Prepare Your Pitch For #PitchMadness (The Letter Of The Day is “P”)

It’s a post. On my blog. Try not to faint.

So I just realized this morning that the #PitchMadness contest is, like, SIX DAYS AWAY, which is a lot closer than I thought. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s a pitch contest run by Brenda Drake for completed adult, new adult, young adult or middle grade manuscripts. This post has a lot of the details + a list of the fabulous agents who will be vying for the entries.

Interested? Fabulous. All you need is the first 250 words of your manuscript…and a 35-word pitch/logline.

Thirty-five words. That’s all you get to describe your ENTIRE manuscript.

Panicking?
Panicking?

You’re probably not alone. But if you’ve formulated a Twitter pitch, you can definitely come up with a logline. The basic tenants are the same. The key is to focus, focus, FOCUS. Agents need to know who the main character is, what his or her driving goal is, and what’s the obstacle that stands in his or her way. Basically:

When x happens, (main character) must do y in order to z.

It’s easy to get caught up in the details, to want to mention something about all of the little elements you crafted elegantly into the narrative, but you gotta knock that shit off. Clarity is the name of the game. If you bog down your logline with unnecessary stuff that isn’t vital to the central conflict, you’ll end up with a pitch that’s so confusing that the hosts and slush readers would rather just skip it than try to parcel everything out.

Be clean, be clear, be efficient. Think about every word you put in there. Is it a strong word? An effective word? Is it pulling its own weight with all the other 34 words? No? Get it the hell out of there. If it’s not contributing, it’s just dead weight.

Clarity, in my opinion, is most important. After you’ve distilled the essential conflict of your book down to a logline-length, then you can go in and try to add voice (or, as Nathan Bransford refers to it, “flavor”). Substitute different words here and there to see how that affects the tone; experiment with connotation. You want voice if you can, but don’t get so caught up with being clever that you lose the core narrative.

If you can’t get the voice into your logline, then sell it hard in your excerpt. After all, both elements of your submission factor into the decision of who makes it into the finals.

A few words of caution:

Avoid the vague or non-specific. For example: “After her parents die in a car accident, Elaysia discovers she has a great destiny and powers she never knew existed. But pursuing it may mean a choice between life and love.” Nothing about that stands out. It’s just big general phrases with nothing to draw me into the particular world or conflict Elaysia is facing. It leaves so much ground to cover for the excerpt that those 250 words would have to be pretty mind-blowing to bridge the gap.

On the flipside, don’t be so specific that the whole thing just becomes a cluster. This mainly applies to any genre fiction where you have inventive worldbuilding terms. Without context, those words are just noise.  For example: “Meeza’s arunaya has finally come to full power, but now the Chancellor’s iman will hunt her across the galaxy to steal it from her.” By the same token, cramming together disparate elements to try and make it sound unique also just comes off as confusing. Like, “Jimmy discovers an enchanted Port-o-Potty, but it isn’t until a talking wolfhound shows him the world in the stars that he discovers the true meaning of family.”

Avoid rhetorical questions. Just…no. Not in queries, not in loglines. Any question you pose practically dares an agent to reply to it with “No” or “I don’t care,” at which point they move on to the next pitch.

Okay, how are we doing? Clear as mud?

That's what I thought you said.
That’s what I thought you said.

Excellent. Because here’s the real point of this post: I’m opening up the comments for people to try out their loglines on the community and hone them before Saturday. Anyone can post. Please keep the feedback constructive.

And if you post your pitch for critique, it’s just good karma to go give some feedback to others. Don’t be the douche who takes but doesn’t give.

453 thoughts on “Prepare Your Pitch For #PitchMadness (The Letter Of The Day is “P”)

    1. I think your logline will benefit from more details toward the end and fewer adjectives up front. Whose civil war? Which god? And what are the choices Raine has to make because of this war he started?

    2. I was definitely intrigued by the instigating event – ‘when he triggers the death of a god.’ But I think you could trim the protagonist’s descriptions and save some words there. Use the extra space available to tell what the protagonist’s specific goal is. Stop himself from getting killed? Stop a country’s destruction? Suggest adding something like – Now he must (do what?) to stop (what?).
      Best of luck

    3. This looks like it could be interesting, but it doesn’t really stand out from all the other “battling against the gods” books out there right now. (I don’t even know if this is YA/NA/Adult… I doubt it’s MG, because of the “hungover, streetwise gangster” description, but you never know.) I’d lose some of the adjectives here and add more specific details. You have 35 words to play with. Don’t be afraid to use them!

    4. Tweaked:

      Streetwise gangster Raine Morgan is hunting down two lowlifes when he triggers the death of a god. Now he must survive as a civil war between gods rips apart the city built to worship them.

  1. One minute Jimmy Rickliefs’ was a drummer in a huge rock band, the next he was knockin’ on death’s door. Jimmy figured he’d go out with a bang. That bang just turned into a whimper.

    1. Your pitch confuses me a bit. “Huge rock band” doesn’t pack the right punch, I think. Worldwide fame? The kind of band every teenage girl has a t-shirt of? For the part about knocking on death’s door, I need to know more. Does he get hit by a bus? Is the cause a disease? You don’t need to be too specific, but right now it’s too vague. Same for the next two lines. What’s the conflict? Just a little more detail, and I think this could be really good.

    2. I’d prefer more detail. What I’ve gathered here is that your main character is a drummer, and he died – quietly but quickly. Does the story start after his death? Does the story lead up to his anticlimactic death? What is the story? I think the idea that the bang turned into a whimper is a clever one, but it doesn’t tell me anything about your story. Maybe leave that for your query letter, where you have more room to get your point across. Use your space in this pitch wisely, focusing on specific details that make your story both compelling and unique.

    3. Does this convey the story better?

      A chance encounter with the town drunk at a green light nearly kills Jimmy. But when he wakes up with no guarantees that he’ll walk again, he finds his career as a drummer slipping away.

        1. How’s this? I tried to clarify that he needs his legs in order to drum (for the double kicks):

          A chance encounter with the town drunk at a green light nearly kills Jimmy Rickliefs. When he wakes, up doctors can’t guarantee he’ll walk again. Without his legs, his career as a drummer is over.

          1. Hmm… I’m still not seeing the need for legs as a drummer (you didn’t mention the double kicks in the pitch). Maybe it’s because I’ve known drummers who are in wheelchairs (heck, the drummer for Guns-N-Roses was missing one arm, wasn’t he?), but I’m not seeing this as a problem. Maybe if you give us a sense of why he THINKS his career is over?

          2. He’s known for his double kick speed…and he needs two legs for that =). But he’s also got seizures to think about and his back was broken as well and required surgery, muscles were torn and healed too tight for certain movements, etc. Basically, he’s a walking medical disaster and a huge liability to take on tour or anywhere near a drum kit…and that’s how he’s convinced his career is over. That and, of course, the double kick thing.

          3. Okay…after LOTs of tweaking, here’s where I’ve landed. Keep in mind, his legs are a necessity for his job!

            A drunk driver nearly kills rock star Jimmy Rickliefs. When doctors say he might not walk again, Jimmy has two options: get moving or give up his drums for good.

            OR

            A drunk driver nearly kills rock star Jimmy Rickliefs. When doctors say he may never walk again, Jimmy has two options: get moving or give up his drums for good.

  2. When an intoxicating drumbeat calls to 17-year-old Drea Rune, she must defy her friends’ wishes and investigate a dangerous myth surrounding its powers, or succumb to the musical addiction that is taking over her life.

    1. Hrm…I like this, but I feel like ” she must defy her friends’ wishes and investigate a dangerous myth surrounding its powers,” is too general/vague. You want your pitch to really stand out and I don’t think that line makes your pitch stand out.

    2. this is unique. Nice. But I agree, in that it doesn’t give me the specifics. I’m assuming this drumbeat is magical and can actually enthrall someone, as in a trance, or behave like an intoxicating drug? If so, you need something stronger than ‘calls to 17-year-old’. You need to show why she can’t break out of it. You could also save space by taking out ‘she must defy her friends’ wishes’. That’s just a suggestion.

    3. I’m intrigued by the idea of a “musical addiction” that controls Drea, but the choice you’ve set up here in your pitch seems like a no-brainer to me. She must do something to break the pull, or she’ll remain captivated by it. Why wouldn’t she choose to do something about it? Why would she choose to remain a slave to the drumbeat? And really, if she chooses to stay with it, what’s the big deal? You haven’t really given me a sense of the danger. It’s more of a minor inconvenience at this point. Try focusing on the stakes to really ratchet up the conflict in your pitch.

    4. I am intrigued by the drumbeat and the thought of musical addiction. You did a great job of getting your writing style to shine through in just a few words. I think you can eliminate a few adjectives to free up some words for more specificity. The biggest challenge I face when writing a pitch is focusing less on showing my talent and more on getting as many details of the story into that little sardine can of a pitch as I can.

  3. You have a nice writing style. My concern is that this doesn’t really give me any information. You have some vague terms here, like – ‘knocking on death’s door’ and I’m curious why his being near death would mean he’s going out with a whimper. I really like the play with words, believe me, but prefer having more specifics on what the conflict is. If he’s near death, does he have to do something to stop it or do something before he dies, so something worse won’t happen?

  4. Can I get some feedback? With the help of his friends, Danny, a hedonistic playboy, may change human civilization, perhaps human evolution forever, when he discovers a long lost secret society, in a tangled web of sexual pleasure and deceit.

    1. I think your pitch is good, but I think you should leave out the word hedonistic if you’re going to describe it at the end. That’s just my opinion. Lets see what others have to say.

    2. I feel like I need more. I know about Danny but a “long lost secret society” is kind of vague and “been there, don’t that”…can you make that part stand out? Maybe give us a better taste of your story?

    3. How is he changing human civilization? How are his friends key players in the whole thing? And why do we care? In real life, “It will change the whole world” is really a big thing, but in fiction, it’s kind of not big enough. What are Danny’s personal stakes? What does he want/need more than anything in the world? What stands in his way? What is he willing to risk to get what he wants? What dire (personal) consequences will happen if he doesn’t succeed?

    4. This is a neat pitch, but my suggestion would be to use your 35 words to convey specific information. Take out words that don’t relate the the protagonist’s conflict. Here, you could delete ‘with the help of his friends’ and focus just on the protagonist. Then tell us specifically what will happen when he discovers the society. The words ‘may change human civilization, perhaps human evolution forever’ is vague and passive. Best of luck!

    5. You could easily cut some words, giving you a chance to add more detail. For instance (hope you don’t mind my taking some liberties, it’s just a suggestion!):

      When playboy Danny discovers a long-lost, secret society tangled in a web of sexual pleasure and deceit, he may change civilization, perhaps human evolution, forever. (25 words)

      I think unless your book includes non-human civilizations, readers will assume you mean human. Shuffling also shows a big question – his discovery changes civilization? Or something he does because of the discovery?

  5. Here is my logline (: Yasmina decides to wear the headscarf and she has to stand up for her faith when a teacher & classmate puts it down, but another classmate is interested to learn about Islam.

    1. I’m not sold on this. It seems very stream of consciousness to me. What’s going to happen to her if she doesn’t stand up for herself? What’s the big deal about the scarf? It’s nice that someone wants to learn about Islam, but it doesn’t tell me anything about the conflict in the story. I would see if you can rewrite to bring out the conflict more and explain why the scarf is causing problems.

    2. I like this. But I agree. You might need bigger conflict. Convey this in the protagonist’s feeling and emotions. Instead of ‘put it down’, you could use ‘mock’, Suggestion –
      When Yasmina’s decision to wear the headscarf is mocked by her teacher, it strengthens her resolve to stand up for the true nature of her faith. In this, she’s aided by another classmate. (not sure if this goes over the 35, but this is just a suggestion)
      Best of luck.

      1. Is this better? (I used all 35 words):

        Yasmina wears the headscarf and with it comes being mocked by her classmate and teacher; it strengthens her to stand up for her faith. In this another classmate is interested in learning about her faith.

        1. It’s better…but it’s not there yet. I understand that the scarf gets he mocked…but I don’t see conflict. Is there something that happens that makes her question herself? Something that stands in the way of wearing the scarf?

        2. It feels very stiff and awkward. How about something like this?

          The headscarf Yasmina wears may have her teacher and classmates mocking her, but it strengthens her faith. And gives her the perfect opportunity to share the thing that’s most important to her with a friend.

    3. There’s so much potential here for a very powerful story, but as written, the pitch makes it sound very generic. What, other than the headscarf, is the main conflict here? What does the scarf represent to Yasmina, personally? Why does she decide to wear it? (How old is she, and has she been not wearing it until now? Why? What made her change her mind about it now?) What does she want more than anything and what stands in her way? What will she risk to attain her goal, and what will she lose if she doesn’t succeed? Make the conflict personal and specific. 🙂

      1. Draft 3 – Recently wearing the headscarf, Yasmina is being mocked about her faith by a teacher and classmate and doesn’t want to see it worsen. She wants it seen for the truth. Having someone interested may make it better.

  6. Thanks so much for doing this!

    OK, here it is. Deep breaths!

    Lucy should be dreaming about college, not the Israeli boy with the sad eyes. After graduation, he’ll be on his way to the army. Unless falling in love changes those plans. Except it can’t.

    1. I don’t get a good taste of the conflict here. I like the first part, but the end kind of falls apart for me. I makes me wonder about the boy, but there’s no conflict that stands out. Can you try to elaborate more on that part of the log line?

    2. Oh, I like this but need more sense of the conflict. Why can’t falling in love change those plans? What’s standing in the way?

    3. OK, does this seem better? So appreciate all your help!

      Lucy should be dreaming about college, not falling for the Israeli boy with sad eyes. Because come graduation, he’s heading home for three years in the army. No matter how much he loves her.

      1. That’s a little bit better, but I’m still not getting a sense of what makes it unique. There are a LOT of stories about star-crossed lovers. What else is there to this story? Why is this one different? Is there any other source of conflict, besides the romance?

      2. I agree that we’re getting a better sense of the uniqueness of this story…but as Veronica pointed out, there’s lot of this type of story already. I want to know what’s standing in their way besides his army duty. Isn’t that mandatory for Israeli citizens? So he has to go home no matter what. Why can’t she follow him? What’s stopping them keeping them going while he’s gone?

    4. Are they in Israel, or somewhere else? I’m not clear why he’d be headed to the army, and she wouldn’t, if they’re in Israel. If not, why does he have to go back to serve? And if he returns her affection, why wouldn’t he find another way to avoid conscription, like studying Torah? I feel like you need to find a way to clarify his role in this daydream & the setting behind the army obligations.

      Hope that helps!

    1. Pirates are big now, so you get points for that. And a lady pirate is even more intriguing. But your pitch doesn’t really give a sense of the unique story. What makes this pirate story different from all of the other pirate stories out there? Rescuing a parent from certain death seems a little too familiar. What makes this particular growing-up-fast-to-save-a-parent story new and different?

    2. Why is it up to Jenny and not to her mother’s crew? Why is her mother captured [“taken prisoner” = 2 words; “captured” = 1 ;)] by the King and not one of his proxies? And, does it matter who captures her? Or that she’s just been brought on board?

      “When Jenny’s mother, the Red Lady pirate, is captured, it’s up to seventeen-year-old Jenny to rescue her from hanging.” (19 words – 16 more words for you to tell us more!)

  7. Fantastic opportunity! Thank you for this!

    Fighting grief, decaying friendship, a broken family, and the L-word, college senior Katie Bryant decides to make a bigger mistake than moving from home in the first place: giving up Will Savage to move back.

    1. Hrm…I feel like there are plenty of these types of books out there. How can yours stand out? I have the story, but what’s the big deal in giving up Will to move back home? I’m not sure I get the conflict here…

    2. Grief, decaying friendship, broken family, fear of falling in love… These are all kind of clichéd conflicts that make your story sound exactly like all of the other stories out there that deal with these things. What makes it unique? Why is she grief-stricken in the first place? Why is giving up Will a mistake? (You don’t need last names in the pitch, by the way – make the most of your 35 words.) Why was moving away in the first place a mistake? Why is her friendship decaying? What’s broken about her family? Why is she afraid of love? You don’t have to fit all of the various conflicts into your pitch. Focus on the main story arc and give us specific details to draw us in.

    1. It’s more specific, but I’m still left with a “so what?” feeling. If Jenny is with her mom against her will, why does she care that King Henry VIII is going to kill her mother? Doesn’t this just give Jenny the opportunity to escape?

  8. I’d love some help on my pitch as well! Thanks in advance:

    After thirteen-year-old Missy’s mother dies, she loses her faith. But when she finds a letter from her mother, and more follow referencing recent events, Missy realizes she just might be receiving letters from Heaven.

    1. Hrm…I had to re-read the second sentence because it was confusing at first. I get the story…but I’m not sure I get why I should read it. It sounds really cool, but it’s about a kid losing their faith following the death of a parent…and that happens a lot. So…why do I want to read this? How is your story different? Are the letters telling her something?

    2. The second sentence seems a bit long and while I find the subject touching, I want to know why Missy is different from every other young teen who loses their mother.

    3. I agree this one was confusing. Maybe you don’t need to part about referencing recent events. Leave the why she knows as a surprise?

      Thirteen-year-old Missy loses her faith after her mother’s death. But when she starts receiving letters from her mom, Missy suspect she might be getting mail from Heaven.

      Or something like that. I think the middle part is breaking it up so it doesn’t flow as well.

      1. Yes! I like that and I think it gets the point across very well. So, it’s a winner in my book, at least =).

        I did post another version of mine if you want to have a go at it.

      2. Ooh, I love the change to the ending. I think you could still be more clear about the letters – does she recognize her mom’s handwriting, or does she think someone else is pranking her? Are they typed?

        Also, “loses everything” might not be specific enough. The death of Missy’s mom could “steal her faith” or “destroy her faith”?

  9. Trying to get it all into 35 words is difficult.
    Let me try again:
    17yo Jenny is horrified to learn that the mother who abandoned her is the ruthless Red Lady pirate. When her mother is imprisoned by King Henry VIII, Jenny must figure out where her loyalties lie.

    1. It’s great! Much improved. I think it sounds like a great book!

      17yo Jenny is horrified to learn that the mother who abandoned her is the ruthless Red Lady pirate. When her mother is imprisoned by King Henry VIII, Jenny must figure out where her loyalties lie.

  10. Second attempt:

    College senior Katie refuses to repeat her ex-fiancé’s actions so when she falls in love, she breaks up with Will rather than risk another long-distance relationship, or worse, ask him to move home with her.

    1. Holy run on sentence, Batman! *laughs* First, break it down into sentences =). But I think you’re getting closer. It still sounds like other books, though…make yours really stand out. The face that Will is Israeli really had me so I’d lave that in there.

  11. Ambiguous_A wrote: When an intoxicating drumbeat calls to 17-year-old Drea Rune, she must defy her friends’ wishes and investigate a dangerous myth surrounding its powers, or succumb to the musical addiction that is taking over her life.

    I like the concept, but feel like it gets lost in so many words. One suggestion: An intoxicating drumbeat calls 17y.o. Drea Rune to defy her friends’ wishes and investigate a dangerous myth surrounding its powers or succumb to the musical addiction taking over her life.

    I’m a little torn over the “defy her friends’ wishes,” too, I think because friends’ wishes can be quite trivial/whimsical. Maybe their “wisdom” would give a stronger sense of the danger Drea faces.

    Anyhow, I like the concept a ton! Good luck!

  12. Attempt three:
    After her father’s death, college senior Katie finds comfort with Will. It’s only a fling, but as graduation looms closer, she realizes there’s something worse than falling in love: loving someone you can’t keep.

    1. Can it be “Still reeling from her father’s death, college senior Katie finds comfort with Will. It’s only a fling, but as graduation looms, she realizes there’s something worse than falling in love: loving someone you can’t keep.”

      Sounds like a great book!

    2. I’d take out the part about the fling…that seems extra to me and unnecessary. I’d try something like this (keeping in mine you know your story better than me): As graduation looms closer, she realizes she can’t keep him and she’s falling further in love day by day.

      Or something like that. You need to make your story really stand out. Lots of people have this issue in college. Maybe bring back the army thing. She could say “as graduation looms closer, so does his departure back home for military duty. She has to decide if she’s going along or not” or something like that. So we can see why she can’t have him.

    3. I don’t hate it. It makes me curious as to why she can’t keep him. But I don’t love the fling line either though. I agree it would be better to cut it. Keep it as simple as possible.

  13. When Kara learns her dad isn’t her biological father, her mom refuses to tell the truth. Kara digs into the past in search of answers, discovering that sometimes a lie is better than the truth.

    1. This sounds like a lot of MCs…it doesn’t stand out to me as being different. So, what’s different about your MC? What makes your story stand out from the pack? Try to capture that in 35 words =).

    1. What does the second sentence have to do with the first? There doesn’t seem to be a connection there. The story is about the girl, not the other infants. Find a way to make your MC the focus of the pitch, and the world an accessory.

    2. I like the idea, but the first half of it is all setup for the world, not for the MC. My suggestion would be to tie the nameless MC into the setup, then why she has been able to get away with this ability, what makes her special, etc.

    3. I’m a little confused…I’m not sure what the story is about from the pitch. Focus on who your MC is, what they want to do and what’s keeping them from doing it.

    4. I agree that I don’t see the connection between the two sentences. Also, it’s a bit vague. The first sentence suggest the 16year-old has a twin, but doesn’t talk about them, then I don’t know what the secret ability is or what it has to do with saving Prithium or that Prithium needed saving. I think maybe focusing on the main conflict will help focus the pitch and if the world-building doesn’t need to come out right now, I’d save it for later. Good luck!

  14. Third attempt (last version has missing words)

    Streetwise gangster Raine Morgan is hunting down two miscreants when he kills a god. Now he must survive as a civil war erupts between gods as they rip apart the city built to worship them.

    1. How about…”Streetwise gangster Raine Morgan accidentally kills a god, causing a divine civil war”?

      Now I’m not sure why that would cause a civil war unless he’s also a deity, or why he “must survive” – are they after him? Or does he need to survive equally as much as Betty, his neighbor, who didn’t kill a deity?

      1. Thanks for the questions:

        This is a fantasy based religion with seven different gods, all with their own histories and (lack of) powers. Not quite sure how to slip that into a quick logline.

        He is becoming a god at this point, trying to survive long enough to become one, but the big crux of it is that none of the gods knew that they could die. Once that is revealed, they band together based off of old feuds and try to kill each other. Each gods’ death affects the humans in the area (the warrior god’s death causes riots, for example). The gods are trying to pull him to each faction.

        Lot of ideas to distill.

        1. Definitely sounds interesting from the extra information – now to get it down to 35 words 🙂 I’d maybe focus on:
          1 – he reveals their mortality by killing a deity
          2 – he’s caught in between the resulting factions (why..? What do they want from him?)
          3 – he’s becoming a deity himself (maybe, #2 is more important)
          4 – So who is it that’s trying to kill him? And why? (assuming this ties into #2)

          Not sure how you’d want to phrase it, but those seem like the most important pieces to me (but what do I know? 🙂 )

          1. How’re these versions?

            When streetwise gangster Raine Morgan kills a god, he becomes the figurehead in a divine civil war. Faced with immortality, he must face his beliefs while struggling to survive as his hometown is ripped apart.

            or

            When streetwise gangster Raine Morgan kills a god, the remaining gods clash. Raine has no choice but to pick a side as an old enemy of the current pantheon rises to take his place.

          2. Nitpicking: I wouldn’t say “faced with… he must face…” & “take his place” makes me think Raine’s, though I think you mean the dead deity’s?

            How about…”When streetwise gangster Raine Morgan accidentally kills a god, he becomes the coveted figurehead in a divine civil war. The gods force him to pick a side, even as his mortal hometown is ripped apart.”..?

            I’m not sure if that highlights your primary conflict, though, because all the versions highlight something different, so it may be good to decide what would be the absolute most important conflict in the book. Losing his hometown? Surviving? Not wanting to become a deity?

  15. Zorya’s fascination with David, the only human in her senior class, results in banishment to her grandfather’s forest refuge. There she discovers her Nightwalker heritage and the real reason for her exile: preventing a war.

    1. I’m interested in the concept, but the “preventing a war” at the end threw me off. Seems like a last minute twist with nothing to back it up.

      As I said, everything’s good up until that point.

      1. I tend to agree with you. My first version just ended with “exile,” but I tried to pad it up to 35.

        Here’s another alternate version:

        “Zorya’s wealthy and popular, with the best smartphone, the latest clothes, and a fascination with the new boy in her senior class–the human. Next thing she knows, she’s on an express bus into exile.”

  16. Okay, attempt #2:

    When Kara learns her dad isn’t her biological father, she must dig into her mother’s past to find answers. But uncovering the horrifying truth means facing a reality that will forever change her world.

    1. Facing a reality that will forever change her world is too vague. You’ve improved the first half of it, but I’m left with no idea what it would be. I like the original “sometimes a lie is better than the truth.”

    1. Actually, I think your first one worked better:

      “Infants born in Prithium come only in pairs, then one is deemed evil and banished. A 16 year-old girl has a secret ability that can save Prithium, if the law regulators don’t kill her first.”

      Just be more specific about what “save Prithium” means. I’m guessing it means ending the practice of banishment. If so, re-word it to something like “end this barbarism.” You can salvage the word count by changing “law regulators” to whatever their proper name in Prithium is (“Regulators?” “Bobbies?”)

        1. This make more sense! I might make a couple of changes: “Infants born in Prithium come only in pairs; one is deemed evil and banished.”

          But it does tell me more than it did before…just see if you can punch up “secret ability”…it’s kind of cliche and might cause you to get over looked.

        2. That works. We all have to shave off critical plot points to get to that horrible 35 word limit. The trick is making sure the leftover stuff is still good enough to get someone interested.

          1. Hrm…I like the end but I still think secret ability is going to get overlooked…maybe I’m wrong though =). I just wonder if there isn’t a better way to word that…

  17. Unfortunately since it is a mystery, I have to keep it somewhat vague or it will ruin the plot. How’s this?
    Attempt #3

    When Kara discovers her dad isn’t her biological father, she must dig into her mother’s past to find answers. But finding them means learning that sometimes a lie is better than the truth.

    1. I think that’s pretty good.

      Remember what the Query Shark (Janet Reid) always says: your job is to entice the agent into reading your work.

      In other words, it doesn’t matter if you spoil it, they’re going to want that in a synopsis anyway when you submit. You want to come out swinging and being purposefully coy could end up hurting you in the short term.

      1. I get that, but I already had a request for a full from WriteOnCon without revealing the surprise–just have to wait 60 days to hear back from the agent!–so if I can avoid revealing the big twist I want to.

    2. Does this feel more enticing?

      Devastated to discover her dad isn’t her biological father, Kara must cope with her mother’s lies while digging into the past in search of answers. Only sometimes, a lie is better than the truth.

  18. A memoir- Sixteen hours after becoming engaged, Lea rushes to the hospital to find her fiancé diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. They push forward their plans to marry and become pregnant immediately with twins.

  19. When college senior Katie finds comfort following her father’s death, she knew there wasn’t a future with Will. As graduation nears, she realizes there’s something worse than falling in love: loving someone you can’t keep.

      1. How’s this?

        When college senior Katie finds comfort following her father’s death, she knew there wasn’t a future with Will. Falling in love with him isn’t the worst that can happen; setting him free is.

  20. If forced nomad Penny Baker can’t resist her unexpected friendship with a wild bipolar girl, she risks heartbreak when her mom decides to drag her away again and she must leave her needy friend behind.

    1. I like the premise, but a 35 word sentence is hard to swallow. Maybe try breaking it up a bit. like “Penny knows her friendship with wild bipolar (name) will only end in heartbreak. Her mother has forced a nomadic lifestyle upon Penny she never asked for. If they move again what will become of (name).” Or something like that. Good luck, hope this helps a little.

    2. That’s an awfully long run-on sentence. Can you break this into shorter sentences, clearly defining what the risks are and who Penny is? This doesn’t give us any sense of age of character other than young enough to have to move with her parent.

  21. Chasing assassins in her glass slippers, 17yo Libby is defending her honor, saving her kingdom, and earning her way from the hereafter to a happily ever after. If the newcomers don’t kill her first.

    1. I love that she’s chasing assassins in glass slippers but can you narrow this down to a more plot centric pitch? What are the stakes? How are they tied to the inciting event?

    2. Love the hereafter to a happily ever after line! The newcomers part threw me though, because who they are isn’t clear. The rest is pretty much awesomeness though.

    1. I really like this, but if you could reword it so it doesn’t read like a list, it may read snazzier. Maybe something like, “even worse….” Or something even better!

      1. What about this?

        Kissing boys? Normal.
        Glowing skin? Not.
        Loving family? Normal.
        Scientists posing as family? Not.
        Dating? Normal.
        Escaping in a submarine with your childhood enemy and falling in love? Not.
        Thankfully Camille thinks normal is overrated.

        1. I don’t know about straying that far from format for the pitch. Should have character, their job/role, inciting incident, and stakes. What you have above is cute, but it tells me nothing about the story.

        2. @tbrosz Yes, I remember that query and it was amazingly different and attention grabbing…but it still presented the needed elements of the plot and what was at stake. It was dark and gritty and made you need to read.

    2. I like this format better than the other. Maybe you could tighten and tell us what is at stake more? Like, “36 hours ago, Camille found out she’s an alien and had to team up with her tormentor. After escaping from prison, she falls in love with her greatest enemy, which may cost her life.” Or something similar.

    1. Kathleen, new to this thread but love your pitch! Saw another version on Mina Vaughn’s site, and this one is better! Good luck

  22. Hi all. Here goes:
    18y/o HS poet Jonah believes he’s finally discovered his muse in 20y/o doe-eyed Raysa, but meeting her soon-to-be ex-husband she failed to mention could mean transforming into a man he isn’t ready to become.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Sarita, Just a couple thoughts. I think you could cut “she failed to mention” and maybe reword the last part of the sentence to make it more straightforward. I understand that Jonah is in HS and will be dealing with “grown up” issues, but maybe something more specific that shows the conflict he’ll face. Sounds like an interesting manuscript!

    2. I would cut out the “failed to mention” part too. Also, I might expand on “transforming into a man he isn’t ready to become.” Kind of sounds supernatural. Like he’s gonna hulk out or something.

    3. Thanks for the comments.
      2ND Attempt
      18y/o HS poet Jonah’s finally discovered his muse in 20y/o doe-eyed Raysa. Then he learns about the soon-to-be ex-husband she fled. Now he’ll either become the man he isn’t ready for or leave her behind.

      Thanks!

    4. I actually really like this. The doe-eyed description of the muse is capturing and I love the character’s name-Raysa. I feel like your last line could be smoother. “… but meeting her soon-to-be ex-husband she failed to mention could mean transforming into a man he isn’t ready to become.” Maybe ending the sentence at Raysa and starting a new sentence would help. Manhood comes earlier than Jonah expected when he realizes Raysa has a soon-to-be ex-husband….or something like that.

  23. For YA SF:
    An Earth-like world inside a black hole. An ancient power hidden within its core. 18yo Kira Sinclair is chosen to protect it—only she doesn’t know it yet, and time is running out.
    Thank you all!

    1. I am left wondering why Kira? And I might cut “only she doesn’t know it yet” and give us some more of what’s at stake. Like, “With her ___abilities, Kira is chosen to protect a hidden power at the core of a planet. But time is running out and ___is trying to reach the power before she does. If ____ succeeds, Kira will die.” Or something. It’s difficult to give an example when I don’t know what the story is about. I hope this helps at all.

  24. Luke, a rehabbing pharmacist is rear-ended by romance when a bicycle riding Emma plows into him and turns his life upside down. FINDING PRECIOUS, a NA contemporary novel about resuscitating love in a rural hospital.

    1. I’m not sure what the tension is in your story. Also, I don’t know if they are in cars or on bikes. How was his life turned upside down? Maybe something like, “Luke is satisfied with his predicable life as a rehabbing pharmacist. There’s no drama. That is, until a girl named Emma collides her bike with his and disrupts his peace.” Or something similar.

  25. Mine, rewritten:

    Penny keeps people at bay because of her mother’s forced nomadic lifestyle. To avoid heartbreak, she must resist a friendship with a wild girl and hottie boy before her “tiger mom” drags her away again.

    1. Or:

      With her mom’s nomadic lifestyle, Penny knows friendships equal heartbreak. Although, Penny finds it impossible to resist wild, bipolar Mags. Can she keep her at arm’s length before it’s time to leave again?

    2. I’m not sure I understand the “tiger mom” reference. Is it needed? Can this be reworded to smooth out? Maybe like: Because of her mother’s nomadic lifestyle, Penny avoids close relationships. What’s the point when they’re just going to move again? But “Wild Girl” and “Hottie Boy” make her second guess her choice, and wish they never move again.” Or something to that sort. You know your story better than anyone. At it’s heart, you have a MC who has a GOAL but something stands in that way.

    3. Or a third choice:

      Penny’s mom says it’s time to move away again. But Penny’s friend (bipolar, suicidal and pregnant) needs her to stay. At seventeen, Penny can’t leave her mom, but she can’t leave her friend behind either.

  26. rewritten:
    Luke is resuscitating his license and his life in a small rural hospital. The rehabbing pharmacist’s plan doesn’t include drama. That is, until a bicycle riding Emma disrupts it with a proposal of her own.

    1. Try this:

      “Luke, in rehab, is resuscitating his pharmacist’s license and his life in a small rural hospital. His plan doesn’t include drama. That is, until a bike-riding Emma with her own ______ ideas collides with him.”

      Fill in the blank with a word describing Emma’s ideas (I don’t know the story).

  27. Attempting a different angle here:

    Katie just wants to graduate college without entanglement, but she falls in love with the wrong guy. Now she must do exactly what she didn’t want to: choose between her family and her heart. Again.

    1. I don’t know about the “Again.” Also, I want to know why she doesn’t want entanglement in college. Is she a hardcore student? Or has her past heartbreak been a deterrent? Maybe something like, “After a rough breakup with a wrong guy, Katie just wants to get through college without entanglement. But with an irresistible theatre major (or whatever) that clashes with her family, Katie must make it work or leave someone behind.”

  28. How about this:
    Katie wants to leave nothing behind when she graduates college. Until she falls in love. Now she must make a choice: her family and or her heart. It’s a choice she’s bungled before, so how does she know she’ll get it right the second time around?

    1. I’ve read pitches and queries should avoid rhetorical questions because the answer to them is too obvious and easy.

      How about: Katie just wants to graduate college without anymore entanglement, but she accidentally falls in love. Now she must do exactly what she didn’t want to: choose between her family and her heart. Again.

  29. Once more:
    Luke is resuscitating his pharmacist’s license and his life. His rehab plans don’t include romance. That is, until a bike-riding girl he nicknames Crash destroys his easy-peasy lifestyle with a proposal of her own.

  30. Katie just wants to graduate college without anymore entanglement, but she accidentally falls in love. Now she must do exactly what she didn’t want to: choose between her family and her heart. Again.

    * I like this, but maybe:
    Katie just wants to graduate college without any entanglement. She had no intention of falling in love. Now she must do exactly what she didn’t want to: choose between her family and her heart. Again.

        1. 35 words is not enough space! She can’t have both because of the physical distance between where her family is and where he lives. She already choose her heart over her family and it didn’t go well.She was burned horribly by a long distance relationship (the reason why she moved away from home to begin with) and she won’t do the same to the new guy, so it’s not an option for her. She thinks she can’t have both because she can’t stay and she won’t ask him to give up his plans to come with her.

          1. Hm. Maybe, “After being burned by a long distance relationship before, Katie just wants to get through college without any entanglements. Ultimately, she falls for (description of boy) and is faced with a familiar choice: her family or her heart.” I know that’s still too long.

            I know it is hard getting these dang pitches to work! I’ve nearly used up an entire notebook. Keep at it!

          2. Thanks! Try number 12 million:

            After being burned by a long-distance relationship, Katie just wants to graduate college without any further entanglements. But when she unexpectedly falls in love, she’s faced with a familiar choice: her family or her heart.

  31. Final draft?

    Penny’s nomadic mom says it’s time to move away again. But Penny’s friend–bipolar, pregnant, and scared–needs her to stay. At seventeen, Penny legally must go with her mother. Morally, though, she must stay.

    Thanks for all the continued help, everyone!

    1. I think this is really close. What about a combo of the two:

      Penny’s nomadic mom says it’s time to move away again. But Penny’s bipolar, suicidal and pregnant friend needs her. At seventeen, Penny must go with her mom, but she can’t leave her friend behind either.

  32. Beth’s a widowed anthropology professor, excavating in the mountains of Arizona. Beau’s an ex-NFL star who wants to tag along for reasons he won’t share. Finding Chief Cochise could reveal secrets that destroy them both.

    1. Two MC’s will be difficult to fit into 35 words, and the last line is a bit vague. What’s the inciting incident? What’s the stakes?

  33. After being burned by a long-distance relationship, Katie just wants to graduate college without any further entanglements. But when she unexpectedly falls in love, she’s faced with a familiar choice: her family or her heart.
    ***How about a tweak like:
    After being burned by a long-distance relationship, Katie just wants to graduate college without any further entanglements. But when she unexpectedly falls in love, once again it’s a familiar choice: her family or her heart.

    Exactly 35!

    1. I’m not sure I like the “once again” because “familiar” already implies that she’s faced this choice before.

  34. Would this work:
    Penny’s nomadic Mom says it’s time to move away again. But Penny’s bipolar, suicidal and pregnant friend needs her more. At seventeen, she doesn’t have much choice. Abandon her friend or run from her Mom.

      1. I agree, I like this. I would just change the punctuation of the last line — At seventeen, she doesn’t have much choice: abandon her friend or run from her mom.

        Remember, Mom is only capitalized when it is a proper noun. Here, it is not.

  35. How about this:
    Beth’s a widowed anthropology professor, excavating in the mountains of Arizona. Beau’s an ex-NFL star who traps her into letting him tag along. The tomb of Cochise isn’t the only secret they’re both searching for.

    1. But what’s at risk here? I think you’re using too many words to intro your MCs; they would be better spent on the plot. Think of this in terms of GMC – goal, motivation, conflict.

  36. How about this:

    Beth’s a widowed anthropology professor, excavating in the mountains of Arizona. She doesn’t need an ex-NFL playboy tagging along to mess up her career, especially when finding the tomb of Cochise isn’t his sole objective.

    1. I like this better, but I think you can shave down words even further by rewording like: A widowed anthropology professor, Beth doesn’t need an ex-NFL playboy on her excavation, ruining her career. Especially when finding the tomb of Conchise isn’t his sole objective.

      That is only 27 words, leaving you a little more room for plot/twist/stakes.

  37. Ok, a little different angle:
    Anthropology professor Elizabeth Hunter doesn’t need an ex-NFL playboy tagging along on her excavation, ruining her career and ramping up her hormones. Especially when finding the tomb of Cochise isn’t the only proposal he makes.

    1. So he’s the one who proposes finding the tomb? I see what you’re trying to do here, but that’s how it reads. Unless it’s true, but then it doesn’t seem logical with him being a sports player and her the anthropologist. I still want to know what’s at stake here. Her heart? Her career?

    2. I like this. It tells me about the MC and what she wants to do…but what’s at stake? What do the NFL guy’s proposals have to do with anything? I think once you clear that up, you’ll be on the right path.

  38. Thoughts: Carrie Reese doesn’t believe in ghosts–until she falls in love with one. And opens a century-old rift to Hell in the process. Sometimes there’s more at stake than merely dying.

    1. I love the first line, but I’m not sure about the rest. That “And” is glaring at me. Plus, I want to know what is at stake, exactly. Like, “Carrie Reese doesn’t believe in ghosts–until she falls in love with one. While trying to make a relationship work, she opens up a century-old rift to Hell, putting her ghost-love’s soul in danger.” Something like that? Depending on how the story goes?

    2. I would agree with Kelly Allan. The first line is great. I’d find some way to rework the last two lines to talk about those stakes.

    3. I second Kelly. I responded on AQC, but will say the same here. I like it, but the “and” isn’t working for me…and I do see now that we might need some higher stakes.

  39. Ok, one more time:
    Beth, a widowed anthropology professor and Beau, an ex-NFL star turned amateur archeologist have nothing in common. Treasure isn’t the only discovery they make when uncovering the tomb of Cochise. But will their love last?

  40. or my last try:

    Anthropology professor Beth doesn’t need an ex-NFL playboy tagging along on her excavation, ruining her career and ramping up her hormones. She thinks he’s a treasure hunter. She’s right. And then he steals her heart.

    1. I’m still left with the question what’s at stake? Have you tried following Nathan Bransford formula and then modifying it? When OPENING CONFLICT happens to CHARACTER(s), they have OVERCOME CONFLICT to COMPLETE QUEST.

  41. How’s this:

    Carrie Reese doesn’t believe in ghosts–until she falls in love with one. When she and Lucas open a century-old rift to Hell, the threat to their love becomes a fight for their souls.

    SM: Yes! So much better!

  42. From the hero’s perspective. (maybe this will work better)

    Beau’s on a secret quest. When he trapped Anthropology Professor Elizabeth Hunter into searching for the tomb of Cochise, he’d planned on stealing the treasure. He didn’t bargain on losing his heart in the process.

  43. SM: Beau’s on a secret quest. When he convinced Anthropologist Elizabeth Hunter into searching for the tomb of Cochise, he’d planned on stealing the treasure. He didn’t bargain on losing his heart, though.

  44. Thanks for all the help. I’m probably going to go with this:
    Beau’s on a secret quest. When he trapped Anthropology Professor Elizabeth Hunter into helping him search for the tomb of Cochise, he’d planned on stealing the treasure. He didn’t expect Beth to steal his heart.

    1. Oh, I think I really like this flipped around and told from his perspective. Must more intriguing. Only use lower case for “anthropology professor” because its a common noun, not proper.

  45. All of you were so helpful last night. I hope my rewrite is more acceptable. When Danny, a hedonistic playboy, falls in love, he defies an ancient Akkadian society, inciting a war. If he fails to unite both sides, he will lose his love, his life, and all of humanity.

  46. I hope a few of you have the energy to look at one more pitch!

    All the Eaters were exterminated; all but Alana. Unaware of what she is, Alana risks a new outbreak to find the boy erased from her mind by the disease. LUCENT is a twist on Rapunzel.

    1. What is an eater? An outbreak of what? What disease? You don’t need to include that last part about the story being a twist on Rapunzel, leave that for your query. This short pitch should be the bare bones of your story. Character, inciting incident, stakes.

  47. How about this:
    All the Eaters except for Alana were exterminated. Unaware she’s risking a new outbreak, Alana searches for the boy she can barely remember as a consequence of her disease. LUCENT is a twist on Rapunzel.

  48. 1.
    After an encounter with starlight, 18yo Kira travels to a world inside a black hole when she sleeps. She must uncover the secret to her link before it breaks, trapping her inside forever.
    OR
    2.
    After an encounter with starlight, 18yo Kira travels to a world inside a black hole when she sleeps. If she doesn’t uncover the link’s secret before it breaks, she will be trapped inside forever.

    Thank you!

    1. OR
      3.
      After an encounter with starlight, 18yo Kira travels to a world inside a black hole. To escape, she must uncover the secret to her link before it breaks. Unfortunately, someone doesn’t want her to leave.

      1. I still don’t understand the starlight thing. And the end is kind of cliche…you really want your pitch to make an agent sit up and take notice. What I would do is real quick write out a little chart:

        MC Kira
        Problem:
        Goal:
        Obstacle:

        1. Which ending do you think is cliche? Trapped forever or someone doesn’t want her to leave?

          I was using Nathan Bradford’s formula. When X happens = Kira gets hit by light from a falling star. Then she visits the black hole world when she’s dreaming. (Initially she thinks she is dreaming, but she discovers the world is real. Not alternate reality, but real as in you can visit the moon, you can visit this world. The starlight is the key.)

          1. Trapped forever and someone doesn’t want her ot leave are all common endings in pitches…those I would avoid.

            I think you started it in your answer there. Now the starlight makes sense. So, maybe start with that: Kira gets hit by light from a falling star. Afterward, she visits a black hole world in her sleep. But if she doesn’t find the link, she’ll never leave…

            Or something like that =). Mine is terrible, but you kind of get the idea. You want to give us enough to understand your story and what your MC has to do and why it’s tough. But don’t go with the usual things like I noted above. Your story stands out, right? So show us that.

        2. Problem: Kira is linked to a world inside a black hole. She’s there when she sleeps, home when awake.
          Goal: Figure out how to stay home/not get stuck in black hole.
          Obstacle: Time. She is connected to the world by the starlight. When the star dies, she is stuck in whichever world she inhabits.

          1. Okay, now craft a pitch from that =). Something like: 18 yo Kira gets hit with starlight and linked to a black hole. If the black hole dies out before she wakes up, she’s stuck in that world forever.

            Or something like that. But make it clear what role the starlight plays and why she needs to wake up at home.

    2. Well, can you cut the line about starlight? That to me would strengthen the first part of the query. But I don’t feel drawn to your story just yet. Is she dreaming? Is this some sort of alternate reality deal? I need more…

  49. How about this:
    When she sleeps, 18yo Kira travels to a world inside a black hole, after encountering starlight. If the link breaks before she uncovers the secret, she will be trapped inside forever.
    Not sure what the story is, ie starlight, etc but this leaves a little room to add.

  50. How about this?
    After she gets hit by light from a falling star, Kira visits a world inside a black hole in her sleep. If she doesn’t uncover the link before the star dies, she’ll never leave.

    1. I’d change visit to linked, because you said she’s linked to this world. And see if you can beef up the end just a bit. I see that she can’t leave if that star dies…but what’s standing in her way?

      1. What is standing in her way…a few things. But the overall issue is that she can’t control where she is. She’s at the mercy of the sleep/awake cycle. So hard to fit this into 35 words!

        1. I feel your pain! There’s so much standing in my MC’s way but I can’t cram it all into the pitch. If I did, it’d look like this: a drunk, broken back, seizures, migraines, might not walk, but he might, but he might not drum, but he might *breath* but the road is dangerous for him to be on, his wife might divorce him or she might not, and there’s a premature baby too! *pant, pant*

      2. And again 🙂
        The touch of light from a falling star links Kira to a world inside a black hole. She must uncover the secret to controlling her connection or each visit home could be her last.

  51. Ok, into the abyss…ahem…

    In a country inspired by the rich culture of medieval India, one warrior’s quest for vengeance reveals the dark secrets of a merciless city, an ancient identity—and the erosion of himself.

    1. Hi Shelley, Thinking your first clause is too wordy and a bit unclear – what is the country and where is it? Why is it inspired by medieval India? Or is that you (the writer) inspired by medieval India?

      1. Yeah, I felt like it was too…we’re kind of working off something a freelance editor suggested for us a year ago, and you look at it so much that you know something’s off but you just can’t tell what!

        1. How about:

          In a country that parallels medieval India, one warrior’s quest to avenge a young girl’s murder leads him through the depths of a merciless city to find a love foretold from the dawn of time.

    2. The last line feels off to me. The part “and the erosion of himself” is a little awkward. How do you reveal the erosion of something? It feels like it needs a different verb, though it’s hard for me to say what as I don’t know the story. Is he facing death? Or the possible destruction of who he thinks he is? On the flip side, I love the possibilities of a city inspired by medieval India.

      1. Great, we’ll keep the medieval India part then, just trim it down so it’s not so wordy. And I agree that erosion might not be the best choice of words, but the MMC is deconstructed through the course of the story, and his evolution as a character is central to the theme. What if I were to word it thus: blah blah city, an ancient identity, and the loss of himself. Or maybe –and discovers who he is meant to be. While the story’s end isn’t necessarily happy, it’s positive, so I wonder if we could go with a more positive spin…?

      1. I posted this to a different reply, but I’d love to repeat it here:

        In a country that parallels medieval India, one warrior’s quest to avenge a young girl’s murder leads him through the depths of a merciless city to find a love foretold from the dawn of time.

        I hope I’m on the right track with paring down the details and adding more specifics. Eventually his actions lead to the fall of a regime, but I’m not quite sure how to work that in. It’s a love story at its heart, although it’s probably classified as more heroic fantasy.

    3. After much shuffling and tossing of innocent words, I think I might have improved this somewhat;

      In a country that echoes medieval India, one warrior’s quest to avenge a young girl’s death topples a regime…and leads him to a woman that he would sacrifice his identity, and his life, to protect.

  52. Okay, throwing my pitch in:

    Led by ghostly whispers, twelve-year-old Rebecca discovers crumbling letters and an abandoned farm, both linked to her family’s past. Now she must uncover a tragic, long-buried secret to stop the eerie apparition that stalks her.

      1. Starla, I asked Brenda, and she said hyphenated words count as one… but maybe I’ll be on the safe side… certainly don’t want to take any chances! Thx for the feedback 🙂

    1. This is really good, but I think you should be more specific about the “secret.” I’ve heard that agents get a lot of “secrets” in pitches. The first sentence is really good, catchy, but I would try sprucing up the last. Like, “With proof of murder, Rebecca must find the man responsible or end up buried on the farm herself.” Or something that is specific to your story.

    2. I agree with Kelly in that the first sentence grabs me, yet the second might work best with a greater sense of urgency. What makes the apparition eerie? Did she possibly release it with the discovery of the letters and the farm? With a couple of well-placed words and a little rearranging, I think the sense of danger would come across more clearly. I hope this helps!

      (Thanks for the help, btw!)

      1. Thanks, All, for the comments! Is this better?

        Stalked by an eerie apparition, twelve-year-old Rebecca follows its whispers to crumbling letters that hint at a tragic family secret. Now she must search an abandoned farm to uncover the mystery and stop the ghost.

  53. So, before I read this post, my pitch looked like this:

    When self-control is the only thing standing between a superhero and killing everyone she loves, how far would Candace go to protect them? Can she, even when it means breaking her own heart?

    But then I read the “no open-ended questions” thing and changed it up. So how about this?

    On the road to becoming a superhero, Candace will discover how far she will go to protect those she loves… even if it means breaking her own heart.

    Thanks for the feedback!

    1. I agree. More specifics. What are her powers? How will her heart break? Like, “Candace has always thought she would kill to fulfill her dreams as a superhero. But when put to a challenge, she is asked to do just that: kill all the ones she loves or give up her dream forever.”

  54. Hi Starla, your pitch is definitely better! I think it would be stronger if you were more specific, though. What does “breaking her own heart” mean – maybe put the choice from the 1st pitch back in there – does she have to kill those she loves to fulfill her dream of becoming a superhero?

    1. So how is this?

      As she becomes a superhero with the ability to control water, Candace must choose how far she will go to protect humanity… even if it means destroying the one she loves the most.

      Still feels like it’s missing something more striking here. It is an “origin” story, but I’m not sure how to better show this is her growing into her power.

      1. I like it! To emphasize that this is an origin, might I make a suggestion? How about: “As her abilities to control water begin to unfold, Candace learns that becoming a superhero will force her into a cruel choice: protect humanity, even if it means destroying the one she loves the most.” Just a thought.

          1. I think that’s excellent, but I would think that, wouldn’t I? 😀 That compels me to want to pick that book up and buy it. It seems so introspective and tragic. If that’s what you were going for, you’ve achieved it imo.

  55. After tweaking:

    Penny is exhausted of her nomadic mom’s lifestyle. Her new friend–bipolar, suicidal, and pregnant–needs her to stay. But at only seventeen, Penny hasn’t much choice: abandon her friend or run from her mother.

    1. The first line is confusing. I get what you’re saying but I’m not sure it works for the pitch. Can you say something about the mom’s lifestyle separate from Penny?

  56. How about:
    Penny’s had it with her mom’s nomadic lifestyle. She needs to stay put for her bipolar, suicidal and pregnant best friend. At seventeen she has two choices: abandon her friend or run from her mom.

    1. That’s better…I like the first line. But I don’t know that I’m really seeing the stakes here. I get that she has to choose between her friend and her mom (and there’s lots of those books already) because of this friend who might self destruct. But how does your book stand out from the others?

    2. I do like your first line. The thing I’m wondering is what happens if she leaves her mom? That’s what’s missing from the stakes for me. Kind of hard to say in 35 words, but I have faith you can do it. Good luck! 🙂

    3. Brenda tells me hyphenated words count as one. So how ’bout:

      Seventeen-year-old Penny’s had it with her mom’s nomadic lifestyle. She needs to stay put for her bipolar, suicidal and pregnant best friend. Her dilemma: abandon her desperate friend or disown her own mom.

      1. I just saw this! I asked the same question about hyphenated words 🙂
        Also, I like your pitch, I think the stakes are clearly laid out.

  57. Addy thought it was a nightmare- demons wanting her dead, the boy wanting her to fight back. But CHAOS was calling. Now she must stop an ancient evil from ripping open the gates of hell.

    1. This seems generic…and describes many books. Make yours stand out from the pack: what makes your book different? Give us a pitch that showcases how and why your book is different.

        1. okay, is this any better?

          The Realmwalkers, protecting Earth Realm against Shades, find their newest member in 17-year-old Addy. When an indestructible Shade appears, Addy must overcome self-doubt, betrayal, and a broken heart to solve the mystery to his defeat.

          1. That’s a lot better! I like the beginning but I’m not 100% sold on the end. Others might feel otherwise, of course..but I feel like Addy turned into one of many characters…can you make her stand out?

    2. I’m going to agree that this does sound generic. While I do like the part where CHAOS is calling, I’m left wondering what can I get from your book that I can’t from others in the same genre. Why do the demons want her dead? What happens if she doesn’t fight back? Give us a little detail and end with a punch. Good luck! 🙂

  58. I’ve been playing around with a few different pitches and after getting feedback from a few people, I came up with this pitch. All critiques are welcome and I thank you in advance.

    Pitch(35 words): Someone wants 16-year-old doppelgangers Cross and Brielle’s freakin heads chopped off after they switch worlds via a mythical bridge. Too bad the one who knows why is the handsome butterfly Cross was hired to kill.

    1. The only part where I tripped up was “the one who knows why.” Is it the one who knows why someone wants to chop their heads off, or the one who knows why they switch worlds?

    2. Would it make sense to start with “The only one who know why…” I’m also tripping on the last sentence, and not sure why a Cross would kill a handsome butterfly – could you establish that this butterfly could/should be killed by Cross?

  59. Here’s my (hopefully final!) pitch. Thoughts?

    A drunk driver nearly kills rock star Jimmy Rickliefs. When doctors say he might not walk again, Jimmy has two options: get moving or give up his drums for good.

    1. I looked your other pitches up to see how it’s changed and I have to say while I do like this, I’m still wondering why not walking is a problem? I saw you mentioned his kick speed above & I understand that would be a problem, but since this pitch doesn’t mention that I’m left wondering. Also I saw you mentioned this in an explanation, “Basically, he’s a walking medical disaster and a huge liability to take on tour or anywhere near a drum kit.” I think adding this to your pitch would strengthen it and add that piece that feels missing. Still, sounds like an interesting read to me. Good luck! 🙂

      1. It’s so hard to convey the importance of his feet…every drummer needs their feet for the pedals. But it never occurred to me to put the disaster statement in…that’s a great idea! Let me play with that and see what I can do.

          1. Here’s a version with the importance of feet:

            At 140 bpm, Jimmy has some of the fastest feet in rock. But when a drunk driver nearly kills him, doctors can’t guarantee he’ll walk again. And without his feet, his career is over.

        1. The reply button’s missing from your latest pitch, so I’m replying from this one.

          I like what you’ve done, but something feels off. I toyed around with what you’ve already said & came up with this at 35 words exact: At 140 bpm, Jimmy Rickliefs had some of the fastest feet in rock until a drunk driver nearly killed him. Now a huge liability, Jimmy must get moving or give up his drums for good.
          Still a story I’d like to read. Good luck! 🙂

          1. I LIKE that! I think you managed to sum up the book quite well in 35 words :D. I will play with that and I think that’s what I’m using tomorrow! Thanks! 😀

    2. You could also word like so:
      After a drunk driver nearly kills rock star Jimmy Rickliefs, doctors say he may never walk again. Now Jimmy has two choices: get moving or give up his drums for good.

      Still have room to add a bit too…

  60. Luke is resuscitating his pharmacist’s license and his life. His rehab plans don’t include romance. His likes easy-peasy now. That is, until a bicycle-riding woman he nicknames Crash rear-ends his new lifestyle and changes everything.

  61. Luke is resuscitating his pharmacist’s license and his life. His rehab plans don’t include romance. He likes easy-peasy now. That is, until a bicycle-riding woman he nicknames Crash rear-ends his new lifestyle and changes everything.

    1. This is getting better each time I read. I would maybe change “changes everything” to something more voice-y. Like, she resuscitates him in a new way or something.

    2. I love this – and easy-peasy is a great way to showing voice. I don’t think it’s important to point out that he nicknames the woman “Crash.” I’d love to instead see more about what’s going to change.

  62. Please let me know what you think. Thanks
    Still reeling from her secret girlfriend’s accidental death, seventeen-year-old Bryn seeks revenge against the killer. But when her scheme and new secret girlfriend are leaked on Facebook, the religious townies terrorize the bi-sexual sinner.

    1. Accidental death or killer? I might take out “accidental and put in murder. Then that saves even more room. Maybe something like, “Still reeling from her secret girlfriend’s murder, seventeen-year-old Bryn seeks revenge by ____. But when her scheme and sexual orientation are leaked on Facebook, she will have to own up to her secrets.”

    2. I agree with Kelly’s suggestion. But I’d reword the last bit. suggestion –
      But when her scheme and sexual orientation are leaked on Facebook, she must face the town’s prejudices and stand up for herself.

  63. Pitch draft (gone through so many revisions already haha. Oy.)

    Too bruised by past entanglements to believe in love stories, a Nashville singer and a Portland writer nevertheless find themselves fighting practicality, and sometimes each other, for a chance at happily ever after.

    1. I could use a timeline or something else here. Like, they have one last chance to give the long-distance thing a try before they live without each other forever or something.

  64. How does this work?

    When streetwise gangster Raine Morgan kills a god, he becomes the figurehead in a divine civil war. He must fight for his own beliefs while surviving as his hometown is ripped apart in the chaos.

    1. this is a neat query. My only issue would be, I’d like some information on his beliefs, something strong to identify him other than ‘streetwise gangster’, something that hints at a character arc. Eg. He must protect the humans / stand up for ____ etc. while surviving…

    2. I’m not sure what kind of beliefs a streetwise gangster has, would it be possible to squeeze in a word or two about what he believes in? Although I think the pitch would work just as well if he’s fighting for survival rather than his beliefs.

  65. This might be a lame question, but is seventeen-year-old considered one word or three? I’m trying this pitch on for size:
    Seventeen-year-old Faith’s intense encounters with annoying, yet sexy as hell, Logan draw out the spirits of Cry House, where murderous memories of the long-dead beckon them to put the past to rest.

    1. Hyphenated words count as one, afaik.

      By “intense encounters” do you mean sex? (A la Buffy episode where Buffy & Riley can’t stop having sex in a haunted house that feeds off the sexual energy?) How do the murderous memories beckon? They’d make me run the other way…

      1. Thank you for the reply! I fixed to take out the implication of sex in the house 🙂
        Is this one any better?
        Heated arguments and sexual tension between seventeen-year-old Faith and annoyingly hot Logan draw out the murdered spirits of the Cry House, where painful memories of the long-dead beckon them to put the past to rest.

        1. I really like everything up to Cry House. Then I start asking, who is “them”, whose memories are they (are they the memories of those who were long-dead, F & L’s memories of the people who were long-dead? etc.).

          Whose past needs to be put to rest, and what does that mean? I’m assuming there are literal ghosts involved. So is it the ghosts who force/convince/demand/something-other-than-beckon* the kids to figure out some kind of mystery and/or get a necromancer who can put the ghosts “to rest”?

          *Beckon gives the kids an option. Do it, don’t do it. I’d walk away, because who needs that? I’m assuming you want it to be less of a choice.

          1. Thank you so much for your help!
            Another try:
            Heated arguments and sexual tension between seventeen-year-old Faith and annoyingly hot Logan force them into the memories of murdered spirits from Cry House, where the past will repeat itself until it’s laid to rest.

          2. I like this so much more! Except for the “force them into the memories” which I don’t quite understand (are they physically transported? are they forced to relive the memories of…?). For instance:

            “…transport them into the memories of those murdered at Cry House, where history…”

            I like the addition of the past repeating itself, gives a better idea of the stakes.

          3. Aria, thank you again! I really appreciate your help! Adjusted for reliving:
            Heated arguments and sexual tension between seventeen-year-old Faith and annoyingly hot Logan force them to relive the memories of murdered spirits from Cry House, where the past will repeat itself unless it’s laid to rest.

          4. My pleasure! I think that’s significantly stronger. The one concern that may arise is people wondering how the heated arguments could possibly connect to the spirits’ memories, but then that’s why they’d have to read the book! 🙂

        2. Hi,
          I’m looking at your latest version and I agree that the words ‘the past will repeat itself’ gives better stakes. But the words ‘force them into the memories of murdered spirits from Cry House,’ confuse me. Do you mean that the two are forced into the ghosts’ memories? or that the two can somehow imbibe or draw in the ghosts’ memories? One suggestion might be to show the two protagonists and then introduce the conflict. Example – Arguments between seventeen-year-old Faith and annoyingly hot Logan cover a simmering sexual tension. But when it draws out the murdered spirits of Cry House, the two must (something to show reconciliation or burying the hatchet – unite? ) to stop the past from repeating.
          Just a suggestion

          1. This one or the previous one?
            Heated arguments and sexual tension between seventeen-year-old Faith and annoyingly hot Logan builds energy, which forces them to relive the memories of murdered spirits from Cry House. And the past is determined to repeat itself.

    2. I think this last attempt is really awesome. My only thought is, could you divide it into 2 sentences? Maybe like this:

      Heated arguments and sexual tension between seventeen-year-old Faith and annoyingly hot Logan force them to relive the memories of murdered spirits from Cry House. And the past will repeat itself unless it’s laid to rest.

      Just a thought. 🙂

  66. So here is the pitch I have going for Pitch Madness. Any feedback much appreciated:

    Claire Wells is the introverted teen daughter of a Hawaiian beauty queen. When her grandfather drowns mysteriously, she and good guy, Sam L’ia, must find his killer and stop a cult bent on human sacrifice.

    1. Ooh, very nice! My only nitpick is that I’m not sure about good guy as the descriptor for Sam L’ia. Other than that, I like it.

    2. I like it. The only comments I have are 1. the first sentence seems more like you are stating a fact. Wonder if you could convey the same, using more of your voice? An example might be – Claire Wells prefers solitude over the beauty pageants her mom queens over. This is just a (poor) suggestion. see what you think, though
      2. ‘good guy’ is quite vague. One option might be to go with his relationship to the MC. ‘close friend’ or ‘school mate’ etc.

      1. Thanks so much for the feedback. I definitely need to improve the “Good Guy” part and have really been struggling with that aspect. I really need to find a cool way to say hot, know-it-all. SoniaH’s phrase of “annoyingly hot” is great. I am trying to think along those lines.

    3. I want to know why her mother is important to this pitch. Right now, if you dropped it, it wouldn’t change the conflict for me. Something like “When Claire’s grandfather drowns, she needs [new word for good guy] Sam to find his killer and stop a cult…” these are the essential elements that intrigue me.

      1. The reason I left the mother in there is that I want to find a way to incorporate the fact that Claire’s Polynesian background is important to the plot. I’ve been told that I might stand a better chance with agents if I promote the Hawaiian element into my pitch. But I would love to get feedback on that. 🙂

  67. Here’s a pitch I’ve worked on. Appreciate all feedback. Thanks.

    A diary yields a shocking secret – the body in the stream a decade ago should’ve been Tara’s, and not her cousin’s. Now her cousin’s back, and Tara must confront her past or lose her life.

    1. I remember this query from WriteOnCon *waves hello
      From what I remember her cousin had intended to kill Tara, but ended up dead instead. I think you should try to work that into your pitch somehow.

    2. Thanks, Sonia. How about –

      Tara discovers her cousin had tried to kill her years ago, but ended up dead instead. When her cousin’s lookalike moves in next door, Tara must face her nemesis or lose her life – for real

      1. I love the first sentence! I think instead of saying lookalike, you could go with When her dead cousin moves in… That way it’s a for sure that Tara will be facing her cousin.

    3. I think the first sentence is really awesome. But after that I am confused, since I found myself wondering if the cousin is back from the dead or if it is a different cousin.

  68. Thank you SO much for your comments (loved & learned from those above). This is for Tattoo Thief, a new adult romance:

    When white-hot rock star Gavin Blakely trashes his penthouse and flees the country, his house sitter, Beryl, must pick up the pieces to discover the death of his muse and how to bring him back.

    1. The last part confused me a little because I’m not sure who died, and if there is going to be a literal raising of the dead when you say bring him back.

  69. Nice. My question though, is why does the house sitter have to pick up the pieces? Does she have another, stronger, connection to Gavin which makes her the obvious person to step in at this time?

  70. Great questions. She’s forced to pick up the pieces of his trashed penthouse (her job as the house sitter), but she’s compelled to dig deeper to discover the death of the muse (a woman).

    When white-hot rock star Gavin Blakely trashes his penthouse and flees the country, his house sitter, Beryl, picks up the pieces. As she tries to bring Gavin back, she discovers the death of his muse.

    1. Much clearer! I do think the stakes could be a little stronger though. What will happen to Beryl if he doesn’t come back? How does the death of his muse impact her? Might not be able to answer both, or either, in 35 words, but it gives you an idea of the questions that might get asked.

    2. If Beryl is your MC, I’d suggest shifting the focus to her. Start off with the protagonist. Suggestion –
      When house sitter, Beryl, discovers rock star Gavin Blakely’s muse dead in his trashed penthouse, she must – do what? unmask the true killer and clear Gavin’s name so he can return home?
      see what you think

      1. Suja – your suggestion is great IF that were the plot. (-: She simply discovers the trashed penthouse, and is motivated by her own life circumstances to unravel WHY he trashed it (his muse died). Sonia, you’re right, it’s Beryl’s POV, so I should be leading with her (I was just having a tough time constructing that sentence).

        Beryl wants to know why a rock star trashed his penthouse and fled the country. As his house sitter, she’s digging for the truth. As their relationship grows, she needs more to bring him back.

        1. Sorry about that. But I liked your explanation :- She simply discovers the trashed penthouse, and is motivated by her own life circumstances to unravel WHY he trashed it (his muse died). I think that’s the key. Why does she feel so driven to dig for the truth? Just because she’s his house sitter and he trashed his house might not be enough motivation IMO. If there was something in her life which is similar to his circumstance, that will make us connect with her. Or is it that she’s fallen for him and wants to help him now that he’s alone?
          And I agree with Sonia’s comment about more specific words.
          Hope that helped.

  71. Is anyone still up? I need some feedback on my revision. When Danny, a hedonistic playboy, falls in love, he defies an ancient Akkadian society, inciting a war. If he fails to unite both sides, he will lose his love, his life, and all of humanity.

    1. This reads like a completely different story to me haha. (Sorry, didn’t see your rewrite before.) I think that happens for all of us as we try to pinpoint what primary theme we want to highlight.

      This reads more like a Romeo and Juliette story to me, so I don’t understand right now why all of humanity is at risk. He gets killed –> war ends, as far as I can tell?

  72. I think hedonistic playboy is redundant – and I’d go with the latter. How can you remove more commas from this first sentence? Playboy Danny didn’t expect to incite a war simply by falling in love. But his love defies an ancient society, and if he fails to unite…

  73. Gazillionth try:
    Luke is resuscitating his pharmacist’s license and his life. His rehab plans don’t include romance. He likes easy-peasy now. That is, until a bicycle-riding Emma rear-ends his new lifestyle. It’s time to update the plan.

  74. Or one more:
    Luke is resuscitating his pharmacist’s license and his life. His rehab plans don’t include romance. He likes easy-peasy now. That is, until a bicycle-riding Emma rear-ends his new lifestyle. It’s time to rethink the plan.

  75. Reworked pitch. Hamptons playboy Danny falls in love with a princess from an ancient, secret civilization, which incites a war. If they fail to unite each side, they lose their love, their life, and all of humanity.

  76. How is this:

    Luke is resuscitating his pharmacist’s license and his life. His rehab plans don’t include romance. He likes easy-peasy now. That is, until a bicycle-riding Emma rear-ends his new lifestyle, forcing him to rethink his plans.

      1. Actually, after a second reread, the last sentence might flow better if you said, “It isn’t until a bicycle-riding Emma rear-ends his new lifestyle that he rethinks his plans.”

  77. I’m torn between two versions:

    1. Seventeen-year-old Penny has had it with her mom’s nomadic lifestyle. She needs to stay put for her bipolar, suicidal, and pregnant best friend. Her dilemma: abandon her desperate friend or disown her own mother.

    Or

    2. Before her nomadic mother can move them away again, seventeen-year-old Penny must find help for her bipolar, suicidal, and pregnant best friend. If not, she must choose: abandon her desperate friend or her own mother.

    1. I like the first sentence of the top pitch. maybe after…She needs to remain in *city or town* in support of her bipolar, suicidal and pregnant friend. Her choices will have profound effects on both loved ones.???

    2. I remember this one from WriteOnCon, I can relate to this story on so many levels.
      I’m another vote for the first one because it makes Penny the active one, where in the second she is passively being moved around by her mother. Good luck!

  78. This is it… I think
    When a Hamptons playboy falls in love and defies an ancient, secret civilization, he unleashes a war against humanity. If Danny fails to unite both sides, he stands to lose his love and his life.

    1. I like the “Hamptons,” personally but I wouldn’t use his name in the second sentence – it’s unclear if it’s a different character. Maybe:

      “When a Hamptons playboy falls in love, defying an ancient, secret civilization, he unleashes a war against humanity. If he fails to unite both sides, he’s sure to lose his love – and his life.”

  79. Here’s mine for an adult womens fiction. I’m not for sure, but thought I’d see…

    After getting dumped the night before her wedding, Justine is offered a glimpse into the life of the rich and famous as the job of cleaning lady in this Devil Wear Parada meets Nanny Diaries

    1. Hrm…your pitch is not clear. What you want to give us is: MC must x in order to y but z stands in her way. And make it all stand out from the pack. It sounds like you have an interesting story, but your pitch doesn’t make that clear.

    2. I like the premise of the story, but I would suggest spelling it out rather than referring to other stories… I know 35 words, right?

  80. WW II. When Norwegian secret agent, posing as deaf fisherman, he falls in love w/ lonely German-American widow accused of betraying husband, he could lost not only his life, but everything he stands for.

    1. Is “posing as deaf fisherman” pertinent enough to use in the logline? I would lose that. To save another word you could eliminate “lonely”. That would give you more room to explain what the story is about. Oh, and the “he” before falls needs to be removed.

  81. Amity’s senior year is uprooted by spine-chilling dreams: fights, murders, sinister beings stabbed into oblivion by people with blazing brands who use fiery weapons. Then she sees Revel, a guy from her dreams. He’s real.

    1. I like this, but maybe tweak a few things in the middle because I’m not sure what blazing brands are. Maybe: Amity’s senior year is uprooted by spine-chilling dreams: fights, murders, and sinister beings stabbed into oblivion with fiery weapons. Then she sees Revel, one of the guys from her dreams–except, he’s real.
      Or something like that.

  82. Would you guys check out my revised pitch?
    Introverted, half-Hawaiian teen, Claire Wells is focused on high school early graduation. But when her grandfather drowns, she and sexy smartass, Sam L’ia, must find his killer and stop a cult bent on human sacrifice.

    1. Overall, I’d say much better than the first version I read. Minor tweaks:

      “Introverted, half-Hawaiian teen Claire Wells is focused on graduating high school early. But when her grandfather drowns, she and sexy smart-ass Sam L’ia must find his killer to stop a cult bent on human sacrifice.”

      What do you think?

  83. Which pitch should I go with? First, second, or neither?

    Between heated arguments and sexual tension seventeen-year-old Faith and annoyingly hot Logan are forced to relive the memories of murdered spirits from the Cry House, where the past is determined to repeat itself.

    Or

    Heated arguments and sexual tension between seventeen-year-old Faith and annoyingly hot Logan creates energy–forcing them to relive memories of murdered spirits from Cry House, where the past is determined to repeat itself.

    1. I like the second one: creates energy, forcing them. Sounds like something I would read! I’m seriously intrigued. I need to know what Cry House is.

  84. An anonymous love note destroyed her life in high school. Ten years later, her search for its author threatens to do it again. A lesbian novel in the vein of “love the one you’re with.”

    1. I like the first sentence. The second one gives us an idea what she’s doing. But I don’t see any stakes. I’d skip the comp title and tell us what’s at stake here

  85. Better?
    An anonymous love note destroyed her life once. Now she races to find the author while juggling her job, a wedding, two mothers of the bride, and a bridesmaid with a lingering crush.

    1. Better… but stay away from a generic ending. Lots of books out there might be like yours…you have to make yours stand out in the pack. I think you’ve got a good start but I think it can be stronger.

    2. I’d use a name in place of the first “her” – easier to connect to the character. I also kind of think that her job is as a wedding planner from this description? Is the most important part of the story really that she’s dealing with this crazy wedding party? How does that connect with the love note?

    3. Maybe combining a little from the first and second one? I liked knowing it was ten years later and she still doesn’t know who wrote the letter.
      An anonymous love note destroyed her life in high school. Ten years later, she races to find the author while juggling her job, a wedding, two mothers of the bride, and a bridesmaid’s lingering crush.

  86. Hmm.
    Better or worse?
    She can’t stop trying to find the author of the love note that destroyed her high school life. But searching for the author while planning her wedding may make her fiancée say “I don’t.”

    1. Woah, definitely more compelling ending, in my opinion. I think you can tighten it up (and I still think you should use the character’s name), but much more relevant details.

      1. Does this help? Her name is unusual on purpose (and is part of the story).

        Helens “Oaks” Oakley can’t stop looking for the author of the love note that destroyed her high school life. But searching for the author while planning her wedding may make Oaks’ fiancée say “I don’t”

        1. That’s good but at the end I’d just say “her fiance”…but now give me the stakes. Okay so she’s looking for this note writer and her fiance might not like it…but that’s not giving me enough.

          1. Helens Oakley can’t stop searching for the author of the love note that shattered her high school life. But looking for one woman while planning to marry another may make her fiancée say “I don’t”

      1. Once more with feeling

        An anonymous love note shattered Helens Oakley’s high school life. Now, she can’t stop searching for its author. Chasing one woman while planning to marry another will destroy everything if her fiancée says “I don’t”

        1. How about..

          An anonymous love note shattered Helens Oakley’s life back in high school. She still can’t stop seeking its author. But chasing the mysterious woman could destroy everything if it makes her fiancée say “I don’t.”

          What do you think?

          1. I like it-part of what makes the story go is the fact that she’s juggling work, wedding planning, mothers of the brides, bridesmaids etc and does that get lost in your tweak? That’s my only concern that we lose the concept that a wedding is getting planned during this same time period.

          2. Another minor tweak to give a sense of time. Thoughts?

            An anonymous love note shattered Helens Oakley’s life in high school. Ten years later, she can’t quit searching for its author. But chasing the mysterious woman could destroy everything if her fiancée says “I don’t.”

          3. How about “hasn’t quit”?

            My one concern with this version is you somewhat lose the connection between her search and the fiancee’s rejection.

          4. Thanks for all your help. I think this works.
            An anonymous love note shattered Helens Oakley’s life in high school. Now, she can’t quit searching for its author. But chasing the mysterious woman could destroy everything if it makes her fiancée say “I don’t.”

            Best of luck to you and everyone participating tomorrow!

  87. I’ve updated it… hopefully explaining the brands better by using their “official” name–Birthmarks. Better or worse?
    Amity’s senior year is uprooted by spine-chilling dreams: sinister beings stabbed into oblivion by freaks with blazing Birthmarks, wielding fiery weapons. Then she sees Revel, one of the guys from her dreams—except, he’s real.

  88. Ok, last try for me:
    18y/o HS poet Jonah’s finally discovered his muse in 20y/o doe-eyed Raysa. But manhood comes sooner than expected when he learns about her soon-to-be ex-husband. Loving her is complicated, but leaving her behind is impossible.

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