Sunday, April 27, 2014

So I Entered This Little Thing Called PitchSlam, Part 2

Original First 250 Words:  I never knew what it felt like to be hunted. Not until today.

I swept my gaze around the supposedly safe confines of the Temple of Athena. As far as I could tell, I stood alone in the inner sanctuary, and yet I knew I wasn’t. A predator watched my every move, far enough away never to be seen, but close enough to always be felt.

I picked up a lily resting on a stone bench, the bloom as pale as the marble it sat upon, and studied it with a scowl. The temple’s garden didn’t have lilies like this. I had no idea where it had come from.

My hunter had started stalking me in the morning. Half asleep, my senses still dulled, I had felt a presence by my bedside. I woke up screaming, the senior priestesses rushing to my room.

I begged them to search my quarters. They had found nothing, assured me it was merely a nightmare. But you couldn’t hear the inhale and exhale of a nightmare’s breath, nor could a nightmare run its fingers through your hair.

Suppressing a shudder, I tossed the lily to the ground, as if it were made of poison.

Wherever I went, whatever I did, my predator followed, leaving small tokens for me to find. I could almost catch the broad-shouldered figure of a man out of the corner of my eye, but when I turned around, he was gone.

And none of the other priestesses believed me.

PitchSlam Feedback: After reading your entry, we've found you could strengthen your opening page by addressing the following issues:

- We feel this lacks voice. Play with really getting into your MC's head. What does she sound like? What words would she use? Even though this isn't dialogue, we should get a sense of that personality. As-is, it feels flat. Be brave & infuse it with a voice that will stand out.

- This may start in the wrong place. Is there another moment of higher tension? Interaction with another person/being? Maybe give it a shot?

New First 250 Words: I never knew what it felt like to be hunted. Not until today.

And when a girl was standing in the hallowed halls of the Temple of Athena, she should never have felt that way. Maybe in the slums of Delphi or the untamed wilderness, but not here.

I peered up at the statue of Athena. My Lady towered over me, three stories tall, a spear gripped in one marble hand, her golden helm glittering in the afternoon light. Flowers and late-summer fruits were piled at her feet. I left my own offerings, praying for guidance.

“Blessed Athena, wise and serene. Protectress of us all.” Today, more than ever, I took comfort in the truth of those words.

No one could hurt me, even if they had somehow gotten past the temple’s four mighty walls. My Lady would keep me safe.

“Alessia, come on.”

I jumped at Naima’s voice. My fellow priestess stepped into the sanctuary, tugging at my sleeve and shooing me toward the courtyard. Then she took a closer look at me and her face fell.

“You’re still upset about this morning, aren’t you?” I considered every priestess here to be family, and I had two older sisters back home, but Naima was the little sister I had always wanted. A year younger than me, her family originally hailed from the far away city of Thebes, on the river Nile.

“Of course, I’m upset. Someone was in my room last night, and I know that’s not even possible.”


Once again, feedback is welcome.  This was a tough one, because I've always had trouble with 'voice.'  Is this more voicey?  Is it voicelicious?  I can't tell.

What I ended up doing was taking my first 500 and flipping it around.  I pulled the dialogue closer to the top and will intersperse information about what's going on while my MC, Alessia, talks to her best friend.  Hopefully that makes the opening stronger.  

Saturday, April 26, 2014

So I Entered This Little Thing Called PitchSlam

It's a nifty contest with one big benefit: We receive feedback on our pitches and first 250 words and get to re-submit. Here's my revised pitch:

Title: Beautiful Medusa
Genre: YA Fantasy

Original Pitch: Transformed into the legendary Medusa for refusing Poseidon’s advances, sixteen-year-old Alessia must escape from Perseus and decide whether or not the exiled god who claims to love her is merely using her to destroy Zeus.

Pitch Feedback: The pitch had us up until the bit about the exiled god, then it started to read like a completely different story. We have no idea who that is, which renders everything that follows irrelevant. Plus, why does she have to decide anything about the god? What consequences will this decision bring about? Why does she have to pay attention to the god in the first place, when her focus was on escaping Perseus? If she doesn't love him back, the god's claims are moot. And is she not interested in breaking the spell and becoming herself again?

New Pitch: Transformed into the legendary Medusa for refusing Poseidon’s advances. Hunted by Perseus for her head. Sixteen-year-old Alessia’s only hope for salvation might lie with a treacherous god and the infamous Echidna, mother of monsters.

Query: In a land wasted and wrung dry, where happiness is as rare as any jewel, sixteen-year-old Alessia considers herself blessed to be a Priestess of Athena. But when the girl’s extraordinary beauty draws the unwanted attention of Poseidon, her life becomes a nightmare. Cursed for defying an immortal and cast out of her home, the gods transform Alessia into the legendary Medusa and condemn her to live life as a monster.

Snakes for hair. A gaze that can turn a man to stone. Razor sharp talons at the end of each finger. All Alessia wants is to hide herself away from the world before she hurts someone, or worse. Yet to the kings of ancient Greece, Alessia's petrifying gaze makes her a weapon to be won at any cost. With the kings offering unimaginable riches to anyone who can bring them the head of the Medusa, the scared girl soon finds herself hunted by the all too clever hero Perseus and many others.

Struggling to hold onto both her life and her humanity, Alessia flees westward and finds the impossible: Sanctuary and a chance at love with a fallen god preparing to wage war on Olympus. But are his feelings sincere or is he merely using her? And when the war comes, will Alessia, the once loyal priestess, exact revenge on the gods who turned her into Medusa?

Based on the legend according to Ovid's Metamorphoses, Beautiful Medusa is a YA Fantasy complete at 94,000 words. Though the story can stand alone, there is potential for a sequel.


All feedback is welcome! Hopefully my new pitch is better than the first.