad

17yo Sophia awakens the Water Goddess and sets out to prevent her conquering uncle from killing off the rainforest tribes. #YA F #Pitmad

Jenny Chou said...

#pitmad YA One last heist and then college! But Sasha ends up w/o the priceless
sapphire & framed for theft.Can she find the real thief?

Jenny Chou said...

Thanks for doing this Ava! So generous. :)

Tamara said...

Alyssa, thanks for critiquing my pitch! I find this intriguing as well. I would say to lose the "confront a childhood friend" phrase too because I would really like to know a little more about the world. Could you sprinkle that in? Is this fantasy by the way? Like the dead queen is intriguing on the one hand, but I wonder if it lessens the tension because she's dead, right? While Ava wants a bit more about what her husband was condemned to I wonder if you could add a word that further illustrates the danger from this dead queen.

Tamara said...

Thank you! I have an idea. Just trying to fit it into 140 characters....

Tamara said...

Hi, Taylor.


I agree with Ava about the Nationals and Eaters, but if you kept one, I'd suggest to keep the Eaters. That sounds ominous! I wonder if the ex-foster-kid is necessary to the plot. If you eliminate that, you would have more characters to add her goal more clearly as Ava suggested. Good luck!

Tamara said...

Hi, Jenny! I find the beginning of this particularly appealing. Agents seem to really be into heist stories, too, so good luck with that! The question at the end lessens the tension for me. I wonder if there's another way you can illustrate the stakes. Good luck!

Tamara said...

Hi, Patchi. I find these really appealing because Water Goddess sounds awesome. There's clearly a quest. And who are the rainforest tribes? They sound like people I'd like to know. In other words, I'm really interested in the world, but I don't know that I get a strong enough sense of it to understand the stakes. I think a combination of the first and second pitch with clearer stakes would be excellent. Good luck!

Ava Jae said...

Hey, Patchi! You're so welcome! I've had fun with these in the past, so I'm glad I can do them again!


So I think between the two, your second one is stronger. The first I'm not sure who is waterbending (Sophia or the Water Goddess? Or is SHE the Water Goddess?) and while I know what waterbending is (because of Avatar and Korra) I wonder if that term might confuse people who haven't watched the show? Not a huge deal. The other issue with the first pitch is I have no idea what the conflict is. It sounds like Sophia found a really good solution to helping her homeland and everything is happy.


Your second pitch gives us a better idea of the problem (her conquering uncle is killing off rainforest tribes), but I want to know why it matters to Sophia. What does Sophia have to lose? Why is this so important to her? If we see why it matters to Sophia, we can get a better understanding of what she has to lose.


I hope this helps! Good luck!

Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome! :)

Ava Jae said...

Hi Jenny!


I think you're close here, but your pitch could maybe use a little reorganizing and information. Maybe something along the lines of...


"Sasha's last heist ends w/o the sapphire & w/ an arrest warrant. Now she must find the real thief [OR WHAT?]" What I'm trying to get at is we still need to know what Sasha has at stake—that is, what she has to lose. What will happen if she doesn't find the real thief?


I hope this helps! Good luck!

Patchi said...

Thanks, Ava & Tamara! It's so hard to get the pitch just right. I keep taking Sophia's mixed descent out because I feel it makes it confusing. Here are some tweaks (not that I'm expecting a second round of crits, but just in case anyone else wants to drop their cents).

17yo Sophia awakens the rainforest Water Goddess and needs to
prevent her conquering uncle from killing off her tribal relatives. #YA F #Pitmad

Waterbending in the rainforest: 17yo Sophia seeks a SHROUDED GODDESS to stop her conquering uncle from killing her tribal family. #YA F #Pitmad

Patchi said...

I like your second one more than the first, it's less vague. But the second sentence left me wanting a bit more. Maybe say why she can't pick a side?

Jenny Chou said...

How about something like: She must choose a side in a deadly or . . . what?

Ava Jae said...

You're welcome! If you need help condensing, feel free to post it. Someone might be able to help. :)

Argyle Hartley said...

Hi, thanks for doing this! I have already had some comments, but as this is so subjective, every view point helps! Here is my pitch:

11yo Alex just learned she's a shapeshifting dragon. At dragonschool, her BFF is kidnapped and Alex must stage a daring rescue! #MGF #PitMad

Thank you again :)
Argyle

E.G. Moore said...

Love it when you give back! Thanks for this help!



12yo trickster Dom witnesses cop’s murder. When Dom's bully
is wrongly arrested for it, will Dom speak up? Tom Sawyer based. #MG #pitmad

E.G. Moore said...

In UNDER DOGGY girl imagines each swing push transforms her
into diving penguin, astronaut "planting a star-freckled flag", etc #PB #pitmad

Shelly Steig said...

Ava, you rock. Thanks for doing this. I notice there aren't any PBs pitched yet, so I'll volunteer to be the first:-)

PRINCE FROG Tad is changed into a warty boy when he makes his pond a murky mess. He must get it clean to once again be green #PB #PITMAD

E.G. Moore said...

I love the idea of dragon school and dragon shapeshifting, but this feels off somehow. If you can remove "just learned" and simply state that she is a shapeshifting dragon, that gives you more characters to expand on details of rescue. Also the word stage makes the urgency of saving her BFF less exciting somehow. Try something like:

11yo Alex is a shapeshifting dragon. At dragonschool, her BFF is kidnapped because XYZ, and Alex must XYZ to save her.

Hope this helps! Best of luck!

Mayken said...

Ava, you're awesome! Many thanks for doing this!
I'd already read your excellent posts on pitching before, but the one by Diana Urban was new to me - great!
So all that said, here's my pitch:
She is a mage-in-training. He is a dragon in
exile. When a dragon army plans to kill all mages, they have to team up-or die.

Patchi said...

I love this spin on the frog prince tale.

@Cpoe2Books said...

I am relatively new to twitter pitches so pardon my novice opinion, but this stumped me for a little bit. Is the title completely necessary and does the little girl have a name?
Maybe..."With each new push of her swing..."
I think the placement of "push" is what really threw me off. Hope this helps.

Patchi said...

I like the spin on Tom Sawyer, but I think you need stronger stakes. Would anyone believe Dom if he came forward?

Patchi said...

I read the first page of UNDER DOGGY, so this probably makes more sense to me than others, but I think the title is detrimental to the pitch. I don't think you need it, anyway. Maybe: With each push mommy gives the swing, [girl's name] "becomes"...

Patchi said...

I agree with the comment that you don't need the "just learned" and that more details on the kidnapping would be helpful.

Taylor Lavati said...

First of all, THANK YOU SO MUCH for this opportunity. I'm sure you've heard that a lot, but I really, really appreciate you taking a peek at my pitches.


So I've been working on pitches all day. These are my top three (I think). Thoughts greatly appreciated. I need all the help I can get!

Humans want one thing: safety. But Lana's kidnapping changes her as she picks up more survivors in her quest for a new society. #pitmad #NA

With the help of her kidnapper and knife, Lana seeks safey in a destroyed world. Infected humans roam with one goal: murder. #NAdys #pitmad

When Lana escapes her kidnapper, she runs in a world of infected humans with 1 goal: kill. Her group seeks safety in chaos. #pitmad #NAdys

@Cpoe2Books said...

Thank you for another generous opportunity. I have read your articles regarding twitter pitches, but the application of good advice is always harder than reading it. I hope suggestions can be made for improvement.

When her aunt destroys their kingdom, a spell tosses Crysta out of time.Centuries later she's back & auntie still wants her dead #PitMad NA

Ava Jae said...

Hi Argyle! I agree with what's been said so far. I also want to know what's at stake. Alex must save her...or what? Sure, I'm assuming her friend is in trouble, but is that the extent of the scope of the problem? Is it a personal thing, or was her bff kidnapped for a reason that affects more people? E.G.'s suggestion, I think, will help you clarify that.


Good luck!

Ava Jae said...

This sounds so cute! I also agree with Patchi—the Frog Prince spin is so fun.


Honestly, I think you've done a great job with this. We know the conflict (Tad transformed into a warty boy), his goal (become a frog again)...I'd say maybe show us a little better what's standing between Tad and his goal. He has the clean the pond, but what's stopping him?


Other than that, I think this is pretty darn strong already. Nice job! :)

Ava Jae said...

Sure thing, E.G.! :)


I agree with Patchi that I think the stakes need to be stronger, and related, I want to know what's stopping Dom from speaking up. Why doesn't he? What will happen? What will happen if he DOESN'T speak up? We need to know what the conflict is and what Dom has to lose.


I hope this helps! Good luck!

Ava Jae said...

Ha ha thanks, Mayken! You're very welcome! Also, I'm glad you found Diana's post helpful! I thought it was perfect when Alyssa suggested it. :)


So as for your pitch, on a minor note, you can make "she is" and "he is" into "she's" and "he's" to save you some characters. Also, make sure you have an em dash between "team up" and "die" (right now it's a shorter dash). Also, you can do "#YAF" instead of "#YA F" to save space.


Okay, on a larger scale note, I feel as though the stakes are actually bigger here than you're saying. Yes, they could die, but if the dragon army is going to kill ALL mages, isn't that bigger than them? Also, I'm not sure why the boy has to team up with her—if he's a dragon, shouldn't he be fighting against her? I understand he's exiled, but I don't understand why he'd get involved at all. What's at stake for him?


Maybe try something like: When a dragon army plots to kill all mages, a mage-in-training and exiled dragon must [goal] or [consequence of failure].


I hope this helps. Good luck!

Ava Jae said...

You're welcome! And you're very right that application can be tricky, but I appreciate you reading. :)


So the biggest thing I'm seeing here is we don't know Crysta's goal (beyond survival) or what's at stake. What must Crysta do? What will happen if she fails?


Maybe to condense you could do something like...


After destroying the kingdom, Crysta's aunt tosses her centuries into the future. Now [she must X] or [she will lose Y/ bad thing will happen].


I hope this helps! Good luck!

Ava Jae said...

I agree with everyone about removing the title. We don't need to know it to understand your pitch, and right now it's taking up space you could use to expand on the pitch.


I'm also not sure what the conflict is, what's at stake or what your MC's goal is. It sounds cute, but what's the heart of the story? What is your MC trying to accomplish? What will happen if she doesn't?


If you answer those questions, I think you'll have a much stronger pitch. Good luck!

Ashlyn said...

Thank you for doing this.

I've got a few very similar versions

Zoe's met the girl of her dreams, if she can get past
the fur and fangs. Beauty must meet a bully’s demands to keep her
Beast safe. #pitmad

Zoe met the girl of her dreams if she can get past the fur
and fangs. Beauty must lie to and hide to keep Beast off a lab table #ya
#pitmad

Zoe met the girl of her dreams if she can get past the fur
and fangs. Beauty must cave to a bully to keep Beast off a lab table #ya
#pitmad

Tamara said...

Hi, Argyle. I agree with the comments below as well. I wanted to say I love this concept, and I would totally buy a book like this for my nephews!

Tamara said...

I agree! This is adorable. And as a fan of the Frog Prince, I would love to read this! Good luck with your pitching. :)

Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome, Taylor! I really do enjoy doing this, and it's good practice for me. :)


So your second and third pitches are much stronger than your first. I think, however, that there needs to be a goal larger than safety. I mean yes, Lana and her friends want to survive, but what will they do to ensure their survival? I'm guessing there must be some end goal to ensure permanent survival rather than day to day survival, right? What must Lana do in order to ensure that survival? If you show us that, I think it'll be even stronger.


On a minor note, you can save space by removing mention of the knife. (And if you decide to use the first pitch anyway, definitely remove "Humans want one thing: safety." It's too general and could be said about anything, so it doesn't really tell us anything about your story.)


I hope this helps!

Tamara said...

E.G., I agree with the other comments below. I wanted to add though, that the use of the MC's name three times in this brief pitch is distracting. I wonder if you could change that and perhaps give yourself a few more characters. Good luck!

Tamara said...

Hi, again, E.G.


I agree with the comments below. In fact, until I read their comments, I didn't really understand what was happening in the pitch. With so many tweets popping up every minute, I fear agents and editors won't give much time to something if they can't understand it immediately. Ava raised some great questions. What's most important here? That the swing transports her? What she becomes? What she wants? What she might lose? I guess I'd like to see that as the focus of the pitch. Good luck!

Ava Jae said...

I'm happy to, Ashlyn!


Before I even start critiquing, holy crow, I LOVE THIS PREMISE SO MUCH. F/F Beauty and the Beast? Yes, please!


Okay, I'm going to actually critique your pitches now. *clears throat*


So I totally love "Zoe's met the girl of her dreams, if she can get past the fur and fangs." So great. From there, I think your second pitch is the strongest, though there might be a typo? Is it supposed to be "Beauty must lie and hide to keep Beat off a lab table"? Anyway, I think this works best because we have specific example of what will happen if she fails to protect Beast (versus the first one where "keep her safe" is really vague).


On a super minor note, if you fix the typo, you have room for genre as well as category, so I suggest you include that. Is this YA F (Fantasy) or YA SF (Sci-Fi)? That alone will also give us a better idea of what to expect in your book.


I suggest you use the last two pitches. I actually don't have a real critique here other than suggesting you fix the typo, add the genre, and skip the first pitch. Really nice job. I'm super intrigued.

Alyssa said...

Hi Taylor, I agree with what Ava said about safety not being a strong enough goal. It's pretty much a given that they're trying to avoid these infected humans, so how are they maybe finding a cure or building a new community or any sort of larger goal? How does this conflict with her relationship?


I'm also wondering about the captor in the first pitch. He doesn't feel very sympathetic here since all he does is kidnap Lana, so I can't root for them to successfully run away together. But obviously you might choose to drop that in the end, so.

Stacy Ricco said...

Immortals Alexis and Damianos are racing the Nazis to find the Spear of Destiny. The winner determines the fate of the world.#pitmad #HisFan

Alyssa said...

Thank you so much for the critiques! Here's a revised version:

To save her son, social upstart Ylen must challenge a kingdom, expose husband's role in the popular queen's death, & become a widow. #PitMad


(I also realised that the pitch framed this as sort of a ghost story. Unfortunately, that's not really true--more a superstition thing--but anyways, I also tried to reword and avoid that confusion.)

P.S.: Glad it was useful! And ooh, the two of you are agent sisters? The writing world really is small :)

Alyssa said...

Hi Stacy, I think the main issue here is specifics. What's the Spear of Destiny do? What exactly is the fate of the world? I'm also not sure if the names are relevant, and deleting those could spare some description for the immortals.


I'm also wondering why immortals care about the fate of the world. What sort of personal stake do they have for a world of people who keep dying in front of them?

Alyssa said...

Ooh, this is a really great idea. I agree that it's pretty strong already, but I'd like to know how he made the pond murky and/or like Ava said, how he makes it clean.

Stacy Ricco said...

It's a historical fantasy novel set during WWII. According to legend whoever possess the Spear of Destiny controls the fate of the world. Keeping it out of the hands of the Nazis would be top priority for almost anyone, including Immortals.

Alyssa said...

Seconded on the title + conflict. The major thing here is that it's just interesting imagery. What's stopping her from becoming a great acrobat? What problems will she face if she does that?

Alyssa said...

I agree with what's been said about the stakes, but I'm wondering who (or what) kidnapped her BFF. I think that would help make it clearer what the daring rescue is all about.


I actually like the exclamation mark, since I feel it adds to the kid-appropriate tone. Like, childish excitement? But it's a minor point.

Alyssa said...

I agree with what Ava said about goal & stakes, but I'm also concerned about the voice here. Because the entire set-up is very serious and the second sentence, while very catchy, is also a bit snarky. Just a minor thing on voice.

Ava Jae said...

Hi Stacy! I completely agree with basically everything Alyssa said. Even with your side explanation, I don't know what "fate of the world" means for your book. What, specifically, will happen if the spear gets in the wrong hands? Will Nazis change the course of history and rule over Europe and the Americas? Will they just wipe humans off the face of the Earth? Where do the Immortals fit in? What's their role in all of this?


Try something like:


Immortals Alexis and Damianos must [GOAL] or [BAD THING IF THEY FAIL].


Obviously it doesn't have to be that exactly but hopefully that'll give you a framework to play with!

Ava Jae said...

Ohhhhhh this is so much better. It's much more clear than the first one and definitely has me intrigued. I have no critique. Great job. :)


As a side note, I don't see any ghost story confusion here.


(And yes we are! It really is a small world. ^_^)

Alyssa said...

Thank you so much, Ava -- both for the critique and the opportunity to turn this into a forum-ish thing. I'm really enjoying trawling through the other pitches + critiques :D

Alyssa said...

Seconded on what Ava says about the stakes. I'm also wondering how a) college factors into this, b) is this just any old sapphire or is it special among sapphires, and c) what's stopping her from finding the real thief. There's maybe a little too much info here; try to streamline it wrt conflict?

Suja Su said...

Thanks so much for doing this

To prove her sister’s drug overdose was murder, Mira must defy her strict Indian parents & team up with a jock. YA Contemp #pitmad

Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome! This pitch sounds really cool!


So I immediately have two questions: firstly, how does teaming up with a jock prove her sister's drug overdose was murder? And second, what is she doing that defies her parents? Hanging out with the jock? Looking into the murder/overdose?


I think by clarifying that, you'll be able to better tie everything together and make it more understandable. I hope that helps! Good luck!

Suja Su said...

Hi, I like your second pitch. It is more defined. Though I'm not very clear on the stakes, it hooks me enough to want more.

Leslie said...

Thanks for doing this. ***Tip sort by newest so you can see all the comments in order. That way it's easier to see who needs some lovin'**


A 17yo superhero’s secret identity
is threatened when she teams up with a new superhero who may or may not be the
enemy #YA #pitmad

Suja Su said...

Hi,
I love the premise, but nor sure on the stakes here. She awakens the Goddess and stops her uncle. Is there a flip side to this? Either an obstacle in her way to stop her from getting to the goddess, or possibly some other danger from the Goddess herself. Something like -
17 yo Sophia must awaken the reclusive rainforest Water Goddess to stop her uncle from killing her tribal family.
To protect her family from her murderous once, 17 yo Sophia must awaken the Water Goddess & risk ___
Hope that helped some :)

Suja Su said...

Thanks so much :)

Leslie said...

I agree with Ava, I love this premise. I like the second one over the third, because I feel as if you're introducing a third character that now I have several questions about.
Also, for clarity. Zoe is the Beast, But does Beauty have a name that you just didn't have room for in the pitch? Other than that it look great.

Suja Su said...

I love that the superhero is female. Wondering if you could avoid repeating 'superhero'. Also, 'may or may not' doesn't really give me the stakes. You could just go with 'may be the enemy' and that might give you some stakes to let us know what'll happen if her identity is compromised.

Alyssa said...

I agree with Suja on rewording "may or may not be" and the stakes. I'm wondering if we can know more about the MC beyond superhero, and why she has to team up with the probably-enemy.

Tiffany Simone said...

GM Ava, I am excited to take part for the first time in this #PitMad Pitch Critique process. Please see below my #NA #PitMad Pitches. Which version do you think is better?

Symone's is carrying a terrible secret. She reveals it to late, too save herself, and the ones she loves. #NA #PitMad

and

The cover-up of a horrific secret has a chain reaction Symone never so coming. Exposing the truth may be the only way to stop it. #NA #PitMad

and

Symone lose control of the web of lies she spun, She must tell the truth, even if it means giving up her last chance for love. #NA #PitMad


Appreciate you feedback, thanks.
Tiffany Simone

Alyssa said...

I definitely like the third pitch more than the other two, because there's a significant loss to doing "the right thing". That said, why "must" she tell the truth? What does losing control mean? And why exactly is it "her last chance" for love? (I'd recommend cutting out "last chance for" and freeing up some space for specificity.)


As for the first two, I don't quite see the real goal in the first pitch. There's conflict, but with a foregone conclusion it's not so enticing. (Is this an inciting incident? If so, what does it incite?) And the "terrible secret" (or horrific secret in the second) could really be anything. If you could relate that to the last chance at love, that would help. In the second pitch, more specifics on the chain reaction would be great, and including the losing-love stakes would help explain why she doesn't want to expose the truth, even though she should.

Tiffany Simone said...

GM Ava, I am excited to take part for the first time in this #PitMad Pitch Critique process. Please see below my #PB #PitMad Pitches. Which version do you think is better?

Strange rustling sounds r coming from the living room. Ronnie investigates and finds more then a theft under the Xmas Tree. #PB #PitMad

and

After many years of no Santa sightings, Ronnie is ready to give up on riding in his sled, until wakes and finds him in his apt. #PB #PitMad

and

The time has come to pass down family tradition, from father to son. Ronnie is caught off guard when he finds out Pops is, who? #PB #PitMad

Alyssa said...

I thought I'd try my hand at this again, so I totally understand if you can't get to this, Ava, but here goes:

- Mulan didn’t volunteer for army, she was sold. In segregated China, she must give up family & enter politics for freedom & a crown. #PitMad

- Mulan was sold into the army. A lower class girl in segregated China, she must give up family & join politics for freedom & a crown. #PitMad

(Minor question, my MC's not really called Mulan, but this is okay to convey a retelling, right?)

Thank you again for the opportunity :)

Alyssa said...

Okay, I actually quite like the premise of Santa Claus being Ronnie's dad. However, I only understood that by reading all three pitches. The imagery in the first pitch is a little off-putting and doesn't mention Santa or Dad. The second one is an intriguing contrast, but finding someone in your apartment could be anything from burglary to selling girl scout cookies to yes, being your dad. I prefer the third pitch out of all three, but it again doesn't mention Santa. See if you can consolidate into something like this:

When Ronnie finds out Pops is Santa Claus, he must [goal] or [consequence of failure].

Patchi said...

Thanks, Suja!

Tiffany Simone said...

GM Ava, I am excited to take part for the first time in this #PitMad Pitch Critique process. Please see below my #Thiller #PitMad Pitches. Which version do you think is better?

The discovery of being the product of rape, sends Mykia's perfect life in a tailspin and on the FBIs most wanted list. #Thriller #PitMad

and

The past turns Mykia perfect life upside down. It threatens her job and family, and puts her on the opposite side of the law. #Thriller #PitMad

and

Family secrets, push over-worked, stressed-out Mykia over the edge, on the opposite side of the law, and wanted by FBI. #Thriller #PitMad


Appreciate the feedback, thanks.
Tiffany Simone

Shelly Steig said...

I agree that the title muddied the waters a bit--I was imagining a story about a girl and her pup. I love the premise though that the child uses the swing to get her imagination pumping:-)

Shelly Steig said...

This is a question for Ava too--Does EG need to mention the age of the protag if the tag is MG? That might also give you more characters to explain stakes...

Mayken said...

I'm with the others, I don't think you need "just learned". I'd go for more information about the kidnapping instead, too. Try it out with E.G.'s template.
Good luck!

Shelly Steig said...

Thanks so much everyone. I've pitched this during PitMad before and only got one bite. I've been wondering what I'm doing wrong:-) I thought maybe it was too didactic. Here's a question for everyone who's participated before: Is there a risk you oversaturate if you continue pitching the same story for several PitMads??

Ava Jae said...

Generally ages are a good idea in MG, YA and NA pitches, if only so agents/editors can make sure it's categorized correctly. (You'd be surprised how many pitches I've seen with protags that are the wrong age for their category).

Ava Jae said...

Yes and no. I don't think it really hurts you to keep participating, but it's good to keep in mind that those who have already seen your pitch won't look at it as closely the second (or third) time around.

Mayken said...

"Thirded" on the stakes. I'd suggest to replace that question by "She must find the real thief or..." [Just realised that's what Ava already said.] And yes, why do you mention college? If it's important, it should be clearer why. IF not, take it out, you'll have more space for the stakes.
Good luck!

Mayken said...

That sounds fun. But I agree with Ava & the others, we need to see the difficulty about getting the pond clean.

Good luck!

Sarovar said...

Hi Ava,

Thank you so much for hosting this! Your post on how to write pitches was really helpful as well. Here are my pitches:

#MGF #Pitmad The world is ending & Nelle is the anomaly who stands in the way.Her alien skills can help her but her human ones matter most.

and

#Pitmad #MGF 13yo living parallel lives. In the more interesting one she has cool superhuman abilities. But is it real?



-Sarovar

Rebecca Smith-Allen said...

Ava, first of all, thanks so much for doing this! I'm going to leave an A, B or C choice. Which do you think works best?

Programming camp is Jared’s ticket to fame and fortune. But when the star programmer’s game is stolen, he tops the suspect list. #MG #pitmad

Star programmer is found unconscious, his game code is gone. Jared races to solve the crime & get himself off the suspect list. #MG #pitmad

Geeks. Coding. The theft of a new game days before launch. Jared’s plan
was to skill up at programming camp, not top a suspect list. #pitmad

Rebecca Smith-Allen said...

Hi, Tiffany!

This sounds like a really interesting story! I'd love to know more.

I think I like the first one the most, because it is the most specific. It's rape that starts Mykia's crisis. But what I REALLY want to know, is why is she wanted by the FBI? I think being more specific about your conflict will make your pitch even stronger. You could take out "perfect life in a tailspin" to make room. Even though that's interesting, being specific will help you more.

I hope that helps! Good luck!

Rebecca Smith-Allen said...

Hi Sarovar!

I love Sci Fi and this sounds really interesting!

First, I don't know what MGF stands for. I think you just want #MG or agents searching for MG won't find you. Second, I like your second pitch. The parallel lives, one with superpowers sounds really cool! I think it might be stronger if you said what her superpowers were.

I hope that helps! Best of luck!

Rebecca Smith-Allen said...

You know, I like the college thing. Maybe it's b/c I read the pitch on pitch plus one so I know that she was going for a normal life after being a thief. I really like that. But most agents won't know that. In fact they might think that she needs the heist to pay for college, which is an interesting twist, actually.

I'm not going to disagree with people who have much more experience at the pitch parties than me, but you might put one pitch with college out there since you've got, what, 24 to work with. Experiment a little!

Best of luck!

Jenny Chou said...

Thanks Rebecca!

Jenny Chou said...

I like pieces of all of them. But I've seen your work in several contests so I know how fabulous it is! I like TOPS THE SUSPECT LIST, RACES TO SOLVE THE CRIME, and just the simple words GEEKS and CODING. If I had to choose I'd say C is the best.

Rebecca Smith-Allen said...

Thanks, Jenny!

Leslie said...

I liked the first one better. Stakes are clear, I'm a little iffy about the last line. The wording sounds off to me. maybe try something like "he's the #1 suspect" or something else along the same lines.


I hope this helps

Morgyn Star said...

Ava, gonna play, but have a question when the 'real' #Pitmad opens, if a ms isn't completely ready go, do we or don't we Tweet?


Huge thanks!

Ava Jae said...

Definitely do not tweet if you don't have a finished MS. Pitch events are for completed manuscripts only, because editors and agents will be making requests (and you don't want to end up in a position of having to rush to finish your manuscript to get it to them).

Ava Jae said...

Sure thing! :)

Morgyn Star said...

Another monster thank you!

Laura Rueckert said...

Hi Alyssa, this sounds interesting, and I think the setting will be popular! I'd use your MC's real name instead of Mulan. I like the second pitch better because it flows. If you can figure out a way to add the consequences of not managing the politics/getting the crown, it would be even better. "she must grab political power & the crown or..." Good luck!

Julie Artz said...

Thanks so much for doing this, Ava! Here's what I've got, not sure if any of them are "the one" and would love your advice, especially on the comp in the first one (hate to comp something so popular even if it's a perfect fit).

#Pitmad #MG Kane Chronicles meets Finnish mythology. Expat siblings race to save the Sampo, an ancient relic, from power-hungry scientists.

#Pitmad #MG When expat siblings discover stories in the Finnish myth, The Kalevala, are real, they must choose: save Dad or save the world.

When siblings discover Finnish mythology is real, they must find an ancient relic from The Kalevala before it destroys the world #Pitmad #MG

#Pitmad #MG Siblings race to save a Finnish mythological relic from plotting scientists before they use it to disrupt Earth's magnetic poles

Julie Artz said...

I agree about #MGF (which is my genre too--woo hoo!). Definitely use #MG because some agents search by agent category.

I like "alien skills" better than "superhuman abilities" and it also opens up a few more characters for you to sneak another detail into that second pitch to really make it pop.

Julie Artz said...

I'd love to have the age category here because my first thought was MG (because of the original Mulan), but the politics element makes me wonder if it's for an older audience.

I wonder if you could use "Mulan meets XYZ" as a comp to convey the retelling aspect of your story (love the concept, by the way!)? I wouldn't just call your MC Mulan because I don't think it conveys a retelling and you want to make sure that's very clear in an admittedly small space.

I agree with Laura--get some stakes in here and that, combined with your unique concept, should be a hit!

Julie Artz said...

Yeah, in that first one, I thought it could be a horror pitch (horrible alien under the tree!) or a romance (sexy guy under the tree) until I saw the #PB tag. Love this concept, but think you need to convey that Dad's Santa and that Ronnie was on the verge of not believing when he discovered it.

Ava Jae said...

Hi Sarovar!


So glad to hear you found the pitch-writing post helpful! And you're totally welcome—I really enjoy doing these critiques, and I'm happy to help however I can! :)


As for your pitch, I agree with Rebecca about finding your second pitch more interesting, but I'll also note that these two pitches are so drastically different, they sound like two different stories to me!


So, okay. The reason I think your second pitch is stronger is because it's more specific. Your first pitch is rather vague, both with the end of the world (which could mean a lot of things, really—i.e.: HOW is the world ending?) and the last sentence about her skills, which tell us nothing about what those skills are or how they could stop the end of the world.


Your second pitch, the parallel lives bit sounds interesting...but we don't really know the conflict (or what the other parallel life is). So I actually think your best bet here is to combine the two and ask yourself how you can make it so that you're as specific as possible. For example, I'm assuming Nelle's goal is to save the world, but HOW? And WHAT is she saving the world FROM? I think if you get into those details, we'll have a much better sense of your story, conflict and stakes.


I hope this helps! Good luck!

Genevieve Angelique said...

Ava, thanks so much for sharing your editorial gifts with fellow writers! I have three pitches I'm considering for the upcoming PitMad. Hoping to know if they work and maybe most specifically, which one seems most interesting. Totally understand if you can only critique one. ;)

1) MALIFICENT meets STAR WARS when a winged girl fights a dark Windigo to redeem the boy she loved and betrayed #PitMad #YA #F Native American

2) Ojibwe teen must discover her spirit powers before an evil Windigo ruins her second chance at love #PitMad #YA #F Native American

3) When a Thunder Being escapes an evil Windigo, she must remember her spirit powers to save the boy she loves #PitMad #YA #F Native American

Ava Jae said...

Hi Rebecca!

So wow! I really like these. You've got nice voice going and your story sounds like a lot of fun.

I think these are all pretty strong, but I'm drawn most to the last two. I'd also like to see the stakes stated a little more explicitly, if possible. Something like...

Star programmer is found unconscious, his game code stolen. Jared must find the thief & prove his innocence [OR WHAT?].



What I'm asking here is what will happen to Jared if he DOESN'T prove he wasn't the thief? He's in middle school, so I'm assuming he won't be in prison for the rest of his life or something. What's at stake here?


The last one, I LOVE the voice. Stakes aren't necessarily as clear, but I'd give it a pass if only because I think the voice is pitch perfect for your story (so I'd use this pitch AND the second pitch after you've adjusted it). One minor tweak: I'd change "skill up" to "level up." That's the proper gamer slang. ;)


I hope this helps! Good luck!

Julie Artz said...

I definitely like the first one the best because it's got specific details. Things like "the past" "opposite side of the law" and "threatens her family" are super vague and could apply to many (most?) thrillers. I think you could let the reader assume that Mykia's "world is turned upside down" by learning she's a product of rape and use that extra space to tell us why she's on the FBI's most-wanted list and how she's going to get out of it!

Something like "When Mykia discovers she's a product of rape, she XYZ and ends up on the FBI's Most-Wanted list..."

Julie Schuh said...

Ava, thanks for your willingness to critique. I hope to be ready for PitMad on March 11th.
1) Caroline makes summer camp miserable for Katie until they get lost in the woods and end up finding more than their way home. #PitMad#MG


2) Duffel Bag Girl schemes to make summer camp miserable for her bunkmate KT, but KT takes the high road with a plan of her own. #PitMad#MG

Ava Jae said...

Hi Tiffany!


So I completely agree with Alyssa, and have a few things to add.


Firstly, I tend to advise against using "secrets" in a pitch if at all possible, if only because a) you'd be amazed how many times they're used in a pitch (I have even done this) and b) it tends to be really vague. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but in your case, I think you can probably reword to give us more specific details about your plot.


Somewhat related to that point, is all three of your pitches are rather vague and general. While I agree with Alyssa that your last is your strongest, I think it could still use some work. Symone losing control of "the web of lies she spun" doesn't really tell us very much about Symone, what the lies are related to (i.e.: what kind of lies?) or the gravity/importance of these lies. The second part of your pitch "She must tell the truth, even if it means giving up her last chance for love" has the same issue—it's so vague it could be applied to many many similar stories. What you want to do is get to the details and specifics of your manuscript so that your pitch could only work for your story.


When you're reworking these, ask yourself these three questions:


1) What is Symone's goal? (What is she trying to accomplish?)


2) What is between Symone and her goal?


3) What will happen if Symone fails to achieve her goal? (What does she have to lose? These are your stakes.)


It's very important you try to answer those questions in your pitch, because they get to the heart of your story.


I hope that helps! Good luck with #pitmad!

Ava Jae said...

Hi Leslie!


Firstly, yes on the tip! I automatically have it set so I always see the newest ones first. It's very helpful for these types of events. :)


As for your pitch. I definitely agree with Alyssa and Suja in that you can save some room in your pitch by removing "may or may not be." After reading this, I'm left with a few questions:


1) What is your protagonist's goal? What is it that she wants (or needs) to accomplish?


2) What will happen if she fails to meet her goal? These are the stakes Alyssa and Suja were referring to. It's very important that we understand what your protagonist has to lose so that we can fully understand the importance of her story.


I hope this helps! Good luck!

Ava Jae said...

Happy to! :)

Tiffany Simone said...

Hi Ava, thank you for doing this blog. πŸ˜€ I am looking over the early morning pitches now and will revise accordingly. Here is my four and final genre for your review. Please see below my #CRIME #PitMad Pitches. Which version do you think is better?

Dt. Harris must choose btw. friendship and honor, when he finds out that his pal, a good cop is now rotten to the core. #Crime #PitMad

and

Dt. Harris is sent to the worst Pct. in BK. His pal/partner is tainted by corruption and it jeopardizes their friendship. #Crime #PitMad

and

Dt. Harris is livid and torn about duty when he discovers his pal/partner twisted game of chess, with crooked cops and IA. #Crime #PitMad

Thank you for your time and critiques.
Tiffany Simone

Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome, Julie! And thanks for killing it with the critiques—it was fun watching your comments pop up while I was working on critiques below. :)

Okay, so out of your pitches, I think your last is the strongest, namely because you don't use any story-specific Proper Nouns (which are tough in Twitter pitches because usually there isn't enough context to figure out what they mean, which in my opinion, there isn't here) and because you have really great details that give us specifics about your story.

Here are some tweaks you could make to make it a little more compelling, I think:

Siblings must steal a Finnish mythological relic from plotting scientists before they use it to disrupt Earth's magnetic poles.

It's slightly less wordy, "race" is used in TONS of pitches and "steal" sounds more exciting to me. :)

I also played around with your first one because I like that comp, so I combined it with your last:

#Pitmad #MG Kane Chronicles meets Finnish myths. Siblings must steal a powerful relic before it's used it to disrupt Earth's magnetic poles.



Feel free to use it or not, but hopefully it'll give you some ideas. Good luck! :)

Tiffany Simone said...

Thanks, I think I see where you are going. I am looking over pitch now, so stayed tuned. πŸ˜€

Tiffany Simone said...

Every bit helps for sure, thanks. πŸ˜€

Tiffany Simone said...

Ok, hummmm. I need to dig hard to get that pitch tighter.😞

Tiffany Simone said...

Cool, thanks. I'm look over others critques now. So I can get the hang if this.

Ava Jae said...

Sounds good!

Ava Jae said...

Oh. My. God. This sounds AMAZING. I LOVE that comp and you have a POC MC!! *explodes*

Minor notes:

1) MalEficent has an "e." :)

2) You don't need to write "Native American" at the end. We understand when you mention Windigo and Ojibwe (also, Ojibwe is way more specific than "Native American" which sounds a little like you're generalizing, which you definitely don't want!). Save your characters and use them for something else!

I think of the three, your second pitch is absolutely the strongest. What's working here is you get really specific about your story and you show us the the goal (discover spirit powers), what's standing between your MC and her goal (evil Windigo) and what's at stake (second chance at love). I'm wondering if, after you remove "Native American" from the end, you can combine some of the first pitch...

Ojibwe teen must discover her spirit powers before an evil Windigo ruins her 2nd chance win over the boy she loved & betrayed #PitMad #YA #F (140 characters exactly *victory*)

I also really love that comp, though, so let's see...

MALIFICENT meets STAR WARS. Ojibwe teen must discover her spirit powers before an evil Windigo ruins her 2nd chance at love. #pitmad #YA #F (139 characters).



Those are just suggestions and you're free to use them or not. Either way, I hope they give you some ideas as to how to strengthen your pitches. Good luck! :)

John Berkowitz said...

I've composed 4 different pitches for the same book which I will be rotating throughout the day. I don't expect anyone to critique more than one. And thanks, Ava and everyone, in advance.

A homeschooler who sees faeries among us must abandon her dreams to stop a changeling from using his magic to rule both worlds. #PitMad #MG

When a 12yo learns she’s descended from trolls she must choose between
saving her friend & using a spell to forget her heritage. #PitMad #MG

A 12yo discovers a secret world of faeries among us & may become the
last princess, unless a goblin w/sinister powers stops her. #PitMad #MG

A girl who dreams of being the Faerie Princess learns she’s a troll.
Will she be the Troll Princess or use a spell & be neither? #PitMad #MG

Ava Jae said...

Hi Alyssa!


Firstly, thanks for being so active in the critique forum! I'm sure you've helped a lot of writers. :) *high-fives*


As for your pitches, I agree with Julie and Laura on all points. The age category is definitely important to include, as are the stakes. I also agree you should use your MC's actual name, otherwise it'll be confusing when your MC isn't actually Mulan, but is based on Mulan (they're not the same!).


With both pitches, I think the stakes need to be clearer (sort of already said that, but it's worth reiterating). What will happen if your MC fails to achieve her goal? Without the stakes, we don't fully understand the gravity of the conflict in your story.


I hope this helps! Good luck!

Tiffany Simone said...

Hi Rebecca,

I like the 2nd. The stakes are high, being a suspect and accused of stealing will surely move him further away from the "Rich and Famous". πŸ˜€

Tiffany Simone said...

Oh my, so much homework to do 😞. I'm on it, thanks.

Amelinda Berube said...

I'd say combine #1 and #2, something like "A winged Ojibwe teen fights an evil Windigo to redeem the boy she loved and betrayed"? If you're using "Ojibwe" you don't need the "Native American" tag at the end, I think.

I can tell you because my 6yo passionately loves the movie in question that it's spelled Maleficent btw ;)

Ava Jae said...

Hi Tiffany. I'll do my best to get to this if I can, but in the meantime, please feel free to critique other pitches! It's a great way to give back and can teach you a lot about what works and doesn't in a pitch. (Also, it's part of the participating rules. :) ). Thanks!

Sarovar said...

Hi Alyssa,


Loved your overall premise! Do put in the genre and category (that way you'll have an idea of the extra characters needed as well). I liked your second pitch more. You could combine the first two sentences in one and work in some details regarding the stakes it would stand out more.


Hope this helps!
-Sarovar

Ava Jae said...

Hi Julie!


So I have a few questions after reading your pitches:


1) Who is your protagonist? At first I thought it was Katie, but after reading your second pitch, I wasn't sure.


2) What is your protagonist's goal? You talk about Caroline bullying Katie, but assuming Katie is the protagonist, what is Katie trying to accomplish? (And if the protagonist is Caroline, what is SHE trying accomplish?)


3) What is standing between your protagonist and her goal?


4) What will happen if your protagonist fails to achieve her goal? (That is, what does your protagonist have to lose? These are your stakes.)


Right now, we don't know any of that information in either of your pitches, and it's very important that you try to get that information across, as that's really where the heart of your story lies.


Also, on a minor note, make sure you put a space between "#PitMad" and "#MG" otherwise your hashtags will get messed up and your pitch may night show up in the #PitMad feed.


I hope this helps! Good luck!

Tiffany Simone said...

Hi Taylor, this is not a easy task, so I want to first appauld you in your efforts. What is the "National assualt". I understand clearly she falls in love with her captor, but, why? And, how does Lana being a ex-foster-kid move the story, is that fact important and why?

I'd like to see you revamp this pitch, so I can know what the stakes really are πŸ˜€.

Good Luck.

Amelinda Berube said...

I think the second is the strongest ("honor" and "duty" are too abstract to make for compelling stakes, I find) but could be improved. Suggestions:

* Possibly this is Canadian unfamiliarity with geography talking, but I had trouble parsing "Pct." and "BK" - would skip this as background anyway, the conflict is worth spending the whole 140 on.
* There's more at stake than their friendship - can you work it in using slightly more concrete terms than those above? The choice is report (and face what consequences?) or don't (and have to look at himself in the mirror) - any way to spell that out?

Sarovar said...

Hi Genevieve,


I agree with Ava about combining the 1st and 2nd pitches. The comparison is absolutely essential and offers a quick perspective and you've got in your MC, her struggle and the stakes set up in one go!



-Sarovar

Amelinda Berube said...

#1: Suggest 12yo instead of homeschooler, the age is more important info I think. Also not sure you need "among us." Would this maybe give you enough characters to add something abt troll heritage or something specific about her dreams?

#2: I like this one a lot, lets uniqueness of premise shine, but not sure why forgetting her heritage is compelling enough to compete with the first option - any way to clarify?

#3: Again, I find "among us" awkward - "a secret faerie world" instead maybe? Also, suggest "may become its last princess." Does removing "among us" give you enough space for a stronger verb than "stop"?

#4: I like this one too, but I hear warnings against rhetorical Qs. Can you rephrase to avoid it?

Tiffany Simone said...

Hello Genevieve, like the 2nd pitch. Who does she love and why does the evil Windgo want to ruin her second chance at love. Does the evil Windigo love her?

Good luck. πŸ˜€

Tiffany Simone said...

Hi Ava, I like the 1st pitch. What are the stakes in the woods that bring them together or pushes them further apart?

Good Luck on 3/11 πŸ˜€

Ariel Bernstein said...

Thank you for offering critiques! It'd be great to hear feedback on this pitch:

#Pitmad #PB On the 1st day, Alex is scared of kindergarten but a pirate, witch & dragon set out to prove they're the scariest of all.

Alyssa said...

Agreed on what Ava mentioned about protagonist & goal. I have an inkling that the story is that Caroline and Katie will team up. So what exactly do they find in the woods that makes them team up?


I'd also advise cutting the "end up finding more than their way home" bit because in a way, that's giving away the ending that they will find their way home + more.

Aightball7 said...

I have several, of course, but this one is a particular favorite:



#Con Jimmy’s mental health is good. Great time to quit meds and risk losing only
keeping him off the streets: Coby #LGBT

John Berkowitz said...

I'm famous! Thanks for the suggestion.

Amelinda Berube said...

I have not tooootally decided whether I'm feeling ready to play this round or not, but I am definitely grateful for the practice - thank you for the opportunity!! Here are my top contenders - any comments would be hugely appreciated.

It says she stole its life. 15yo Marianne must defend her family and the girl she loves from a poltergeist's attack. #YA #PitMad

The girl Marianne loves is one more weapon for the poltergeist that's hell-bent on reclaiming the life it says she stole. #YA #PitMad

A 15yo must defend her family and the girl she loves from the wrath of the poltergeist that’s intent on possessing her. #YA #PitMad

Julie Artz said...

Sounds like Jimmy is about to take us on a pretty interesting journey. I'm a little confused by your first hashtag--is it meant to mean "contemporary"? If so, I think you can just put #adult or #ya (whichever applies) in there--contemporary is totally implied by the pitch itself.

I think you've got a few words missing--did you mean "risk losing the only thing"? Even with that, I think "jimmy's mental health is good" is a weak lead into the second sentence, which is much more interesting. Could you give us something really specific like "It's been 27 days since Jimmy XYZ." Then follow with "great time to quit meds..."

Alyssa said...

It's my pleasure, Ava! I've learned as much from critiquing other people's pitches as getting mine own critiqued :D

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions! Gave it another go:

Talisa was sold into the army. She must give up family to seize a crown or remain a serf in segregated China. MULAN w/ politics #PitMad #A

Aightball7 said...

Your first one is a little vague for me...I like the second half, but the first part doesn't work for me...can you beef up the opening?

The second one I think can be stronger. I don't feel like I get an idea of the story. Can you give us more stakes?

I like the last one! It gives me story and stakes =). Well done!

Alyssa said...

So basically I see two central conflicts here: kindergarten and evil magical creatures. Like Julie said, I don't see how these two relate, but I think more importantly I don't see how they relate to Alex. What's Alex's goal? Kill them, escape from them? What's going to happen if he fails to do so?

Alyssa said...

I definitely like the second one most -- it's got personal stakes. However, I don't see how learning she's a troll means she can't save her friend. If you take out "is descended from tolls" and use "is a troll" instead, you could free up more space to explain that.

Julie Artz said...

I love the mix of real fear (kindergarten) and fantastical fears (pirate, witch & dragon), but I'm having a hard time seeing how they relate. Do they come to the school? Kidnap Alex as he waits for the bus? Haunt his dreams? I think you could cut "On the 1st day" and just start with Alex, which gives you some more words to give us a few more details.

Ariel Bernstein said...

I recognize this from writer pitch! I like the 3rd one best if you added that she's a troll princess & you could take out the word 'sinister.' Best of luck!

John Berkowitz said...

Thank you so much! Awesome advice.

Tiffany Simone said...

Thanks Amelinda for your Input. FYI Pct Precinct (Police Station) and BK Brooklyn (an area in New York City)

Ariel Bernstein said...

That's a great suggestion, thank you! They're his toys that come to life in his mind :)

Aightball7 said...

I like this, but I don't know if I know what's at stake. I think you can give us just a bit more there.

Ariel Bernstein said...

I like the first one the best - it's clear & concise. Since so many agents are in NYC, I think they'd understand your abbreviations in the second.

Ariel Bernstein said...

I'm going to need to rework this pitch & try again!

Sarovar said...

Hi Julie,

I liked your 2nd and last pitches. In the 2nd one, the context is set regarding the Finnish myth and you have a clear conflict save Dad or the world. Not sure if you need to add "expat" just siblings should work too.

The last pitch has the most tantalizing tidbits though, plotting scientists and Earth's magnetic poles being disrupted.
You may want to merge the two? :)


-Sarovar

Aightball7 said...

I had to cut words in the one because of the character limit =). I like your suggestion, though on changing the lead in on the first one.

And yes, CON for contemporary =). I usually just put "A", but had to have that for a contest. Good suggestions, thank you!

Genevieve Angelique said...

Hi Rebecca,
As a nerd myself (not sure I could be coined geek--you need crazy smarts to earn that title), I'm totally loving #3 all the way. I agree that I'd like to better understand if there's a more sinister reason for him being on the suspect list. Good luck! I'll be looking for your pitches next Wednesday! :)


Genevieve

Kayla Bulster said...

How have I not found this blog sooner! I have a feeling I will be up late tonight...
Okay, here it goes (feel free to pick just one to critique, guys - despite reading Ava's post, I still can't seem to critique my own pitches...):

A shadowy figure attacks; another saves her life. Tilly
joins the ninjas to stop human trafficking, thus saving those she loves #PitMad
#YA

Tilly becomes entwined in secret ninja society, finding
justice & love in the process. Together they fight to save her loved ones
#PitMad#YA

Masked as a ninja, Tilly fights a human trafficking ring
infecting San Fran. Hopefully, she can save Hailey before it's too late #PitMad
#YA



And thank you!

Kayla Bulster said...

foster, eater, assault... it all sounds interesting! I am just having trouble fitting the pieces together. Why is she kidnapped? Why are they running? What are Eaters? I am picturing Walking Dead, or something like that, so how is the story unique, or is there something I am missing? I think if you were to define National and Eater and say what they hope to accomplish, it would help to clarify.

Kayla Bulster said...

Without reading the second two, I didn't know what "It" was in the first one, so maybe make that one a little clearer. LIke the second one better; it tells me a little more what the story is about. The voice in the third one is strongest and gives me a better feel for the story. The third one seems strongest.

Brenda Fine said...

This is so generous! I'm going to post all of the pitches I made during #AdPit and would happy for critiques/comments on any or all of them. (Is there a hashtag for Mystery? If so that's the one I'm using.)

Kathleen never forgave herself for her mother's death. So when a troubled young family disappears, she's determined to find them.



A tech worker's chance encounter with a young family places her in the sights of a human trafficker determined to avoid exposure.#PitMad #A



It was a minor accident. But the family whose car Kathleen hit has vanished without a trace - and someone doesn't want them found.#PitMad #A



For most people, a fender bender is an annoyance. For a woman with 2 children & no legal identity, it could mean deadly exposure.#PitMad #A


Kathleen can't find the family whose car she hit. And someone's framing her for their disappearance - and possibly their murder.#PitMad #A


When Kathleen tries to track down the family whose car she hit, someone tries to pay her off - and she needs to find out why.#PitMad #A


A woman disappears with two small children after a car accident. Is she hiding from someone - or does she have something to hide?#PitMad #A


Why would a woman with small children flee a fender bender? The other driver must find out - before she becomes the next victim.#PitMad #A

Tiffany Simone said...

Hi John, I agree with the comments from Alyssa and Melinda. I like the 2nd pitch.

But, my question is why if she uses her spell, her heritage is lost? And, why does saving a friend means the lost of heritage?

I would combine the 2nd and 3rd. I would say something like:

A 12yo, half human and troll, theaten by the evil goblin to take her place as his princess or turn her BFF into a troll 4/ever. ( don't know the story, just playing around with a thought, what if?)

Good luck and happy writing. πŸ˜€

dwight karkan said...

First time reader, first time PitMad-der, so I am curious as to how I am doing. Thanks for your Input - valued! All three are 140.
-Bixby’s family is the new caretakers of Pinnacle Manor. To rescue the missing owner she must compete in a risky game of riddles. #MG #PitMad
-To find Cody & his secrets, Bixby will have to play a dangerous game of riddles. Problem is some people don’t want Cody found. #MG #pitmad
-Discovering a trail of riddles that lead to Cody & his secrets sounds fun until Bixby finds out some people don’t want him found #MG #pitmad

Genevieve Angelique said...

Hi Sarovar,


I too found the second pitch better because it was more specific. So I would start with that as your base. You could also swap out "superhuman abilities" for whatever specific "alien skills" she has like mind reading, levitation, etc.--but sometimes that is hard to do. I get it.


I will say the conflict is too vague, so perhaps be specific about what that is and how that affects Nelle.


I'll take a lot of liberty and speculation about what your book is all about and give it a try . . .


13yo Nelle is human by day, alien by night. When her fellow Martians begin war on earth, Nelle must decide which side she'll fight for.


Good luck to you Sarovar!


Genevieve :)

Tonja Tomblin said...

Also my first time for Pitmad. I'm posting 3 and appreciate all input.

-Bullies ruined high school for 16yo Deanna. A killer is ruining college. She must help the police or be the next victim. #PitMad YA mystery(140)

-4 months of terror.
3 dead friends.
2 murderers.
1 chance to unmask the killers or 16yo Deanna will be the next victim. #PitMad YA mystery (138) My setup for this is a stylistic choice.

-When 16yo Deanna's new college friends are murdered, she has one chance to unmask the killer or be the next victim. #Pitmad YA mystery (134)

Genevieve Angelique said...

Hi John,


As a fantasy lover, I like the overall concept you have going. Trolls and princesses don't usually go together, so your new spin on an old trope seems intriguing.


I also like pitch #3 the best. I don't know if you really need "a secret world of faeries among us" just because a secret and magical world is inferred when you start throwing out words like goblins, trolls, and powers. To add to the conflict you could also throw in part of #2's pitch and add that she needs to save her friend.


Also, what is this girl's name?


Otherwise, you could infuse your pitches with something like this:


When a throne-greedy goblin takes over Faerie World, 12 yo Maggie will have to sacrifice being the last Troll Princess or her best friend's life.


Best of luck to you!
Genevieve

Genevieve Angelique said...

Ava,

Thank you so much for this opportunity and for your thoughts! That totally makes sense. And MalEficent--yes, definitely. ;)

Wishing you much success in all your writing endeavors!

Best,
Genevieve

Amelinda Berube said...

My only quibble is that in #1 there is no reason why she wouldn't help the police, especially given that the crimes are ruining college. Like the first contrast though. Maybe rework the end?

I kind of like #2! Nice countdown effect.

Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome—I'm happy to help! And thank you! :)

Genevieve Angelique said...

Thanks so much Amelinda! What a cool name, BTW.


Yes, that movie is awesome! Although, when I first saw it in the movie theater, I nearly started hyperventilating because it reminded me so much of my book, and I was petrified I would have to scrap the whole thing.


Thankfully, I tend to overreact, and they really are two separate and distinct stories. ;)


Best,
Genevieve

Genevieve Angelique said...

Thanks so much Sarovar! Feeling like I have a clear direction as to where I should take this pitch now. Also happy I'm not procrastinating until the last minute to fine tune the important details! ;)


Best,
Genevieve

Genevieve Angelique said...

Thanks Tiffany for your opinion! I appreciate your thoughts. Seems like #2 is definitely the winner.

Amelinda Berube said...

Would suggest rephrasing in #1 to "stop human trafficking and save her loved ones"...except that I think you need to go a bit further if possible and show how the two are related. Some way to say outright that her...sister? Girlfriend? Who is Hailey exactly?...is the one being exploited?

I find #2 not quite specific enough - love and justice are pretty abstract, and again I think you need specifics on loved ones.

Again in #3 I think we need to know who Hailey is more than we need her name...is there room to work it in?

Ava Jae said...

Um, yeah, so Amelinda basically nailed it.


I'll add that in #3, I'd shift the focus to your protag and what HER goal is and what she has to lose (which, honestly, you do a lot more effectively with the other pitches, so I'd maybe scrap this one).


Otherwise, I second everything Amelinda said.

Tonja Tomblin said...

Thanks. I see what you mean!

Ava Jae said...

Hi there! I definitely agree with both Alyssa and Julie. I think the juxtaposition of kindergarten, pirates, witches and dragons sounds totally fun and adorable, but the connection isn't there. Start with Alex and make sure you answer these three questions:


1) What is Alex's goal?
2) What is stopping Alex from achieving his goal?
3) What will happen if Alex DOESN'T reach his goal? (What does he have to lose?)


I think if you clarify that, you'll have a much stronger pitch for a very cute-sound PB. :) Good luck!

Ava Jae said...

Hi there!


So I think in this case you can probably get away with just saying #A for adult, which should save you some space. Unless...is this a Romance? Or just Contemporary?


On a larger scale, I'm a little confused about the main conflict in your story here. I'm not totally sure what Jimmy's goal is (is it to get off drugs?) or what's standing in his way. Judging by your first pitch it sounds like your protagonist is Jimmy, but in the second one I'm not totally sure.


I'll also say that I don't recommend you cut words that impede the meaning of your pitch. I wasn't sure what you were trying to say with the first pitch and had to read below to understand what happened. If agents and editors can't understand your pitch, they won't be able to request.


My suggestion is that you try rewriting these with a clearer focus on Jimmy's goal (assuming he's the protagonist), what's stopping him from reaching that goal, and what he has at stake (it sounds like losing Coby is what's at stake? But it's not 100% clear).


I hope this helps! Good luck!

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