Welcome to Pitch Shredding! Don't let the name fool you, we're not here to make a public mockery of anyone's work. The term "shredding" is often used in my circle of friends to refer to the process of taking a pitch and refining it to the point that it carries more impact, and is much stronger than it started. We shred the fluff away, and get all the right details in so as to make the strongest pitch possible.
This is a collaborative effort. This is a constructive effort. The goal is to help people learn to write great pitches, and to help authors create a great pitch for their book.
With that said, I invite everyone to help out with this first pitch I've chosen. The title of the book is "I Am Become Death". Here is the pitch, as submitted:
When Robert Oppenheimer witnessed the first nuclear explosion, he thought of a Hindu quote: "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds." He knew that through such destructive technology, the world would never be the same. Now, a trio of students has discovered a new destructive power that, in the wrong hands, can change the world again.
Japanese teenager Chikara Kaminari, while heartbroken by the death of her mother, inherits a strange black ring and is told to share it with her friends, Renka and Gen. Her mother's will predicts that the ring and their friendship will lead to Chikara fighting political fanatics and saving the world. As the three develop extraordinary abilities, they must uncover the origin of the ring as a series of strange events forces them to become the heroes they are destined to be.
The first thing I notice is that almost the entire first paragraph isn't even about the book. Part of writing a great pitch is having a great opening, and I think a big part of creating a great opening is getting your plot hook and possibly your main character into that opening line. The approach used for this pitch leaves only one paragraph about the story itself, which I already know will not adequately convey the story to the reader.
In the second paragraph, the first sentence is very complex. I suggest carving this in half and making it the starting point of the pitch. It has your main character in it, and a good plot hook (the mysterious ring). The rest of this paragraph gets a little wishy-washy and doesn't really tell me what the rest of the book is about. Sure, she's fighting political fanatics, but why? What is her motivation? She's developing "extraordinary abilities", but what are they? This is a must-have if you really want to capture a reader's attention. "A series of strange events" is also so vague as to be almost meaningless to a general reader. It's akin to saying "stuff happens".
There are three critical elements to a really good pitch. The main character (somebody to care about), the main conflict (something to care about), and the stakes (a reason to care). To me, this pitch is missing the central conflict and the stakes. We don't really know what happens or why.
Don't be afraid to name specifics, especially if it's something important to the central conflict or the stakes. The character's abilities are one such specific that I would include. Can they turn lead to gold? Shoot fireballs from their eyes? Bring dead things back to life? These are all very different things, and would change how we look at the story.
How would you alter this pitch to make it more compelling?
What do you think are the strongest parts of this pitch?
How do you feel about using quotes in a pitch?
Join the discussion in the comments below to help this author improve their pitch, and don't forget to Subscribe by Email so that you don't miss a single installment of Pitch Shredding!
If you have a pitch or book blurb of your own that you'd like help with, Contact Me with it, and I'll consider featuring it on a future Pitch Shredding installment.
Thanks for reading!
I'm always interested in hearing what you have to say. Contact Me, I'd love to hear from you.
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