I know what you mean, John, about it being a difficult choice. I think it has to be engaging, have some tension, an interesting character…not to mention great writing, and all in 500 words.
But the comp that freaks me the most is the pitch one. I can just about do an elevator pitch now, but this one is about 150 words. So what else should you put in? Something about its USP, its genre? Aimed more at the agent than what the reader would see in the blurb at the back of the book? Does anyone know of any good examples or templates of longer pitches, or understand what the judges are looking for?