Many thanks to Monica Burns for sharing her pitch cards.
These cards can help you pitch ideas to agents and editors.
They can also help you write a good synopsis.
Pitch Cards for Agents/Editor Appointments
Copyright 2004 – 2013 © Monica Burns
Use in good health but give appropriate attribution
Goaded into losing his prized self-control, a formidable earl accepts a wager he’ll lose without the help of the mysterious woman he buys at a brothel’s private auction.
Additional Info for Story Concept
The earl’s well-ordered existence is turned upside down when the mysterious woman he thought was a light-skirt takes up residence in his home. Although she’s not a courtesan she does agree to help win his wager, but she refuses to reveal any other secrets. What neither expects is a powerful attraction that sends the earl’s controlled emotions into chaos, while unleashing passions buried deep inside the heroine. When ruthless forces threaten to separate them, their love must overcome the pain and mistrust of their pasts to unite them in the present.
Accidentally responsible for mother’s death
Believes loving someone is too great a risk.
Provoked into a hopeless wager, can transform a doxy into a lady of society within a month.
Tart he buys at a private brothel auction is not what he expected.
When his desire for her spirals out of control, he realizes a great love is worth the risk.
Flees abusive home, tricked into entering brothel
Imprisoned, drugged and auctioned off to top bidder
Trust not easy for her, honor decrees helping hero
Distrust not the only emotion he arouses in her, struggles to control her wanton desire for his touch
But when danger strikes, she must learn to trust not only his love but in herself to survive.
Heroine IC – Abused by her uncle, she doesn’t trust controlling men or their rules. The hero is a detailed and disciplined man, which means he’ll try to control her too.
Who – A quiet rebel
What – Wants to find a safe haven and her grandfather
Why – To protect herself and brother
Why Not –Indebted to the hero, she must stay with him, until he wins his wager. When he offers marriage, but not love, she refuses.
Hero IC – The hero believes his uncontrolled behavior was responsible for his mother’s death. He loved his mother, and love is an uncontrollable emotion, which means if he loves, he’ll lose that love somehow.
Who – A prisoner of self-control
What – To avoid marriage and win a wager
Why – Women create chaos; creating lack of control
Why Not – To win his wager, he brings a woman into his home. Chaos erupts, but it grows on him. When she disappears, he realizes he no longer controls his heart.
1. Why does he prize his self-control so much?
Self-control/organization prevent bad happenings
Rules prevent harm to him or his loved ones.
2. What’s the wager?
Must transform a doxy into a social butterfly
Must present her to society in 30 days time w/o questions
3. Why is his well-ordered existence turned upside down?
Sees women as disorderly creatures.
Buying her freedom forces him to bring home
Strongly attracted to her
Usual routine is disrupted
Heroine’s brother prisoner of brothel owner; she refuses to help unless her brother is free.
4. How does this powerful attraction send the earl’s world into chaos?
Attraction to heroine is emotion he finds difficult to control
He’s unable to control feelings of desire and his jealousy
Tries to control his feelings by organizing her life by marrying her, but living apart
5. How does the attraction unleash passions in the heroine?
Guardian has bullied the idea into her that she’s a wanton.
She’s buried passions deep to avoid beatings
6. What ruthless forces threaten to divide them?
Notorious libertine desires heroine for his wife
Uncle kidnaps heroine and delivers her to the libertine
7. What is the pain and mistrust in their pasts?
• Mother’s terrible death
• Belief he’s responsible for mother’s death
• Believes love is too great a risk
• Controls feelings to avoid punishment
• Desire for hero raises fears she’s a wanton, despite attempts to ignore abusive rhetoric
• Must trust her feelings to trust the hero.
8. How is he responsible for his mother’s death?
• At 12, impulsively chases after his mother
• Collided with her at top of stairs
• She fell over the railing to her death.
9. How was the heroine’s home abusive?
• Uncle beat her for alleged sins
• Uncle berated her constantly with message she was a wanton
10. How was she tricked into entering the brothel?
• Fled uncle’s home to search for maternal grandfather
• Brothel madam lies and offers her work
• When tries to leave the brothel, she’s & brother forcibly detained and drugged
11. Why doesn’t trust come easily to her?
• Experience w/uncle creates distrust of others
• Experience w/uncle creates distrust of herself
• Experience with brothel reinforces distrust.
12. Why does she think her desire is wanton
• Virulent words daily reminder she’s a wanton
• Afraid to trust her own feelings of desire
• Trouble differentiating wanton vs. loving desire
13. Why does she have to trust herself to survive?
• After kidnapped, escapes through window clings to narrow ledge three stories up
• Must trust herself to make the attempt
• When hero arrives, must trust the hero and jump to safety
14. Does he make a habit of visiting brothels and private auctions? It seems un-heroic.
• He finds brothels deplorable
• Has a mistress
• At the brothel’s private auction by circumstance
15. Why was he in the brothel in the first place?
• To secure services of a doxy to win the bet
16. How does he realize it’s more than desire?
• Realizes he’s in love when his un-chivalrous behavior drives her into another man’s arms
17. What un-chivalrous behavior do you mean?
• Offers to marry her with certain conditions
• Conditions are they’ll maintain two households
• He’ll provide all her needs; visit occasionally
• She’ll have his name but really be his mistress
18. What chemistry makes him realize he loves her; not just desires her?
• Confuses it for the passion connecting them
• When in same room together, he’s complete.
• When she’s away, something’s missing.
• Sister says he’s blind to his feelings.
19. Is she a light-skirt, or beneath him in station?
• She is the daughter of a noblewoman.
• Her mother married the second son of baron.
20. Why is she compelled to help the man who has ‘purchased’ her in a brothel?
• She owes him a debt for buying her freedom
• Brothel owner holding her brother hostage
• Hero agrees to rescue the boy in exchange for her help