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Pitch Workshop – B’s critique #17

Thursday, 16 February 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

We’re on the final day of our pitch workshop. Shelley Watters, Cassandra Marshall (Cass will be posting for a couple more days), and I are finished critiquing pitches. Click on my partners-in-crime pics on the sidebar to go to their sites and read their critiques. I only have one critique today. Several who had signed up to participate didn’t send in their entries. 

After some debate, and due to time constraints (I’m trying to get my submission ready for my awesome agent), we decided not to make a call for more pitches to replace those not submitted. Plus, we have to start preparing for our big agent pitch event in March for YA/MG. So, come back in a few days and get all the details. 

The winner (by Random.org) of the door prize (a $35 gift certificate from Editor Cassandra) on my site is…

DL Hammons

Don’t forget to check Cassandra’s affordable editing services!

And here is my final critique …
Name: J Taylor
Title: Ballad Keeper (Love this title)
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 91,000


When Lana Kavanaugh’s dad disappears, she hops a plane for Ireland to find the mysterious Blaine O’Sullivan and unravel secrets within her dad’s Irish folklore research–before his life runs out. 

B’s notes: This is a great start and the premise sounds intriguing, but the pitch is too vague. Why does she want to unravel folklore research before her dad’s life runs out? What happens is she doesn’t make it before he dies? What happens between her and Blaine? Is there a romance? How is he mysterious? Give me some answers in the comments to get an idea about your story and I’ll see if I can help.


Irish air rushed across my face, dampening skin dry from eighteen years of Jersey’s smog and ten hours flying coach to Dublin. Green and salty, I took a deep breath of it. The clean oxygen flooded my lungs and quenched a thirst for Ireland I didn’t discover until that moment. In the dim neon light from the pub, I fished three yellow Euros out of my pocket and squinted at the indistinct numbers. These better be fifties, I thought as I pressed them into the cab driver’s palm. The scraps of paper resembled Monopoly money more than real cash. They stuck to his clammy skin before crinkling inside his tightening fist.

B’s notes: This sounds older than a YA for me. I’d work on getting some of your character’s voice and a younger view of things in this paragraph. Make sure to use things that a teen would notice not an adult.

“This place is it?” I stomped around the green cab to where the driver stood grunting, trying to disengage my over sized bag from the pint-sized trunk. No way in hell was I letting him strand me at the wrong pub. “This is the only Gallagher’s Pub in Kilkenny?”

B’s notes: This paragraph is what I was looking for in the first one but didn’t find – a YA attitude. Work on getting that other paragraph this way and you’ll have a great beginning. You had me at Irish air. 
I hope this helps! 

Remember this is subjective and others’ may feel differently. So I’ll now pass it on to the readers to critique. Please leave your comments, and remember the rules of critiquing … be nice, which I’m sure you all will be, but I have to say it … you know.


Filed: Misc, Workshops

  • R.A.Desilets says:

    Starting with the second paragraph might be better – because that already hooks me into your MC’s attitude.

    I agree with Brenda, the first paragraph (really fantastically written) sounds so adult. You can definitely keep some of these details, but try not to keep them in such a condensed, thick paragraph, if that makes sense.

  • DL Hammons says:

    Oh WOW…I won!! Get excellent advice, and a gift certificate…can’t beat that with a stick! Thank you, Brenda!

  • Angela Brown says:

    So, like before, I read the submission first and must admit that I was taken with the first paragraph of the except. Except, I felt the YA voice in the second paragraph, unless she’s a rather mature YA protagonist. So when it was noted about the YA voice, I could see her point.

    I won’t really speak on the pitch because I’m coming to my own realization that me and pitches have some issues we need to work out lol!!

    All in all, I’d have to say all the notes mentioned for this one are great and on point.

  • I like the pitch and the first 100. My only concern is that the pitch makes it sound like a mystery. Where is the fantasy?

  • Great concept! I would keep reading 🙂 Good sensory details and I like the voice that comes through in the second paragraph, nicely done!

  • I’ve been mid-rewrite for my Courtly Scandals query for over a month. Your comments here have been very helpful.

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