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, Sabrina Kleckner …
Sabrina is an editorial intern at Page Street YA, a Creative Writing major, and an aspiring author. In the past, she has worked as a literary agent intern, and written for The Barnes & Noble Teen Blog. When she’s not writing or editing, Sabrina likes to play with her three cats, live in different countries, and force her friends to read her favorite books.
Sabrina’s query critique . . .
Young Adult: Fantasy
SOULKIN is a dual-POV, 94,000-word YA fantasy combining the elemental magic of Avatar The Last Airbender with storytelling elements of The Last Unicorn and Sleeping Beauty and will appeal to fans of This Savage Song and Of Fire and Stars. [these are all really intriguing comp titles, but I would stick to two—three at most. Maybe This Savage Song for Finian and Sleeping Beauty for Rook?]
Eighteen-year-old Finian is a reaver—a boy born without a soul—giving which gives him the rare ability to control the minds of others. But to the world, and to Finian, it just means he’s a monster, a murderer, and a fugitive from the law. He’d give anything to escape his life & start over someplace new. [This is a great character intro!]
Seventeen-year-old Rook wants nothing more than to keep her sister safe and live quietly, surrounded by the plants she communicates with. But when rogue dragons put her sister into an enchanted sleep, Rook must find her sister’s soulkin—a creature whose soul and magic complements hers—if she hopes to break the spell. [Another great character intro!]
Blaming herself for her sister’s plight [why does Rook blame herself?], Rook enlists Finian’s help to complete the impossible task of finding her sister’s soulkin [why does Rook enlist Finian’s help over someone else’s? I’d be specific as to why he’s the only person who can help.]. Despite Rook’s fear of reavers, she knows that without him, her sister will be damned to eternal slumber. Finian agrees, seeing Rook as his path to freedom and redemption. [I think you could be a bit more specific here. How will saving Rook’s sister lead to Finian’s freedom and redemption?]
But quests are never simple. Finian’s past catches up with him and he’s offered the soul and the freedom he so desperately craves in exchange for a dark magic only he can steal—a deal that will result in the death of Rook’s sister. But the quest becomes more complicated when Finian is offered a soul [who offers him the soul?] in exchange for the death of Rook’s sister. [Why specifically is this complicating for Finian? I.e. what is stopping him from taking the soul, which is the thing he wants more than anything? Has he befriended Rook? Does he have feelings for her? Is he scared that taking this deal will prove that what everyone has been saying about him is true—that he really is a monster?] And neither Rook or Finian are prepared when one of the dragons responsible for the attack appears and demands to join them on their journey. [The info about the dragon joining their quest is interesting, but the main conflict seems more to do with Finian’s choice about whether to accept the soul, so I would focus on that] In order to complete their quest, they will need to untangle the lies that weave them together [we haven’t had mention of lies in the query until this point, so I’d take this out] With time running out, Finian will have needs to decide if having a soul is worth sacrificing the lives [lives plural—does this mean Rook’s life is also in danger? If so, I’d explain how/why] of his friends.
I am a high school language arts teacher and have taught eighth through twelfth grade students and. I am also a member of editor-author Kate Brauning’s Breakthrough Writers Boot Camp, a professional development program for career authors. When I’m not writing, I’m either geeking out with my friends over the latest book, movie, or video game, or at home snuggling with my dogs and cat.
I love the sound of this story! It has great stakes and I’m already interested in the characters. Good luck with this!