Welcome to the Pitch Wars Workshops with some of our amazing past and 2020 mentors. From a lottery drawing, we selected writers to receive a query and first page critique from one of our mentors. We’ll be posting some of the critiques leading up to the Pitch Wars submission window. Our hope is that these samples will help you in shining up your query and first page.
We appreciate our mentors for generously dedicating 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 Sandra Proudman
Sandra Proudman writes young adult and middle grade stories with unabashed Latinx protagonists. She lives in California with her awesome husband and hanging-on-by-a-thread houseplants. In the time of COVID, when she’s not at her day job, where she’s a graphic designer and marketing coordinator, you can find her baking banana bread, on zoom with writer friends, and working on house improvements.
Sandra’s critique . . .
Category: Middle Grade Science Fiction
When thirteen-year-old Kelly Powers is unexpectedly transported back to the ‘90s via a modified Tamagotchi [!!! This is awesome! I will say that I did have to look up Tamagotchi and then realized what you were talking about, so might be worth giving a hint as to what this item is in case agents don’t know right away too. Also how did she get this item? Did she modify it? Did someone she knows modify it? Did she inherit it? Did she find it?], she assumes the biggest problem she’ll face is how to get home again[.] [B]ut when she accidentally crushes the spirit of her favorite writer, R.L. Stine [how does she do this/how does she end up coming into contact with R.L. Stine?], she must get him back on track before the only books she’s ever loved disappear forever. [Are there other stakes here besides the books disappearing? Like maybe she met her best friend because of the books, or maybe she doesn’t know what the future will actually look like without the books?]
[I think you can remove this line since it’s really your fourth paragraph right now – In our upper Middle Grade science fiction adventure, ERROR 404, an] [To make matters worse, the] accidental journey into the [there’s a little extra space here] past forces Kelly to face the reality of her [I think you can remove since it’s her neurodiversity – own] neurodiversity.
With technology stripped away, Kelly realizes her coping mechanisms for her dyslexia are gone too. She must rely on unconventional methods to function in a world where her family, both past and present, are her only saving grace and trusting them with her secret is the best option she has for getting home again. [How does this play into her achieving her goal of getting R.L. Stine back on track? And ultimately being able to get back home?]
TITLE, complete at 50,000 words, is a character-driven upper MG science fiction tale, written as a standalone with series potential [.] [, and] [It] will appeal to fans of [the] Back to the Future and Stranger Things [series], Furthermore’s uproarious adventure, and the unexpected time travel element featured in R.L. Stine’s [recently re-released] Cuckoo Clock of Doom.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
I move my eyes across the pages of my book to give the illusion I’m actually reading the words there. I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s a habit. A [gross, disgusting] habit that comes from the fact that I cannot read. Like at all. Well, not in the traditional way, at least. I can listen and imagine and have all the same kinds of experiences everyone else says they do when they stare at words that make no sense to me, but I can’t read [the text on the page like most people can].
My brain is broken. [Thinking of kids who have dyslexia, would it make sense to add in a line that contradicts this so it won’t feed into the idea that kids with dyslexia are broken? I.E. Mom and Dad say it’s not. That having dyslexia doesn’t mean anything in me is cracked, more than it means I have to learn differently. Sometimes, though. It just feels like I am broken. I can’t help it.]
Right now, it’s just a happy coincidence that the [R.L. Stine] audiobook I constantly have on is also drowning out the dull roar of the school bus [repetitive with also – too]. And no one is the wiser.
Everything about my secret has become a sick and twisted ritual [Why does Kelly keep this secret and why does she think of it as a sick and twisted ritual? Is there a way where you can add a more positive spin here? Again pulling in what is reality versus how she thinks of her neurodiversity?], so it makes sense that the book I’ve become unnecessarily attached to is listed in the horror genre. Well, horror for kids anyway. It’s like my life. Horrific. But it’s been my favorite since the first time I listened to it. Probably something to do with the way it calls out to my angsty teenage soul or something, which, according to my mom, is now my default setting.
The author [I would say what author] has written about a million [books] just like it and he’s the only reason I can even read like this, or that I’ve figured out how to hide my problem, but it’s still the best one. As far as I’m concerned. His style sings to me like a melody only I seem to be able to hear, and I like it that way.
[This is the same paragraph twice, not sure if this was just copied over twice during the transition – The author has written about a million just like it and he’s the only reason I can even read like this, or that I’ve figured out how to hide my problem, but it’s still the best one. As far as I’m concerned. His style sings to me like a melody only I seem to be able to hear, and I like it that way.]