So I've decided to start editing people's pitches. This could be for a query letter (though I may or may not be the best at that) or for a simple pitch you want to use on a website. Whatever the cause, I will gladly edit it.
And I may as well list a few things that turn me off from novels, be it in the pitch or first chapter.
#1 Mary Sue lived a normal life...
This is one of the classic first lines in a pitch that turn me off. If the life wasn't normal before, sure, say that in the pitch. But the reader should automatically assume that the character's life was, before the novel, normal. Which is why I, as a amateur author, avoid this. To me, it is like saying 'The sky was blue before the storm'. A 'no-duh' saying.
#2 Mary Sue's parents recently died...
This seems to another classic line found within a pitch. There always seems to be something wrong with the parents, which also bothers me. And then, within the story, there's the way the author goes about killing off the parents: car accident, usually during the winter. There is only one book that I've read where the parents died in a different type of accident not in the winter: The Wicked series by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie. The main character's parents die in a kayaking accident. This makes the whole 'parents dying' thing unique.
#3 The hook
This bit just talks about the hook of a story. Mostly the first sentence. Many times, the story starts off with either a bit of dialogue or description. To be truthful, description tends to bore me, though dialogue can be interesting. With dialogue, though, it is best to avoid using just the main character's name. That bothers me. And with the descriptions, they tend to be lengthy and not really important.
What I like in a first sentence is a sort of fact that goes with the main character, something that means a lot to the character or the story, or both!
Those are the three things, off the top of my head, that bother me in a pitch and hook. One thing that's nice to see in the first sentence of the pitch is the main character's first name. (Hint hint: some agents prefer to see a main character's name at the very start of the hook in the query letter.)
And now I wrap things up, because I've run out of things to talk about.
Thanks for reading!