Pitch On workshop - Destiny

Name: Chrissi Barr
Country of residence: Australia
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Word-count: 94,000

Pitch: Sixteen-year-old Clara Kavanagh learns that the dead still love after destiny is changed, and her family is killed by a wraith within days of returning to their Irish ancestral home. Fueled with courage from her lost family Clara crosses into the afterlife, and sets out, with ghosts of Ireland’s past, to restore mankind’s destiny only to find out that restoring destiny may result in her own death.

First, while this could be a good premise, it was extremely difficult for me to follow. The sentences seemed long and disjointed, with awkward phrasings at several places. It needs to be tightened. When you only have a limited number of words, get rid of anything that isn't absolutely needed so you have room for what is needed. It also seems somewhat generic at places. Your story sounds like it could be something great...show the reader that. Make us feel like we can't go another day without reading it. Lure us in.

Sixteen-year-old Clara Kavanagh learns that the dead still love after destiny is changed, and her family is killed by a wraith within days of returning to their Irish ancestral home. 

-"Kavanagh" is not a necessary word. We don't really have to know her last name at this point. 
- This sentence is just long and awkward. I'm not sure how the two parts tie together, and even after reading it several times, instead of being drawn in...I just ended up feeling frustrated. 

Fueled with courage from her lost family Clara crosses into the afterlife, and sets out, with ghosts of Ireland’s past, to restore mankind’s destiny only to find out that restoring destiny may result in her own death. 
This is just way too long. 
- "Fueled with courage from her lost family Clara crosses..."  - You need a comma after "family"
-I'm not sure how this even ties in with the first sentence. How does she cross into the afterlife? 
-I'm also not sure what the stakes are here specifically. Where you say "restore mankind's destiny", how was it altered? That is a rather generic term. The destiny of ALL mankind? Her family? Someone else? What does she have to do in order to restore it? Who is going to kill her if she doesn't? 
I realize you can't answer all of these questions in so few words...but less general words and more specific words will go a long way in making your reader feel invested.
-Who is this wraith? What does this wraith have to do with Clara's family?

Be specific in what you want to address in your pitch. You did tell us specifically who the main character was. What are the specific stakes? What is the conflict? What are her choices, and what will happen either way? Let the reader see what Clara is faced with. 

Maybe change it to something like:

Sixteen-year-old Clara returns to her ancestral Irish home to learn that her family has been killed. Determined to avenge their death, Clara crosses into the afterlife seeking the means to restore the destiny that had been altered by a vengeful wraith. However, even the ghosts of her ancestors may not be enough to keep her safe as the journey may lead to her own death. 

(Now obviously...I can't be more specific; as I don't know the actual plot. I just tried to re-word the information I was given to make it flow a little better. I would still suggest giving more specifics to draw the reader in.)

You have what sounds like a really interesting story. Good luck!!


 *Don't forget...make sure to check out all of the workshop host blogs to critique more pitches. For each critique you leave in the comments, you get an entry into the drawing to win one of eight 10-page critiques from our contest host Sharon Johnston and workshop hosts Larissa Hardesty, Stephanie Diaz, Catherine Scully, Jodie Andrefski (that's me!), Paula Sangare, Talynn Lynn and Kaitlin AdamsAlso, Sarah Nicolas will be giving away three query critiques! Please use the exact same name for all of your critiques. The opportunity ends 10/14/2012.

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  1. Jodie, Thank you so much. This workshop process is a really fabulous idea and I appreciate your generosity in hosting and commenting on my pitch. Chrissi

    1. Chrissi,
      You're more than welcome. I totally agree that workshops are such a great way to really hone writing skills and sharpen our writing. Sometimes just having a fresh perspective or objective view can help so much.

      I really want you to know that even though it may seem like I listed all these different suggestions...it doesn't at ALL mean that your pitch was bad. It wasn't. I think your premise was great! And if anything..that's especially why I was trying to really offer views on tightening it to be as tight and specific as possible so that any agent reading it would know just enough of what your novel was about, clearly, to be enticed to ask for more. It's all about that initial hook. When we only have such limited words to snag someone's interest...it can be so difficult. I've often said that I swear writing an entire ms is easier than a pitch or query! =)

  2. So, I'm just randomly selecting pitches to comment on, and I hope that you don't mind me picking yours.
    First up the basic premise is really interesting. A couple of things caught my attention, the fact that she's Irish and the idea that this is set in the afterlife, I enjoy seeing different takes on it.
    The issue for me was the wording. The first sentence feels overly long and a little confusing. For example, I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say destiny is changed - do you mean their destiny was changed by being killed? Or something different? It's so ambiguous that I find myself confused rather than intrigued.
    The basic premise is brilliant, I just think that it could use tightening up, a bit of clarifying. But this is all just one persons opinions, and after all, I'm taking part in this workshop because I'm definitely no expert at writing pitches!
    Good luck with this.

  3. I think the idea behind your story is awesome!! There are a couple of things that confused me, though.

    1.) how was destiny changed at the beginning of the pitch?

    2.) Whose Destiny is she restoring and why would it result in her death?

    Clarify these two and I think it will clear up some confusion.
    So people can live in the afterlife before they die? Such an interesting idea that makes a awesome premise for a story!!
    Best wishes!

  4. I actually thought this was really good. It definitely caught me eye, of the ones I've read so far. You got some really great comments above. And I don't have anything different to add. Just wanted to let you know this sounds like a great story. Good luck!

  5. I love that you are working with the elements of Irish culture and the afterlife... Its such a nice combination of fresh elements.

    I agree with much of what has been said above. It sounds like a great premise and you did well focusing on the main character. I think with just a bit more details about and play woth organization will help.

    Really good work and best of luck :)

  6. Hi there, love the Irish/afterlife components (there are Welsh/afterlife components in my story). The advice I would offer would be to cut down on the use of the word destiny-3 times is a lot in a 70 word pitch. Also how does she cross into the afterlife - this seems like something that could only be done through dying, but since you mention death as a possibility later that clearly isn't. I also found the first sentence a bit confusing. Good luck!

  7. HELP - radical surgery made to my pitch based on all of your wonderful feedback. Any feedback graciously embraced. Ambiguity was my biggest challenge.

    “Beware my Kin ~ He walks again” isn’t the normal epitaph you find on a gravestone, but it’s as normal as the surrounds 16 year old Clara Kavanagh finds herself in after going on a family holiday to the Kavanagh’s Irish ancestral home. Celtic worlds, lost love and family tragedy are smashed together in this epic coming of age story. Restoring destiny becomes Clara’s quest but trusting fate is dangerous.

  8. I enjoyed it and didn't feel confused at all. I can feel the afterlife thoughts and ideas. I think she might have died? Great job and look forward to more. :-)

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