Welcome to May’s Voice Workshop with some of our amazing Pitch Wars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected over thirty writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a 500 word sample that the writer chose from his or her manuscript where he or she felt they needed help with their voice. Our hope that these samples will help you with your work and that you’ll get to know some of our wonderful Pitch Wars mentors.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.
By the time Julianne arrived at the apartment, the sun hung lower in the sky.(This feels like it’s picking up after something else happened, but it’s the beginning. Setting the scene is a passive way to start.) Although daylight-savings time had begun to make the day longer, it was still difficult to avoid coming home at dusk. She hefted the bags up the front stairs and breathed a sigh of relief when her neighbor opened the security door as she reached the top.
“Thanks,” Julianne said, propping the door with her thigh.
“No prob, just heading out,” he said, jogging down the steps and onto the walk.
(Unless the encounter with the neighbor REALLY matters, I’d start here.) Julianne struggled up the stairs with her purse and
those two overflowing paper bags of groceries. Damn, when will I(We don’t know enough about her yet to want her internal monologue)
learn to keep handled bags with me?
“Clay, honey, open the door!” she yelled, kicking the door. “Clay?” She kicked it again. Silence.
“Harrumph.” As she bent to set one bag on the floor, the edge tore, and she barely
escaped avoided (Watch for words that are overly formal, unless they fit the character’s personality.) dumping the whole thing. She rummaged through her purse for her key, unlocked the door, and peered inside the dark room, lit only by streaks of evening light sneaking in through the closed blinds.(Great visual here!) Her eyes strained to adjust.
Slamming the door with a hip bump, she juggled the bags and moved blindly toward the kitchen island,
again cursing the builder for not installing a light switch by the door , instead of on the other side the kitchen. (Watch for over detailing here. There’s a very fine line between creating a vivid scene and overdoing it, and it weakens your voice if there’s too much detail.)
“Clayton, I need help in here!” She reached to set the bags on the butcher-block cart. Both bags hit the floor with a crunch and crash, sending cans, bottles, and loose apples rolling in all directions.
Startled, she raced across the room and hit the
absurdly installed light switch. She froze, taking a second to register the now empty spot where the cart had been for the past three years.
Julianne gasped, not sure whether to run out of the apartment in terror or into the bedroom to find Clay. Recalling a news story from last night about a rash of break-ins in the neighborhood, fear crept up her spine. She tiptoed from room to room, feeling a little ridiculous, clutching a can of creamed corn over her head.
Noting tThe oddest items were missing—in the kitchen, the butcher-block cart and the microwave cart, but not the microwave, which now listed haphazardly on the counter top; in the living
room, the thread
–bare blue lounger she hated and the god-awful talking bass—a sick sense ache grew
in her gut.(This bit has really good description, and gives us a sense of the kind of person Julianne is, relative to Clay. It creates a great sense of this sudden hole he’s left, without showing him on the page.) Confused panic morphed into dread. She raced to the bathroom, almost tripping over the morning towels, and flung open the medicine chest. Gone. All gone. His
Rrazor, shaving cream, toothbrush, dental floss, weird hair gel. Gone.
Stunned, Julianne left the medicine chest hanging open and willed herself to the bedroom(Willed herself seems like an odd way to travel. Be more specific in this movement. Stumbled, perhaps?). Flipping on the light, her gaze fell to a single dingy-white sock on the hardwood floor in front of the partially opened,
and now empty, dresser drawers. Looking at the rumpled creamy tan (Pick just one) duvet , half-on, hanging half-off the bed, her mouth pursed to one side ,. She distinctly remember inged making the bed that morning. (Splitting the sentence here helps the flow. It gets long otherwise.)(You
have a good voice here, but it’s overly formal in places. Don’t get hung up on too many details, it bogs the pacing down, and avoid repetitive phrases for the same reason. Cutting those elements out will allow your voice to shine. Think of it like when people are singing The Star Spangled Banner. Some people add a lot of warbling embellishments, and it can be distracting. Same thing happens in writing, if there’s too many details or if the sentence structure gets too convoluted.)
Thank you, Jami, for your critique. Interested in more 500 word voice critiques? Come back Monday for two more critiques. And get ready! The Pitch Wars Mentor Wishlist Blog Hop starts July 20 with the Pitch Wars submission window opening on August 3.