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, Diana A. Hicks …
Diana A. Hicks is an award-winning author of steamy contemporary romance and science fiction. Her debut LOVE OVER LATTES, Book 1 in her Desert Monsoon Series, released in 2018. Kirkus Reviews called it, “A sexy and irresistible tale for fans of contemporary romance.”
When Diana is not writing, she enjoys kickboxing, traveling, and indulging in the simple joys of life like wine and chocolate. She lives in Atlanta, and loves spending time with her two children and husband.
Diana’s recent release …
Intense. Irresistible. Sexy!
Attorney Emilia Prado has been living in hiding, ever since the local cartel killed her dad and left her and her mom for dead. But when her long lost cousin needs help leaving her drug lord husband, Emilia knows her time for justice has come.
Hot shot lawyer Dom Moretti never met a case he couldn’t win. Each win puts distance between him and an old life he wants to forget. But when Emilia, a crush from law school, asks for his help, the life he worked so hard for hangs in the balance.
Out to even the score, Emilia is ready to enact revenge on her father’s killer. But will she risk losing Dom to a side of himself he thought was dead and buried?
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | IBOOKS
Diana’s first page critique . . .
Hunched with a leather sling bag strapped to her back, Anna Price passed the Capitol Hill Club, an austere building that glowed in the dark like a marble headstone. With each sluggish step came a sinking reminder of how far she’d dropped. Spirit squelched, Anna turned right toward Prime NEWS with barely the fortitude to plod on. [These first sentences are basically conveying the same thing in three different ways. This is prime real estate here. Use it to engage your reader. See if you can condense to one sentence to show she’s getting to work and she’s down on her luck.] To think, only a few months back she’d been polishing her Peabody for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. Anna exhaled and watched her breath mushroom into dawn’s murky darkness.
At 5:25 A.M., Anna ducked in her cubicle, complete with an unobstructed view of her old office. She plopped in the chair, and her foot broadsided a cardboard box filled with plaques and awards once decorating the walls of said office. She hauled off and kicked it. Another punt accentuated Anna’s frustration. [Same here. You have two mentions of her awards. Maybe the Peabody award can be sticking out of the box she kicks? That way you only have one sentence that references who she used to be. The idea is to convey to the reader who the character is and quickly move on to the conflict. Would it be more interesting to open the chapter with her kicking the box? Just something to think about.]
She slouched when Mandy Wit, short for Mandy Witley Sojourner Masters, entered the production studio postured with that imaginary book on her head. Mandy commanded a room with a welcoming smile that oozed congeniality. Anna she[remove she] shifted in her seat to avoid the glare from her radiating bliss.
“Looks like the rain may hold off this morning,” Mandy said regarding the duo’s live segment to air on Primed for Business with Mandy Wit. [It’s not clear what she’s looking at here. Is she watching this on a screen somewhere? Also, you don’t need the “said” tag here. The action tag is enough. Ex Mandy regarded the duo’s live…] She stood at the entrance of Anna’s cubicle, hands clasped, maybe wringing. Anna couldn’t tell from her peripheral vision. [Hands wringing implies she’s nervous about something. In the previous paragraph Mandy is portrayed as confident and commanding a room. I would remove this reference or clarify why there’s a change in her demeanor.]
“It may,” Anna said, replying to Mandy’s banal statement. [You don’t need the tag here. Instead use this space to convey how Anna feels or to give a hint of her goal or the conflict coming her way.] She opened her Day-Timer, plucked yellow post-its from the previous day’s page, and tossed them in the trash.
A head peered over Anna’s cube. “No slip of the tongue today, okay Price,” the production manager said, and it took all Anna had to swallow her bile-laden retort.
[Thank you for letting me read your first page. Keep in mind that the purpose of the first page is to introduce your character in a compelling way. A good way to get the reader excited to keep reading is to start by raising a question or mystery. Promise some sort of trouble to intrigue the reader and make them turn the page to see what will happen next.]