Welcome to our Query and 1st Page Workshop with some of our amazing Pitch Wars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected writers to participate in our query and first page workshops. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a query or 500 word opening from our lucky winners. We’ll be posting four critiques per day (except weekends) through July 7. Our hope is that these samples will help shine up your query and first page 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.
Next up we have …
Pitch Wars Mentor Emma Wicker …
Emma is the author of award-winning Fractured Immortal, and Finding Immortal. Her new contemporary romance These Simple Scars has just been released. Her obsession is New Adult, and Adult Contemporary Romance. When Emma is not writing or looking after her busy household, she’s either reading, gaming or stalking her favourite authors as well as studying for her Masters in Psychology.
Emma’s recent release …
These Simple Scars
Publication date: May 8th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Sometimes, the worst scars are the ones that can’t be seen.
After fleeing her abusive father, Faith’s goal is to find a job and earn enough to finally be able to live in safety. When she ends up stranded in the sleepy town of Silver, Georgia, it’s not long before she meets sexy mechanic Garrett. His willingness to help her one minute then dismiss her the next, leave Faith confused by this guarded and irresistible man.
Although Garrett has left the military, the war returned home with him. An attraction to the new girl in town takes him by surprise, but if he’s to keep his scars hidden, Faith is no-go. His heart tells him to trust, but his mind is determined to get the better of him.
As the pair deal with their wounds, tragedy threatens to rip them apart. Supported by new friends, Garrett and Faith wrestle with their pasts and an unexpected love they fear won’t last.
Goodreads / Amazon
Emma’s First Page Critique . . .
AGE CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Literary Fiction
It is four-thirty in the morning, not yet day, but warming, [morning so close to warming is distracting due to the rhyme, I would advise altering one of the two, however an excellent start reminiscent of the genre] the sky still mostly opaque, but a phthalo green, now, as opposed to the onyx of true night. [Just popping in here to say I love < those descriptors] The boy is being led on a length of chain, handcuffed. [At this point you have me. I want to know what’s going on] He does not struggle. He does not speak. He is naked, shoeless; shards of glass from tall boys and fallen soldiers cut into his feet as he walks, but he doesn’t seem to notice, only continues walking, bleeding. [Oh, my heart hurts for this child – all the feels] It is hard to guess his age; his testicles have descended and he has a thatch of pubic hair, but there’s no flesh beneath his epidermis, only bone reaching out through his skin, the ribs and sternum nearly free, the clavicle, skull, and vertebra not far behind. [<Just excellent. I have a very good image of the boy] The street is mostly deserted, and the camera remains with the boy as he walks, so there is no way to tell where he is or who is on the other end of the chain. [< Some ambiguity here. I cannot decipher the camera’s significance, nor can I gage whether or not the camera is being shown within the scene or if the scene was previously filmed and now being watched, or being broadcast. A little clarity here would be beneficial as thus far the rest of your prose is good. Conversely, my mind is now racing. I want answers to these questions I have. I need to know what’s going on, therefore I must continue.] Two, three, times, people appear behind him, their mouths open, frozen around words that won’t come, their eyes gaping, suspicious. All are wearing thick jackets, winter hats and gloves. [I like this. I’m getting a feel for location now mixed in with the snippets that have previously been revealed. I’m going to hedge my bets – Middle East or Africa].
The structure appears like a leviathan, a hellfire-red Baker-style rolling steel scaffold eight feet high, six feet wide. The back of the man on the other end of the chain appears, followed by another man; both wear vestments: an alb, girdle, stole, and chasuble. One has braids that fall to his shoulders; the other man’s hair is cropped to his scalp. They undo the boy’s chain and handcuff his wrists to horizontal slats on opposite ends of the scaffolding, then his ankles, and move off camera. [Still the slight ambiguity here, although my feelings are that someone is watching a recording].
The boy’s penis hangs limp. A blast of wind pushes it left; it falls back to center.
The man with the short hair reappears and places a small table to one side of the structure, and the man with braids places something on it that it is still too dark to see [the item is too dark or the light of dawn is still too dark? I would suggest clarification. Additionally, I find the phrasing on it that it is still too dark to see a little awkward so this would need address. I am by no means a lit fic master however I would attempt to rework this little bit with something akin to: that is too dark to decipher under the muted light], and this is when even those who choose to watch the uncut version of the video reach for their mouse, because the action dies for over an hour [Some clarification is provided here, but I’m still not clear. I’m at war with myself as to whether I would push for clarity or allow the scene to unfold. It’s because I don’t know what comes next that’s causing this]. The priests take up positions on either side of the boy and stand motionless, silent, and the camera doesn’t pan or track, only stares into the darkness, encompassing the two men and the boy between them, and no more, and not even that much is clear, at first, not until light emerges from the womb of night to unleash gradient and line and detail in the diurnal advent of color. [The atmosphere you’re creating is so thick that I can feel it in my living room alllll the way across the pond. Good job.]
One of the priests is Caucasian and one is African American, and both wear masks that cover their eyes and the upper slope of their cheekbones; the black man’s mask is ivory, the white man’s onyx, the scant detail in both has been expertly carved and polished. The men’s vestments are identical.
Light flashes off a small puddle between them; the boy must have urinated under the cover of night. [I love this detail.]
[Overall I enjoyed this. The detail is really good, but there are some places I feel clarity would be beneficial. I feel like one of the senses is missing – audition. I would quite like to hear a little, whether it’s the crunch of the glass, the boys staggered or low breaths, or the clinking of the chains. I also can’t gauge narration – I can’t work out that this point if this is a 3rd person narration or a 1st person, and if it is being told through the eyes of someone I want to know what they’re feeling as they watch this scene unfold.]
Thank you, Emma, for your critique!
Interested in more critiques? We’ll be posting critiques through the first part of July. Hope you’ll read on. And get ready! The Pitch Wars Mentor Wishlist Blog Hop starts July 19 with the Pitch Wars submission window opening on August 2nd.