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View Full Version : Pitch: Shadeshift (miniseries)


Zeelanger
11-15-2013, 10:06 PM
Hiya! I'm new here, and I've been developing this for a long (long, long) time...but I think it's ready for the light of day.

Hopefully, if I can get this mini-series "in the bag," I'll share more stories from this world I call "Kaleidoscope."

*sweats nervously* Okay, here goes. Be brutal:

Shadeshift

Luka Brennan is a human who’s going to the prestigious Vesperin Institute in Cornix to study magic. Inspired by her best friend from childhood, a Vur-dog named Ginger, Luka’s dream is to develop a way for the Vur, a race of were-creatures, to control their transformations and remain sane during the full moon.

The other residents of the Free Cities aren’t so understanding. Once she forges a loci, a tool which allows her use of magic, Luka finds the Vur Studies Department at the Institute to be severely underfunded, even as the tranquilizers used to keep the Vur calm grow less and less effective. But working with the chemistry-adept, insect-like Fairies and calculating, technical lizard-people called Nacertae, Luka thinks they have a chance.

Three months later, the Vur develop a universal immunity to the tranquilizers.

Tragic attacks occur worldwide, but Luka knows only one: Ginger, having attacked a neighbor’s daughter in her madness, commits suicide, leaving behind a note to Luka revealing the burden of living with a beast inside her mind.

In the wake of the attacks, the government of the Free Cities pulls all funding from Vur Studies and redirects it into building compounds to house the Vur during the full moon.

But Luka’s determination to find a treatment is stronger than ever. She flees the Cities in search of the only remaining researcher in the Vur field: Josef, an ex-Guardian Witch, one of the mages who let magic devour their whole body, yet possessed the skill to come back from the Magic Void to forge a new one, becoming a Witch. He has a hypothesis for a treatment involving extinct shapeshifting demons called Shades, who still live in the Magic Void, a realm of pure chaos from which all Magic originates. If Luka has the skills, she could cross over and bring back a Shade…and become a Witch herself.

After ten years, Luka is ready. She sacrifices her body, letting its combustion open a portal to the Void, where she steals part of the Chaos for her new body and convinces a Shade named Nyx to help her. With her new powers and the surprisingly empathetic demon, she hurries to the capital to start her research.

On the way she passes a huge refugee camp of Vur, driven out of the cities when construction stalled. Their proximity to the border of neighboring country Wend, a fascist state and longtime enemy of the Allied Cities, prompts an attack by a squadron of Wend hovercraft.

Luka fights back to protect the Vur - thus breaking a thousand-year treaty against Witches participating in warfare.

Wend calls for her destruction. The Cities refuse, but order Luka to leave…even as the Wend marshal another attack against the Vur camp. If she fights back again, her destruction is assured.

Racing against time, Luka works with a Vur-wolf family called the Rees’. Using Nyx’s blood and some of Luka’s magic, their eight-year-old daughter, Heather Rees, becomes the first Vur with control over her transformations.

Suddenly, the Wend forces attack, with a Witch of their own in tow. Luka, Nyx, and the Rees’ start to flee, and run into a rag-tag group of ships sent by volunteers in the Cities to help the Vur. With the promises of her new treatment, they flee the battle, only the beginning of the Second Witch War.

---

So. There you go.

Have at me.

Steven Forbes
11-15-2013, 10:23 PM
Hi!

Okay, you said be brutal. Hopefully, this won't be so bad.

I'm not interested.

You haven't given me anything to be interested about. I stopped just before halfway through, because I don't care about the characters or the world. It's overly complicated, it seems, and there's no story forthcoming--even though I got to nearly the halfway mark. Lots of backstory, but no conflict.

A pitch doesn't need backstory. It doesn't need a lot of explanation. What it needs to do is show the storyarc of the main character. Where they start, the conflict, the resolution of the conflict, and where they end.

None of that is present here. I don't care about any of it.

Go back to the drawing board, and find a way to present the information in an interesting, engaging way, while telling the story. You want the editor to buy the pitch? You have to tell them a story.

This isn't telling a story. This is making me wonder what else is on television, or if I should clip my toenails on the bed or on the floor. See where my interest is? It isn't here, and it should be.

Hope that helps.

Zeelanger
11-15-2013, 10:29 PM
Thanks - I thought it was getting too complex.

Cheers!

Steven Forbes
11-15-2013, 11:55 PM
Okay.

I've got some time, so let's take this and break it down.


Shadeshift

I'm not a fan of the title. This is the title to a novel (maybe), but not a title to a comic. Well, not a comit that is going to sell well.



Luka Brennan is a human who’s going to the prestigious Vesperin Institute in Cornix to study magic.

This is a terrible, terrible opening sentence. There's no punch, and really, no reason for me to go any further than this, if this pitch were to come across my desk. There's no punch, and I'm already getting Potter vibes. And I'll tell you something: no matter who came first, Harry Potter will be who you're up against as soon as you say school of magic.



Inspired by her best friend from childhood, a Vur-dog named Ginger, Luka’s dream is to develop a way for the Vur, a race of were-creatures, to control their transformations and remain sane during the full moon.

That's a dream, but that isn't a conflict. There's a distinct difference.



The other residents of the Free Cities aren’t so understanding. Once she forges a loci, a tool which allows her use of magic, Luka finds the Vur Studies Department at the Institute to be severely underfunded, even as the tranquilizers used to keep the Vur calm grow less and less effective. But working with the chemistry-adept, insect-like Fairies and calculating, technical lizard-people called Nacertae, Luka thinks they have a chance.

This reads like the back of a novel. You're trying to get compact information across, but it isn't coming off well. You're explaining too much. Know what this means? It means your world is overly complicated.

You go from having your character forge a tool of magic to finding out her school isn't properly funded, to something about tranquilizers? These ideas are conflated, and they shouldn't be. How one leads to the next and to the next is totally beyond me.

And that final sentence, where she's working with people...working with them to do what? You don't say. Here's what I want you to do: go out and run. Why? Great question. See what I'm getting at?



Three months later, the Vur develop a universal immunity to the tranquilizers.

Arbitrary timeframe for an impossible happening, and I can't see my way around it. Here's the thing: you have a race of were-people. Were-dogs, fine. Were-cats, alright. Were-rabbits? Were-chickens? Were-horses? See "were" I'm going with this? All of these were-creatures of different types and sizes just suddenly have an immunity to tranquilizers? I'm not buying it.

And we still don't have a conflict.



Tragic attacks occur worldwide, but Luka knows only one: Ginger, having attacked a neighbor’s daughter in her madness, commits suicide, leaving behind a note to Luka revealing the burden of living with a beast inside her mind.

So, in their madness, they attack people. This wasn't mentioned earlier.

This seems very disjointed to me. I don't need the entire backstory, but I need a world setting, a conflict, and a resolution. So far, I haven't gotten any of that, not in concrete form. Not good.



In the wake of the attacks, the government of the Free Cities pulls all funding from Vur Studies and redirects it into building compounds to house the Vur during the full moon.

Because that's what governments do. This is starting to remind me of UltraViolet. That's not necessarily a good thing.




But Luka’s determination to find a treatment is stronger than ever. She flees the Cities in search of the only remaining researcher in the Vur field: Josef, an ex-Guardian Witch, one of the mages who let magic devour their whole body, yet possessed the skill to come back from the Magic Void to forge a new one, becoming a Witch.

This sounds like an idea a teenager had, and never let go of. Everything after the colon? Teenager. Not good.

I don't care about Josef and what he let happen to his body. All I care about is what he can do to help move the non-plot forward.


He has a hypothesis for a treatment involving extinct shapeshifting demons called Shades, who still live in the Magic Void, a realm of pure chaos from which all Magic originates. If Luka has the skills, she could cross over and bring back a Shade…and become a Witch herself.

The Perilous Journey. Got it. Is the transformation also necessary? Probably not, but since it looks like we're talking about wish fulfilment, we'll go with it for a bit now. The real question is simple, though: what is the Shade needed for? What are they supposed to do?



After ten years, Luka is ready. She sacrifices her body, letting its combustion open a portal to the Void, where she steals part of the Chaos for her new body and convinces a Shade named Nyx to help her. With her new powers and the surprisingly empathetic demon, she hurries to the capital to start her research.

So we fast forward ten years. You've described everything and everyone except what a Shade can do. You still haven't. Le sigh.


On the way she passes a huge refugee camp of Vur, driven out of the cities when construction stalled. Their proximity to the border of neighboring country Wend, a fascist state and longtime enemy of the Allied Cities, prompts an attack by a squadron of Wend hovercraft.

Of course it does. Why? No idea, except now we have a very sloppy rendition of 24, where it's one problem after the next after the next as Jack tries to complete his objective. This doesn't seem necessary at all.



Luka fights back to protect the Vur - thus breaking a thousand-year treaty against Witches participating in warfare.

So? What does this treaty have to do with anything? And war has two sides. Was there a declaration of war made? It doesn't sound like it. Sounds like some yahoos in government decided to kill all the black people because they were too close. See how it sounds when put like that?


Wend calls for her destruction. The Cities refuse, but order Luka to leave…even as the Wend marshal another attack against the Vur camp. If she fights back again, her destruction is assured.

And still, no one cares. What are the other cities doing to protect them? Nothing? Why not? Because those being destroyed are expendable. I'm sorry, these aren't black people. These are Jews, Gypsies, gay people, and anyone else who didn't "fit" in Nazi Germany. The other countries are Europe: They know what's happening, but aren't going to get involved unless it spills over other borders.


Racing against time, Luka works with a Vur-wolf family called the Rees’. Using Nyx’s blood and some of Luka’s magic, their eight-year-old daughter, Heather Rees, becomes the first Vur with control over her transformations.

The family comes out of nowhere. Nice. Well, not really. This stopped being interesting around the first sentence.



Suddenly, the Wend forces attack, with a Witch of their own in tow.

So, they only listen to the rules when its in their favor. Got it.



Luka, Nyx, and the Rees’ start to flee, and run into a rag-tag group of ships sent by volunteers in the Cities to help the Vur. With the promises of her new treatment, they flee the battle, only the beginning of the Second Witch War.


This is a novel that you're trying to tell as a comic.

This is not going to work. The pacing of a novel and the pacing of a comic are two completely different things. You've got at least six issues worth of material here, but you're not going to be able to sell it, because the editor is going to see it's a novel in comic form.

You didn't leave yourself an "out." You've got an endgame in mind, but you want to tell it as a trilogy, at the very least.

Go back to the drawing board. Give this a true ending--and it better be a good one. The editor wants to know how it's going to end. You have to build up that ending to something spectacular and worthwhile. If it isn't, you've wasted your time.

If, during the course of the story the publisher finds that sales are strong, you can then ask to change it to an ongoing. It happens regularly enough for it to be an option. All you need to do is switch gears a bit.

Go back to the drawing board. Less explanation, more actual story. Where's the character arc? How is your character changed from where she began? What has she learned?

Don't be vague. A clear arc needs to be shown, with a beginning, middle, and end. A clear conflict needs to be stated.

Good luck with it.

Zeelanger
11-16-2013, 12:14 AM
Wow, thank you for taking the time to break it down.

Yeah, I'm trying to cram too much into one story arc. Using your tips I'm going to go back and pare this down to the bone, and save some ideas for later.

Now I know what they mean when they say "kill your darlings," right?

Zeelanger
11-16-2013, 02:52 PM
Steven, is there anything you see that's salvageable? Something that jumps out and catches even a tiny bit of your interest?

Steven Forbes
11-16-2013, 03:57 PM
I don't know how the story ends, so I can't say.

Strip it down. There's some decent stuff in here, but you have to strip it down and not make it as complicated as a novel.

My suggestion? Write something else. Work on short stories. Then come back to your opus. You'll have different eyes for it.

JerryREX
11-16-2013, 04:02 PM
I'm pretty new to these forums as well.

What you have is a lot of detailed notes. I'd say, think about what your premise is, for example Pokemon's premise is "Gotta' catch them all", and then write out a synopsis.

The trick with the synopsis is to make it short and very sweet. Steven is pretty much the most qualified individual to give you the best advise on your creation, so take everything he says into consideration. Go to his site comixtribe.com and the bolts and nuts section should be your bible.

Your synopsis is basically your elevator pitch, and once you have your prey hooked-bombard them with full details.