Pitch Polish

Below is my REVISED query and first 150 words… Thanks to everyone who commented!

TITLE: TERRA INCOGNITA
GENRE: YA Post-apocalyptic Paranormal
WORD COUNT: 98,000

Query:

Dear Fantabulous Super-agent:

During an attack by a wraithlike creature, seventeen-year old Haylee Wells falls through a portal into a post-apocalyptic future. Taking refuge with a group of humans, she learns this creature is one of the Pale Ones, who have propelled her through time to claim a power she didn’t even know she had.

She must survive in a world where the Pale Ones reign and can kill with a single touch.  A world where the supernatural is common: inanimate objects become poisonous organisms, humans survive – and fight back – with powers of their own, and Seers discern what secrets lie within the confines of your mind and heart.

Haylee’s own abilities become evident. The gardens flourish with a touch of her hand, her wounds heal more quickly than natural, and she can see the auras of those around her. She and her companions wonder why the supposedly immortal creatures see her – an inexperienced Seer with a knack for healing – as a threat.

She knows she should return home. But the journey to the portal will be dangerous, and her growing affections for her new friends, particularly the duty-bound protector of the group, leave her unsure in which time home resides. If she doesn’t leave, the Pale Ones will decide her fate. They will either kill or enslave her.

TERRA INCOGNITA (98,000 words) is a YA Post-apocalyptic paranormal.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

First 150 words:

As with most of life’s extraordinary problems, I felt ill equipped to handle the beast hurtling toward me. The monster’s yellow eyes focused upon me. Its tongue, dripping saliva, lolled from its mouth.
My eyes flicked left and right, looking for cover. A door to slip through. Anything. But could find no escape.

In a matter of seconds, it lunged for me.

I hit the ground, the air forced from my lungs. And, before I could take a breath, my face was plastered with my dog’s kisses. Laughter bubbled up in my throat, and I tried to shove the more than one hundred pound wolf-hybrid away to no avail. So, arms shaking, I managed to hold him several inches from my body, draw my knees up, and roll us both to the side. I made it to my feet and brushed strands of dark blonde hair away from my mouth.

– – – –

Original is below…

Hello all! I have decided to participate in the GUTGAA Pitch Polish blog hop! Yay! I’ve made so many changes to my query over the last (many) months, sometimes I don’t know up from down… seriously. So, I thought I’d see what you all thought. Any feedback would be appreciated! Thanks!

All right *deep breath* here goes…

TITLE OF MANUSCRIPT: TERRA INCOGNITA
GENRE: YA Post-apocalyptic Paranormal
WORD COUNT: 100,000

Query:
Dear Uber-Agent:

Seventeen-year old Haylee Wells thinks she lives in an ordinary world. Her biggest concern has been convincing her mother she may not want to attend college. Ever. But just out of sight something not so ordinary lurks. Hidden in the shadows of city streets and forests – just like the one in her backyard – the Pale Ones plan their coming out.

In the future, the cities are gone and the land barren. Mankind, fearing the deadly touch of the Pale Ones, knows better than to venture into dark places. Haylee awakens to this world, where the supernatural is common: inanimate objects become poisonous organisms, humans survive – and fight back – with powers of their own, and Seers discern what secrets lie within the confines of your mind and heart.

Taking refuge with a group of humans, she becomes fast friends with Glenna, who has a calming presence – literally – and is drawn to Derik, the duty-bound protector, despite his condescending-jerk quotient and creepy insider knowledge of the Pale Ones. He can sense when they are near, and his description of them leaves her thinking they may be the monsters on which many supernatural creature legends are based.

The Pale Ones know great power dwells within Haylee and have propelled her through time to claim it. When her abilities become evident, she wonders what the supposedly immortal creatures want with an inexperienced Seer with a knack for healing. She knows she should return home. But her growing affections for her new friends, particularly Derik, leave her unsure in which time home resides.

TERRA INCOGNITA (100,000 words) is a YA post-apocalyptic paranormal with romantic elements.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

First 150 words:

As with most of life’s extraordinary problems, I felt ill equipped to handle the beast hurtling toward me. The monster’s yellow eyes focused upon me. Its tongue, dripping saliva, lolled from its mouth. I flicked my eyes left and right, looking for cover. A door to slip through. Anything. But could find no escape. In a matter of seconds, it lunged for me. I hit the ground, the air forced from my lungs. And, before I could take a breath, my face was plastered with the dog’s kisses. Laughter bubbled up in my throat, and I tried to shove the more than one hundred pound wolf-hybrid away to no avail. So, arms shaking, I managed to hold the dog several inches from my body, draw my knees up, and roll us both to the side. I made it to my feet, but the dog remained with his tummy in the air, smiling at me.

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24 responses to “Pitch Polish

  1. Okay, here we go 🙂

    Your first paragraph doesn’t draw my attention. My brother in law is published and according to his agent – that first sentence is a deal breaker. (I had him look at my query once – not to have him represent me, but to help me punch mine up a bit) . As I read the rest of your query, you have an excellent idea! And by the first 150 words – a fantastic voice. Use it!! Don’t be shy!

    The second paragraph is a bit confusing? Why was she asleep? Was she knocked out? Or simply went to sleep one night and woke up in the future? The first sentences about the future feel forced and unnecessary. A little rearrangement and rework will definitely punch it up a bit for you!

    The third paragraph starts out strong…and then weakens a bit. Again, you have a strong voice…keep the momentum.

    Used “with” twice in one sentence in the fourth paragraph. Careful of repeaters 🙂

    Your first 150: I like that opening line! Instant connection – how many of us feel ready for whatever life is tossing our way??

    I think you have a great story…I wish you the best of luck!

  2. I like your pitch, but there’s something about 1st and second paragraph that feels off, they don’t flow together. I think the problem is that one minute she’s in her backyard, and the next she’s in the future. I think that the pitch will read more smoothly if you can somehow come up with a short way to explain this.
    I love the first sentence of you pitch, it draws the reader in my providing them with a relatable scenario.
    The first line of your excerpt made me chuckle. Based on what I’ve read in this post, you have a real knack for humor and action scenes.
    Good luck!

  3. Yep, I was going to say the same thing as Jessica. You need a quick sentence about her being propelled through time. I’m actually really interested by your pitch and I feel like the rest of it works quite well.

    And yeah, I’m in the same boat. I’ve worked on my query so much I usually feel like throwing up when I pull it back out. Lol.

  4. Think about cutting the first paragraph entirely, from the first 150 words it’s all back story to the meat of your story.

    If you do this, you’ll need to tighten up the start of the second paragraph by introducing the main character at the start and making sure you ‘hook’ the reader:

    Haylee Wells awakens, after another night fighting her mother about not going to college, in a world where cities are gone and mankind, fears deadly touch of the Pale Ones.

    That’s a bit awkward too, but it puts your MC name right up there and gives you an idea of what I mean.

    Also, look at how you describe Derik. First you’re telling us about what she finds creepy about him, then showing it. Think about *just* showing it and integrating her reactions at that point.

    I’d look too, at your opening. While the line of ‘life extraordinary…ill equipped’ is nicely phrased, it’s a bit disingenuous as she’s playing with the dog and it’s not really an ‘extraordinary problem” and I don’t get the impression she’d think of him as a monster, so you’re creating false tension here. Watch your phrasing right now you have her saying she’s flicking her eyes to the right and left, tossing them in those directions as opposed to her eyes doing the flicking.

    It sounds like the idea behind this and the world building you have done is great. Hope this helps. Take it or leave it, you need to make sure you keep *your* voice here too! There is such a thing as an over edited query!. 🙂

  5. Just a side note, not at ALL related to your query. I’m a bit of an old fart and found the back ground lovely but distracting and difficult to read over. 😦 Maybe… would the theme Selecta work for you? Only two columns, but it has like, five color schemes and blocks for the text, so it’s easier to read. Just a thought. Not related, but something I wanted to mention.

  6. The whole idea of the Pale Ones is super exciting. The query gives the impression that this could be one scary book, which I certainly don’t read enough of.

    I have to say I agree with the first paragraph sounding like backstory. I think if you dump us straight into the post-apocalyptic world with these freaky creatures terrorising the population it shows us the action straight up.

    Also I think you should reconsider calling Derik a jerk (even if he is one). It just doesn’t sound appealing at all. You could easily show us her conflicting emotions for him another way.

    I don’t think Glenna needs to be mentioned at all because by the end I didn’t even remember (him/her?) except for that vague other character that distracted me from these deliciously evil characters. I’d even go so far as to say Derik doesn’t need to be mentioned but that’s totally up to you.

    Focus on the Pale Ones. They’re what shows the difference between your query and the thousands of other paranormal ones out there. And they’re awesome.

    • Cool… Thank you! I’m glad you like the idea of the Pale Ones! They are pretty awesome, if I do say so myself! 😉 You make some valid points, and I will take them into consideration. Thanks again!

  7. Firstly, I really like the premise for this story. I found your 150 to really set the scene and bring the dog like creature to like. But personally I find such a large block paragraph a little off putting. I’d be looking for a way to break it up a little and get some white space in there.

    And I know this is nit picky but in the query when you say “land barren” I think you need to put an is … the land is barren.

    PS. I love your blog, its so different!

    my pitch polish is here, if you have time to take a look http://www.staceynash.com/2012/09/08/gutgaa-pitch-polish-blog-hop/

  8. I’m intrigued by the first paragraph but confused by the beginning of the second. Is it possible to let us know that Haylee is transported to the future before describing it? Did the Pale Ones transport her there?

    I’m curious how the cities came to be destroyed. If people must stay together and out of the shadows to avoid the Pale Ones, cities seem to be the ideal place to do that.

    In the 4th paragraph, she knows she should return home…does she know how?

    Good luck!

  9. Hi, I’m a fellow GUTGAA bloghopper. Really cool concept, first off! I would chop most of the first paragraph of your query. I think you should start with a sentence like the first one of your 4th paragraph. This is where the action starts. Also, end with a bit more of the stakes – what life altering thing could happen other than just her choosing her old life or her new? What’s the worst thing that could happen? Finish with that. Great job and good luck!

  10. First, thanks to everyone who commented! Okay… REVISION time! Let me know what you think… if you want, that is. 😉

    Dear Super-Duper Agent:

    During an attack by a wraithlike creature, seventeen-year old Haylee Wells falls through a portal into a post-apocalyptic future. Taking refuge with a group of humans, she discovers this creature is one of the deadly Pale Ones. For millennia, they lived in the shadows and preyed on the lives of humans. Now they do so openly.

    And this isn’t the only change the world has undergone.

    The supernatural is commonplace. Not only can the Pale Ones kill with a single touch, they can turn inanimate objects into poisonous organisms and sic them on their prey. Humans have survived by developing their own special abilities –super powers that range from great physical strength to various forms of ESP – and use them to fight back.

    When Haylee meets someone who can see into the confines of her mind and heart, she learns the Pale Ones have propelled her through time to claim a power she didn’t know she had. She wonders what use the supposedly immortal creatures have for an inexperienced Seer with a knack for healing.

    Though the journey to the portal would be dangerous, she knows she should return home. If she doesn’t, she risks becoming a slave to the Pale Ones. But her growing affections for her new friends, particularly the duty-bound protector of the group, leave her unsure in which time home resides.

    TERRA INCOGNITA (98,000 words) is a YA post-apocalyptic paranormal.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    First 150 words:

    As with most of life’s extraordinary problems, I felt ill equipped to handle the beast hurtling toward me. The monster’s yellow eyes focused upon me. Its tongue, dripping saliva, lolled from its mouth.

    My eyes flicked left and right, looking for cover. A door to slip through. Anything. But could find no escape.

    In a matter of seconds, it lunged for me.

    I hit the ground, the air forced from my lungs. And, before I could take a breath, my face was plastered with my dog’s kisses. Laughter bubbled up in my throat, and I tried to shove the more than one hundred pound wolf-hybrid away to no avail. So, arms shaking, I managed to hold him several inches from my body, draw my knees up, and roll us both to the side. I made it to my feet and brushed strands of dark blonde hair away from my mouth.

  11. Seventeen-year old Haylee Wells’S biggest concern has been convincing her mother she may not want to attend college. ORDINARY IS A RELATIVE TERM, SO IT MEANS NOTHING FOR YOUR QUERY. SINCE THE PALE ONES ARE ORDINARY TO HER ORDINARY WORLD, EVEN IF SHE DOESN’T KNOW IT. Ever. But HIDDEN in the shadows of city streets and forests – just like the one in her backyard – the Pale Ones plan their coming out.

    HERE YOU NEED TO EXPLAIN WHAT HAPPENS SO SHE’S IN THE FUTURE. BECAUSE I WAS MORE THAN CONFUSED BY THE JUMP BETWEEN THE PARAGRAPHS. In the future, the cities are gone and the land barren. Mankind, fearing the deadly touch of the Pale Ones, knows better than to venture into dark places. Haylee awakens to this world, where the supernatural is common: inanimate objects become poisonous organisms, humans survive – and fight back – with powers of their own, and Seers discern what secrets lie within the confines of your mind and heart. GREAT WORLD BUILDING!

    Taking refuge with a group of humans, she becomes fast friends with Glenna, who has a calming presence – literally – and is drawn to Derik, the duty-bound protector, despite his condescending-jerk quotient HEHEHE and creepy insider knowledge of the Pale Ones. He can sense when they are near, and his description of them leaves her thinking they may be the monsters on which many supernatural creature legends are based.

    The Pale Ones know great power dwells within Haylee and have propelled her through time to claim it. When her abilities become evident, she wonders what the supposedly immortal creatures want with an inexperienced Seer with a knack for healing. She knows she should return home. But her growing affections for her new friends, particularly Derik, leave her unsure in which time home resides.

    TERRA INCOGNITA (100,000 words) is a YA post-apocalyptic paranormal. DON’T GO INTO EXACT DETAIL HERE. THE AGENT JUST WANT TO KNOW IF THE BOOK IS IN THEIR NICHE.

    OVERALL, YOUR STORY SOUNDS AWESOME, BUT I THINK YOUR PITCH READS MORE LIKE A SYNOPSIS THAN A PITCH. YOU NEED TO FOCUS MORE ON HER GOAL, CONFLICTS AND STAKES.

    HOPE THIS HELPS!

  12. Everyone has already mentioned things I saw in the query. The only other point I would make is to watch out for passive voice. i know it can’t be helped all the time. There are instances it is the only way to write what you need. But whenever possible, stick with active voice.

    Great work and a fun, interesting premise:)

  13. Interesting concept.

    The transition from the first paragraph to the second is a little jarring. I’d maybe move things around so that Hayley is transferred through time first and then describe the future world.

    Also, this sentence:
    “Taking refuge with a group of humans, she becomes fast friends with Glenna, who has a calming presence – literally – and is drawn to Derik, the duty-bound protector, despite his condescending-jerk quotient and creepy insider knowledge of the Pale Ones. ”

    Since Glenna is that last one referred to, it took a couple of readings to figure out if it was Glenna or Hayley who was drawn to Derik. Maybe break that into two sentences to make it clear.

    • Thank you so much for the comment… I have rewritten it and placed it in the comments… but I think I should just put it in the original post so everyone can see it…. maybe. I got rid of the first paragraph… And, though I have removed the part entirely, I didn’t even notice the “Is it Glenna or Haylee?” thing… totally see it now. Thanks! 🙂

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