What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? ISN’T IT ROMANTIC by Rod Stewart
I can unequivocally give my blog readers the #1 culprit of why pitch paragraphs in adult or children’s SF&F query letters miss.
Convoluted plot that can’t be followed in the pitch paragraph.
Interestingly enough, in the presentation itself, I gave the missing plot catalyst as the# 1 reason for why we pass. Convoluted description of the plot was #3. I might have to revise that!
Post webinar, most participants got the concept of “inciting incident” or main plot catalyst pretty clearly; it was building the rest of the pitch paragraph that proved tough. I think everyone who submitted a pitch to be critiqued got a sense of just how hard it is to create a good one.
A bit of advice? Your pitch is not something you want to go it alone on. You need feedback and from a variety of sources. If you learn nothing else from that session, take that tidbit away with you.
And because I’m a nice person, I’m going to share my Top 10 list for blog reading edification.
KRISTIN’S TOP 10 LIST OF WHY ADULT AND CHILDREN’S SF&F QUERY LETTERS GET A REJECTION
Reason 10: Generic descriptors of the story
Reason 9: Overkill on World Building details and not enough about the story itself.
Reason 8: Explaining that unlike already published SF&F novels, your work has character development
Reason 7: Popular trends (such as Vampires, Werewolves, or Zombies) with no unique take clearly spelled out in pitch
Reason 6: No mention of or insight into the characters who will be driving the story
Reason 5: The manuscript is 250,000 words (or more!) and this is unpublished, debut author
Reason 4: The work is called SF&F but it sounds more like a mystery or thriller or something else.
Reason 3: Convoluted Plot that I can’t follow in the pitch paragraph
Reason 2: SF&F stereotypical archetypes as the “hook”
--the mysterious object
--the unexpected birthright
--the villain that has risen again
--exiled to another planet
--mayhem on spaceship to new planet
--Androids with heart of gold
--The main character as the key to saving the world or species
--the just discovered talisman
Reason 1: No hook—or mention of a plot catalyst that is new or original in this genre