Welcome to July’s First Page Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a first page for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the first page critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful.
Here are the next two mentors and their critiques …
Stephanie Scott writes Young Adult for teens and those young in spirit. Her debut ALTERATIONS is set for release by Bloomsbury Spark. She’s an active member of Romance Writers of America and its online YA chapter YARWA. She enjoys dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving her broke. One current life goal is to cosplay Hoth Leia from The Empire Strikes Back. Born and raised in Kalamazoo where there are no zoos, she’s a Midwest girl at heart. She now lives outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband. You can find her chatting about TV and all things books on twitter and Instagram at @StephScottYA
Stephanie’s first page critique …
Where was a time-traveling DeLorean when you needed it? Not here. Not in tiny Armario.
Kathryn considered this problem. Oh, to be anywhere but here. Yet here she was for the millionth time – okay maybe the hundredth – outside Winston’s Ice Cream Parlor, searching for him. I really like this opening. I wonder if you could, without going overboard, add any detail to time/place; is it daytime and hot out, is the shop in a small town downtown, or in a mall? Also, can you name the ‘him’ or is there a reason the identity is left as a mystery?
An annoying breeze lifted her tangle of curls every which way as she peered through the store window. She scrutinized the mass of customers and rolled her reliable skateboard back and forth. Nine times to be exact. The nine times detail shows so much. Nice.
Inside, a glint of sunlight reflected off a shiny napkin holder. Not a smudge on it. Impressive. Red-and-white-striped clerks sponged sticky counters and swept up litters of straw sleeves and soiled napkins. Several classmates huddled at a back booth.
Two blond heads. Great. The Watson twins.
Too bad there’s no disinfectant to wipe clean the entire crew, Curls, the voice echoed inside her head.
She shook away the words, probing further the crowded creamery while avoiding the curious gazes (including the icy glare of Isabella Watson). Kathryn refused to lose her focus; Isabitch wasn’t worth her time. I would be mindful of having Kathryn come off too harsh on the first page; we see she’s an outsider—literally—but the name-calling without cause can be tough to get readers on board with from page 1.
Her dad was, and today was her scheduled time to search him out.
Where are you?
Not here, Curls.
A tingle rose deep inside her like an anesthetic serpent. Sparks and pings journeyed her jaw, up along her scalp’s carroty outline. She scratched at invisible bugs that crawled across her face through her twisted mane. Intrigued, but not sure I get “carroty” outline. It seems like a visual observation someone else would notice about her profile rather than an what she’d observe about herself.
It was happening again. The second time this month. While I like the mystery, it could be beneficial to define “it”. The voices? Visions? You can still leave an air of mystery while also giving the reader a little more to go on.
Quite a hook to end on! While I definitely have questions, they’re more of the curious kind and not the confused. Well done!
Her brand spankin’ new reader group
Brighton spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with her first love: writing. When she’s not pounding away at the keyboard, she’s probably either reading or shopping—maybe even both at once. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children, and, yes, she considers forty degrees to be hoodie weather. Her home is the setting for frequent dance parties, Lego battles, and more laughter than she thought possible.Her debut novel, Caged in Winter, is available now from Berkley/Penguin. She is represented by Mandy Hubbard of D4EO Literary Agency.
Brighton’s recent release …
Jason’s been living (and loving) the rich playboy lifestyle for five years, but now his parents are pressuring him to get involved in the family business. The last thing he wants is another obligation, but when his best friend moves out of state and asks Jason to look after his sister, he can’t just say no.
Tessa had to grow up way too soon. After dealing with the aftermath of her parents’ deaths, then becoming a teenage mom, she knows the meaning of responsibility. Which is why, at twenty-two, she’s looking for so much more than a party boy. She’s looking for someone who can stand by her and her daughter…forever.
A relationship between them is doomed from the start, but who says they can’t have a little fun? But as Jason gets closer to Tessa—and her daughter—fun starts to turn into something else… Something Jason’s not sure he’s ready for.
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Brighton’s first page critique …
Sweat trickled down Alexandra Drake’s chest. Tropical air thick with the promise of rain tasted of the ocean blocks away. Hell, she hated waiting. Three years on Honolulu PD’s Narcotics/Vice squad had exercised her modicum of patience, but that trait hadn’t improved. Great intro! Gives us information about her past and current position without being overbearing.
She rested a hip against an unmarked steel barrel behind the warehouse and prayed they’d finish this raid before boredom killed her. The chromatic tempest inside her skull assured her she wasn’t the only one ready for things to get moving. I’m not sure what this means? What is a chromatic tempest? My googling suggests some sort of a radio, perhaps? I could assume as much from the sentence, but you may want to—for lack of a better term—dumb this down for people not in the know. 🙂 Nothing like waiting until some judge could be bothered on a Sunday to sign a search warrant.
For three months they’d who is they? hunted the “genius” who was spiking the local coke with crank. The team again, who is the team? followed the trail of dead addicts, and when Panner’s who is Panner? confidential informant finally gave up the location of Tosi’s who is Tosi? supplier, they landed at this storehouse on the edge of the harbor city of Wai’anae. Set the scene a bit more. What’s the location like? Is it daytime or evening? Shady part of town? Despite being a workshop for the ugly business of street drugs, there were no cameras, no guards here; the denizens didn’t seem concerned about people sneaking up on them. Good for the cops. Bad for the crooks.
Her teammate, Officer Milo Nguyen, wiped his brow on his sleeve, and then checked his watch. “Any time would be good.”
Alex glanced at the looming clouds above. Hawai’i’s lush mountains were known for flash floods, and this location wasn’t immune judging by the spidery channels cut into the foothills fifty feet away. “They wait any longer, we might end up swimming.”
I think you’ve got a great start here! The voice is wonderful, and I’m already intrigued about the story. Once you’ve ironed out a few of the details and let the readers know who all these people are, you’ll pull them in even more. Great work!
Thank you, Stephanie and Brighton, for your critiques. Interested in more first page critiques? Come back tomorrow for our next two critiques by Pitch Wars mentors, and while you’re here, check out our June posts for our mentors’ query critiques. And get ready! The Pitch Wars Mentor Wishlist Blog Hop starts August 2 with the Pitch Wars submission window opening August 17.
Want a critique or books from our Pitch Wars mentors, some awesome authors, agents, and editors? We’re putting together an auction and posting it this weekend to help one of our mentors save her home. To read more about this campaign, go here: http://www.gofundme.com/we4dv4m