I’m really enjoying a fellow Donald Maass Workshop attendee’s blog Pitch University. During the blog’s most recent Pitch Fest, one of my crit. partners, Angelica R. Jackson, got a full mss request from the participating agent!! :-))
Currently, Ms. Lorin Oberweger of Free Expressions (and coordinator for the Donald Maass workshops) is teaching an Expert Pitch Class and giving feedback for pitches. Her advice points to honing in on the emotional connection of the pitch.
My original submission was as follows:
Her beloved da and numerous others will perish from the poisons of enchanted, barbed roots unless Lia—a 15-year-old tree mage—deciphers a thirteen-part elixir and defeats the demon shade who controls the roots, before he convinces her she’s destined to serve him.
Lorin’s fabulous feedback was:
Nice job communicating the emotional ties as well as the voice of your story (“beloved da” does a great deal of effective work here).
In this case, you have a little wiggle room to break it into a few sentences and give a bit more detail about the world in which the story unfolds. What will happen if the demon is able to convince her to serve him? How might it be compelling to do so?
This doesn’t have to go into your fifty word version, of course, but you might break it into a couple of sentences and expand just a little, trimming out things that are not absolutely critical like “thirteen-part.”
Example: Her beloved da and others in her village will perish from the poisons of enchanted barbed roots unless Lia—a fifteen-year-old tree mage—defeats the demon shade who controls the roots. But he has plans to enslave her instead, offering up her family’s well being as the price for her service.
Or something along those lines. Of course, given a few more words, you might add another line to suggest the greater scope of the story, but this establishes your premise, nicely. Good work!
My final draft after revision is:
Her beloved da and others in her village will perish from the poisons of enchanted barbed roots unless Lia—a fifteen-year-old tree mage—defeats the demon shade who controls the roots. But he has plans to enslave her instead,using the secrets of her grandmother’s past as leverage.