Monday, October 1, 2012

Get Your #PitchOn Workshop - SATELLITE HEARTS

Get Your Pitch On workshops have officially started!

Once again, you can find the list of participating blogs here. Please hop around the other entrants' pitches, and remember to be kind and helpful with your critique! (And also, there are incentives!)

Here's the pitch we're spotlighting at Gina's Writer's Blog today:

Genre: YA Sci-fi
Word-count: 95,000
At sixteen years old, Zahra’s only purpose in life is to kill and then die. Zahra is a synthetic human (Prog) genetically designed by her father and encrypted with instructions to assassinate his recent project, Sycorax, a deadly Prog. Declared property of her father’s genetic alteration company, Zarha is exiled from her country to Antarcion, a prestige Facility that offers intense training for Progs. There she meets her target victim.

Gina's Notes:

I really love those first two sentences - cyborg assassin? Yes, please! I'd suggest streamlining them a little, removing some extra words for the sake of flow, and also to eliminate confusion. Like so:

Sixteen-year-old Zahra's only purpose in life is to kill. 

- I removed "and die" from the sentence, because I think it creates a lot of questions - for example, does she die immediately after her kill is made, like some kind of black widow mating ritual? Why does she have to die just because she kills? Does she become someone else's target? Etc. I think it's strong enough without the mention of dying.

Zahra is a Prog, a synthetic human designed by her father and encrypted with instructions to assassinate his recent (*) project-gone-wrong, Sycorax. 

Here, I took out "deadly Prog," because it seems to me that deadly kind of comes with the Prog territory. And I'd love a word or two added about *WHY* Zahra has to kill Sycorax. Is it because he's actually her father's (*) project-gone-wrong (I made this up and stuck in the pitch as an example)?" Something to indicate what's at stake, rather than making the killing sound random or for sport.

The last two sentences are where things get tricky - or at least they're supposed to. Here's how they're written now:

Declared property of her father’s genetic alteration company, Zarha is exiled from her country to Antarcion, a prestige Facility that offers intense training for Progs. There she meets her target victim.

What we need is a sense of conflict - Zahra being sent off for training doesn't seem important except for the fact that it's where she meets her target - and then what? What is the aspect of this story that turns everything on it's head? 
- Does Zahra fall in love with Sycorax? Does she find out there's another reason she has to kill him, one that she never suspected? Is Sycorax simultaneously hunting her?

These last sentences should really make the reader *NEED* to find out what happens to this character. The problem is, we can assume we already know - Zahra is assigned a target, kills him/her, and dies, because that's what you've told us she was born to do, and there's nothing to indicate otherwise.

End on something really juicy, and people will be chasing this pitch with a fork and knife. At least I know I would!

Okay, your turn, peeps! 


  1. This is a great setting, but I have the same questions. What does Zahra feel about all this? What's her issue? her conflict/problem? If she's a complete cyborg with no feelings, maybe she doesn't care that she's forced to kill? But I'm guessing that's not the case, so show us what her internal struggle is all about! :)

  2. I think this sounds really good (I'd read it!) and Gina makes great suggestions above. I question the use of the word 'exile'. Is she exiled because she did something wrong (which is what it implies to me), or she is sent there because they know her victim is there? Is she is exiled because she did something wrong this helps with our conflict - she can make it up by killing him for example. It also helps us learn about her (she's exiled because she won't kill, for example). Good luck with this I'll be following how you go with it!

  3. The idea behind this story is nice, but I don't get a sense of conflict here. It seems pretty straight forward in terms of what happens and I don't feel compeled to read the book as this pitch indicates that we already know what is going to happen. If you could give us a sense of the conflict and what is means to the MC then it would make this much stronger.

  4. Wow thanks guys I guess I was trying to pack in information and left out the important part of it--the conflict. Will draw up a revised version and hopefully it will get there

  5. Oooo! This sounds fabulous and I would read it tonight if I had it!

    My questions:

    1. Why is she exiled?
    2. Why does she have to kill her target?
    3. What happens when she meets her target?

    Squeeze this in, and I thing your pitch will be perfect.
    Something like:

    Zahara's only purpose in life is to die. As a Protag, designed by her father, she is encrypted with the instructions to find and execute Sycorax, her father's cruelest enemy. But when she fails a minor mission, she is exiled to Antarcion, where she learns she has become the hunted instead of the hunter.

    Or something that really fits your plot:)
    Best wishes with this one.
    I'm over at 2000Words if anyone wants to take a stab at mine!

  6. Great premise! I, too, would like a little more information on the conflict. You're really close! Good luck!

  7. Hey guys thought I could post the version I worked on after your comments. Let me know what you think. Thanks again Gina for your helpful comments.

    Genre: YA Sci-fi
    Word-count: 95,000
    Pitch: At sixteen years old, Zahra Mbali’s only purpose in life is to kill and then die. Cyborgs are born two ways: programmed with encrypted data at the age of sixteen or recycled from corpses. Zahra is neither. Genetically designed by her father, she’s born of a woman with the uncontrollable hunger to assassinate Father’s recent project-gone-wrong, Sycorax. But it comes at a steep cost. Her life.

    1. Hi Rose29,

      Great work! I actually think that with the way you've set this up, you don't need the first line at all. If you do want to keep the first line, I'd still take out "and then die," because if we know she's supposed to die from the onset, it takes away from the tension of your last line. I'd like to know why being born of this woman is risk to Zahra's life, rather than that it is, if that makes sense. Good luck!

  8. ooh great now I see what you mean. Wow thanks Gina, I still believe in the first line. . . mmm. Oh and there's a meaning behind her being born of woman, guess I should fix that too.