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Pitch Workshop – B’s critique #7

Saturday, 11 February 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

We’re on the fourth 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: DL Hammons

Title: Fallen Knight

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Word count: 105,000. B’s notes: You might be a little over the mark with this word count. Check out these sites about word count here and here.


The Knights, middle-age friends, team with a female Private Investigator to find the person who attacked one of their group.  Instead they stumble across a psychological killer intent on recreating high profile atrocities,including Columbine.  

B’s notes: You have some great information in this pitch, but I’m not connecting to it. Who is your MC? Does he fall for the female PI? What kind of group are the Knights? Do they ride Harley’s? How was one of the group members attacked? I think the disconnect is because I don’t know who’s going to tell the story. A logline works best as a one-sentence pitch. A good formula to follow is… When such and such happens, the main character must do this in order to accomplish this. If you need more help with this, tell me more about your story in the comments and I’ll give it a shot. 

B’s additional notes: After getting more information from DL, I gave his logline a shot. I’m not sure if this works, so please chime in down in the comments to help out. So here it is…

‘When a fellow Knight member falls victim to a psychological killer’s recreation of a high profile murder, Lee must join forces with (Name), a feisty investigator, to stop the creep before he enacts another Columbine.’
Yeah, I’m pretty much a fan of the ‘When Formula’. Ha!


Today was the day.

B’s notes: This first line doesn’t hook. Today was the day for what? I’d add something more enticing to this sentence.

Brady Jones told himself the same thing every morning. Deep down, he knew it was simply lip service, a way of puffing up his confidence and reminding him that on any given day, his life could change for the better. Just as it had in the other direction. He supposed he was like one of those people who bought lottery tickets every week, always looking forward to the possibilities. Like them, he never wasted time worrying about the countless days when his prediction had turned out to be false, preferring to remain optimistic. After all, the change he hoped for didn’t have to be anything earth shattering. Nowadays, his expectations were set pretty low.

B’s notes: The writing flows nicely in this excerpt. I’m just waiting for something to happen.

This morning was different, though. He actually believed his pep talk. Self-assurance surged through him. It was already May, and the end of the school year was just a few weeks away.

B’s notes: The writing is good here, but there isn’t anything drawing me into your story. What is unique about your MC? All I get from this is that he’s down on his luck and hopes things get better. Who are the Knights? I think your story starts someplace else. Maybe when the friend is murdered? Or possibly at a Knight get together. Check the next few pages or chapters to see if there is a better scene to start with. I’ve cut pages and sometimes chapters to find the perfect starting point in my stories. Remember, if this is important to the story, you can always add it in later after we are connected to it. 

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

  • DL Hammons says:

    Hey Brenda! Thanks so much for the input, it really helps expose the warts.

    The book is primarily told from two POV’s, the female Private Investigator, and Lee…the pseudo-leader of the Knights. The Knights are a group of middle-age friends who bonded together in college (acquiring the nick-name) and have remained close. The underlying theme of the book is that although the friends jokingly use the Knights nick-name, they ultimately display characteristics and the actions of modern day Knights by the end of the book.

    The 150 word scene I provided is actually from the prologue (and yes, I’ve already heard the pro/con arguments regarding prologues) which takes place six months prior to the rest of the book. I debated sending you a section from the true first chapter, and maybe I should have. 🙂

  • Angela Brown says:

    So, I read the submission first and noticed mainly that Brady is someone who gives himself a daily pep talk.

    After reading B’s notes, I’d have to say i agree with practically everything with the exception of the first time. I sort of liked it. If place in quotes, it gives the reader a sort of eye into the character. Not a big one, but enough to see the kind of thoughts for him.

  • Brenda Drake says:

    Okay, I gave a shot at your logline. I think you just need some tightening and my favorite word ‘when’ for loglines. 😀

    As far as that prologue, I’m shaking my head. You’ve already heard it, but I’m going to say it again. Start your story with Chapter One. Post the first 150 of that chapter here, if you want me to look at it. I love your writing, so I’m going to be hard on you. 😀

  • TL Sumner says:

    I really like Brenda’s rewrite of the pitch. It was direct and the players and stakes were clear.

    I am not a fan of prologues either. That said – if your prologue is exciting with something earth shattering happening that impacts the story, I don’t mind them.

    I like Brady so far and wonder why his expectations are so low. I’d read more to find out.

  • DL Hammons says:

    Brenda ~ First off, it gives me the warm fuzzies just knowing you like my writing. Be as HARD on me as you want, that’s what this is all about!

    I do like your treatment of my log line. Although there is some plot inaccuracies, I see where you’re going with it and I can work with it.

    As far as the eternal prologue debate goes, I would absolutely LOVE to sit down with you and discuss it over a cup of coffee…which I have done with some others. As TL commenting above, there are clues and a MAJOR impactful event in the prologue that ripples throughout the remainder of the book. I did use to have it labeled as Chapter One, but some beta readers weren’t picking up on the six months difference in time, so I changed it to Prologue to help the reader think about when. I will post the 150 words of the first chapter in a separate comment.

  • DL Hammons says:

    Dianne Williams was used to a certain amount of chaos and unpredictability in her work, but events of the current week were starting to border on the bizarre.

    Pulling her Lexus SC 09 onto the I-630 bypass, Dianne marveled at the light Greenville traffic compared with her usual commute time ninety minutes later. She was reasonably fresh, despite getting only four hours of sleep the previous night. She decided to dress casually for a change, choosing a simple yellow polo shirt, nice jeans, and running shoes rather than her usual business suit and flats. It was a bit chilly, so she’d added a lightweight fleece jacket on her way out the door. She didn’t plan on seeing clients or working in the field that day. She couldn’t afford to.

    As manager of the Silent Sleuth Detective Agency, she directed the activities of a dozen highly trained investigators and four office workers, all while working on several high-profile cases.

  • Brenda Drake says:

    Sorry, DL, I missed this. I have to say that you do write great stuff. I loved the the first paragraph of the first chapter. Where is she going? I don’t want to ride with her in her car and be told what she’s wearing. I’d prefer if she just pulled up to where she’s going. A crime scene? Get us into the action.

    If there are clues in the prologue, then re-label it as Chapter One. Drop clues right off that six months past when we’re in the car with Dianne. Again, don’t take us on her commute. Start when she gets out of the car and has arrived at her destination. Make sense? I love mysteries. I’m sure this one will be great! 😀

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