Welcome to May’s Voice Workshop with some of our amazing Pitch Wars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected over thirty writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a 500 word sample that the writer chose from his or her manuscript where he or she felt they needed help with their voice. Our hope that these samples will help you with your work and that you’ll get to know some of our wonderful Pitch Wars mentors.We appreciate our mentors for giving up their time to do the critiques. If you have something encouraging to add, feel free to comment below. Please keep all comments tasteful. We will delete any inappropriate or hurtful ones.
And now we have …
Pitch Wars Mentor Marty Mayberry
Marty Mayberry writes adult and young adult fiction. When she’s not dreaming up ways to mess with her character’s lives, she works as an RN/Clinical Documentation Specialist. She has a BA in International Affairs in German and an Associate’s Degree in Nursing. She lives in New England with her husband, children, and three neurotic cats. She’s a member of SCBWI, YARWA, and a PRO member of RWA.
Her young adult sci-fi thriller, PHOENIX RISING, won the 2015 YARWA’s Rosemary Award for speculative fiction.
Marty’s 500 Word Critique . . .
YA Urban Fantasy
A wave was coming to destroy the Isle of Man.
Eoin Wade stood waiting (to tighten, this could be ‘waited’; stand is implied) on the ramparts of the Tower of Refuge. It was a small, neatly bricked fortress that glowed red and green under artificial spotlights (Consider rephrasing this to make it more active: The small, neatly bricked fortress glowed red and green under artificial spotlights.). It sat on a tiny patch of stone and sand some four hundred yards from the coast of Douglas. Even from this distance Eoin knew the wave would loom over the little tower, making it useless as a place of sanctuary. (this would be a great place to up his pov; a wave is coming but he’s standing here calmly. Why? Is he frightened? Complacent? If so, why? We’re with him, we want to know what he’s thinking.)
Black hair trailed from his oilskin hood. Heavy metal screeched from the earbuds hanging from his shirt collar. Seagulls drifted above the wave, then backed off with shrieks of alarm.
He couldn’t decide what unnerved him more; the size of the wave, or its silence. Sometimes the ocean flails and screams like a drunk gone blind. (great line and voice here!) There was none of that here. Only cold pursuit. He glanced at the exposed seabed below. It was (<you could tighten this up/make it active. And, his glance is implied, because he sees it: The exposed seabed stretched below, scattered with pebbles and shells, as always.) scattered with pebbles and shells as always. Only tonight, fish spluttered and flapped in their vain attempt to breathe. The water had receded so fast it had left them behind. They gleamed like diamonds under the moonlight as they drowned on air. (another great line. He’s strangely passive here. I’d love to know why he’s unconcerned that a wave is about to sweep over the tower.)
Heavy boots thundered up the tower’s stairwell and crunched on the gravelled floor behind Eoin. He sniffed the air (and smelled what? This is a great place to add another sense), then turned. “You shouldn’t be here.”
Pete Smythe, the local conspiracy enthusiast who raided Eoin’s pub bins, accosted his customers, and howled suspicion at him on a weekly basis, held onto the brickwork to catch his breath. He stank of urine. Not his own this time. (how would he be able to tell the difference?) It was a piss medley from drunk townsfolk unable to wait until they got home. For years they’d relieved themselves in the bus shelter Pete sometimes slept in on warm nights like this.
“I knew you’d come.” Pete said, wagging a fingerless gloved hand at Eoin. “Had to, didn’t you? Old oaths and all that.”
Pete clung to Eoin’s shoulder to steady his footing on the rampart, then rubbed his hands. “No point hiding who you are after this, lad. Although you’ve given it your best shot up to now.”
Eoin bristled at the word ‘Lad’. He was older than Pete could ever know, but there were no lines on his face to argue otherwise. He’d laugh at the man’s sweeping naivety, if he wasn’t so terrified. Not for himself, but for the many sleeping souls at his back. (I’d love to see you show this terror earlier. He’s telling us he’s terrified, but his internal and physical actions aren’t showing this. Also, would Pete worry about the wave?)
An idea stirred in the darkness. An insane notion from a time Eoin had strived to forget.
Pete plucked a camera from his inside coat pocket. Eoin grabbed it and tossed it onto the beach some forty feet below. Pete scrambled to leap after it, and for a moment Eoin wondered if he should let him. Few people would miss Pete, he wagered. He was a raving lunatic to most, and his kin were long dead or estranged from him. Poor mad fool. Harassing Eoin was all he had.
This is an excellent entry with great imagery. You’ve created an intriguing start that makes me curious to see what happens next.
Take my comments with a grain of salt (as they say). Use what you find helpful and disregard the rest.
All the best. Marty
Thank you, Marty, for your critique. Interested in more 500 word voice workshops? Come back tomorrow for two more critiques. And get ready! The Pitch Wars Mentor Wishlist Blog Hop starts July 20 with the Pitch Wars submission window opening on August 3.