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, Gia de Cadenet …
Gia started creating stories long before she could write. And while she was encouraged to be creative, she was also expected to be practical.
So her academic career had one trajectory: law school.
Once she got there, she crashed and burned.
Following various turns as an English professor, translator and copy editor for UNESCO, she went back to her first love.
After a few years of drafting, awkwardly querying, and completely floundering, she was accepted into the 2017 PitchWars class and nothing’s been the same. Her work has won awards and she signed with the Transatlantic Literary Agency in 2018.
She’s more than grateful for the help she’s received. That’s why she’s excited to pay it forward.
Gia’s first page critique . . .
“The roller on the chapatti goes round and round, round and round,” I hum aloud. I have made a minor modification to the lyrics of the nursery rhyme. “Round and round. Round and round…”
My chapattis are not round. Today, they are more shapeless than they usually are. [This is nice. Gives the reader three sensory details – sight, smell & sound] If Aarush Kashyap had to describe them, he would use the adjective amorphous. Aarush has been my archrival at school since the first grade, and the boy is a walking, talking Oxford Dictionary. [Is Aarush a key character? Important enough to appear right away?]
Papa won’t complain about the shape of the chapati. Mummy might scold me, though. [Was briefly concerned that this is YA or MG – bringing up first grade & the use of ‘Papa’ and ‘Mummy’ rather than my father & my mother]
“Can’t you do one job properly?” she would say. “What the hell were you thinking about while rolling these chapattis?”
She doesn’t want to know what goes [on] inside my head.
I was thinking how the word amorous—oops, slip of [the] tongue—amorphous might sound from the lips of my archrival.
I place Papa’s dinner, including the misshapen chapattis, in a tiffin box and ride my bicycle to the hospital. After locking my bike [After locking it] and taking [the] two stairs [two] at a time, I rush towards the general ward where Papa has been staying for the past few months. As a side effect of his cancer medications, he hardly feels hungry, but he must not skip his dinnertime.
When I was in the sixth grade, Papa was diagnosed with lung cancer. For the past four years, he has been fighting the woe that lives inside his chest. [Sixth Grade + Four years, again, is the manuscript adult or YA?] Cancer takes birth when the cells that should die decide to live on. Selfish cells. They care more about their life than my Papa’s life. [this is nice, the image of the cells making a choice]
As I reach to Papa’s room, I stop in my tracks. His hand is raised in the air, and my mother has covered her left cheek as if she has just received a tight slap. [this is also a good image, giving the reader that curious lack of sound after something violent. It’s also interesting due to the shift in feeling concerning Papa – with the mother’s likely comment about the chapattis, she seemed less sympathetic than the father. Now the reader has to wonder if that was the right conclusion.]
[These pages have great imagery. And there’s a very intriguing amount of tension. As it is labeled and reads like a bildungsroman, I don’t feel that it belongs under the Adult genre. However, if the rest of the manuscript is fully Adult – over 18 – this first chapter might make a better prologue. Also, as PitchWars is an American program, my changes shift it toward American English. But they are only suggestions. Great job though, as a reader, I’d be ready to turn the page!]