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  1. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Share Your Elevator Pitch

    Discussion in 'Writing Prompts' started by Simpson17866, May 3, 2017.

    Much like the First Three Sentences thread, we'll be trying to hook readers with as much juice as possible in as few words as possible, and we'll be critiquing each other's pitches on how interested we are, both in the concept and in the presentation. For example:

    Already in debt to a loan shark and unaware of the existence of magic, a team of bank robbers discover a dangerous new enemy when one of their members is left unconscious following a bombing, and they discover a dangerous new world when the bomber reveals herself to be a vampire mage.

    Feel free to share even if you haven't finished your manuscript yet: I'm only about 41k words into a WIP that could end up being twice that, but just thinking about elevator pitches all day has shown me a lot of areas in my WIP that seemed relevant to me because I love exposition, but which have made it hard to condense my manuscript into a clear vision about what the story is about.
     
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  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I spent an hour this week with my critique partner trying to come up with an elevator pitch for my agent to take to a conference, and totally failed. But I can critique others. :D

    The repetition of 'discover' stood out. I'm also not sure what's the relevance of one of them being unconscious? I'm sure it's important in the manuscript but not enough to be in a two-line pitch. Maybe it could be tightened to something like:

    A team of bank robbers in debt to a loan shark risk more than their freedom when they fall foul of a vampire mage during a heist. Cracking safes was hard enough, and now they have to crack the secrets of a dangerous new world where magic exists and ... something?

     
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  3. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    This was the shortest summary I was able to come up with for Three Waifs and One More (working title):

    College student Fyen Caradas shoots a rapist to death in self-defense but is framed for murder by the victim's friends and the media, so she tries to flee the country with the help of three friends: one who sold her the gun, one who witnessed the crime, and one who dated the victim.

    My quibbles:
    -shoots dead a rapist OR shoot a rapist to death OR kills a rapist
    -the repetition of 'one'.
    -I feel strange about calling the true perp the 'victim.' I mean, he's dead, but the real victim is Fyen, so...
    -Is 'college student' as a descriptor bland? Awkward? Fyen is as a character notably unaccomplished, a nobody who's failing her classes and heading nowhere, so I can't use descriptors like 'top chef', 'fire mage' or 'Air Marshal'. Maybe her name should be omitted and just call her a young woman...
    - I feel there's dramatic oomph to the description of the first two of her friends, but the last one, "one who dated the victim", I don't like even though that's basically the conflict there, can the MC trust a person who's struggling to come to terms with her beloved being both dead and a predator. Maybe 'dated' is too mild a word... Who was in love with the victim?

    Elevator pitches are hard. :(
     
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  4. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I like the beginning: College student Fyen Caradas shoots a rapist to death in self-defense but is framed for murder by the victim's friends and the media,
    But I'm not sure about the end. It seems like set-up rather than plot, if that makes sense? Like, what is the story - is it her struggle to get out of the country? Or does she get out of the country pretty soon but still has to evade capture?

    With the quibbles:

    - I think "kills a rapist" works best. I like the specificity of "shoots" but then you have to add "to death" or "dead" which takes away the elegance. So in this case I would go with the simpler, vaguer phrase.
    - Yeah, I thought "the one who dated the victim" was "the one who dated Fyen". I wouldn't consider the rapist a victim at all.
    - I think college student is fine, and definitely better than "young woman". Especially since campus rapes have been in the news recently - it's topical.
    - "One who loved the rapist" works best, IMO - so much conflict there!

    Elevator pitches are the worst. Why can't people take the stairs and talk things through properly?
     
  5. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Good point! The struggle is her getting out of the country while the noose around her neck keeps tightening, and the story ends when she reaches the border with her friends. So basically the second part of the pitch needs to be rephrased... I'm not happy with it anyway and I'm drawing a blank at the moment. :dead:

    Thank you, great points, I totally agree... And I'm glad to hear you think 'college student' would work. The first draft was written before the campus rapes became topical. I knew sexual violence is widespread, but back then it felt like writing Fyen's story was about writing an isolated tragedy. But it's not, her story is one among many, and that's terrifying.

    Hah, I know, right? :D
     
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  6. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    1/ ...kills a rapist... is the winner.
    2/ She's not exactly framed for murder, is she? She killed him, it's just whether she can prove self-defence.
    3/ Rape is bad. Murder is worse. He's a victim.
    4/ I don't know what your gun laws are like, but "buying a gun from a friend" sounds like a deal to avoid getting properly licenced to own one. It also sounds as if she bought the gun either in anticipation of getting raped and needing to defend herself, or to get revenge, when it isn't really self-defence.
    5/ The gun-seller is an accomplice before the fact, the one who witnessed the crime is co-conspirator, the one who dated him sounds as if she's holding a grudge against him. It sounds like a vendetta/lynch mob against this guy. No wonder they're all fleeing justice.
     
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  7. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    My thoughts:

    - As far as I know, the last name is totally unimportant for the story (in fact I'm not even sure I've read it). And anyway, the name (any name really) is unimportant.
    - Self defense is implied when you specify rapist. Leave out.
    - Is it important who frames Fyen? I don't think so but maybe it comes later in the story?
    - Is Fyen really trying to flee? The 'fleeing' part is not a big theme so far. So far the story has more about her coming to terms and the interpersonal struggle.

    A college student shoots her would-be rapist, but is framed for murder. She tries to flee the country with the help of three friends: one who sold her the gun, one who witnessed the crime, and one who dated the victim.

    I really like the end of the pitch though: the three friends. I don't think that 'dated' is too mild. And anyway, as far as I remember Blake and Josh had major troubles before the incident, so 'in love' wouldn't be appropriate.

    - She tries to flee the country: As said above, this bit doesn't hit. I don't know how to resolve it, though. Maybe just rephrase? So that makes:

    A college student shoots her would-be rapist, but is framed for murder. Her hope lies in fleeing the country with the help of three friends: one who sold her the gun, one who witnessed the crime, and one who dated the victim.

    - With the above line, there should be something else, some struggle, some big problem to overcome. What's the theme? What's the message of the story? Just brainstorming here.. :)
     
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  8. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Poor ickle rapist :(
     
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  9. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    I agree. The only reason I was mulling over whether or not I should mention "shoot" was because later I mention "the gun". But I guess that's clear enough?

    She buys it in anticipation of getting assaulted, so she owns it for self-defense purposes. She couldn't have acquired it legally, especially not at such a short notice and even then she would've carried it illegally. She buys it from a friend (needless to say, of a non law-abiding variety...).

    Pretty much, yeah. :p

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    Yeah, in the story it takes a while for her to decide to flee, but since that's where the story is headed and I tried to summarize it in the broadest strokes possible, that's kinda where I landed on. :p Maybe I should condense the plot into her trying to dodge the cops (with the help of her friends) or simply coming to terms with the way her life is turned upside down. In the final edit, the fleeing part should actually begin faster. This draft is bloated, as you know. :eek:

    She certainly loved him (it's another issue if this does not shine through), so maybe replacing 'dated' with 'loved' would work. 'In love' is too strong, I agree.

    That'd result in a longer conversation than what this thread can take, I'm afraid. I understand the theme and message need to be summarized as well because they answer to "what's your story about?" on a different than purely plot-related level.

    Thanks for your comments. :)
     
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  10. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I don't think the 'already' and 'unaware of the existence of magic' really fit at the beginning to me - being unaware of magic would probably be a given, right? I'd probably condense this to "A team of bank robbers [already in debt to a loan shark?] discover a dangerous new enemy when, following a bombing, they discover a dangerous new world when the bomber reveals herself to be a vampire mage" (though the double whens and discovers would need to be worked around) and maybe spiff it up some more from there if needed.

    I managed to find the synopsis of my next wip that I'd written up but it's not really elevator length ... maybe for a nice long elevator ride.
     
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  11. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    In a peculiar tale of escapism, a Spanish refugee flees treason and soon finds himself in a labyrinth of Santeria, gypsies and an occult that hisses curses from principalities living in the second heaven.
     
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  12. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    I wonder if you even need this? I mean, it's nice to know the story is peculiar and about escapism, but it sounds like it'd belong to a review or blurb...?

    Is he a refugee because he flees, or was he a refugee already before that?
     
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  13. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    Hmm.. It would be better saying he was a soldier instead of a refugee.
     
  14. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Yeah, I think I'd use 'soldier'.
     
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  15. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I would delete the first fragment - don't editorialise in a pitch. I don't know what Santeria is, so that's lost on me. I've seen agents who include 'gypsy' as a racist term and wouldn't request anything with it in. And I don't know what second heaven is.

    But I like "an occult that hisses curses" :D
     
  16. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    What's wrong with just pitching this first part?
     
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  17. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    Santeria is where the gypsy whores practice witchcraft and speak like this: Entity! I am of the etherical plane, the lesser of those principalities in serpent ways... Entity! I can hear them now.

    Don't hold that against me though..
     
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  18. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    When I tried just a few variations of "when one of their members is caught in a bombing," it felt like I was saying she got killed instead, and I didn't want to cut the team's personal connection to the bombing by leaving her out entirely, but after reading @izzybot 's version, I'm wondering if "new enemy" and "bombing" might be enough on their own without jumping straight into what makes the bombing personal for them.

    I should probably also adjust the description "bank robbers" to emphasize that these aren't experienced professionals, these are drug dealers who've only just started out at bank robbery because they're desperate to pay their "benefactor" back. Maybe "would-be bank robbers" would be better?

    My understanding is that the word "murder" specifically refers to unjustified killings. She killed him justifiably, but is framed for killing him unjustifiably.
    Not if it was self-defence.

    I'm not sure what the last part means:
    • I was under the impression that "occult" referred to a field of knowledge, not a person who uses that knowledge
    • Is that "(an occult that hisses curses) from principalities living in..." or "an occult that hisses (curses from principalities living in...)"
    • Wouldn't "principalities" be the places in the second heaven where people live, rather than things that are living there?
    Also, if the soldier is the traitor, then wouldn't he be fleeing "charges of treason"?

    We don't know that yet. Pitches generally try to avoid proper nouns and emphasize descriptions instead.

    I like the first one better because it's more active, though I would personally say "the one who" for each friend. Maybe "She has to..."?
     
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  19. Masked Mole

    Masked Mole Senior Member

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    Andy's new neighbor, Arthur, is acting rather strange. Arthur is awkward and aloof, and it seems that he copies every major purchase and renovation that Andy makes. Why is Arthur watching him?
     
  20. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    My editing brain is on right now and I was thinking about this one again.

    "A team of drug dealers turned bank robbers in debt to a loan shark discover a dangerous new world and enemy when [the bomber who foils/disrupts their heist?] reveals herself to be a vampire mage"?

    Feels like it needs some punctuation.
     
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  21. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Oh, I'm happy with just that. :D
     
  22. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    I'd rewrite this along the line of something (this is just an example btw) "Having killed a rapist in self-defense, A college student fights to prove her innocence after she is charged with murder."

    This has all five major parts (Lead, objective, conflict, and situation), while the knockout is not stated, it is implied. Also, this logline has Irony to it.

    -

    It is too much. Not that you can't make a story out of this idea, but you have back story, A lead, and conflict, but no goal or knockout.

    -

    (I know I started a thread already on this, but might as well merge the conversation into this thread.)

    Taking the advice of others, I made my original idea (the romance idea) for this story into a subplot.

    Nerium: Having had her face mutilated, a suicidal woman fights to survive after she puts on an unremovable ring on that causes the undead to pursue her. Will the woman find a way to remove the ring or will she fall victim to the undead that endlessly chase her?

    My biggest concern is that the irony is not strong enough (Suicidal woman fighting to survive.)
     
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  23. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Nice. I remember the story feeling like more "Flight" than "Fight," but that should be easy enough to fit into your more plot-focused version: Having killed a rapist in self-defense, a college student must go on the run after she is charged with murder.

    Though I personally would re-arrange the order: A college student kills a rapist in self-defense, but is charged with murder and has to go on the run.

    Hmm...

    Intriguing. What kind of undead are we talking about: ghosts, zombies, vampires, liches? Is this an openly known part of your story's world or a secret? How and when did she decide to fight for her life instead of letting it happen? You got me, I'm hooked ;)

    Though do you need the clause about her facial mutilation? Or the rhetorical question at the end that just rephrases the middle (or beginning if you cut the first clause)?
     
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  24. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    For this logline, Technically no. I just type out all five parts of a logline for practice (sometimes the parts are implied.)

    I don't want to go too far off-topic, but I am trying to think outside the box with my design for the undead. Here is an example:

    'A red-fur Ape, taller than the doorway and covered in necrosis, grabbed the jeweler by the arms and folded him into a box; bones snapped, flesh tore, and broken veins gushed blood. As this living, screaming man was used for origami, the Ape sang with the voice of an all-female choir. It matched my expectation of what angels would sound like.'

    Secret.
     
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  25. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Fair enough :)

    I can't speak for everyone, but I personally love how clinical the narrator's voice is.

    Well then it sounds like she's on her own for this :twisted:
     

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