35-word Pitch Clinic is now Open for Business

Hello all, 

Those of you following @nestpitch and/or this blog will know that today we’ll be posting a small selection of 35-word pitches for feedback, critique as part of our Post-It-Forward concept, to help each other perfect a winning 35-word pitch.

pop up kittens


Sadly, we ended up with not a single MG or NA pitch (MG & NA author’s where art thou?) but we have a PB (on this blog) several YA, a few Adult.  While every story is different, a winning pitch, though hard to define, is so easy to see.  There’s all those “catch-phrase-words” like voice, flow, stakes, intrigue and so on, yet try to define it – tough hey?

The idea here is not only will the pitches below and on Rhiann’s blog get direct feedback, they will offer insight into that mystical and totally subjective creature known by the common name “the prefect pitch.”

Sometimes, seeing or reading something makes magic happen for the reader also, a light-bulb or Eureka moment.  If anyone gets such a moment, please feel free to share.

Nothing is more contagious than enthusiastic joy; it’s one of the few things where, the more you spread, the more you have.

samuel-l-jackson-catSo how will it work? 

Read the pitches either here or on Rhiann’s blog:  http://rhiannwynnnoletblog.wordpress.com/

Pick one, pick all pitches, read, comment and wait for your comments to be posted.  Sorry, the comments will be monitored and approved.  We want feedback and constructive not destructive critique.  We want helpful not hurtful.

Below you’ll see all the pitches for this blog, listed as N-1, N-2 etc.hello kitty cat

Read the pitches, and write the comments as per examples below.  Please post a new comment for each Pitch Number, it’ll make it easier for the author to locate the feedback.  If in doubt, you’ll find my comments are below also.

N- (Number) I liked the premise but I thought…

N- (Number) it’s a great idea but can you put the MC’s name in there somewhere?

N-1 Genre: Adult Cozy mystery

Bulldog posts leaked classified files on his whistleblower blog like they’re weather reports, while Carol responds to one of those steamy emails in her inbox.  It’s all fun and games until someone gets murdered.

N-2 Genre: YA Magical Realism

To carry out her brother’s dying wish and save her own life, seventeen-year-old Mallory Post follows cryptic clues he left behind to uncover the last drop of the Fountain of Youth.

N-3 Genre: YA Fantasy

A vengeful, soul stealing sorcerer named Suvius will stop at nothing to locate his original body. But his two obstacles—Chris and Matt—could pose a serious threat to his ultimate objective.

N-4 Genre: YA Fantasy
Seventeen-year-old Alice falls off a cliff and awakens on a medieval battlefield in another world. Disguised as a man, she sets out to find home–even if it means killing people.

N-5 Picture Book 

Nobody wants to miss out on wearing Missy’s nail polish. Will Missy find out who wore her polish or will it remain a secret?

Now it’s up to you, we’ll have these posts open for comments from March 22nd March 29ththief kitty

And don’t forget #nestpitch submission window will be open 1st April and #LV14 on April 4th

Do your bit for post-it-forward and catch some of that contagious enthusiastic joy 🙂


41 thoughts on “35-word Pitch Clinic is now Open for Business

  1. N-1 : I like this, I can hear voice and its clear what’s happens as a result of the leaked files. The only thing I’m not getting is COZY. Traditionally the term refers to mysteries set in a “small” location, a small town/village or maybe a small office. I’m getting a bigger picture here because of the “size” of internet interaction re: blogs/emails.


    • I agree that there’s a good sense of voice, so well done on that score! What I’m missing is how Bulldog and Carol are connected (or will be connected) and why Carol is getting so many steamy emails? I don’t get steamy emails, except for Russian bride spam and the like, and I certainly don’t respond to those. So why does Carol? Does she run an erotic help-line or something? I also need to have some hint of how Carol and Bulldog become involved with the murder. I know that sounds like a tall order for 35 words but it could be something like “Whistle-blower Bulldog never dreamed he’d end up playing sleuth with erotic help-line maven Carol-until one of her ‘regulars’ turns up dead thanks to one of his ‘leaks’, and Carol becomes the next target.” This may not be your story at all, but this is the sort of thing I mean.


  2. N-2 : I love the last bit of the last line; however, I’m a little thrown by brothers dying wish is it to get to the Fountain of Youth to save himself or something else? You can make this less vague & sharper. You have another four words so use them to catch me in the beginning as much as you held me at the end.


    • I read this to mean that her brother’s dying wish was for Mallory to save her own life by drinking from the Fountain of Youth, and I love that concept! What I feel is lacking is voice and some indication of the obstacles she faces, which are hopefully a little more exciting than cryptic clues. And why did he leave clues that are cryptic if he wants her to find the elixir quickly? Is there some enemy who’s also looking for that precious final drop? This could be the missing ingredient in this pitch. There’s some tightening that could be done to free up some word count, i.e. Executing her brother’s dying wish requires seventeen-year-old Mallory to decode his cryptic clues leading to the Fountain of Youth’s last drop. If time runs out or X finds it first, Mallory will die.


  3. N-3: This (for me) starts off really well but I stopped at Chris and Matt and had to re-read 2 times as I wasn’t sure if Chris/Matt were real, human, imagined, other sorcerers. I think the reader needs to know who/what Chris & Matt are and why they could threaten as sorcerer. You’ll probably be able to answer who/why in the one, for example “…magical twins Chris and Matt have to combine powers to stop him from possessing their father…”


    • I agree, Chris and Matt need to be fleshed out as does the manner in which they can keep the sorcerer from his goal. You can get rid of some extra words to allow room for clarification. For example and obviously I don’t know ANYTHING about your actual story, so this is just illustrative – Soul-stealing Suvius wants his original body back. When Chemistry nerds Chris and Matt accidentally blow a hole into the sorcerer’s universe, it derails his plan and unleashes his fury. (And you still have more words left).


  4. N-4: This sounds like an adult Alice-in-Wonderland re-telling & if I’m right then you’ve done your job. I like this… a lot! I normally suggest use every word but (for me) you’ve used 31 words really well- good job!


    • I also would like to know why Alice might need to kill people to get home. Is someone trying to keep her from reaching home? And if so, why? What else might she have to do? Does she meet anyone special who helps or hinders? I need a little more “meat” in this pitch to flesh out the bones 🙂


  5. N-5: This is cute but a little vague. Is Missy a person, an animal, a creature? Help paint the picture, you have the word-count, you still have 9 words, & let us know why everyone want’s Missy’s nail polish. E.g. Nobody wants to miss out on wearing Missy the Mouse’s nail polish; it’s got fairy dust sparkles and makes toes dance. Missy must find out who’s wearing her polish before it all runs out.


    • Yes, we need to know why everyone wants to wear Missy’s nail polish – and why she doesn’t seem to want to share. Is it the key to her popularity? Or does she just think it is? What are the stakes if she doesn’t find out who’s helped him/herself to the coveted nail polish? (Other than it remaining a secret, aka the mystery isn’t solved, so that would be anti-climactic).


  6. N-1: Interesting concept. I don’t see the correlation between Bulldog and Carol. Are they writing on the same blog? I love reading murder mysteries.


  7. N-2: Your pitch definitely catches my attention. Pitch her brother’s dying wish and the importance of saving her own life separately. I am curious to read your story.


  8. N-3: What is the protagonist’s final objective? I would love to know how he plans to find his soul written into the pitch.
    Explain who Matt and Chris are? Why are they his enemies?

    Thanks for sharing.


  9. N-4: Remove the part where you say she is going to kill people unless you can add depth to why that’s a big deal (e.g. Angelic Alice). This way we get the sense that our protagonist is a non violent girl forced to kill people due to some hard choices.
    Good luck!


  10. N-2: Love the sound of this! Could you be more specific about why Mallory’s life is in danger? Otherwise I would leave it off and use the words elsewhere–it would be enough to know that she’s fulfilling her brother’s dying wish. Good luck!


  11. N-3: This is a great concept, but I’m a little bit confused. Is Suvius the protagonist, or the antagonist? Who are Chris and Matt? I think we need more than their names if they are important to the story. Also, phrases like “will stop at nothing” are a bit cliche–maybe think of another way to phrase that that will be more specific and less hackneyed.

    Good luck!


  12. N-1 My suggestion would be to add a little bit more about the characters. Who are Bulldog and Carol. Do they work together? Is there a history between them? It almost sounds like there might be some humor involved, based on the voice, which I love.


  13. N-2: Love the Fountain of Youth idea….but could you reveal one of the cryptic clues. Curious as to what she’ll find along the way.


  14. N-6 Sounds cute! I think the only area missing for me is the stakes. What is so special about the nail polish? Is it magical? Why is it important for her to know who used it? You still have 10 words or so left, so maybe you can add a bit about that. Just because I am curious, did you illustrate it as well?


  15. N-3 I like the way your pitch is worded! I can feel the tension. Is there a way for you to give a little information about the threat that Chris and Matt pose? Are they brothers? Why are Chris and Matt posing the threat? there are a couple more words you can use here 🙂 Good luck!


  16. N-2 I love the Fountain of Youth idea! Someone else on here posted about wanting to know about some of the cryptic clues…so do I! Can the Fountain of Youth bring back her dead brother? I am very curious! I can imagine that Mallory’s life is in danger because she knows about the fountain of youth? Maybe some clarity about that would be good. Good luck!


  17. I’d like to thank everyone for taking the time to comment & to be part of this. We’ll be taking comments for the next week & I’m sure there will be more feedback, both on this blog and on Rhiann’s – thanks again. Nik.


  18. N-5: There seems to be a disconnect between “wanting” to wear the polish and someone “stealing” it. Why is it important to wear it – does it have magical powers? That would be cool, and I’d like to wear it myself if that is the case! Was there an order to wearing the polish – the significance of the polish is missing, and it seems to be a vital clue. Maybe bring just a little hint of why it’s so important?


  19. N-2: I like this and am intrigued. Would like to see (if possible) the reason why teenagers are uncovering the Fountain of Youth – the newly discovered Fountain, or the dwindling Fountain?


  20. N-3: This gets me going up to “ultimate objective.” While it is good to keep some secrets in a pitch, it’s good to give us a bit of a clue – is it to steal as many souls as possible, or to relinquish his own soul in exchange for living a human life. I’m assuming Chris and Matt are humans who want to rid the world of soul-stealers, but I’m not sure. Love the name, Suvius!


  21. N-4: This would be even more gripping if I knew that Alice was in the present day when she fell off the cliff. It’s not clear why she needs to be disguised – is this vital to the story? If so, then maybe add something like “forced to disguise herself as a man….?”


  22. N-4 This is an awesome concept, and I would honestly love to hear more about it. Regarding the pitch, is Alice surprised to have found herself on a medieval battlefield? Does killing people aid her in anyway, or is it just to help her survive until she finds home? Does she have the ability to fight? Does she have any allies in helping her get home?


  23. N-1: I don’t see how Carol and Bulldog is related. It does sound intriguing but I wish for more info on what the story is about. Maybe tighten some sentences to add more relevant words. Anyhow, me likey!


  24. N-2: I have no idea what Fountain of Youth is so I don’t feel the important of it. Is it immortality? Maybe you should mention that in your pitch and also dying wish is very cryptic. And why does her life need saving?


  25. N-3: I wonder who is your MC. Is it Suvius? Or Chris or Matt? and why are these two pose a threat? What powers do they have? What kind of threat? It’s all very vague here.


  26. (I have a NA pitch. If only I’d known about this sooner…)

    N-1: All of what steamy emails? I’d like to see more of what ties Carol and Bulldog together in this pitch, otherwise I’d, personally, concentrate on one of them alone for the sake of wordcount.

    N-2: I really like this one. My one comment is that I stumbled over the ‘he’ in “follows cryptic clues he …”. Yeah, it’s the brother, but for some reason I connected the pronoun to Mallory. Also, do you need the ‘behind’, when ‘clues he left’ (or ‘abandoned’ or ‘scattered’, um) might work just as well with less words?

    N-3: Yeah, following on from what others have said, I’d like to see more groundness – eg. setting – in this pitch. It’s fantasy, but that tells us nothing about the world. Also, how old is Suvius? Upper/lower YA?

    N-4: I don’t know why exactly, but I feel this could be tightened more to ramp up the conflict. I doesn’t intrigue me enough. Perhaps you could mention an element that’s unusual, eg. how exactly is she getting back home (to the present day)? I’d also like to know more about if this is a time-travel story or a portal story.

    N-5: I know nothing about how PB pitches should be, but this feels to me as if it is missing some element of conflict. Perhaps rewrite the question into a sentence reflecting Missy’s journey to find her polish?


  27. N-3: I like the conflict in the first sentence but the second one loses me. I need to know more about WHY Chris and Matt are obstacles, otherwise it’s hard to care that they are. But, like others, my main concern is whose POV is this in? If it’s Suvius will be an unsympathetic protagonist, and if it’s Chris or Matt, then the pitch and stakes should be in their voice and relate to them.


  28. N-4: I like the part about the girl waking up on a battlefield but I am confused about why she’s disguised as a boy. Is that by choice or did she wake up in another gender? If it is by choice, why did she need to disguise herself? I feel like there’s some conflict there you can tap into.


  29. N-5: Why does Missy need to find out who wore her nail polish? The stakes seem flimsy–if it’s nail polish, I assume the other characters could purchase it in a store. Unless there is something special/magical about the nail polish. If so, you should highlight it. (Keep in mind picture books are not my realm of expertise so take my comments with that in mind.)


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