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13,256 Views 33 Replies Last post: Feb 17, 2015 12:57 PM by Seal RSS
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Level 0 39 posts since
Jun 10, 2012
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Jan 18, 2015 8:33 AM

Feedback on the pitch for ABNA '15

Got some excellent feedback and suggestions last year on my entry pitch, and ultimately SIR LYLE'S DIG made it through to the Quarter Finals.

 

This time, I'm entering a different novel. Here is my latest version of the pitch. Comments are greatly appreciated!

 

 

On a brilliant Southern California morning fifty-four years after their joyous wedding, Robin Godsen watches his wife’s coffin slowly lowered into a freshly dug grave. He has lost his best friend and companion. From that point on, Robin’s interest in life diminishes and he merely exists.

 

Months later, Robin opens a letter from a management company informing him that his apartment complex is to be demolished to make way for new homes on the site.  He scours the area for a place to live, but everything is so expensive! His friend George, recouping from surgery at a senior facility called Starlight Villas, convinces Robin to take a modestly furnished room in his building until he can find an apartment.  Faced with limited options, Robin grudgingly agrees.

 

Sisters Chloe and Jackie Bensen are popular and well-loved residents at Starlight Villas. Chloe is brash and forthright, while Jackie is quieter and soft-spoken. Robin meets Chloe and Jackie, who recognize a lost soul when they see one and resolve to help.  As they take him under their protective wings, they hope that their spirited philosophy of life may have the muscle to knock down Robin’s walls and free him from his sadness.

 

JUST LIVE A LITTLE is an uplifting story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit with good humor, important lessons and a few surprises.

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1. Jan 18, 2015 10:41 AM in response to: nesdog
Re: Feedback on the pitch for ABNA '15

Honestly, my reaction after the first paragraph was "So what" and it didn't improve as I read the balance of the pitch. You should rewrite it with more fire.

 

I would start the pitch with:

 

DEVISTATED! After fifty-four years with Victoria, Robin Godsen watches his wife’s coffin slowly lowered  into the freshly dug companion grave. "She's gone. and I've lost my best friend and the love of my life. What's left?"

 

Then go on to list his reasons for his depression - loneliness, eviction, medical bills, etc. before tossing him a lifesaver when his friend asks him to help him recover.

 

Seal

Pier Pressure

Bunny Hunt has been kidnapped.

Ransom? $50,000

Delivery? Off the end of a pier

Problem? Wrong pier

http://www.stevenwjohnson

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3. Jan 18, 2015 6:20 PM in response to: Seal
Re: Feedback on the pitch for ABNA '15

Hello, nesdog, and Seal,

 

Hey, Seal, I haven’t heard from you since last year’s contest. I see you’re still around helping us become better writers. I guess I’ve been on the wrong threads, huh?

 

But, nesdog, you should listen to Seal, he’s right. I just read your pitch, and like him, I’m thinking what is it about your story that might interest me, and I have to admit, your pitch didn’t offer me much.

 

Think about it this way—besides the title of your work, your pitch is the first thing the judges will see. You want to get them to stop and think, hmmm—this sounds interesting. You want to hook them within the first sentence or two.

 

While not knowing the intricate details of your story, I don’t have a suggestion as to what those first few sentences might be, but try and find something unique and exciting about Robin Godsen’s adventure, or circumstance, and begin your pitch with that. Something like—Robin Godsen stood looking down at the cold, black, swiftly rushing, water—trying to muster the nerve to jump, when the unexpected happened... See what I mean? Something like that.

 

Now, Seal, here is my first draft of this year’s pitch to my entry, Immortality For Dummies. What do you think?

 

MJ

 

So, you think you might want to become immortal—live forever—go where ever you want, do whatever you want without worry of being injured or fearing death? Well, I’m here to tell you such a fantasy is not as cool as you might think. To put it bluntly, immortality sucks—not cool at all. Why not, you might ask? Okay, I’ll tell you. I’ll reveal stuff most folks don’t stop to think about. I’ll guide you on an adventure I’m positive will change your mind. However, I must warn you to be careful. After reading this story, you won’t be able to read about, or watch a super hero tale, again, without thinking about what you are about to discover.

 

Yes, I know, most of us don’t think about immortality that often, however, we all think about our lives—how and when our time will be up. Well, this story is written for you. It will help you understand there are far worse things than death. So, relax—enjoy your life such as it is—it can always be worse—you could be unfortunate enough to be immortal like me.

 

Immortality For Dummies is a tongue in cheek commentary on the unanticipated, and sometimes, undesirable consequences of being immortal while ending in a way a sequel is possible.

 

While written in simple terms, and the scientific details explained in ways a neophyte can understand, it is targeted toward science fiction and non-science fiction readers, alike, as well as all ages, teenage and above, as well as toward most literacy levels.

 

So, come with me on a tour of the universe and through time—meet strange alien lifeforms—and discover how long forever is, and then come back and tell me you still want to be immortal.

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4. Jan 18, 2015 6:25 PM in response to: nesdog
Re: Feedback on the pitch for ABNA '15

 


 

I like your pitch; it can be tightened up but overall you do a good job of creating atmosphere. I would probably say something like the following. (I had to take the liberty with some details, since I didn't know, but you get the idea.)

 


 

 


 

As Joan's coffin slowly lowered, Robin Godsen watched a seagull fly across a cloudless blue infinity toward the San Leandro Bay. He couldn't look down; if he did, his heart would emerge from his chest and descend with her into the rich brown earth. He had to look up, to remember the seagulls they had watched together, the fifty-four years of staring in tandem at wondrous skies, crashing waves and the beauty of life shared with the one in seven billion meant to be yours.

 


 

After the service, he walked home alone, said his no, I'm fine, thankyous to a dozen friends, and then sat in an apartment where her voice, her beautiful voice, gave way to the sound of a dripping faucet. He would soon lose this apartment as well; everything in life decided to abandon him when she left Earth. Perhaps it was she that had held it together, the apartment, the planet, the universe. Now, it had no reason to continue and neither did he.

 


Robin read the letter from management again; they would demolish this complex on the 25th to make way for progress. This didn't feel like progress. Can Robin find a life after Joan? Can he find an apartment or even his own socks in the chaos of his mind, while he aches for those fifty-four years or even fifty-four seconds with her? His new friends, Chloe and Jackie, are determined to teach Robin to breathe again. He's forgotten how. Will he learn?

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5. Jan 18, 2015 6:25 PM in response to: FreedomElf
Re: Feedback on the pitch for ABNA '15

For some reason, the post changed all of my apostrophe's to question marks, lol.

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6. Jan 18, 2015 6:46 PM in response to: mojo7books
Re: Feedback on the pitch for ABNA '15

This has some great elements, but I would shorten it by half or more. You spend a lot of time talking about how you will tell people that immortality is uncool, but I can't help but think, that's a whole lot of words to make one point.


I'd probably cut it to:


 

 

 

So, you think you’d like immortality—to live forever—go wherever you want, do whatever you want, without fear of injury or death? How many fools yearn for such a fate? To put it bluntly, immortality sucks—not cool at all.

 

 

 

Immortality For Dummies is a tongue in cheek commentary on the unanticipated and miserable consequences of eternal life. Written in simple scientific terms that a neophyte can understand, it targets science fiction readers and others, geeks and dreamers, teens and adults, and most literacy levels.

 

 

So, come with me on a tour of the universe and through time—meet strange alien life forms—and discover how long forever is as you chant the unceasing mantra, “been there, done that.” Then come back and tell me you still want to be immortal.






 

 


As you see, I didn't touch a whole lot, just cut it. You write well, but perhaps a bit too much. Less is more.


The only other thing I fear is that you've targeted too broad an audience. While many writers think that "everyone" is a good audience to target, most publishers disagree. I suggest you narrow the focus (I didn't touch that part, much, in my recap above, but I would change it if I were you.) Best of luck to both of you.

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7. Jan 18, 2015 6:46 PM in response to: mojo7books
Re: Feedback on the pitch for ABNA '15

A bit too wordy for my tastes. In fact, I would delete all of this: Okay, I’ll tell you. I’ll reveal stuff most folks don’t stop to think  about. I’ll guide you on an adventure I’m positive will change your  mind. However, I must warn you to be careful. After reading this story,  you won’t be able to read about, or watch a super hero tale, again,  without thinking about what you are about to discover.

 

Yes, I know, most of us don’t think about immortality that often,  however, we all think about our lives—how and when our time will be up.  Well, this story is written for you.

 

It is nothing but filler and doesn't advance your pitch. Also, I would modify your 'tone' from friendly 'ah shucks' to something a bit more 'scientific'. Also, the XXX For Dummies is probably trademarked and it could cause you a bit of legal trouble if you have not been accepted into their franchise.

 

Seal

Allison King, retired porn star, fights political corruption, intrigue and murder in...

Not Much of a Crime - 2013 ABNA Quarter Finalist

http://www.stevenwjohnson.com

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9. Jan 18, 2015 7:47 PM in response to: FreedomElf
Re: Feedback on the pitch for ABNA '15

Better, FreedomElf, particularly, the last paragraph. It proposes several questions someone reading that particular genre might seek answers too. Even I would like to know the answers. And that is what you want a pitch reviewer to think.

 

Now, keep in mind, I’m a science fiction buff, and for a general fiction story such as nesdog’s to hold my attention, requires more action. Just my personal bias. And keeping that bias in mind, I still think nesdog would be well served if he could find a way to incorporate the tenants of your last paragraph into his first.

 

However, I will say this—by you probably being a general fiction reader, you are better equipped to make that judgment.

 

Now, I’m only making that suggestion for one reason. There is no guarantee a reviewer who reads general fiction will be the one reviewing and passing judgment on the appeal of your story based on the your pitch, nesdog.

 

While my story is science fiction oriented, there is no way of knowing whether or not a romance reader will be the person passing judgment on my story. And the same is true of your story, nesdog. You don’t want a science fiction reader, such as myself, reviewing your pitch, but you never know. That’s why I think it is best to try and appeal to as wide an audience as possible early in the pitch. Everybody likes some form of mystery, or intrigue. Why not offer that early in your pitch?

 

And here is something else to ponder. I’m wondering if with all the pitches the judges have to wade through, is there a guarantee they will frequently get past the first few sentences much less the first paragraphs of our pitches?

 

And let’s not get into how the reviewers will decided the marketability or our stories.

 

Oh, and by the way, FreedomElf, when you hit the edit link in the post box after posting, all your apostrophes and quotation marks will be changed to question marks when you re-post. It’s best to do your editing before you hit the post message link the first time.

 

MJ

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10. Jan 18, 2015 9:17 PM in response to: Seal
Re: Feedback on the pitch for ABNA '15

Hey, fellows, thanks for the responses. Okay, I’ll begin with you, FreedomElf. You’re right, it is a lot of words to express a simple point. What the heck, I figured I had three-hundred words so why not use them. I like your opening. The part that begins, Immortality For Dummies is a tongue in cheek commentary on the... I think I’ll use your version, if you don’t mind?

 

And Seal, you might be right. I did some research before I chose that title, but because of your warning, I searched deeper and found the results inconclusive. I found evidence that a book title can not be trademarked, and I also discover evidence that it can. In any case, I think I’ll change it. Haven’t decided what, but I guess I’ll change it—let me do more research.

 

And as far as the tone is concerned, the whole story is written in that ‘ah, shucks’ narrative. Although it does investigate, fictionally, some science theory, it is not meant to be a serious scientific work.

 

The point of the story is to get the reader to think about what would happen to an unlucky fellow after he, or they, the reader, were rendered immortal. While assuming the theory of a never ending, expanding, universe, is true, I only propose what the existence of an immortal might be like after the last star blinks out, and nothing is left but absolute cold and darkness and random blackholes wondering around while devouring each other. Like I said, tongue in cheek.

 

And about the broad over reach of the story—you and FreedomElf seem to agree, however, if I can manage to put together something that will appeal to all, adventure, science fiction, and general fiction readers, I have to give it a try. Besides, the only publisher I have to worry about is Amazon. If they don’t like it, I have a publisher waiting in the wings who will publish it as he has another story of mine, Alien Plot - First Contact. The only problem is he has to get through all four sequels to Alien before he can get to this story. Bummer.

 

Thanks for your imputes, fellows, and I’ll try an take them to heart.

 

MJ

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11. Jan 19, 2015 11:20 AM in response to: nesdog
Re: Feedback on the pitch for ABNA '15

You're very welcome. Best of luck to you!

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12. Jan 19, 2015 11:23 AM in response to: mojo7books
Re: Feedback on the pitch for ABNA '15

Thanks for the tips. You've given a lot of good advice here for everyone; I'll remember it.

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13. Jan 19, 2015 11:26 AM in response to: mojo7books
Re: Feedback on the pitch for ABNA '15

Use anything you like; that's what it's there for. But as far as changing the name, well, I happen to really like it. And I've seen so many books with (other) identical titles that I find it hard to believe that it's a trademark. But do what you feel is best. And thanks for your advice; you make some good points.

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14. Jan 20, 2015 1:22 AM in response to: FreedomElf
Re: Feedback on the pitch for ABNA '15

Yes, I did, also, but, after a targeted search, I discovered Seal's warning right on point. The "For Dummies" title is definitely trademarked.

 

Thanks, Seal.

 

I changed the title of my entry to "Immortality Reality." What do you fellows think?

 

MJ

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