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Pitch Workshop – B’s critique #5

Friday, 10 February 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake
So it’s now the third 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.
And our next victim participant is …
Name: Colleen Hampton
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word count: 87,000


Thrown into an ancient war where the combatants are immortal and to lose means an eternity of torture, Rhyan Strong fights for a love she never knew she wanted and the revenge she never dreamed possible.
B’s note: From what I can tell this sounds like a great story. I’m confused by the fact she never dreamed revenge possible. Why is that? Who is she seeking revenge on? I’m assuming she’s immortal? If she is, did she know it before all this happened? Who threw her into the ancient war? I love the love she never knew she wanted part and the war where the combatants are immortal. This is just a little vague, but I think it would pique an agent’s interest. If you want to answer the questions above in the comments, I’ll take a  shot at the logline.

B’s additional note: After getting some questions answered from Colleen in the comments, I’m going to take a stab at her logline. Remember the pitch is meant to entice an agent to read on. You don’t have to get every detail into the pitch. Narrow in on the inciting event and stakes.

‘When Ryhan is caught in the middle of an ancient war between immortals, where losing means an eternity of torture, she’ll risk death to save the immortal she loves and get the revenge she desires.’


“Are you serious? This is a LOG cabin,(comma)” I snapped. The whole thing could have been built with life size Lincoln Logs. The door, shutters,(comma – you may not be a fan of the Oxford comma, but I am – so you decide here) and roof were bright green and made of tin.

“I know!” Katherine squealed. “I’ve always wanted to try rustic.”

As if you can put on a place like an outfit.

“Home sweet home.” She sighed.

It’s not that I hate my mother, Katherine. B’s additional note: I’d put something here about her mother’s insanity. Maybe like… ‘Besides how can you hate someone who’s diagnosed as insane?’ I just can’t forgive her. I know I should, (comma) but I can’t. My therapist used words like ‘post traumatic stress syndrome’ and ‘survivor guilt’ but all I know is I can’t forgive her and the guilt chews me up.

This is my twelfth move in nine years. B’s additional note: Is she moving with her mom? Or are they on vacation? You could mention the foster care here somehow like … ‘Living in foster care sucks.’) Given that I’m seventeen that means I’ve moved at least once every year since I was eight.

The morning we arrived in Montana, (comma – without a comma it becomes a squinting modifier – The morning we arrived in Montana or in Montana the sky was…) the sky was a horizontal rainbow of pastels dripping lazily towards the Earth like long pulls of saltwater taffy sold warm and chewy on the boardwalk of my last town.

B’s notes: This is well written and I’m interested in finding out what they’ll discover around this rustic cabin. I’m curious what Rhyan’s mother did that she can’t forgive. Especially since it’s something that made her go see a therapist. Is there a reason you’re keeping why she’s not forgiving her mother from the reader? If there isn’t a reason, I think you should fit it in here. I would read on. If you can get that pitch right,I bet you’ll get requests to read more.

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

  • Very good start. Love the moving factor and it does bring curiosity to know why.

  • Kozmc1 says:

    Thank you, thank you for your wonderful comments.

    Here is some additional info: Rhyan’s not immortal but her boyfriend and enemies are. She didn’t know about it before she met them. I’m never sure how much to reveal in the log line. Rhyan wants revenge for the violence that destroyed her family (rape/murder). But a man was punished for these crimes so revenge is out of the question. When Rhyan learns the true party responsible for her family’s pain it ignights her fighting spirit.

    RE: first 150 words. After the violence mentioned above Rhyan’s mother was committed to a mental health hospital and with no other family to care for her Rhyan was relegated to foster care. She struggles with abandonment issues. Should I make that more clear in the first 150 words?

    I’ve struggled with to-comma-or-not-to-comma my entire life. I hope I get it right eventually. Thank you for your wonderful insight.

  • Brenda Drake says:

    I’ve added more notes for you, Colleen, I hope it helps. Anyone who wants to add it it to help get this pitch perfect, please do. Thanks!

  • Kozmc1 says:

    Wonderful. Thank you! Just enough to foreshadow what’s to come without giving away the fun parts. Thank you, these suggestions are great!

  • MarcyKate says:

    Sounds like a really cool story. I agree it could just use some more specific details about her situation in the beginning and this could be fantastic!

  • TL Sumner says:

    I agree with all of the suggestions and don’t really have anything new to add. I love these two lines:

    “I’ve always wanted to try rustic.”
    As if you can put on a place like an outfit.

    I’d definitely want to read more.

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