STATUS: ! I think that exclamation point says it all.
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 and this is unpublished, debut author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 genrefantasy, middle grade, science fiction, young adult