The thing is, when I saw the contest, I wasn't going to enter. I looked at the agent's bio, and didn't think she was interested in fairy tales. But my husband, being the wise man he is, asked, "Well what harm is done if you enter and don't win?"
So I pulled out my pitch, which I'd edited and revised and played with after reading Elana's blog:
"With his country at war, Prince Bob, Prince Charming's failure of a little brother, is desperate to prove himself and finally escape his brother's shadow."
I was about to post it, but that nagging little voice in the back of my head made me doubt. I'd read Nathan Bransford's blog on pitching and came up with this:
"When war breaks out and Prince Bob is demoted from his captain's post, he prevents a mutiny, stops a traitor, and leads the army to victory to save the kingdom."
But to me, it felt flat. So I pulled out the one I'd gotten some good feedback on it at Seekerville:
"Prince Charming's little brother must overcome a mutiny, a traitor, and his own ineptitude to prevent the downfall of his kingdom."
And while I liked it better, I still doubted. See, a few months back, I read through some winning pitches on QueryTracker.net, and one of them read something like this: A post-apocalyptic glee club.
It says nothing about the plot. 'So how could it win?' I asked myself. Then came the lightbulb.
A pitch is one sentence. How can you really tell someone about the plot in so few words? But see, a pitch isn't meant to tell the whole plot. That's what a synopsis is for. A pitch is meant to capture someone's interest. Make them want to read your book.
That's when I decided to break a few rules. Think outside the box. I stopped focusing on the plot, and started focusing on what I thought was unique and intriguing about my story. Here's what I submitted:
"Before Prince Charming rescued Snow White; before he faced her evil step-mother in a knock-down, drag-out battle, he faced his biggest challenge to date: training his inept little brother, Prince Bob, to be like him. This is Bob's story."
While I still got a rejection letter in the end (albeit a very nice one), the pitch did what it was supposed to do: catch the attention of the agent. I definitely think I have a better concept of what makes a good pitch.
So what makes your story intriguing? Can you turn that into a winning pitch? I'd love to hear yours!