Monday, May 12, 2008

Pitch Paragraph

I’ve been lurking on several agent blogs preparing myself to pitch to agents at Nationals. And I don’t just mean an agented appointment. I’m hoping I can get up nerve to talk to any agent I see. You know, casually at first, then hoping to edge into a short, succinct discussion about my WIP.

Kristen Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency has been posting pitching info on her blog. And the one thing she said that finally rang a bell with me was to make your pitch sound like the back cover blurb with your plot catalyst.

And she says these are the three different ways you can build the paragraph around the plot catalyst.

1. The back story that sets the story and creates the context

2. Contributing plot elements that will broaden the story

3. Character elements that are imperative to the story.

Or she says you can do a combination of these to write up a pitch and back cover blurb.

So here goes. This is my pitch paragraph.

Mae Simon is on her first assignment as a Pinkerton operative and nothing will stand in her way; neither conventions nor a righteous U.S. Marshal. She’s also determined to find the traveling actor who fathered her and disappeared, leaving her mother pining for the man.

U. S. Marshal Beck Harlan can’t afford to get close to anyone . Not with a vengeance seeking outlaw killing off his intimate acquaintances. However, he finds himself falling for the French prostitute he persuades to become an informant, not realizing, she is a Pinkerton operative after the same man.

Show us what you would use for your pitch of back cover blurb of your WIP.( And I'll take any all suggestions on mine)


Paty Jager said...

FYI- I'm off for a day of shopping with a 4 month old, 22 month old and a 3 1/2 year old. Wish me luck!

Karen Duvall said...

Good luck with the shopping trip, Paty. Where are you going?

I think your pitch paragraph works really well. It's short, which is GREAT! I've read so many long, meandering ones lately and the authors always defends their reason for trying to fit the kitchen sink into their blurb. The bottom line is: If it's convoluted and makes no sense, no agent will want to read it. And they definitely won't request pages. So frustrating.

Here is the pitch paragraph that's worked really well for me in my queries:

Half angel and half human, Chalice knows that inheriting powers from your parents has its drawbacks. It's the reason she's abducted by a sorcerer, then taken to Chicago, where she's forced to use her supernatural senses to steal cursed objects for her kidnapper. Twelve years later, a note from her dead mother reveals a secret that will change Chalice's life forever.

As much as Chalice would like to tell her magical master to go to hell, it won't do her any good. She's branded with a gargoyle's curse and it takes a lick from the creature's tongue every three days to keep her from changing into the bat-winged devil of her nightmares. The only way to break the curse is to kill the gargoyle. Problem is, gargoyles are supposed to be immortal. Her fallen angel father gives her the secret for killing the beast, but freedom won't come without cost. Everything has its price, and for Chalice, the currency is death.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

A day of shopping with the little ones? Ay ya ya...Much luck to you. I wait to go when I have zero. Or just one. All three...eeek!

I think your pitch sounds great, Paty. The only line that held me up was this one:

She’s also determined to find the traveling actor who fathered her and disappeared, leaving her mother pining for the man.

It didn't seem to go with the rest and left me wondering...traveling actor? "also determined"? Makes me think this subplot is disconnected from the main plot which you did a fabulous job outlining. Is there a way to elaborate on what her first assignment is (and if it relates to the sentence above)?

Alice Sharpe said...

Taking a moment from the vacuuming/putting house back together road show that is now my life to agree with Eli, Paty, that one sentence sticks out to me, too. Her finding father as a subplot doesn't belong here, I think. Maybe after "neither social (my add in) conventions or (nor is a double negative when used with neither, isn't it?) a righteous U.S. Marshall. " you could say, "Her first assignment is to stop a white slavery ring operating out of (time era) New Orleans," for instance.

Does that make sense?

Hope you survived the shopping trip. Back to work.

Paty Jager said...

Good paragraph, Karen.

Eli and Alice- That sentence kind of stuck out to me and I wondered, but it is part of why she can't make a commitment so I thought it should be added.

I'll work on the assignment line and figure another way to put in her uninterest in getting involved.

The shopping trip was exhausting! LOL And now I know why young people have small children!