Saturday, April 10, 2010

Needed: unique premise and strong voice


Querytracker.blogspot.com had a pitch contest a couple weeks ago. I made a few changes to my pitch and first paragraph for Raining Toward Heaven (women's fiction), felt it was the greatest thing going, and submitted. The day after submitted I re-read it, and groaned. Did I actually submit this thing? It was just so ... blah.
So, no surprise that I didn't show up with the winners. But, I always learn a lot from the winners and from the agent's comments about why he picked them. I learned a lot from the winners at another contest over at kidlit.com (I didn't find out about this one in time to enter).

But there is another contest open now at guidetoliteraryagents.blogspot.com, for middle grade submissions. I will be submitting my pitch and first 194 words of Valley of the Unicorns there shortly, but for the past week everyday I have been eyeing that one sentence pitch and those first couple paragraphs with a critical (sometimes hopeful, sometimes despairing) eye and re-writing, re-wording, and brainstorming.
What I've learned over the past few months from following these blogs and other agents/writer's blogs has made me completely revise my first chapter, twice. Now as I'm working on perfecting my pitch, concentrating on two things that I'm hearing over and over again from agents: they are looking for 1) a unique premise and 2) a strong voice.

Neither of which I have, exactly. But I keep repeating these two facts to myself like a mantra, and brainstorming.

4 comments:

  1. That sounds fantastic!!! I have always loved unicorns. And your blog is awesome.

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  2. I'm glad you are entering contests - it's good practice! (And you may want to keep your pitch handy...more contests will soon be announced on the QTblog.) ;)

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  3. Here's a great post at QueryTracker on the who, what, where and why should I care questions concerning pitches.

    And the results of the contest at QueryTacker I entered (nope, didn't place) but I did learn more helpful things.

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  4. Another great post about writing the one-sentence pitch from Nathan Bransford

    A summary: There are three basic elements in a good one sentence pitch: The opening conflict (called the Inciting Incident by Robert McKee); the obstacle; the quest.

    The last key element is a dash of flavor: anything you can do to flesh out your pitch with some key details that give a sense of the of your world of your novel (funny, scary, intense, tragic, etc.) will go a long way to giving the recipient of the pitch a sense of its unique personality.

    Three kids trade a corndog (FLAVOR) for a spaceship, blast off into space (OPENING CONFLICT), accidentally break the universe (OBSTACLE), and have to find their way back home (QUEST)

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