So I entered my first pitch contest this week. It’s called PitchSlam, and my favorite part about it so far is the fact that we’re given a chance to revise our initial submissions! You can learn more about it here or search #PitchSlam on Twitter if you’re interested to see what’s going on!
Here’s what I have so far:
17-year-old Amelia hasn’t seen the Woman in White, who haunts the forest surrounding Asylum, Pennsylvania, since the night her brother died. The ghost seems to have abandoned the forest–at least, until Charlie Blue moves into the creepy old house next door. Amelia can’t help liking him; he’s smart, funny, and too cute to ignore, even if everyone in Asylum knows that MacAllisters are cursed. Even if she spent her entire childhood thinking that his grandmother was a witch. Even if she suspects that he might be the reason why the Woman in White has reappeared in the woods.
Together, Amelia and Charlie explore the woods’ dark, twisting paths and the dusty, cavernous rooms of the MacAllister House. As they uncover clue after clue about Charlie’s MacAllister ancestors, the Woman in White’s true identity, and the history of their town, Amelia decides to do whatever it takes to help the ghost trapped in the woods find peace. They learn that the playground rumors are true: a talent for witchcraft runs in Charlie’s family, and with the help of Ransom Smith, a college student interning at the Asylum Historical Society, Amelia and Charlie start preparing a spell that they think will help the Woman in White pass over.
But then Amelia’s classmates start to turn up dead in the Susquehanna River, and rumors swirl around town, blaming Charlie and his grandmother for the deaths. As they race to uncover the real killer and clear the MacAllister name, Amelia and Charlie learn that in a town like Asylum, some ghosts are better left dead and buried.
Original Pitch Slam Pitch:
When a cute boy named Charlie Blue moves into the creepy MacAllister House next door, seventeen-year-old Amelia learns that in a town as small as Asylum, Pennsylvania, some ghosts are better left dead and buried.
Pitch Slam Feedback:
We get a sense that there’s a really cool, creepy story to be told here, but your pitch isn’t conveying it properly. There’s some information included that doesn’t seem relevant, and some information lacking that’s rather crucial. When it comes to pitching, trying to be mysterious often backfires. Specific story details win the day, and we need more of them here. Ask yourself the standard pitch questions. What does your character want, what’s stopping her, and what are the consequences of failure? As to what to leave out, do we need to be told Charlie Blue is a cute boy or can you imply that by Amelia’s interest in him? Is he super important to the story or is more about the ghosts? Do we need to be told the name of the town? Instead, tell us what your character is up against, what she actually has to DO. Learning something is a very passive story conflict. We have a feeling there’s a lot more to this story than we see in this pitch. Show us!
Amelia wanted to help the ghost in the woods–she didn’t count on unleashing a curse. As the bodies pile up, she must find a way to stop the evil before she ends up dead.
Revised Revised Pitch:
Amelia wanted to help the ghost in the woods; she didn’t count on unleashing a curse. As her classmates’ bodies start piling up, she must exonerate the boy next door — or be the next victim.
What do you guys think?