Friday, January 23, 2009

Strike Two

I like this one better, but I'm still three words over. And thanks for all the great advice. I've incorporated what I knew how.

And if you have no idea what I'm rambling on about Please read my previous post before you read this one.

Plundered Booty Pitch Version 2.1

Hank Zybeck never dreamed he'd become an outlaw. Then again he never planned to work for Junior Habershaw.

Junior could convince water to run uphill. A good trait to possess when you inherit a Ford dealership, except Junior considers selling cars a waste of time. He'd rather use his talent coercing women into the back seat. And the woman Junior wants most -- just happens to be Hank's wife.

Hank has been married to Rachel, his high school sweetheart for thirteen years. He bested Junior to win her affection once, but things are different now. Junior is bold, reckless, and loaded, thanks to his inheritance. Matter of fact , Junior is exactly like the pirates Hank is always reading about. For the last decade, Hank has satisfied his need for adventure with tales of Caribbean piracy and the history of the islands. He's longed to bask beneath the tropical sun and sip rum-filled drinks, but Rachel isn't about to traipse off to a foreign land and get sand in her bikini. Not when she could stay right her in this country and visit exotic locales like The Mall of American or Branson, Missouri.

Hank's hometown of Red Dirt Oklahoma is far cry from the white sands of the islands, but when Junior pillages his life, Hank is forced to fight for his dreams. That, or walk the plank. Anne Bonney, history's most infamous female pirate, once said to a lover headed for the gallows, “ ... if you had fought like a man, you needn't be hang'd like a dog.” Discovering there is more than one kind of plundered booty, Hank sets out to prove that he's no dog, but even he doesn't know how far over the edge he will go for the sake of love and the chance to live out his Caribbean dreams.



And of course, any and all comment and critique are appreciated.

33 comments:

Kristen Painter said...

Change:

"He'd rather use his talent coercing women into the back seat."

To

"He'd rather coerce women into the back seats."

There's your 3 words.

Travis Erwin said...

Thanks Kristen. I've looked at this stuff and agonized all day.

alex keto said...

Travis,
I read the ABNA guidelines and while they use the term "pitch," I read it as different from how the word is used normally. In their FAQ, they use "pitch" and "cover letter" interchangeably and they ask that you include bits about what market would want this book.
I dunno if I'm reading this correctly, but I've been ginning up something more geared towards a usual cover letter I would send to an agent.
The first part is sentence of background.
The second part is what i would normally call a pitch
The third part is who would read my book. (At the moment, very few people apparently, but I left that part out)

Does anyone out there know what the deal is the pitch at ABNA? Is it a classic, pithy summary or is it a cover letter?

Hey, in a later version of your book, did the contest go away?

The pitch seems strong to me

Janna Qualman said...

Ooh, much stronger start. VERY nice, Travis.

Jennifer said...

I think this sounds pretty darn good!

alex keto said...

Just to confuse me more, the ABNA's FAQ description of a "pitch" differs from the ABNA's description of a pitch in its video called "publishing tips' tutorial.
Whatever.

Cloudia said...

Travis: Actually, I disagree with Kristen. It's a great sentence the way you have it. I do think the whole pitch is working, though it could always be more concise.
Good work, and thanks for the lessons. Aloha-

tiggysmum70 said...

Not when she could stay right her in this country and visit exotic locales like The Mall of American or Branson, Missouri.

You could leave Branson out of it all together.... and that would save the 3 words. Plus, make locales singular. I love the rest of it. I can't see much more. Kristen's idea helps paint a picture too. Either way I think you'll be ok!

Good Luck and God bless!

Teresa said...

Hi Travis,

I think your second pitch is much better than the first. The second pitch makes me want to buy the book, but the first didn't interest me as much.

You can cut the words "over the edge" in the very last sentence about "he doesn't know how far over the edge he will go". There's your three words.

lisaalber said...

Had similar thought as Kristen Painter except cutting a little more. Edit second and third sentences of that paragraph to read:

"...Ford dealership, except that Junior would rather use his talent to coerce women into the back seats."

You don't need the "waste of time" part because the coercing woman kinda says it.

Also, I'd cut (third paragraph): "could stay right here in this country and" (because Mall of America implies that staying right here in this country -- redundacy)

Fourth paragraph: "pillages his life" is unclear to me. I'd forgo the pirate metaphor in this instance and state what it is Junior did to Hank. ...when Junior fires Hank... When Junior sabotages Hank's... (whatever it may be).

I'd also elaborate the "walk the plank" statement. ...walk the plank toward/into... (i.e. the stakes).

As cool a the quote is, I'd cut the quote all together. It's distracting and confusing and out of context. (Also, no offense, but it reads like you're trying very hard to get your pirate metaphors in). Needs to be simpler. I'd edit to:

...walk the plank toward/into... . Discovering there is more than one kind of..., Hank sets out to prove that he's no XXX (would need a new word here), but even he...

Ah, tough love. Hope you don't mind! I love editing.

Pitch finetuning aside, this sounds like a fun novel!

Melanie Avila said...

Good luck Travis!

I'm working on my synopsis now, too, so I admire what you've done.

Crystal Phares said...

Travis,

I love version 2.1, the first one didn't grab me like this one does.

Isn't advice great?!

Georgie B said...

The second is much better than the first.

Michelle said...

You're a great writer. I know you'll get your novel published no matter what!

Barbara Martin said...

This second pitch is much improved over the first. Good work, Travis.

Robin said...

LOL, just dropped in on this discussion, I liked a lot about the first one but I guess I'm outvoted.

I "sort" of get the sense that our hero has been lulled into redundancy and then runs screaming towards the edge of that plank (I dig the pirate metaphors matey)...but could we get a teaser on how he breaks the monotony to go for it all?

It's kind of there but maybe a phrase that gives a bit of a stronger hint(Suddenly, Sunday Joe becomes the Saturday Slasher?)

I liked the Sunday drive of his life in version one...that was such a visual that I pictured this content, dreamer who gets gobsmacked in the middle of complacency...I know you're trying to cut words but that was pretty cool!

Awesome! Can't wait to see your name in lights my friend! Haines is coming to my hometown on the third...hitch a ride! Free brisket and I'm making it and you'd like it!

Good luck to you, this pitch thing is the hardest part for me too!

the walking man said...

Actually i found the second to be very very much better than the first and had no quibble at all with the flow. The blurb caught my interest and took away the short amount of time spent reading it, which is what I hope books do...make me forget time while in them.
The only change I might make is inconsequential...

"...and to live out his Caribbean dreams."

...to live IN his Caribbean dreams

Josh said...

very nice!

Kathryn Magendie said...

I'm the worst at queries and pitches and synopses, oh my!

I have learned to take out the internal and leave the external - or the "emotion" and leave in the "facts" so to speak...they always told me: find a way to tell what your novel is bout in one or two sentences ...EEK! Then when you have that, build around that ...EEK...

Mostly, don't over think it. And trust your instincts - I can't say that enough: trust trust your instincts...but, at the same time, create a distance between You and Your Work - something hard for me to do - that distance is to allow you to see it with a "critical" eye - one that sees Plot and Action or whatever applies. I always said, "my novel doens't have a plot" - but of course all work has a plot -

A Sokoloff (her link is on my site) has some really good "articles" on her blog - how to see your work in these ways that make a lot of sense - in Scenes - like as in a play.

I've babbled too much!

preTzel said...

Alright T, here are my thoughts on this:

Hank Zybeck never dreamed he'd become an outlaw. Then again he never planned to work for Junior Habershaw. This part reads more to me like this: Hank Zybeck never dreamed of becoming an outlaw; he also never thought he would work for someone like Junior Habershaw.

Junior could convince water to run uphill. A good trait to possess when you inherit a Ford dealership, except Junior considers selling cars a waste of time. This part screams more of one sentence instead of two. I'm just not sure how I would do it. For some reason that first sentence is just screaming to remove it and somehow incorporate it into the second.

GAH! Let me go put this into my writing program and tinker with it and then I'll post it back here.

preTzel said...

K, I'm back. Here is what I've come up with. I don't know the word count so you'll have to run it through your word:

In Red Dirt, Oklahoma Hank Zybeck, a complacent car salesman, has always had dreams of living in the Carribean with his high school sweetheart Rachel. Hank has found himself in a life of complacency brought on by thirteen years of marriage, paying bills, and living day to day. His dreams have always been simmering on the back burner and he thought it would always be that way until the day he started working for his high school nemesis, Junior Habershaw.

Junior once held Rachel's affections and somehow Hank was able to woo her away but now Junior was back and looking to begin that dual again. Junior was a sly fellow that inherited Habershaw Ford from his father and while he thought selling cars was a waste of time he also knew women loved a man who had money. Junior could convince water to run uphill but he'd rather convince Rachel to run from Hank and right back into his own arms.

Hank never dreamed he would become an outlaw until the day he found out that Junior's goal was to take Rachel away and leave Hank empty handed. He soon found his life of complacency interuppted. Junior began to pillage Hank's life and forced him to fight for what was his or to find himself walking the plank while Junior sailed off with the love of his life. Anne Bonney, history's most infamous female pirate, once said to a lover headed for the gallows, "...if you had fought like a man, you needn't be hang'd like a dog." Discovering there is more than one kind of plundered booty, Hank sets out to prove he's not dog and pushed to the edge he found he will do whatever it takes to save his wife from the clutches of Junior Habershaw and the chance to live out his Carribean dreams.

PurpleClover said...

Hey Travis,

I noticed a couple grammatical errors I think (I'm the worst at grammatical errors but just thought I would mention that you should go over it with a fine-tooth comb).

If you don't mind, I'm going to post it to word and see if I can tweak it just for some suggestions.

Take or leave what you will. The second is definitely better though!

:)

PurpleClover said...

Okay Travis, this word count is 198. I used mostly your words and just rearranged them. I hope it helps. :)

Hank Zybeck never dreamed he'd become an outlaw like the famous pirates he enjoys reading about in his spare time. He also never thought he’d ever work for his high school nemesis, Junior Habershaw, the local car salesman. But now, Blackbeard has nothin’ on him, and Junior does.

Back in their high school days, Hank won the affections of his now wife-of-thirteen-years, Rachel. Even though Junior lost that battle, he doesn’t plan to lose the war. Junior is bold, reckless, and loaded, thanks to his inheritance. Now Hank feels he’s competing with a present-day pirate who has his sites set on a new booty, Rachel. (wow this sounds so wrong…lol. But maybe the humor you need to catch an agent’s attention)

Hank's hometown of Red Dirt, Oklahoma, is far cry from the white sands of the Caribbean. But when Junior pillages Hank’s life, he’s forced to fight for his dreams or walk the plank. Unfortunately, for him, Rachel would rather adventure to the Mall of America than get sand in her bikini. But draws his advice from the infamous female pirate, Anne Bonney, “if you had fought like a man, you needn't be hang'd like a dog.” So Hank decides it’s time to raise his own Jolly Roger and defend his booty against Junior.

dizzblnd said...

This is much better! I'm just not sure which three words to cut though. Very good re-vamp!

Charles Gramlich said...

I think I personally like this one better, but don't take my word for it. I thought you could cut three words in:
"And the woman Junior wants most -- just happens to be Hank's wife."

TO: And the woman Junior wants most? Hank's Wife.

angel, jr. said...

Good luck buddy!!

Barrie said...

I would shave a bit off from the paragraph that starts with ....Matter of fact...

For eg) For the last decade, Hank has satisfied his need for adventure with tales of Caribbean piracy.

All in all, though, I think it looks GREAT!

Do you ever read Maureen McGowan's blog? She did well in this contest last year.http://www.maureenmcgowan.blogspot.com/

Eric S. said...

Now this sounds like a story I would like to read. Very good pitch.

Lana Gramlich said...

Very good. Can you use some contractions to get rid of the extra 3 words? I.E.; "he'll" instead of "he will."

Sarah Laurenson said...

I think a change of tense will save words. Here's my shot at tightening things. It would need your tweak for voice.

My other suggestion is to be a little more descriptive about what pillaging is going on. It's really vague. Maybe a short example?

Anyway, my 234 words (and Good Luck - did you notice the publishing contract is non-negotiable? Just saying.):

Hank Zybeck never wanted to work for Junior Habershaw; a man with a hankering for Hank’s wife. Junior could convince water to run uphill. He was bold, reckless, and loaded, thanks to his inheritance of the Ford dealership.

Hank may have bested Junior to win Rachel’s affection once, but things were different now. For the last decade, Hank satisfied his need for adventure with tales of Caribbean piracy and the history of the islands. He longed to bask beneath the tropical sun and sip rum-filled drinks, but Rachel wasn't about to traipse off to a foreign land and get sand in her bikini. Not when she could stay in this country and visit exotic locales like The Mall of American or Branson, Missouri.

Red Dirt Oklahoma was a far cry from the white sands of the islands, but when Junior pillaged his life, Hank was forced to fight for his dreams. That, or walk the plank. Anne Bonney, history's most infamous female pirate, once said to a lover headed for the gallows, “ ... if you had fought like a man, you needn't be hang'd like a dog.” Discovering there was more than one kind of plundered booty, Hank set out to prove that he's no dog, but even he didn't know how far over the edge he would go for the sake of love and the chance to live out his Caribbean dreams.

Merry said...

Hi Travis,

I don't know the rules of the contest or anything, and I don't want to rewrite your pitch, because it won't be in your voice. Here's the thing I noticed with both - you waver back and forth between the character's voice and a more generic, back of the book, story pitch.

I think your strongest writing asset is your voice. For my two cents, Pick either Hank's voice or your own and write it that way... You might even want to do one version of each to see which you like. (how annoying am I to give you so much more work?)

I also think you can cut this in half... the lead in on this one is better, but you really don't need all the backstory. I want to know more about what he does to redeem himself, where his journey takes him, give me a hint of the excitement.

You really only need two paragraphs, I think - one to set up who he is, who Jr is, and what the dilemma is. The next to set up where he's going with it. I'd like to see you lose the pirate quote completely... I think letting us know he's into them is enough for us to get a taste,

As a side note, I think you need to be more specific with the wife/Jr. situation. The way this pitch looks, it's a character who's fighting for the love of his life - unless you edited alot since I read pages, it's not capturing the story and the story I was reading was a lot more interesting to me.

Okay, don't hate me... and take it with a grain of salt because I can't for the life of me get my own pitch down.

Knock em dead, Travis.

Stephen Parrish said...

Leave it to me to buck the trend, but your first version more clearly explains your story, and it more obviously comes from your heart. It just needs some sculpting. Don't fall victim to group think. No one person in the group is at fault; it's just that a query can't be written by committee.

Jess said...

The 2nd pitch is a huge difference from the 1st. I prefer the 2nd, that's just my .02.

I ditto Purple Cover- losing the battle, winning the war is a great line, and implies there is a lot more going on with that relationship that one would have to read the book to find out about.

And yes, your voice IS your great writing asset. Use the hell out of it.