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Pitch Workshop – B’s critique #4

Thursday, 9 February 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Today is the second day of our pitch workshop. For ten days, Shelley Watters, Cassandra Marshall, and I will be critiquing two pitches each per day. Click on my partners-in-crime pics on the sidebar to go to their sites and read their critiques.
Next up is …
Name:  Jani Grey
Title:  Denizens
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 73,000
It’s easy to build a reputation as an infamous thief when nobody knows your secret, but soon Fairley will have to employ her talent for using mirrors as doorways to save her freedom and herself. 
B’s notes: Infamous thief. Talent to make mirrors into doorways. Oh my! Fun. This is near perfect, except the ending ‘to save her freedom and herself’. Maybe just end it at ‘save herself’. Is that the only goal in the story? To save herself and get free? Is there another one? I tend to ask a lot of questions when critiquing pitches. It helps to know more and whittle it down to less. Work on getting that last part more exciting. You can run it by me again if you want.


One of the most beautiful mirrors I’d seen in a long time stood at the end of a pathway in a cluttered antique store, and it took my breath away. It had twisting, curling detail all around its edges and the frame shone midnight black. The paint flecked in places revealing a red the color of rich wine. My fingers moved over the metal then skimmed over the reflecting surface, tracing patterns in the dust that covered it. I wanted it.

I was so deep in thought I didn’t even realize when my fingers went right through the surface of the mirror without breaking it.  I jerked my hand back out and scanned the area for any unwanted spectators,(remove comma) but found nobody.  Relief eased my tight shoulders somewhat but didn’t release all the tension there.
The walk back to the front of the shop was quick since I took a route I’d familiarized myself with over the last couple of months.
I love the premise of this story, it sounds exciting. Though this is well written, the opening page doesn’t draw me in. I don’t believe this is where your story begins. Every manuscript I’ve written, I end up cutting away several pages (even chapters) to get to the correct starting point. You want to capture your reader (and an agent) right off. The first sentence isn’t a good enough hook to do the job either. You can always put this scene in later, if it’s needed. You could probably even keep this scene if you showed us what happened. Make it exciting. Show us her fright. It’s so quick — she puts her hand through the mirror, draws it back, and is relieved — I’m impassive about it. Actually, paragraph two might be a good place to start with more details and emotions added. All and all, I think this idea is great!
I hope this helps! <3  
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

  • I completely agree with Brenda. The one the sells the pitch for me is “make mirrors into doorways.” It’s cryptic to an extent, as I would relate mirrors to a thief only as a means to get people searching for him turned around and lost. So, he must step out of that life and truly go on the run.

    Good luck!

  • Jani says:

    Thank you so much, Brenda!

    I have to give a shoutout to one of my CPs, Tracy. She made my pitch rock.

    I know the first page needs work. I’m struggling to find the right start, and the first page has already changed three times. I’m fiddling with the idea of deleting the first two page and I think this was what I needed. It’s a sign!

    Thanks again.

  • I really like the premise for this story. And I think the description of the mirror is good, but if you really want to hook the reader maybe try starting with what she wants to do with the mirror, and then go into describing it. Does the mirror call to her or does she want to turn it into a doorway right then and she doesn’t care if people see? Put yourself in your MC’s shoes for a minute and try to think about what she would want to do with the mirror. I’m guessing this character would think of action before how beautiful the mirror is. Maybe try drawing upon what you have in the second paragraph a bit more for an opening. 🙂

  • MarcyKate says:

    There’s a lot that I love about this, but I agree with Brenda that this is probably not the right place to start off. the first paragraph, while well-written, is all description and no action. If you can get us more directly in the meat of the inciting incident, I think that would really help.

  • Jani says:

    You guys are all superstars. Thanks for the feedback, I think I know where it should start. There will be blood.

  • Toni says:

    Mirrors into doorways? How intriguing! I’d keep reading this story!

  • Stephsco says:

    I really like the first paragraph – if you take the advice to start the story differently, I hope you keep this part for later use. I like that she has a favorite mirror since she sees so many. The descriptions flow well and don’t feel clunky. Nice work.

  • callmebecks says:

    Here’s where I come in with an opposite opinion and say I liked the beginning just fine. I don’t like being dropped into the middle of an explosion or something like that – I prefer quieter, subtler hooks at the start, which I felt this one did.

  • TL Sumner says:

    I love the premise!! The description was vivid – I could really visualize the shop and the miror. If you start here, adding emotion as the hook might work. The danger of being caught “with her hand in the mirror” so to speak.

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