#pitchShredding: Inside The Lines

2012-Aug-9 -> from the perfect-pitches department Tags: #pitchshredding 

It's been a while since I made a #pitchShredding post, in part because I've been working on finishing the first draft of my second book. Well, it's finished now, at 105,169 words. This means that until I start editing, I'll have more time to spend on blogging.

Formatting is important in a successful pitch. This pitch came to me as a bit of a mess, with no spacing between paragraphs. In its original form, it looked like a big block of text and was hard to read. For your sake, I've added spacing between the paragraphs, but a note to the author: Be sure to space out your paragraphs when sending a query. Anything you can do to make it more readable and more enjoyable for the agent/editor will improve your chances of scoring with them.

The outrage generated over "designer babies" never occurred in this alternate reality. Soon, every aspect of genetics could be altered and made to fit certain codes. If a parent wanted a beautiful, intelligent child with a love for horses and hatred of the color yellow, it could be arranged. These arrangements soon became the norm, and eventually the decision to have an unaltered child was taken out of parents' hands. The governments in every country across the globe mandated arrangements for all. Few can fight these genetic proclivities. Those who can struggle to remain themselves, and battle to change the laws through quiet rebellion.

Fidelia has one goal in life: to make her own decisions. To pick her own favorite color, favorite animal, and her own husband. Her parents and lifetime boyfriend aren't the only ones standing between her and this dream; the United States government, and even the entire world, wishes to prevent her from becoming an individual. Her own DNA makes it difficult to fight the global mandate of arranging children while still in the womb.

When she sheds her cumbersome name for Fae and runs away from home, she sets into motion a series of events destined to change the very fabric of her world. She joins the rebellion, and they have a daunting objective: convince the future president of the United States to repeal the arrangement laws. The mission itself tests their ingenuity, and with a traitor or two amongst their numbers, it seems as if they are destined to fail.

In a world where every woman is chipped to alert the government to her pregnancy and men who rebel are given irreversible vasectomies, Fae and her new friends fight to hang onto their individuality and the hope for children free from arrangements.

"The outrage generated over 'designer babies' never occurred in this alternate reality." - This felt like a good opening line to me, even though it didn't include a character to connect with. It included vital information required to understand the story, the setting, and the conflict. The problem is, I find there is actually too much info in the first paragraph of this pitch. Too much world building, without anything to really connect with.

Genetics do not determine free will. We all have it, and even if a primal force inside of us says to do one thing, free will allows us to ignore that primal force. I'm having trouble with the premise of this one, simply because you're talking about a nation that was founded on the principles of freedom, and this story puts us in a place where freedom is basically nonexistent.

That aside, there is a bunch of uncertain language here that I think could be made stronger by removing the uncertainty. "with a traitor or two..." Is it one or two? "it seems as if..." Seems?

We don't have a really clear idea of what or who is trying to stop them. Is there a particular branch of the government? Traitors? Some other outside force? Clear this up, and I think you'll have a good pitch here.

Discussion

Does this pitch raise any questions for you?

Do you think the stakes are clear enough? What would you do to improve them?

Are you connecting with the main character in this pitch?

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2 Comments:


By Jenny Milchman on Fri 10 Aug 2012 11:30:45 pm [ Reply ] While I am completely intrigued by the concept of this book, I think the pitch is not making complete use of its enormous dramatic potential. It reads more to me like the author's notes to her/himself about what the novel is to be about than a grabby pitch.

I had some nascent ideas--starting with the character in the second graf, then backtracking to weave in the concept (which is essentially backstory) but my best advice would be to have the author go read other like flap copy on books by authors in the same airspace--Robin Cook, other techno/science thriller authors--Kira Peikoff might be good.

Then rewrite what is clearly a great story so that everyone wants to read it. Good luck to the writer--and to you with your next draft, Thomas! Glad you're doing Pitch Shredding again :)

By Julianna on Sat 11 Aug 2012 03:30:52 am [ Reply ] I agree with most of Thomas' comments, though I actually don't have much trouble with the basic premise. I'm quite willing to suspend any disbelief in order to read the story you're pitching - it sounds very interesting. :)

I find it much faster to just rewrite something the way I'd do it and let the person who gave it to me take what they want (if anything :) and toss the rest, so I'm doing that below. I hope perhaps there are 1-2 nugget in my suggestions that you might find useful. :)

The outrage generated over "designer babies" never occurred. If a parent wants a beautiful, intelligent child with a love for horses and hatred of the color yellow, it can be arranged. Such "arrangements" are the norm, and the decision to have an unaltered child has been taken out of parents' hands. The government of every country across the globe mandates certain modifications. Few can fight their own genetically-induced proclivities. Those who can struggle to remain themselves, and battle to change the laws through quiet rebellion.

Fidelia has one goal in life: to make her own decisions. To pick her own favorite color, favorite animal, and her own husband. Her parents and lifetime boyfriend aren't the only ones standing between her and this dream; the United States government, and most of the world, are structured to prevent her from becoming an individual. Her own DNA makes it difficult to fight the global mandate of arranging children while they are still in the womb.

When she sheds her cumbersome name for Fae and runs away from home, she sets into motion a series of events destined to change the very fabric of the world. She joins the rebellion, and they have a daunting objective: convince the future president of the United States to repeal the arrangement laws. The mission itself tests their ingenuity, and with traitors hidden among their numbers sabotaging their efforts, it seems as if they are destined to fail.

In a world where every woman is chipped to alert the government to her pregnancy, and men who rebel are given irreversible vasectomies, Fae and her new friends fight to hang onto their individuality and the hope of children once again being born free from arrangements.

By the way, I assume from your pitch that "arrangements" is a formal term for genetic modification in your book. If not, then I would urge you to consider changing it, as I found it confusing until I made my assumption. It's the reason I suggested putting it in quotes the first time you use it - to inform the agent that it has very specific meaning in your story.

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An award-winning, action-packed epic fantasy adventure about an unlikely hero, Seth, who discovers he's not human, but a Time Weaver who can control time.

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