Welcome to the Pitch Wars Workshops with some of our amazing past and 2019 mentors. From a lottery drawing, we selected writers to receive a query or first page critique from one of our mentors. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a query or first page from our lucky winners. We’ll be posting some of the critiques leading up to the submission window. Our hope is that these samples will help you all get an idea on how to shine up your query and first page.
We appreciate our mentors for giving their time to do the critiques. If you have something encouraging to add, feel free to comment below. Please keep all comments tasteful. Our comments are set to moderate, and we will delete any inappropriate or hurtful ones before approving them.
Next up we have …
Pitch Wars Mentor, Alechia Dow …
Alechia Dow has been writing since she was in kindergarten (some truly terrible stories), and has always dreamed of being an author. While writing in her spare time, she received her Bachelor’s of Science in Baking & Pastry Arts, and a Master’s in Library Science. She has worked as a pastry chef, published food critic, culinary teacher, and a Youth Services librarian—until pursuing writing full time. When not writing, you can find her chasing her wild child, baking something sweet, or taking teeny adventures around Europe.
Alechia’s upcoming book releasing February 25, 2020 …
Don’t miss this spectacular debut novel… Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity? This road trip is truly out of this world! A beautiful and thrilling read for fans of Marie Lu and Veronica Roth.
Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.
Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.
Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.
Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.
Alechia’s first page critique . . .
Young Adult: Afrofuturism
‘Yo, I deadass need to get out of here,’ Yolanda protests to me [to me, is unnecessary here] loudly. [Okay, I’m not against dialogue as an opener BUT I would like you to immerse us here in the setting/atmospheric details. I know in the next paragraph we’re at a wedding party (reception?), so show us throughout to make us feel a part of the story]
‘Nah, we need to get out of here,’ I say. I don’t care who hears us at this point. Which I think is fair enough, given the shambles that has been my mother’s wedding party so far. Besides, if Janet, Carol and Margaret can point and talk amongst themselves about whether my girlfriend’s afro is real or not, then I think she’s well within her rights to clapback. [Pull us into this scene with setting details, but I like the tension you’ve built here]
‘A’ight, yeah, you’re right,’ she concedes. [Instead of doing a dialogue tag, I like to do a physical anchor. So example: She leans back into her chair, fingers drumming on the table… you know what I mean?] ‘We both need to bounce before I exacerbate this situation. On purpose.’
Two women do a full-body scan of us as they walk by to get a prosecco refill and both mine and Yolanda’s features twist into a frown. [where are they in this scene? Are they sitting at a table? Give us some details] I don’t understand why people can stare at us like we’re on a window display and think we won’t notice.
This is why I hate leaving London and coming back to Essex. The extortionate standard of living is actually calm. I said what I said. I mean, yeah, I still have to deal with my shitty housing situation. And the Tongue Tango poetry slam final that could potentially get me out of said shitty housing situation. If I even have the talent to win, that is. Which I probably don’t.
But, trust, if Mum and Nino weren’t here still, I’d forget Shedford was my hometown for, like, seven years. In London, I can break into song on the 136 bus and no one would bat an eyelid. Actually, I’m pretty sure I have. Don’t ask me why. Ask Havana Club No. 7 why. [I would drop the second why here]
‘Yeah, but can it get any worse than this?’ I groan. ‘Like, between the microagressions and the death stares we get every time you kiss me, I thought we were at rock bottom.’ [I like the tension created and showing how she and her girlfriend don’t seem to fit in, feel welcome. I especially LOVE the voice!! But I have no sense of where they are and I think that can be remedied with just some atmospheric details and setting the scene for us. Otherwise, this is a great start!!! Good luck and I hope any of my feedback resonates with you]