See Querying and Pitch-Writing Practice for the background on this.

I sliced off content I identified as “Critic’s Summary.” They’re meta-speech, focused on the actual performance of a book, not sales-speech enticing and agent to read the supplied chapter.


The story of ths world is one of high and heroic adventure. Barr compared it to Beowulf, C.S. Lewis to Orlando Furioso, W.H. Auden to The Thirty-nine Steps. In fact the saga is sui generis – a triumph of imagination which springs to life within its own framework and on its own terms.

I doubt an agent would put up with this. And even if they would, I can’t make claims like these for Tales of the Red Ranger. I could write something like that for my non-fiction.

It feels like these kinds of meta-level pitches are used for for books too complex (or too bewilderingly unique) to summarize. Even Ursula K. Le Guin's Wizard of Earthsea gets a proper two-run-on-sentence summary. This makes me think there’s a threshold of complexity beyond which a reviewer throws up their hands in despair and use phrases like "eerie, voluptuously crafted world.” (This is part of the pitch for China Miéville’s New Crobuzon series; since I haven’t read it, I can only guess. Yes. It’s on my list.)

While I’d like to write one pitch in each of the 50 styles, I think a few of these pitches have to be set aside as irrelevant for my first major work of fiction after eight non-fiction books. For example, there are two opening sentence quotes, making that style difficult to repeat, so I’ll come up a few shy of 50.

One of the consequences of writing the first two-dozen pitches has been numerous small rewrites to provide a little more exposition on some of the (intentionally) mysterious plot points. I aspire to leaving the bad guys as diffuse forces of nature more than narrowly-focused characters. Until they show up to die in a sword fight. But until then... If they’re going to be mentioned in a pitch, they need a few more scenes.