Friday, 17 February 2012

Pitch Pitch: -

I have another Pitch Pitch for you. I think you're familiar with this process now but if not please go here and read the guidelines. And then comment - the writer would like your help!

Niki describes her book as a "fiction story" - Niki, just say "novel", ok? For the genre, you said "suspenseful romance" - just say romance. It is supposed to be suspenseful anyway! 

STALKING HER HEART by Niki Nikolopoulos
Stalking Her Heart tells us about a fiery young woman who has been on the run for the past thirteen years. When her stalker unexpectedly reappears, Zoe Naples had finally thought she was through with running. Nick Sekineph, a local police officer, becomes her unlikely protector as Zoe avoids near misses with speeding cars, razor sharp knives, and a hostage nightmare. 
As they work together to track down the suspect, and stay alive in the process, they find an unexpected romance brewing beneath the North Carolina sun. Zoe begins to realize love doesn’t have to be her biggest fear however before she can explore that journey she is pulled back into another dangerous path of attempted murder, death threats and a lonely boat to nowhere. 
When Zoe takes matters into her own hands she inadvertently puts both their lives at stake. She is determined to stop being the victim, in life, in love, most of all in her very own mind. 
Niki, I feel that there are some clichés and some loose writing going on here, perhaps disguising what could be an exciting romance. Can I suggest this as a better start?
Thirteen years ago, Zoe Naples was stalked by a dangerous man. She thinks she's shaken him off and built a new life in safety. But suddenly he reappears, angrier and more dangerous than ever.  
Let me highlight the loose bits:

  • unlikely protector - why?
  • fieryyoung woman - but you say she's a victim, in life, in her very own mind 
  • brewing beneath the North Carolina sun - cliché
  • if she's been on the run for 13 years, how come the stalker unexpectedly appears? Surely she'd be expecting it every minute if she's running from him?
So, I feel you ned to look really carefully at each word and phrase. You seem to have thought to yourself, "How can I make this sound like a book blurb?" instead of "How can I really compellingly get to grips with THIS book to sell it?" Does that make sense? Underneath that, though, there is the making of an exciting story!

Do comment, please, folks. I'm away almost every day for the next two weeks, doing a ridiculously hectic series of talks, and travelling to London three times, so I won't be around much to comment. Please play nicely!


JoMacdonald said...

Hi Niki

This sounds like a great story with a strong main character who has an intriguing past, loads of suspense and a bit of romance too. However I have to agree with Nicola in that I think the pitch could do with tightening up to better demonstrate that intrigue, suspense, excitement.
I'd suggest that in the first sentence you perhaps don't need to state that she's been on the run for 13 years and that this could instead be something implied or revealed within the pitch.
I'd also maybe suggest switching round the sentence that starts with Nick, so that it instead starts with "As zoe.....Nick Sekineph....becomes her unlikely protector." Just a suggestion!
I really like the idea of Zoe taking matters into her own hands and putting her and Nick in even more danger, because it shows a wilful main character who perhaps doesn't always do the most sensible thing. I also really like the implication that the biggest battle is with herself.
Hope these comments are helpful. Well done and good luck!

JO said...

This sounds like a great story - and so it's worth perfecting this pitch.

I'm sure you're attached to the surname 'Naples' but it threw me - made me want this action to take place in the backstreets of a European city rather than North Carolina.

I agree with Nicola - begin with the drama. If you can get the tension right in that very first sentence, I suspect you'll find the rest of it easier - you'll have set the tone. So sentences such as 'When Zoe takes matters into her own hands she inadvertently puts both their lives at stake' could become something along the lines of 'Zoe couldn't possibly have known the disasters she would unleash when she .. whatever she did.'

Good luck - you've a great story.

Anonymous said...

Six dramatic episodes are mentioned here - speeding cars, attempted murder, etc. - but they aren't fleshed out. I'd particularly like to know what 'boat to nowhere' means. I wonder if there are too many attempts on her life by the stalker and just two or three would suffice? I think six of them would exhaust the reader and such a large number of similar scenes would start to feel formulaic. I'd also like to know how it ends - does she get together with the cop and is the stalker punished? Good luck with it.

Johanna Nield said...

Hi Niki

This sounds like an exciting and engaging novel, but there seem to be a few contradictions in the pitch.

Zoe is described initially as a fiery young woman, which implies strength and courage, but at the end of the pitch she's described as a victim.

I assume she's been running from her stalker for thirteen years; if this is so, why is his reappearance unexpected? If it's not her stalker that's had her on the run, then perhaps some clarification is needed?

Zoe's fear of love etc makes me wonder if she believes the stalker to be an ex lover. Again, if this isn't the case then perhaps there's a way of detaching that element of the story from the stalker arc in the pitch?

I also agree that this reads more like a blurb than a pitch, as there's no indication of the outcome.

'Stalking Her Heart' is a great title, by the way :)

Iola said...

The surname Sekineph seemed really odd to me. How is it pronounced? What nationality? So I searched on it... and the only website with this name is this one.

Unless there is some real significance to the surname that is explained in the novel, I would suggest changing this to something a little more familiar.

Also, the novel sounds like romantic suspense, which is a pretty popular genre (especially in the US).

Elizabeth Dunn said...

Hi Niki,

I love these kind of action thrillers so I hope it goes well for you.

My first thought was you've got the A story and the B story going, so good. Then I wondered if maybe you, like me, were trying too much to get the whole story wrapped up neatly. As Helen said, there are probably too many dramatic episodes. The part about a murder and boat to nowhere was where I went 'huh?'

Lastly, I'd say there were too many tried and trues like 'unexpectedly reappears', 'unlikely protector', 'hostage nightmare'. I also have a feeling agents don't like the listing of dangers e.g. 'speeding cars, razor sharp...and hostage nightmare.'

Personally, I love speeding cars and razor sharp knives but... they're a difficult bunch. Hope this helps just a little bit.

Deborah Jay said...

Hi Niki,
Good luck with the novel - it has plenty of great ingredients.
As others have already said, the pitch needs work.
As you have it, the first sentence is a passive 'telling' which doesn't drag us into the story. I like Nicola's version: more direct and catchy.
I didn't feel it likely that someone would be actively 'on the run' for this long if there was no likelihood of her stalker reappearing, so the 'unexpectedly' didn't work for me.
Like several others, the 'fiery young woman' description is at odds with the victim description at the end.
I was unsure why the police officer would become an 'unlikely' protector: isn't that what police are there for?
I liked the first list of exciting scenarios, but not when you did it again; this felt like repetition for the sake of cramming action into the plot. Even if it is there, it was too much for this pitch.
I was also taken aback by love being her 'biggest' fear: seems to me that the stalker should be that, unless he is an ex?
It sounds like it has great promise, you just need to streamline this pitch into something a bit clearer with less cliche and more grab.

JenB said...


Stalking is always in the news and always draws one in. I find myself always thinking about the victim and how the situation came about.

I don't think I can add any wisdom that I've not read offered already, but I agree overall that your plot sounds action-packed and gripping - there's just a bit of fine tuning to do on the pitch.

Is it already drafted? Look forward to reading it one day and wish you all the best with it.

Louise said...

I've not tried to write a pitch/blurb and it must be difficult to distil your novel into just a few sentences. This one does read as "woolly", too many cliches and a few contradictions. Sounds like there's an engaging story there though.