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If you'd like professional feedback on your pitch (for any genre) see p80Ifind the premise intriguing, but the pitch leaves out so much! Crucially, who is this woman? Unless we know something about her, why should we care what happens to her? So a name and thumbnail description of the main character would have helped enormously.And where is she living? We’re told it’s building full of working- class men, who are presumably young and single (are they?). Sois it a hostel? A block of council flats?Establishing the set up would also need to include why sheis writing to them. Is it a bit of fun that gets out of hand? HasPITCH CALENDAR AUTUMN 2017FICTIONshe been sexually harassed and is getting her own back? Is she purposely setting up the peeping tom? There’s no title, which is a shame, because a good title can convey so much about genre.The novel’s premise suggests a comedy of manners, focusing on class and homophobia, but the second half of the pitch seems to take it in a completely different direction, as the police investigate ‘the harassment case’. Are we still in the realm of comedy, or will the poor man become a target of homophobic violence?The reason I’m confused is because I have no sense of what the book’s genre is. The reference to ‘the power of words’ suggests literary fiction, but it couldjust as easily be a romance or police procedural. A good wayto signal genre is to mention authors writing in a similar vein. You don’t have to say ‘I am the next Ian McEwan’, but you might say ‘I am inspired by the work of Ian McEwan’. This is a useful shorthand that’s used throughout the industry.Another thing I like to know in a pitch is how an authorIf you want to pitch a seasonal article, poem or short fiction, you need to plan your work well in advance. Here are some seasonal hooks to help you get ahead of the game. Visit mslexia Max for a more comprehensive list – and who to pitch them to.SEPTEMBER5 Sep: International Day of Charity (what’s your pet cause?)8 Sep: International Literacy Day 10 Sep: 50th anniversary of Gibraltar voting to remain a British dependency21 Sep: 80th anniversary of the publication of Tolkien’s The Hobbit 22 Sep: World Car Free Day28 Sep: National Poetry DayOCTOBERBlack History Month (UK)1 Oct: World Vegetarian Dayintends to handle her material. Is this novel written from the letter-writer’s point of view,for example? Or from several different viewpoints? Is it in first or third person?The last three lines convey very little about the meat of the story and could be cut, along with conversational flourishes such as ‘I’m writing’ and ‘but really’ – to make room for those particular details about character and setting that bring a pitch to life. ❐REBECCA CARTER is an agent at Janklow & Nesbit, following 15 years as an editor at Vintage, Random House. She represents writers of literary fiction, crime and some children’s authors. She also represents non-fiction writers, including Nell Stevens whose Bleaker House (shortlisted for mslexia’s Memoir Competition) is out in June (Picador).4 Oct: 60th anniversary of launch of first Soviet satellite Sputnik I10 Oct: 60th anniversary ofthe publication of Ayn Rand’s objectivist fiction Atlas Shrugged11 Oct: 35th anniversary of the raising of shipwreck Mary Rose23 Oct: 15th anniversary of the Moscow Theatre hostage crisis 27 Oct: National Tell-a-Story Day (Scotland)NOVEMBERNational Novel Writing Month2 Nov: Centennial of Balfour Declaration for Jewish homeland 6 Nov: 150 years since the formation of London Society for Women’s Suffrage19 Nov: International Men’s Day 11 Nov: Armistice Day11 Nov: 25th anniversary of the Church of England voting to ordain womenPITCH SURGERY(untitled)by Victoria McIver-BarnesI’m writing a story about a woman who pretends to bea man and writes love letters to all the men that live in her building; on the face of it, the whole thing sounds quite funny, a bunch of working class men receiving love letters they believe to be from their homosexual peeping- tom neighbour. But really, between the woman who is writing the letters, the police who investigate the harassment case that has been filed, and the man who is mistaken for the culprit,it’s a story about blindness, and the power of words, the magic hidden beneath what is said on the page. It is a novel about not seeing what is actually right there in front of you. ❐COME ON IN...mslexia 1,400 of you droppedin online to Max Monday on 23 January to chat to literary agents, editors and authors. ‘One of the most encouraging things was Val McDermid talking about writing in 20-minute chunks’‘The Q&A with Kit de Waal was flash fiction gold! Thank you for such inspiring answers’ Upgrade your subscription for £1 a month to join in future Max Monday events (see p80).Coming up in March...► 6 March: live chat with poet Clare Pollard on how to curate your pamphlet and with literary agent Sallyanne Sweeney► 27 March: Debbie Taylor’s pitch surgery► 31 March: ‘Literary lunch’ with the mslexia team54 Mar/Apr/May 2017 mslexiaPHOTO: SUFFRAGE COLOURING IMAGE / LSE FLICKR LIBRARY

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