#Pitch Slam

If anyone is passing and fancies it, I’d love to get some feedback on my pitch and 250 words before the contest deadline tomorrow at 11.59 EST (4.59 BST)

Pitch: The usurper’s surrender was supposed to mean “happily ever after.” But the battle’s not over. Lavie must choose between a new life, a new king, or her old friend before she loses all three.

Or:

An expected surrender should mean happily ever after, but knight Lavie is left battling PTSD and doubts about the new king. Lavie must hold the kingdom, and herself, together or lose home, friends and self.

250: 

Today, I kill a man. Today, I take back my home. Today, everything ends.
The sea-warped gate in the bailey opens with a squeal, dusting me in flakes of rust. I cringe, hoping the keening seagulls cover the screech. Salt in the wind mixes with the scent of blood as I slip into the narrow space between the inner and outer wall, then signal my team to follow me.

“…Lavie?”

I start at the sound of my name, and curse under my breath. One of my soldiers points past me to a dim entranceway. Footsteps echo from the stairs ahead.

“Sir,” I correct the man as I draw my sword. “Wait here.”

I press my back against the wall by the steps. The footsteps grow louder, and my fingers twitch on my hilt. As the figure emerges, I drive my sword into his gut.

Our eyes meet in the gloom and I taste bile in the back of my throat. He’s not a soldier, just a runner. He’s also barely more than a boy. His pale hands clutch at his stomach, as if trying to push the blood back, a gurgling cry spilling from his lips. I give him mercy and put my sword through his heart. He doesn’t even make a sigh as he falls, eyes glassy, to the ground.
I choke down fury. Another life destroyed by the Usurper. There’s no time to mourn or rage, and all we can do with the body is lay it out the way by the sea-gate.

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16 comments

  1. I don’t have much in the way of critique for you first page. It’s beautifully written. Should, “lay it out the way by the sea-gate,” be lay it out of* the way? I’ve heard it said colloquially as “out the way” but I thought I’d ask to be sure.

    I might suggest trying to work in some sort of unique detail(s) into the pitch because it reads a bit generic as it is. I know how hard it is to pitch a fantasy in so few words without making it really abstract, but I think you would get more of the attention your stellar writing deserves if you can add a touch of what makes your story different. What’s the most unique aspect of your story that you can think of? Setting? A trait of your Lavie’s? Her job?

    🙂 Good luck! I’ll check back in case you want to work on your pitch.

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    1. Thanks! I’m really struggling with the pitch. The gist of the story is that it’s set after the fantasy war ends and it’s about Lavie (the hero) picking up her life while trying to deal with things like PTSD, and realising the war isn’t as over as she thought. But I have no idea how to get that all across in 35 words and still sound interesting!

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  2. Okay, clearly I’m just making some up this up because I don’t know all of the details, but it might give you inspiration or a new jumping off point.

    The war didn’t end with the usurper’s surrender. Sergeant/Soldier/Captain Lavie’s life didn’t go back to normal. Already dealing with PTSD, she must choose between a new, principled king and a friend who…

    (You could also flip that last sentence around to “She must choose between …., all while dealing with PTSD.” I think that reads smoother, but it would cost you a word.)

    I don’t even know where to begin with the friend, so I left that bit blank. I hope this helps! ^.^

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    1. Thanks! Couldn’t get wordpress to login on my phone, so haven’t been able to reply until now.

      Might have to leave the friend out, as I don’t know if I can fit him in here. It’s hard to fit the conflict in, because it’s lots of small things that have an underlying cause (trying not to spoiler here!) There’s conflict between her and the new king – she doesn’t think he’s being tough enough, and she keeps putting her foot in it around him. Then there’s fact the king’s in love with her friend, Harry, but can’t marry him because he’s a commoner. Lavie’s caught between supporting Harry at the risk of destableising the kingdom, and supporting the new regime at the expense of her best friend’s heartbreak. It’s just so hard to know what idea to go with, and how to condense it down.

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  3. I like it. Its powerful.

    I think putting Lavie’s title in the pitch might be helpful. From the pitch I formed an image of a noblewoman, maybe even the bethrothed to the new king. So I was surprised to see her leading men. Her position was further confused by her soldiers not treating her with the proper respect. If this is what you’re going for, that’s great. But you may want some more specifics in the pitch like Lelia suggested.

    Great work and good luck!

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    1. Thanks! Lavie is a noblewoman (she was married to the king’s brother), but she’s responsible for starting the war that leads to the opening of the book. I’ll try and get the fact she’s a knight in the pitch. I had that in my original version, but it was misinterpreted that the knight was someone else.

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  4. Can I just say, WOW. This is tremendously done. I would read your book right now just after reading this alone.

    Now both pitches are great, honestly I don’t know which to choose!

    The first page is brilliant. I only found 2 things I’d change:
    Instead of “entranceway” I’d use “entryway”. Personally I just think it sounds better.

    “…push the blood back,” I would add “in” to this to make it “push the blood back in,” I think that may sound a bit better.

    Seriously though, this is incredible and I love it. Female knights ROCK! 😀

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  5. The second pitch reads stronger to me right away. I like your phrasing of, “…should mean happily ever after…” You could maybe cut “expected”, but I like “A surrender” as well, as it seems like it’s probably an uncommon beginning, and you want to stand out.

    I remember from your story/query that there’s an element of the previous ruler being around and potentially being back in the game. Is there a way to make the stakes reflect that? Suggest, perhaps, in your last sentence that Lavie may have to choose between supporting the new king, or taking advice from a former tyrant, etc (if that’s indeed what happens!).

    250:

    I still love your opening! Not much I would change here–it’s powerful, atmospheric, and gives me a sense of Lavie.

    I feel like you could lose a few of the adjectives in the first paragraph (or maybe even just one). My pick would be “narrow”, as I feel like the sentence conveys well-enough that it’s a tight space.

    Sorry I couldn’t offer more of a critique on your 250! I just really enjoy your writing, so. ;p

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