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Hedge Witch Query Pitch Revised!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

After all the helpful feedback I received on my old Hedge Witch query pitch last week, I thought I'd show you the current version :

Schoolgirl Cait Weerd is struggling at school. Her father is dead and her mother has given up. And she has absolutely no idea she's being tracked down by the undain : sorcerous creatures of necromancy that feed off the spirit of the living. She doesn't know the undain need her blood to survive. She doesn't even know she's a witch, descended from a long line of witches. Cait Weerd doesn't know a lot, really, but all that's about to change.

She visits her grandmother at Manchester Central Library and witnesses a series of terrible events. In the chaos she’s handed an old book that’s been hidden there for years and told to run. Hide the book, destroy it. It contains all the secrets of the undains’ existence. They and their human servants want to find that as much as they want Cait.

If all that isn’t enough, Cait learns the fate of two worlds is at stake : our own and the one the undain come from. Just what she needs. Along with definitely-not-a-boyfriend Danny, Cait has to decide what the hell to do. Run, fight or just hope it all goes away.

It's only then that she starts to learn who she really is, along with the terrible truth of what the undain have been doing in our world all this time ...

Hedge Witch is a 110,000 word urban fantasy debut novel.

Apologies if I ignored your advice - I weighed up everything that was said very carefully. The version that goes out to agents will have further biographical flummery on it but I think this will be the gist of it. What do you think?

I found this quite a tricky operation I must admit : on the one hand creating something compelling, on the other coming up with something that genuinely represented the book. I've noticed before that blurb writers often don't bother too much with creating something honest. You know how books are sometimes nothing like they sounded from their pitch? Perhaps that's marketing for you but it just seems wrong ...


  1. This is much more compelling.

    Things you might want to look at: "series of terrible events" sounded a bit vague to me.

    I wonder if it would read better to say: "In the chaos she’s handed an old book that’s been hidden there for years and told to run, hide the book, destroy it." I got held up by the sentence break.

    "our own and the one the undain came from" felt to me like it could be tightened up a bit.

    It definitely feels much tighter now overall. I think all you can do is to give the agent a taste and an idea of what it's about; you can't put everything in, there just isn't room. As long as what you write is true to the feel of the book, any omissions don't matter. In my view!

  2. Thanks fairyhedgehog - once again, invaluable advice.

  3. Is she descended from witches on her mother's side? If so, would her name be 'Weerd'? Sorry to labour this, but it just makes it feel too jokey for me.

    I'd also take out 'Just what she needs.' It's ambiguous and may be taken the wrong way. I'm not sure about the bit about hoping it all goes away. Events unfold so rapidly, this is never an option.

    I agree that 'series of terrible events' sounds to vague. The chase through the drains is well worth a mention.

  4. Sue,

    Yes. She comes from a matrilineal society (Andar) where names are inherited down the female line. I guess that's part of the history Cait uncovers.

    Thanks for your other comments - I'll give them serious thought.

  5. Oh I like this!!! It's now Cait Weerd's story and her quest and adventures!!! yay!!!

    I still say start with her age eg, "16 year old Cait Weerd is struggling at school..." LOL!!

    But this is really really really good!! Take care

  6. Much tighter, Simon. Good work! Maybe omit "schoolgirl" in the first line to read "Cait Weerd is struggling in high school" -- that way, you've got her age-range and agents will know right off that it's a YA novel.

  7. You've done a great job tightening it up. It flows much better and is a stronger query, imho.

    I agree with Milo about omitting "Schoolgirl." It's redundant when you write "struggling in school" in the same sentence. Like fairyhedgehog, I got caught up on break "Hide the book, destroy it" and like her suggestion.

    I didn't have a problem with the line, "Just what she needs." To me it conveys voice.

    Please remember that I'm certainly not an expert on writing queries, but you may want to include at the end of your last paragraph what that "terrible truth" is. I love it as a blurb to hook readers, but I think agents want to know what's at stake before requesting an MS. I could be wrong here and don't want to give false advice, so maybe others can weigh in.

  8. Old Kitty and Milo,

    Great points - I guess if I mention high school like that it covers the age thing too, as Milo suggests.


  9. Suzie F,

    Thanks for the advice - it's appreciated. I do see your point. Another revision needed I think!

  10. It could be me but is this a bit long? Other than that, I love the concept of your story - it sounds very engaging! Good luck - I know how hard it is to query. Keep us posted!

  11. Talli,

    Thanks. It could be a bit long I guess - research suggested I should aim for 250 words and it's about 220 so it's hopefully not too bad.

    Will definitely keep you posted!

  12. This is much lighter and tighter, but it seems a bit stilted to me. You admit that this was a tricky operation and I'm afraid I think it shows. Since I've read and enjoyed your work Simon, I would love to hear some of your strong and authentic voice in this pitch.

    I think starting with Cait struggling at school isn't the strongest beginning. I much prefer what's going on in the second para, so perhaps something like this...

    When Cait Weerd visits her grandmother at Manchester Central Library she witnesses a series of terrible events. In the chaos she’s handed an old book that’s been hidden there for years and told to run.

    ... and then give us the Undain and the worlds in peril after that. I wouldn't mention her parents at all unless they are vitally important to the story.

    The story sounds great, but I suspect the pitch isn't doing it justice yet.

  13. Thomas,

    Oh no - just when I thought I had the darn thing right! Thanks for your suggestions. I shall go away and mull them over now ...


I'd love to know what you think.