Have questions about submitting to Pitch Wars or just want to know what it is? Start here!


Day 5 (Part 2) of May’s Voice Workshop with Pitch Wars mentor Jami Nord

Friday, 6 May 2016  |  Posted by Heather Cashman

voice workshop

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.


And now we have …

Pitch Wars Mentor Jami Nord

Twitter Website  |  Chimera Editing

Jami Nord 1st Round ReaderJami has interned for Entangled publishing, Bree Ogden (while at D4EO), and The Bent Agency. She has experience handling extensive amounts of slush and evaluating hundreds of manuscripts in reports. Her love of books led her to a BA in English. She adores stories with a strong voice no matter the genre, and routinely reads all forms of speculative fiction, romance and erotica, thrillers, mysteries, contemporary (especially dark ones), and pretty much any random novel that transports her to another world. She’s followed the publishing industry for over a decade, though only had the courage to risk a professional move when she upended her life to move cross country from Texas to Philadelphia in 2012.

Jami’s 500 Word Critique . . .

Adult  Contemporary Romance

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
learn to keep handled bags with me?
(We don’t know enough about her yet to want her internal monologue)
“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 threadbare 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 rememberinged 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.
  • Seeing the specific suggestions in these critiques really helps. Thank you.

  • Jeanne Felfe says:

    Thank you Jami. I appreciate the feedback.

    Just a note – this isn’t the start of the story. We were told we could pick our 500 words from anywhere. So it is definitely picking up after something else has already happened. This piece occurs about half-way through the first chapter.

We're thrilled at the different ways those in our Pitch Wars community are giving back—and we encourage them to do so. However, please keep in mind that Pitch Wars is not affiliated with any of these various contests, promotions, etc., including those of our mentors and mentees. Promoting any such opportunities via our social media channels doesn't imply endorsement or affiliation. We encourage you to do your research before participating.

Pitch Wars takes a stand. ANTI-BULLYING. Click here to review our policy

Pitch Wars 2021

Blog Archives

Blog Categories

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.