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, Kim Long…
Kim Long loves to write stories with a sense of adventure, a dash of magic, and a hint of science. She wrote her first book at age 10, where she combined the best parts of her favorite Choose Your Own Adventures into a single story. (Cave of Time at Chimney Rock in the Bermuda Triangle.) When not writing, she loves playing board games, watching Star Wars movies, and riding her bike along Illinois’s many trails. Her debut novel, Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament, will be released on October 1, 2019, by Running Press Kids.
Kim’s first page critique . . .
Young Adult: Contemporary Fantasy
No one would ever know there’s a town here. Not unless they’d come looking for it. Or, like me, they’d been here before. [OH MY GOODNESS! WHAT A TREMENDOUS OPENING!! THREE CHEERS! Right away I want to read more!]
With more trees than people in this part of the South, vines constantly threatening to strangle and envelope massive brick buildings whole, it’s no wonder why all signs for the Hollow turn-off have mysteriously disappeared over the years. If they ever existed at all. [And then you lost me. Okay, not completely, but don’t follow up such a strong opening with scenery! Nah. Let’s find out more about your MC. I don’t think you miss much by going straight to the next paragraph. Why not see if you can combine the two—make it tighter? It will keep the focus on the MC and keep the flow going. Something like, “It’s no surprise that my less than enthusiastic Uber driver misses the Hollow turn-off. With more trees than people in this part of the South and vines strangling the brick buildings all signs for the Hollow turn-off have disappeared.” Or whatever. Play with it, but I’d definitely try and move to your third paragraph next and sprinkle in her surroundings as you do so!]
It’s no surprise then that my less than enthusiastic Uber driver misses the Hollow turn-off…twice. Which only succeeds in giving new volume to the little voice screaming in my head—the one that started six months ago after Lada emailed me with an invitation to come and stay with her. [This is nit-picky, but it’s a tightening exercise that I find brings true rewards. Why not, “After Lada invited me to stay with her.” It says the same thing in less words without losing voice, and it helps a lot with pace and flow.] I try to remember Lada’s eager, excited words as the scathing voice in my head yells over and over how much of a mistake this is. [I wonder about hinting as to why she thinks this is a mistake here.] I mean, if I’m meant to be back here, wouldn’t the universe make it a little easier? Yeah, no.
At least my Uber driver doesn’t say anything as we stop in downtown Hollow and I push my door open. I can feel him looking around this shabby downtown with his lazy eye narrowed into a slit, scowling to the point where I can practically read his thoughts.
What in the Casper, Addams family reunion, somebody’s-gonna-die-of-evil-spirits-or-asbestos kind of place is this? [I’m tempted to skip the part on what the Uber driver thinks and move onto the story. It’s hard to tell, obviously, since I don’t know what’s happening next, but I think you’ve already established this is Nowhere. Not sure it needs to be reiterated so soon again? Again, I’m not sure. But, part of me also thinks an Uber driver would actually be thinking something along the lines that he never should have agreed to this trip, as he’s never going to find a ride/passenger/fare back to civilization!]
Overall, I do like the sound of this! I would definitely keep reading! Obviously, everything is subjective, but if I had one recommendation, it would be to look for places to tighten the language a bit and keep that story moving in the first few pages. Good luck!