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Pitch Workshop – B’s critique #13

Tuesday, 14 February 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake
It’s now the seventh day of our pitch workshop. For ten days, Shelley Watters, Cassandra Marshall, and I are critiquing two pitches each per day. Click on my partners-in-crime pics on the sidebar to go to their sites and read their critiques.

Next up is …
Name: Ella
Title: Temple Falls
Genre: MG Fantasy
Word count: 55,000


Law says girls can’t rule Chernadova. But they can still talk to the Gods; and those Gods are angry. From the clues the Gods send into her dreams, Nara, one-time princess, thinks she knows how to stop the plagues battering the kingdom. Damian, a crippled commoner, has other ideas. Nara must work with her nemesis to appease the Gods before the plagues annihilate Chernadova.

B’s notes: This is a great pitch, but we were calling for 35-word loglines. Check out this site on loglines here: http://www.writersstore.com/writing-loglines-that-sell. If you want to write one and post it in the comments below, I’ll critique it.


Nara pushed her way through the soup of darkness. Her shoes clicked against the marble pathway towards the royal palace. The darkness covered her like a thick cloak, weighing her down; even though it was only lunch time. The absence of daylight still unsettled Nara. It had been like this for several weeks. 

B’s notes: This is well written and I like what’s going on here, but it sounds a little too old for MG. I think it’s the last two sentences. Make sure to pick appropriate verbs for the age group. I don’t know the character’s age other than that you mention it’s an MG above. But by this beginning, I thought she was an adult.

But she knew how to fix it.

And she would tell her stupid cousin, even though he hardly deserved it. Anything was better than living under a dark cloud all day, every day.

B’s notes: The voice is great in this paragraph. If you could inject this attitude above and below, it would bring out the voice better there.

It was strange coming to the palace without her escorts of maidens and royal guardsmen. But now that Nara and her mom were no longer palace residents, the entourage was gone. The guardsman at the palace gate, a fellow by the name of Warner who Nara had known since birth, bowed his head slightly as he pushed open the heavy iron gate letting Nara inside. 
B’s notes:  In MG the voice is very important. It has to have the attitude of the age in it. You have it above. Make sure you spread it through out your manuscript. I definitely love this premise!  
I hope this helps! 
Remember this is subjective and others’ may feel differently. So I’ll now pass it on to the readers to critique. Please leave your comments, and remember the rules of critiquing … be nice, which I’m sure you all will be, but I have to say it … you know.


Filed: Misc, Workshops

  • Ella says:

    Hi Brenda! Thanks so much for this. Let me say that you, and Shelley and Cassandra are truly awesome. I’ve learned so much reading your critiques these past few days!

    OK…so I’m a complete idiot for posting a pitch greater than 35 words. I knew you were calling for 35 words, but I blew it. Must learn how to count 🙂

    So here is one with the right word count (exactly 35). Would love to hear your thoughts:

    Nara isn’t princess anymore, but she can still talk to the Gods; and those Gods are angry. Working with her former nemesis, a mere commoner, Nara must stop the plagues before they annihilate the kingdom.

    And I totally agree about your comments regarding voice. The book is designed for upper middle grade (I would say ages 12+). Nara is 14, but is kind of an “old soul” after everything she has been through.

  • Brenda Drake says:

    I’m getting stuck. I need to know more. Why is she no longer a princess? How does she think she can stop the plagues? What other idea does Damian have? Why is he her nemesis?

  • Ella says:

    She’s no longer the princess because when her father (the king) was killed in an “unfortunate hunting accident” the throne past to her cousin, the next BOY in line. Girls can’t rule. But even though Nara is basically thrown out of the palace (and she isn’t too happy about this) the gods still talk to her. She has royal blood which makes her somewhat of a conduit to the Gods. Note: the Gods speak in code rather than plain English so sometimes their messages can be left to interpretation.

    Damian is a commoner. He is crippled, but has a big voice and people are listening. They don’t like the plans put forth by Nara to make the plagues go away. They seem to be rallying around Damian, which isn’t making Nara very happy.

    Eventually the two come together (in a big reveal) and they must work together to piece together the clues the Gods are sending them to make the plagues stop.

    Does this help?

  • Ella says:

    Hi Brenda! I don’t want to nudge – you’ve already helped me so much – but I was wondering whether you had any further thoughts on my pitch. Just want to get the pitch PERFECT in preparation for the big March pitch contest. Thanks Brenda.

  • Brenda Drake says:

    I’m glad you nudged – I missed this with everything that’s been going on.

    When the Gods become angry with the people of Chernadova and inflect them with plagues, Nara must decipher the mysterious clues she receives from the deities to save her village before sickness destroys her village.

    I’m getting closer – but I still don’t have a reason why the Gods are mad and send their plagues. Work from this, or actually, this isn’t that bad. What do you think?

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