The Challenge: 140 Characters – One Pitch


I had just finished up my Middle Grade novel, polished it up and sent it off on a request when I saw something floating past in my Twitter stream. I snatched it up quick before it ran too far down river and here’s what I found. Shelley Watters (@Shelley_Watters) reached some milestones, 100 followers on her blog and 500 twitter followers, and she felt like celebrating. So she roped in the fantasic Suzie Townsend of Fine Print Literary Management to be a judge for a contest. The prize??? A full manuscript request by Suzie. And Shelley will provide query critiques for another lucky five.

The catch? Pitch your book with the same restrictions we have on twitter – 140 characters. Whoa!! There are times I can barely say hello in 140 characters… pitch a whole book?? I thought about sitting this one out, but then decided to jump in the deep end for two reasons.

  1. A friend dared me (yes, we have Monica Enderle Pierce to thank for my participation in this contest) because I can’t back down from a challenge.
  2. And the ability to have a short snippet I can pull out and use when someone asks me the question I never cease to stumble over… “What is the book about?” Once I’m in a conversation about my writing, I’m able to discuss fluently, but I always trip over my tongue when attempting to give someone a short summation.

So I signed up and started off on my quest of perfecting a pitch in 140 characters. I had a bit of a slow start but ultimately came up with something I’m almost happy with – I’d like to get a descriptive adjective in there, but may need a shoe horn to do it. Oh, and I thought about tweet-shrinking my pitch, but decided to go for the gusto and complete the pitch without shrinking. Sooooo, here it is:

Title: The Journal of Angela Ashby
Genre: Middle Grade contemporary with magical elements
44,000 words

When her magical journal falls into a bully’s hands, a girl must sacrifice her deepest desire to protect her unborn brother’s happiness

In a nutshell and 135 characters… but, I’ll probably continue to tweak – leave a comment & help me make it sparkle.

With the feedback from below, I’ve been toying with some new pitches, so here is #2

Conjuring a gnome was fun, but when her magical journal falls into a bully’s hands, Angela must recover it before her last wish causes chaos

With her magical journal in a bully’s hands, a girl must sacrifice her desire 2 reunite her parents 2 protect her unborn brother’s happiness

I’ve incorporated Rebecca’s suggestion below for the third version. And hop on over to Shelley’s blog and see all of the other contestants. It’s going to be fun seeing how everyone sums up their books.

15 Comments on “The Challenge: 140 Characters – One Pitch”

  1. I thought it was cool and intriguing. May be good or not, but it left me wondering if it’s the bully she has to fight in the end or something bigger and more mysterious.

  2. I love the first bit of this – a magical journal and a bully sound so intriguing. But then I get lost as I try and figure out how it relates to the unborn brother’s happiness. I know there’s a limit on characters, but if there was any way to tie that more clearly back to the first bit i think you’d be solid.

    Great job and best of luck!

  3. Very good! The only tweak I’d try to fit in is how her journal will affect her unborn brother’s happiness? Maybe you can trim “sacrifice her deepest desire” to something smaller? Get specific? You can always follow the “must choose” wording. It’s classic. “She must choose between her desire to be a writer and her brother’s happiness” kind of thing. (Or whatever her desire really is.)

  4. Hi LK! Thanks for participating! I like your pitch, and it makes me ask the question of how can a magical journal have anything to do with her unborn brother’s happiness? And what’s her deepest desire? Good job! Very enticing.

  5. Why does she need to protect her unborn brother’s happiness? from the bully?

    Bet she didn’t know little brothers are so much trouble when mom told her one was on the way… it gets worse, kiddo. 🙂

  6. I like the idea of a magical journal, but I don’t understand how that’s connected to the second part of the pitch. What does that have to do with her deepest desires? Or her unborn brother’s happiness?

  7. It’s great, but I think you should use her name instead of the generic “a girl.” And I don’t really see how the bully, book and her unborn brother are connected. Is it because the book is magic? If it is, you should say how the magic works so we aren’t confused. I’d definitely like to see more about this.

  8. i agree with some of the posts above. i would like a little connection from the first and second parts. neat concept though. a magical journal and a bully opens so many doors…good luck!
    douglas esper

  9. I like this, but I’m missing the connection as well. I’d use the advice given from the other posts to add that bit of connection between the journal and unborn baby. Good luck with the contest.

  10. Ooo this is a good one. I’m wondering if you could say what her deepest desire is? Is there room? I know it’s short. I love this though, I seriously read this and was like “Dang, that’s good!”

    Great job!! I’m totally intrigued ;o)

  11. Is her pregnant mother accompanying her on this journey? Or are you suggesting something more supernatural involving heaven/limbo and spirit worlds?

  12. Suzi already said what I was thinking. The “sacrifice her deepest desire” is the apple in the orange crate. Substitute something there that ties together the journal and the baby bro? Otherwise, I love it and want to read it!

  13. Original: When her magical journal falls into a bully’s hands, a girl must sacrifice her deepest desire to protect her unborn brother’s happiness

    Suggestion: With her magical journal in a bully’s hands, Angela must sacrifice all to ensure her unborn brother’s happiness.

    Reworded to give extra characters in first bit. Added name to establish id and connection. Baby can go. If he’s unborn, he’s younger than her. Substituted “all” for deepest desire. This gives you 27 extra characters to play with 😀

  14. I’m intrigued by the magical journal and I totally love Rebecca Little’s reworking of the pitch. Hands down — her take is my favorite. Love that I get a name and love how it leads into her ensuring her brother’s happiness. Good luck! 😀

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