Welcome to June’s Setting Workshop! From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected over thirty writers to participate. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a 500 word sample chosen by the writers from a place he or she felt needed help with setting. We hope that not only you’ll learn a little bit about setting that you can apply to your own writing, but that you’ll also be able to get to know some of our wonderful Pitch Wars mentors and their editing styles. We appreciate our mentors for giving up their time to do the critiques. If you have something encouraging to add, feel free to comment below. Please keep all comments tasteful. We will delete any inappropriate or hurtful ones.
And now we have …
Pitch Wars Mentor Jami Nord
The 500 Word Critique . . .
New Adult Thriller
My brain screams at me that it’s impossible, that it couldn’t be her, but the web of things that make up my flesh—veins, muscles, bones —are liquefying inside me.(This is really punchy as an opening, but it’s vague. I don’t get the connection between this and the next paragraph, either, making this feel disconnected from the real start of the story.)
I slam my diary closed and it makes my gold necklaces jingle—hanging from the decorative twisted wire fence that sits atop my vanity. hanging from the twisted wire fence atop my vanity jingle. It was once a piece of garden décor that held little pouches of bird seeds by it’s scrolled hooks in a Victorian garden, at least that was what the gray haired lady at the thrift store had told me.
She claimed she had the great idea to cut it down to make a dozen necklace holders, thinking it to be a shame to trash such fine artistic work like that. I agreed with her. It looked so romantic, I had to have it. I still can hear Leira snickering at me for wasting good money on someone else’s junk.(Unless it is critical to the plot, we don’t need her accessory holder’s life story. If it is, weave it in later once we have a stronger sense of what the story is doing.)
A gust of cold air bursts through my window. My bare shoulders shiver. I snap up from my chair to shut it, but not before seeing the new(I wouldn’t consider 2 months ago new, personally) guy—that moved in next door—getting ready to leave on his motorcycle. His black helmut helmet gleams almost white under the light from the low hanging moon.(I love this visual!) Even if I was in bed, I would know it was him. I’m alerted to his presence by the rumbling of his motorcycle about this time every night for the past two months. The bike was annoying, and the owner has a staring problem.
His bike mocks my thoughts as it thunders a rippling roar as it takes off. I cover my ears and I scrunch my face at the intrusion—briefly the sound, rises finding momentum echoing and bouncing off every building tightly packed on my narrow street— of apartments crowded together as harmoniously as mismatched commuters on a busy subway train.(Trimming a bit there because it gets wordy and confusing. But love the description of the street. Given how upset she is later, I wonder at her calm focus here.) The sound makes my hands clammy. How do people ride those things? I snap the curtains closed.
I swirl around, focusing back on my apartment. Nothing else was touched—just a single bent corner of a page in my diary—evidence she was here.
Normally, I enjoyed how my tiffany Tiffany lamp muddled colors of amber and green glows throughout the open structure of my New York apartment. The colors seemed to dance about and somehow make made my apartment feel fuller, busier. But right now all I want to do is turn on every light possible, to make it brighter. I need to get rid of all any lurking shadows that could possibly allow anything to settle in too comfortably without my knowledge.
Stay calm. This is what she wants…I can’t. I pick up the phone.
(This has a good sense of place, the world around the main character feels fleshed out, almost too much. It has a lot of details that obscure the actual story. The main character is afraid of their unwanted visitor and annoyed by a motorcycle. The connection (if any) between the two isn’t clear, nor is much about them (I’ve assumed they’re female, but that’s entirely assumption based on the necklaces.). By paring down the details to the most significant, you can use them to create mood while the tension stays strong. Since tension is so key for thrillers, this becomes especially important. Watch slipping between present and past tense within the same sentence.)
Thank you, Jami, for your critique. Check back every weekday for the rest of our June Setting Workshop. And get ready! The Pitch Wars Mentor Wishlist Blog Hop starts July 20 with the Pitch Wars submission window opening on August 3.