#PitchOn Workshop – The Labyrinth Wall


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I’m so excited to be participating in the #PitchOn Workshops this week! Today we have the first pitch critique on my blog and I’m so excited to be helping my fellow authors make their pitches shine! So let’s get started!

 

Name: Emilyann Girdner

Title: The Labyrinth Wall

Genre: Young Adult Epic Fantasy

Word-count: 68,000

Pitch:  Araina’s life consists of fighting to survive under the cruel suppression of her Creators in a dark labyrinth filled with poisonous gas eruptions and flowers that turn people to stone until the day she witnesses a stranger miraculously walk through a wall. Attempting to solve the mystery of the stranger’s origins will take Araina on a dangerous journey that will reveal troubling realities about everything she thought she understood.

 UPDATED 10/5/12:

Living in a dark labyrinth, teenage Araina’s life of isolation is prompted by hate for her fellow savage Mahk and their manipulative creators. Exposure of the Creator’s secret that there is a world outside of the labyrinth brings about their attempted massacre of the Mahk. Now Araina must decide if she will trust potentially deceitful allies who could help her reach safety on the other side of the magical labyrinth wall.

 

 

Jamie’s Comments on Original:

Wow, I’m so glad I got to work on this pitch! I’m a totally sucker for this sort of story! And immediately I see a really interesting idea here with this pitch – I love labyrinths and I love the idea of someone trapped in one. I love the world building with the poisonous gas and deadly flowers, and there are glimpses of something really cool with this pitch. Not to mention Epic Fantasy is one of my faves!

And while this is a great start, I think what I’m missing from the pitch are a few more specifics that would pull it all together for me. Right now, the actual stakes seem vague and almost too generic. It’s such a cool premise that I want more details! I want to know about this world, and this character and especially this labyrinth! I think giving us a few more details would really help in making this pitch pop and stand out, and really connect us with Ariana. I also think we can tighten some of the wording to really strengthen the pitch.

So, sometimes with pitches I find it’s helpful to think of some of the questions I’m having. Right now, based on what’s here, I’m wondering:

  • Who are these Creators and what is Ariana if she was “created”? If she’s something more than human, I’d love to see it mentioned a bit.
  • Why is a labyrinth used to trap people?
  • Who is this stranger who walks through the wall and his/her relationship to Araina?
  • What sort of journey must she go on? To destroy her creators? What troubles must she face? What is really at stake here at a personal level?

I don’t think you should include answers to all of these questions, you only have 50-70 words after all  🙂 But, I’d like to see a few more of these details fleshed out a tiny bit – I think they could really highlight what’s unique about this story and world. And I know I’d request based on this pitch alone, so making it more specific can only help! You want to highlight what makes this story different, and why an editor would want to read it, so making it stand out a bit from the competition is a good thing. Give us that and this will be an amazing pitch!

So, because I want/need a few more details, I’m only taking a general stab at some rewording ideas. They may or may not work based on what the story is really about.

 

 Jamie’s Suggestion on Original:

<<Insert age?>> Araina’s tortured life is spent in a dark labyrinth filled with poisonous gas eruptions and flowers that could turn her into stone in an instant. Even scarier is the cruel suppression of her Creators <<who will do what to Araina? What is it they want?>> But when she witnesses a stranger to the labyrinth walk through a wall like it’s made of smoke, Ariana realizes <<what?>>. Now she must search for the truth about the stranger and the labyrinth, before the Creators < <what? What are the stakes? What will happen if she fails or gets caught? Why is she important to this story?>>

 

So what do you guys think? Do you have any suggestions/comments for Emilyann? I’m sure she’d love all the feedback she can get! And Emilyann – feel free to post a revised pitch in the comments – I’d love to see what you come up with!

 


6 Comments

  1. This is so helpful Jamie. You gave me some important things to think about and I know the pitch is going to much stronger because of your critique. I am getting to work on this right away and will keep you updated. Thank you so much 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Emily! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

      • Oh my goodness, I can’t even say how much you have helped. Here is what I have come up with:

        Araina’s isolated teenage life is forever altered when she witnesses a man emerge through a rippling wall into her dark enchanted labyrinth home. As a result of the stranger’s arrival, Araina’s creators have unleashed a series of magical attacks using the labyrinth against its inhabitants. Her only hope is to finally place trust in those around her as they attempt to reach safety on the other side of the labyrinth wall.

        I had to give up some world building and descriptive words, but I think this finally conveys the bare bones of the plot and hopefully some of Araina’s character as well.

        Whew.. Now we are getting some where 🙂

  2. Very cool idea! I agree with Jamie that it sounds like a really interesting set-up. A little like Incarceron maybe?

    I think Jamie had some good critiques and suggestions. As Jamie said, “dangerous journey,” “troubling realities,” and “everything she thought she understood” are vague phrases that would be strengthened with some specifics. Also, to me “fighting to survive” sounds like generic query wording.

    I would add, too, that the first sentence is probably too long, and Jamie’s rewrite (especially opening with the very cool gas and flowers) should give a good example of how to break down the information into more comprehensible pieces.

    Basically, “everything Jamie said.”

    • Thanks Audrey, I see your point about the generic phrases. Good suggestion about the first sentence as well. I’m excited to play with Jamie’s format suggestion 🙂

  3. Hello.
    I have reworked this many more times and decided on a new approach. If anyone has a chance, can I get feedback on this very revamped pitch?

    PITCH:
    Living in a dark labyrinth, teenage Araina’s life of isolation is prompted by hate for her fellow savage Mahk and their manipulative creators. Exposure of the Creator’s secret that there is a world outside of the labyrinth brings about their attempted massacre of the Mahk. Now Araina must decide if she will trust potentially deceitful allies who could help her reach safety on the other side of the magical labyrinth wall. 

    Thank you Jamie and other participants.