How high are your stakes? (Don't Forget to Post Your MUG Shot TOMORROW! blogfest reminder!)

Pitching your novel can be a biotch as Michael at In Time stated in his post yesterday.  A few of us in Blogland recently pitched (or might/will pitch in the near future ...) our sparkling manuscripts to the judges for ABNA.  What joyous fun!?!

I (christy) sent out a few emails asking, What in the H, exactly, is a pitch?  One sentence? (nope.  That's a logline.)  ABNA allows 300 words for us to pitch our glowing novels with.  Okay...what do I need to write with those 300 (or fewer) words? 

What, exactly should your pitch include?  It's a lot like a query.  Minus a few details.  Mostly you need these elements:  MC, setting, hook, major plot points, complication, and high stakes.  Right?

Sooo....um, High Stakes?  Basically:  If_______________, then ______________________. 

This is where I struggle in my query/pitch.  I'm always a bit too vague.  I'll show you some lousy examples.  Lousy, but still in tact in my pitch. 

If Dawn gets caught, the fiery figure will sever the cord between their dimensions, and both worlds will be altered beyond repair.

(okay, so that was an If...and....sentence)


If Dawn can somehow clear her name and share what she learns about the past of the dimensions, she just might save the worlds.

(okay, so that was an If...(comma)...sentence)

reglardless of my own poor examples that don't even follow the "rules" i shared, TODAY WE WANT YOU TO SHARE YOUR HIGH STAKES WITH US IN ONE IF...THEN...SENTENCE!  comments, please!!!!!! 

why... you ask? we can help!  we can lather with praise!  we won't award prizes for your high stakes though. we're saving those for our blogfest (TOMORROW!) and our 150 followers contest (ends 2/6/11)!!!  are YOU in?!????


  1. A contest? I'll have to come back.

    I'm hosting a contest too:

    On pitching, this may help:

    And really this one is what you were asking:

  2. If Caenus does not win the Isthmian Games, then his kingdom will be viewed as weak and the kingdom risks constant attacks by enemy city-states.

  3. If James doesn't snap out of his self-obsession, the country that chose him as their only hope will be wiped from the map...

    That was fun, but didn't come anywhere near what the book's about. Hmmm...

    Good luck!


  4. I'm actually scrambling to see if I can get my ms into the contest in some kind of good shape, so no time for anything else. But gooooood luck!!
    The Middle Ages

  5. Ha! I am so bad at parsing things out this intentionally... I'm a big picture gal. trees? What trees? But I'll give it a shot...

    If Helen doesn't figure out a way to intervene, the lives of the students at the Kahlotus Project might be as irrevocably ruined as her own.

  6. Hi, ladies,

    I posted my full pitch on my blog today.

    Now let me see if I can get it down to one sentences ...

    IF Aidan doesn't do everything his drunken, military father says, he will never see his eighteenth birthday.

    Not great, but there it is.


  7. (Barbara - good luck!! Hope you're in!)

    Hmm, I also struggle with this. Yes, I have a logline and I sort of like it. Sort of. But the if...then seems difficult for a contemporary romance novel. I don't want people to think it's "If they break up, she'll be mad." hehe

    How about a when...she...if statement?

    When Kenz finds herself faced with more adversity than she ever thought she could handle, she must decide whether her new relationship could cause her to lose a little of herself, or if she can have it all.

  8. Hey! Those are all really good! Best of luck to you ABNAers. Including me if I ever enter! Theresa, I'll check out your contest! Thanks for sharing your stakes with us! christy

  9. Omg, I haven't even thought of pitches, hooks, loglines, blurbs etc. Okay, well I have...actually agonized over them. But my book isn't ready for them so I've tried to keep them out of my mind until I'm actually ready to start studying up on this stuff. Good luck if you guys enter ABNA!

  10. Hmmm... If Natasha doesn't take charge of her own life, then she'll be stuck in her rut forever.

    That was my first try. It will get better.

  11. I hope you ladies both entered ABNA! I did, thanks to Michael's prompting. My logline is this:

    "There's trouble in the Dragon Empire, the kind of trouble that could start a war. Despite being only an architect class, emerald dragon, Grendar is willing to risk banishment and death to stop it."

    Yep, it's two sentences, I know. But I love to bend the rules!

  12. I won an agent contest with this pitch:

    HIGH HOPES is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, but instead of going to Bath, sixteen-year-old Katie Morland takes a trip to Florida for Spring Break week. There, she meets Hal Tilney, who quickly wins her over with his charm and wit, and who also happens to live in one of the most haunted houses in America – the home where the events of The Amityville Horror took place. When Katie is invited to visit for the weekend, her horror-obsessed brain goes into overdrive and she imagines ghosts and ghouls around every corner. Hal tries to explain to her that all the sinister stories about the house are just rumors, but Katie is convinced that the Amityville home is hiding a dark secret. Katie tries to find the source of her supernatural suspicions, but doesn’t know she also runs the risk of something truly scary – losing the guy she loves.

    I guess that would boil down to:

    If Katie doesn't get her horror-obsessed imagination under control, she risks losing the guys she loves.

  13. If Pentari does not learn to trust herself, she will lose the love of her life and possibly her life as well.

    Um, now that I look at it this way, it sounds rather boring. Oops. Will have to work on that.


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