Saturday, January 22, 2011

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Pitch

This is about version six or seven. I would love your comments and suggestions.

The Golden Disk was legend.

And, as is often the fate of legendary objects, it vanished.

Richie Armstrong and his father have traveled the world in their quest for the ancient time-travel device. A cryptic clue they’ve unearthed in Caracas leads them in a new direction, but their adventure comes to a tragic end when Richie’s father dies unexpectedly, leaving him a great fortune and his final instructions:

The Disk is near Lima. Find it!

All clues lead to dead ends until, a year later, Angus Callahan and his little monkey enter the Emporium of Nautical Charts where Richie is working. Angus has a map, and he spins a tale of a fabulous treasure hidden inside a pyramid on an uncharted island off the coast of Peru. Richie’s heart races when he realizes what Angus is describing. Unfortunately, he doesn’t notice that his archenemy, Hans Von Hisle, is eavesdropping.

Later, Richie convinces Angus to accompany him on The Seahorse, the flagship of the Armstrong Steamship Line. When Richie spots the Von Hisle's dirigible shadowing them, he realizes getting to the Disk first might require a little more than a treasure map.

When they arrive at the island, the dirigible is there. Deep inside the pyramid, Richie finds another surprise. His best friend, Wren Remington, is tied to the sacrificial altar. Before he can rescue Wren, the Cannibals emerge from the shadows, and the poison darts start flying.

Richie finds the Disk, but when he removes it from the throne, the ancient clockwork mechanism beneath the pyramid is set in motion, and the stone walls begin crumbling around them. There’s no time to waste, and unless Richie can decipher the cryptic secrets of the Golden Disk, he and his friends will be buried alive. Forever.

1 comment:

  1. I really like the simple, effective opening line. We know immediately what the objective of the story is.

    What I would do with a pitch like this is treat it as any query should be. What I’ve learned from Query Shark is that a query is too short to fully engage the reader with the main character, so it’s better to write in the third person objective narrator than the first person main character. Here you write in the first person, but we don’t ‘meet’ the narrator until halfway through and even at the end we don’t know anything more about him.

    So if you take out the protagonist as the narrator what we want to learn from a pitch is; who is the protagonist, what does he want, why does he want it and what stands in his way, or what are the conflicts he is going to encounter.

    What I would do with this pitch is take out most of the back story. Although it’s great in the book, it doesn’t work as planned here because it tells us nothing about the protagonist’s who and why. To me, the back story starts with the third sentence. So I would start:

    ‘The Golden Disk was legend.

    And, as is often the fate of legendary objects, it vanished.

    (INSERT PROTAG NAME) was fourteen when…’

    I changed the wording a little bit to reinforce the legend and take out adjectives that weaken the impact. I think the sentence is stronger this way, feel free to disagree.

    The thing that is great about this premise is that the protagonist has a clear motivation for wanting to find the disk. It was what his father wanted and now his father can’t. What I think is a missed chance is the emotional blow that is the death of the father. At the moment this loss (and motivational driver) is not reaching its maximum impact; it’s almost an afterthought tucked away in a paragraph. The readers could have a very simple protag’s motive early on in the pitch that would make them sympathise with and perhaps relate to the main character. I would use that sooner!

    Hope I didn’t step on your toes too much. I really like your premise and it’s got a lot going for it! It’s really good to see a straight-forward (so far, at least) adventure with a clear objective and some great action hinted at. I think if you make this pitch more about the character’s wants and less about the back story, you would have a really good chance at it!


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