Ignorance is a problem. Of the 50 series in the Book Riot list, I’m familiar with about half. The rest are new to me, and the pitches — as a consequence — are a bit opaque.
See Querying and Pitch-Writing Practice for the background on what I’m doing to polish up my pitch.
The pitches in this list all describe the books elegantly. That’s not the opacity.
I don’t know enough about some of the books to know what parts of the book are in the pitch. The median pitch is 139 words; of these sometimes as many as 34 words are about a character’s origin. That’s almost 25%. Are 25,000 words of the book really devoted to the origin story? Even spread out among reminiscences and other exposition, it seems unlikely. Until I read the book, the relationship between pitch and book is opaque. I’m left wondering if I can use a particular instance as a template for The Forge.
Here’s a concrete example. This is part of the summary of the Chronicles of Elantra by Michelle Sagara:
“Seven years ago Kaylin fled the crime-riddled streets of Nightshade, knowing that something was after her. Children were being murdered—and all had the same odd markings that mysteriously appeared on her own skin.”
Until I get around to reading the book(s), I don’t know how this piece of the pitch balances against the focus of the book(s) overall.
This particular summary has other complications. What’s eye-grabbing for me is the Mage’s backstory in The Forge is vaguely similar. Replace “crime-riddled streets...” with “sacred hallways of the Main Temple of Witan” and I could almost use this.
It’s also partially true for the Red Knight. But the Knight’s backstory doesn’t really appear until Book II, The Sword and the Crystal. So, the parallel with the Red Knight isn’t part of this pitch.
Back to The Forge: while the Main Temple of Witan is important to the Mage, none of the story takes place there. Can I mention it in the pitch, or would it be misleading? Or does it provide some backstory for understanding the reveal in the pitch?
I think I need to disconnect myself from the coincidental parallel with the Mage’s backstory. The point of this exercise is to look at the larger story-telling structure of the pitch. This one has a four-part structure: the deep backstory, some surface backstory, an initiating incident, and then the full concept.