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, Dawn Ius …
Dawn Ius is the author of three young adult novels published by Simon Pulse—Anne & Henry, OVERDRIVE, and LIZZIE—16 educational graphic novels for Grades 4-6, and a contributing writer to the animated T.V. show “Rainbow Rangers,” now airing on Nickolodeon Jr. She is the Managing Editor of The Big Thrill magazine, a book coach with Author Accelerator, and a sommelier. Actually, that last one isn’t true—she just really likes wine. And cocktails. (Follow her Instagram for weekly Cocktail Friday posts.)
Dawn’s first page critique . . .
Young Adult: Contemporary
Tonight I’m breaking the rules [tonight] and hoping Momma won’t mind. [The opening sentence is good—leaves us wondering what rule she is breaking.]
I lean over [a bit vague as to what she’s leaning over] and inhale. Notes of celery and onion mixed with crabmeat wrap me in a warm hug. Bea’s Bite, my own creation [is this a blend of spices? It’s okay to be specific here.], adds the right zest and kick. Perfect.
In the middle of the table sits [The] piece de resistance [sits in the middle of the table] —honey brown king crab cakes on Nana’s pink flower-patterned platter surrounded by the coordinating dishes—salad and dinner plates, sterling silverware, and the white linen napkins, the whole works. Normally Nana’s china is reserved for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and [—] when Daddy was alive [—] my parents’ anniversary, but tonight is more special than all those put together. [Good details here—just be careful to use active sentences to keep the pace moving.]
Momma should be home in a few minutes. [Would love to see some kind of internal or visceral reaction here to show how she is feeling about this—anxious, nervous, excited, etc.]
I go into the kitchen and get the salad and pitcher of sweet tea. After I set the bowl and pitcher down, there’s only one thing left. The inside of my stomach tosses around anxiety, fear, and self-doubt like an acidic salad as I pick up the white, silver-edged envelope. [Good emotions here. And I like the salad analogy.] I blow air out but struggle to suck it back in. Inside is either a silver embossed or plain card. Pressing on the outside of the envelope reveals nothing. but [Silver] would mean a chance to settle a tab of problems.
The envelope arrived this afternoon after six long months of waiting. I wanted to rip it open at the mailbox, but decided I didn’t want to read the letter alone. Whatever news it’s delivering needs a proper meal. Everything in life is better with a proper meal.
Bad days and good days alike. [I really like the promise of the envelope and what it means for the protagonist (Bea?)—but I think you could play this up a bit more, showing its significance without revealing it, and end this page with a strong sentence about it to entire the reader to turn the page. And because it is significant, I would tease it closer to the top of the page…kind of pepper in details about it. This is a great start!]