Monday, March 23, 2009

Ms. Spitfire's Favorite Pitches!

From the desk of Ms. Spitfire

(Ms. Spitfire has selected her favorite pitches, and has explained what made these stand out. Please scroll back to March 17th's post for more details about the Pitch Party.)

Mandy's Pitch:

A curse forces Lexi to spend every night swimming. Her body craves the water, demands the water, until she can’t say no. At dawn she returns to school, where she’ll sit in class and wait for dusk. But she’s not just a mermaid-she’s a siren, and her songs are also a deadly lure. Soon a new boy discovers her lake, and Lexi must choose between agony outside the water—or falling in love.

Mandy Hubbard and the teen swimming pool siren: I absolutely loved Mandy's pitch and knew as soon as I read it that it would be among the top five. Here's why: in five short sentences, Mandy is able to describe a story simple enough for me to understand and yet with enough intrigue and possibility to pique my interest. While authors have a hard time summing up their complex plotlines and character development, Mandy delivers her story in a silver filigree nutshell. Moreover, I'm a sucker for teen novels and especially those inspired by or based on fairy tales and/or mythology. In reading the full manuscript, however, I'm going to be on the lookout for some emotional complexity as there is the tendency that this great concept will not be supported by any real depth.

Embee's Pitch:

There are two things Holly Bailey has never known: Her father, and a sense of belonging. Holly’s only chance to learn her father’s true identity is her estranged and slightly daft grandmother, who tells her a ridiculous faery story that only leaves her frustrated. But Holly soon learns that the story isn’t so silly after all, and suddenly finds herself journeying through an ancient realm and back again searching for her father, herself, and a place to belong.

Embee and the realm-travelling, fatherless Holly Bailey: Once again, I was won over on this pitch by the brevity and clarity with which Embee shares her story. I have a good sense not only of the plot line--the protagonist's rather fantastical search for a father and a sense of self--but also of some tasty characters--slighty daft grandmother!--and the driving themes--the thirst for a sense of belonging and knowledge about one's own roots. Furthermore, the fantastical element (fairies!), was the icing on the cake. I think this sounds like a strong story--escapist, plot driven, and yet anchored by very universal, human themes that readers will relate to on a personal, emotional level. In reading the full manuscript, I would be on the lookout for the character's actual journeying to be evenly interspersed with the main character's personal journey--I'm a little worried that one or the other would be too complex and the other would get lost.

Strugglingwriter's Pitch:

Luck you say? Niko Calender had some luck. Wouldn't have been picked for his school's honors project without it. Got to time travel, he did.Not all of it was good, mind you. Had to travel through with his nemesis Cody.Got a bit of a mess in pre-historic times. Time machine ran out of gas. Teacher got arrested because of a sneeze. That’s the thing about luck. Sometimes you gotta make your own.

strugglingwriter's time-travelling N. Calendar: I'm not sure what strugglingwriter envisioned, but I see this as a fantastic middle-grade novel. His writing tone really comes across in the pitch; succinct, humorous, and creative. Time-travelling, in my mind, is always a fun base for a story but what caught my attention was strugglingwriter's unique twist: time travel w/arch nemesis. I would have liked a slightly more developed plotline--I feel I was given a good set-up but not given a very good idea of the arc of the plot--but overall, I was won over enough to want to read the full manuscript. I would hope that the full manuscript shared a more complete story and didn't drop the ball 3/4 of the way through like the pitch.

Phoenix's Pitch:

When theologian Pierre Abelard and his gifted student Heloise fall in love, they're certain God approves -- until Heloise's jealous uncle and Abelard's ecclesiastic rival intervene.Hounded, castrated, and denounced a heretic, Abelard seeks exile as a monk. Heloise, pregnant and unrepentant, takes the veil. Forced apart by circumstance, kept apart by God, they bare their shameless desire in letters that will echo for a thousand years. But how long can their star-crossed love survive?

Phoenix for star-crossed, theologically minded historical novel: Wow! Again, fantastic job summing up a potentially complex and dynamic novel in two short paragraphs. This is a talent that many otherwise talented authors never develop. I like this pitch because while on the one hand it remind me of many of the world's great, doomed romances (even just the word "star-crossed" brings to "Romeo and Juliet" to my mind immediately), on the other hand, the particulars of the situation and the characters seem quite original--at least for me. I love the use of letter-writing (epistolary novels--even if this isn't strictly so--always float my boat) and this sounds like a story that would really sweep the reader up and away into a different place, a different time, a great love and a great story... I'm wary, however, that the final novel would take itself too seriously and--in attempting convey all this greatness--would sound grandiose and lack emotional sincerity.

Macaronipant's Pitch:

Consolation will die on her eighteenth birthday, as each of the women in her family have before. Armed with her Sylvia Plath memorabilia and a bottle of Tequila, she’ll meet the family curse head on. When death doesn’t come, she hasn’t a clue what to do. Led to a women’s shelter, she finds resurrection in the form of a small boy. When death comes calling, this time she fights for what she’s come to love.

macaronipants's sylvia-plath-clutching, curse-overcoming novel of hope and redemption: This may be my favorite of all. It has everything that many of attributes I've seen in best-sellers: a quirky protagonist, fantastic and unique details, a succint set-up and an ending that promises hope and redemption. I really can't see anything wrong with this pitch at all and I would be very intrigued to read the manuscript--I think my thumbs up or thumbs down would be entirely based on the actual writing and learning more about the inner workings of the main character. As the plot stands, I love it--but it's a bit bare for me to know exactly what to expect in terms of characters, genre, book length, etc. etc. etc.


Chris Eldin said...

Good Morning everyone!

I won't be around a computer at 9:00 am, so I thought I'd post this a little (a lot!) early. Perhaps we'll catch a few night owls!


Anonymous said...

Holy crap! You mentioned me! I will keep your advice in mind when I do a real pitch (have to finish the novel first, only 1 chapter to go!) Thanks so much for the feedback.

Would this type of humorous pitch really work in a real pitch? I had fun writing it at least.

Thanks again,

Paul (strugglingwriter)

Sarah Laurenson said...

Thank you for the details on why you chose each pitch. Very interesting and informative.

I especially like how you don't nitpick the pitch apart, but take a 50,000 foot level look at it to see if it has the elements that interest you.

Then you add what you're looking for in the manuscript and the issues that might arise. Great feedback!

Chris Eldin said...

Well done, all!!!!

Sarah, I agree--I really like this kind of critique. Very insightful.

McKoala said...

This is very illuminating - a close look at what works.

Tracy Holczer said...

Wow! Thanks for the feedback. Glad to know it snagged someone's attention. That was the first time I had a query critiqued! Whoop!

Mandy Hubbard said...

Yay, thanks Ms. Spitfire! Hopefully the full manuscript of RIPPLE lives up to the pitch!

Prada & Prejudice, June 2009

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

thanks for sharing the analysis of WHY you liked these - that was fascinating!