Son of a Pitch Query Contest

10 thoughts on “Son of a Pitch Query Contest”

  1. Hi Laura,

    First, thanks for leaving feedback on my entry. It’s much appreciated and I’m going to take a look at revising based on your advice 🙂

    I’m afraid your query is extremely hard to follow. Starting with the opening run-on sentence which had me almost running out of breath trying to read it. I think the information it contains is important to set the state of mind of your MC, but I’d break up that sentence somehow to still get everything important across without fatiguing the reader. I echo the others who’ve said that the query contains too many names. Typically, queries should strictly limit the number of characters introduced. I’d streamline this way down in yours because otherwise the reader is confused and quickly lost, which I was.

    PRO: The first 250 is good, in that I can visualize the scene from Peshtur’s POV and I feel her tension.

    CON: While personally I’m not bothered by it, the first 250 doesn’t introduce who I assumed from the query is the MC, Amargi, but rather Peshtur. That can be a tiny bit jarring for agents/publishers, though certainly many books do this as part of an inciting incident. And let’s be honest – 250 words is just a few paragraphs and not a whole lot is gleaned from that in terms of setting up a scene, as my own demonstrates 😉

    You’re a descriptive writer with a solid voice and that’s a good thing!

    1. Hi KJmilton. Thanks for your response. You’re right, my first sentence could be trimmed, but it’s not a run on sentence: it’s a complex sentence. Like the one I just wrote. I like it that way. Sentences are an expression of thinking. Complex sentences = complex mental constructions = complex thinking. If everyone only wrote subject, verb, object sentences, we’d all be dull thinkers. Thanks, though, for the time to read and comment. Appreciated.

  2. I agree with much of what has been said already, particularly about the abundance of names in the query. I would add that the plot is too confusing for a brief synopsis. If someone said “cut half of this,” what would you cut and what would you keep? And if they said “cut it in half again,” same question.

    Not that you want your query to be so sparse that it’s boring, but it’s good for you to be able to pitch your story in one or two sentences. Once you’ve done that, you can build a longer query around that structure.

    You have some clear answers to key questions:
    Who is your hero? Amargi
    What does he want? To earn his father’s trust.
    What does he need to do to get what he wants? Defeat a warrior demi-god king.
    How does this change him and send his life in a new direction? He must forsake his naivete and become wise to the ways of the treacherous world he lives in.

    Keep these key things in mind, and be careful of cluttering it up with too many details.

    Myth stories are always interesting, and I’ve never seen anyone tackle Sumerian mythology. I think it’s an intriguing angle.

    Regarding the 250, I like that you introduce a likable and mysterious character and raise the stakes of her mission. Failure is not an option (yeesh!). Like Cesarmontufar3, I also wonder why we don’t meet our hero right away. Maybe you need to start your story in a different spot?

    Also, your word count sits at 444, which might disqualify you for this contest. I don’t know the rules, but you might want to look into that.

    All that said, I think you are on to something really good here! Good work and good luck!

    1. Thank you for reviewing but the abundance of names mentioned in previous reviews refers to an earlier version of the query. The query and first 250 have been revised with every comments except the ones I disagree with. Thanks for visiting and reading, especially for the heads up on the 250 (after so many revisions, I didn’t realize I was adding so many words). I took your advice and shortened it.

  3. Query – Nicely written, except I’m not getting a clear picture of the first encounter between A and G. Also, I don’t know if you need to go into detail after that. Say – he learns a brutal learns that even those who claim to help cannot be trusted. Now, he must try again. (Only make it prettier :D)

    Excerpt – I like but am confused that you’re beginning with the love interest rather than the MC. 😀 I’ve done the same, except I began with the villain.

    If you feel like returning the favor – https://jayperinwordpress.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/updated-version-son-of-a-pitch/

  4. Hello Laura! Thank you so much for your feedback on my query & first 250. Hopefully my feedback on your work will be of some help! As far as your query goes, I think it reads much more like a synopsis than a query in its current format. What I think is missing is focus. A strong query is able to streamline the central conflcit, characters, stakes, and hook within 150-300 words and leave your reader with an intense pull to jump into the story.

    Query:
    What I’d advise you to focus on is narrowing down this query so that it presents a complicated story/plot/set of conflicts as simply as possible. This is the most difficult part of a query because you have to condense a novel into a very short amount of words, but your query should leave your reader feeling that immediate pull to jump into the book. You’ve presented over seven characters over the course of your query which diludes the focus. Who is the main character? Who drives the story? Who is the central focus of your plot? What is their main conflict? Their obstacles? Their objectives? Stick to protagonist, anagonist, central conflict, central objectives and you will strengthen this query immensely. I got lost very quickly because of how much information was being presented to the point where when I reached the end I wasn’t sure what the story was about. So the key for the query is streamlining, and finding the heart of your book, pitching it in a way that’s enticing , and integrating a strong hook that leaves your readers hungry to jump into the book.

    First 250:
    Like the query, I think you tend to veer towards heavy description, world building, and scene setting (which is done well, although I think some sentences could be sheered so they’re more fluid), when what’s missing is tension. While I can certainly picture Peshur’s surroundings very clearly, that’s the majority of what I leave the first 250 with–description. So when revising give your readers a clear inciting incident, and build tension throughout these first 250 so that we feel the urgency of this mission.

    Best of luck moving forward!
    -Jenny

  5. Hello Laura! Thank you so much for your feedback on my query & first 250. Hopefully my feedback on your work will be of some help! As far as your query goes, I think it reads much more like a synopsis than a query in its current format. What I think is missing is focus. A strong query is able to streamline the central conflcit, characters, stakes, and hook within 150-300 words and leave your reader with an intense pull to jump into the story.

    Query:
    What I’d advise you to focus on is narrowing down this query so that it presents a complicated story/plot/set of conflicts as simply as possible. This is the most difficult part of a query because you have to condense a novel into a very short amount of words, but your query should leave your reader feeling that immediate pull to jump into the book. You’ve presented over seven characters over the course of your query which diludes the focus. Who is the main character? Who drives the story? Who is the central focus of your plot? What is their main conflict? Their obstacles? Their objectives? Stick to protagonist, anagonist, central conflict, central objectives and you will strengthen this query immensely. I got lost very quickly because of how much information was being presented to the point where when I reached the end I wasn’t sure what the story was about. So the key for the query is streamlining, and finding the heart of your book, pitching it in a way that’s enticing , and integrating a strong hook that leaves your readers hungry to jump into the book.

    First 250:
    Like the query, I think you tend to veer towards heavy description, world building, and scene setting (which is done well, although I think some sentences could be sheered so they’re more fluid), when what’s missing is tension. While I can certainly picture Peshur’s surroundings very clearly, that’s the majority of what I leave the first 250 with–description. So when revising give your readers a clear inciting incident, and build tension throughout these first 250 so that we feel the urgency of this mission.

    Best of luck moving forward!
    -Jenny

  6. Thank you for commenting on my work! Much appreciated!

    You have an interesting piece with a lot of moving parts. That makes for a lot of potential in the story, and a lot of potential pitfalls in the query. Focus on your protagonist and his stakes.

    Query:
    1) Narrow the focus. You have too much going on here, as indicated by the name soup. Between characters and places you have eight different names. (Think very carefully about going beyond two in query.) Whether they are made up or simply obscure history, it’s still more than your reader’s going to keep track of. If you’re reading thirty of these a day, you’re not going to scroll back up to answer the question “who was that again?”
    2) White space. This is a wall of text. Break up your paragraphs and break up your sentences. (and cut about 150 words)
    3) You have a tendency to write unnecessarily long sentences. Query sentences should be clear and concise. Most of your sentences have three clauses or more. If you can break them up without loosing meaning, do it.
    4) The whole first paragraph is back story.
    5) Secrets are problematic in a query. Does telling the reader Gilgamesh’s secret spoil the ending? If you reasonably can, you should make it clear why this fight has become personal. Those kind of specifics are much more powerful than vague secrets.
    6) Did you really mean 2600 A.D. ? This is set in the future?

    First 250:
    1) I’m a little thrown off by the fact that you are not starting with your protagonist.
    2) Skip the first sentence of the second paragraph. If you start with “Peshtur’s secret missal was tucked….” your reader will get that she’s on a mission. Trust your readers, it’ll make the text much more compelling.
    3) The list of gods and their statues at the bottom of the second paragraph is distracting. It’s too early for world building. If one of them has a particular importance for her mission (the messenger god?) then point out her action, but don’t waste precious page on real estate on stuff she’s blowing past.
    4) In the last paragraph you say “god” singular, twice, yet you’ve shown a pantheon of statues.

    Good luck in the contest!

  7. The first 250 – awesome. Well written, and the detail is dialed in without being overwhelming.

    The query was exceptionally difficult to navigate. All the elements are there, but they’re lost in themselves. Definitely needs paragraph breaks, and either take one character at a time, or one problem at a time. Perhaps separate out the characters and their personal arcs, then place in the context of the world, or do a more straight-up chronology. Either way once the map is a little easier to follow I think the adventure will be great!

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