The next part of the pitch is the conflict, essential in a strong query. These next two to four sentences are kind of tricky. This is the part of the pitch that sets up what, exactly, your protagonist is going to be fighting for or against or trying to accomplish.

Try to be as specific to your story as possible; these are the things that are going to provide the meat of the novel. This is the part that separates Harry Potter from Star Wars from Eragon. On the surface, they’re all about orphans growing up to stop a tyrant. But Eragon never had to deal with a mysterious substance that could turn the drinker immortal, and Harry Potter’s misadventures at Hogwarts never involved a superweapon capable of destroying entire worlds.

Here’s a look at how the people we’ve been following did it:

STEERING TOWARD NORMAL:
Diggy’s life may not be typical, but he’s content. He hangs out with Pop and the county’s farmers, raises steers to compete, and daydreams about July Johnston, high school senior and girl of his dreams. Hardly anyone teases him anymore about how his mom abandoned him on Pop’s doorstep and skipped town on a tractor.
Then Wayne gets dumped at Pop’s, too. Suddenly, Diggy has a half brother messing things up. Wayne rattles Diggy’s easy relationship with Pop, threatens his chances at the state fair, and horns in on his girl.

THE MIDNIGHT THIEF:
To Kyra, high walls and locked doors are not obstacles, but invitations. She specializes in nighttime raids, using her sharp senses and extraordinary agility to break into Forge’s most well-guarded homes. Then she meets James, the deadly but intriguing Head of the Assassin’s Guild. He has a job for Kyra: infiltrate the supposedly impenetrable Palace compound. The pay is good, and the challenge appealing. It’s the perfect job for someone of her talents.
But as Kyra establishes herself in the Guild, her “perfect job” starts to unravel. Her assignments become increasingly violent, demanding more than Kyra is willing to give. Then Forge is attacked by Demon Riders — barbarians riding bloodthirsty wildcats — and Kyra suspects the Guild is to blame.

What about your novel? In two to four sentences, what in specific does your protagonist have to struggle against? What are they trying to accomplish, and what’s in the way?

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