PitchWars is at its heart about the writing community. And even though at the end of the day Mindy McGinnis and I were only able to choose two mentees, we still wanted a way to give feedback to the many many many others who had been kind enough to share their work with us. Our decision to do this via our blogs, rather than a private email, is so that (hopefully!) everyone can learn a little bit from this feedback.
I'm happy to say that quite a few people have been generous enough to take us up on this offer! So, through November, Mindy and I will be posting these critiques on Mondays and Wednesdays. Make sure to look for them on both of our blogs as we'll be posting totally different critiques.
And for anyone out there looking for personalized feedback, I am now offering manuscript critique services which you can find out more about here.
You'll see my comments in red.
You'll see my comments in red.
Do you love everything about your life? So there has been much written (not by me but you can find some mention of it here, here, and here) about whether or not to begin a query with a hypothetical question. Overall, the consensus is that you really should NOT use them. Thirteen year-old This is not a good age for a YA novel protagonist Piper Curtis certainly loves everything about hers. She has a mother and father who love her, a sister who is her best friend and isn’t afraid to stand up for her, and she’s also the top student in her ballet class. On top of all that, she’s taking a two-week family vacation to Paris, her favorite place in the entire world. Life couldn’t possibly get any better! And that’s when things spiral out of control. Muse, my 47,087 word novel, is the first in a planned series of two It's better to say is a standalone novel with series potential and tells the story of what happens when the most precious thing in life is taken away from you. So you have this really long paragraph telling us a lot of non-essential details and then when you finally get to the conflict (something happens in Paris!) you are super vague. Try instead: Thirteen year old Piper Curtis has a wonderful life that only gets better when her family announces a two-week family vacation to Paris. Unfortunately, that's when things spiral out of control. MUSE (all caps is the usual format for query letters. Also the genre and category is usually included as in: young adult thriller) tells the story of a girl who is kidnapped and how her family finds her again.
As for myself, I only recently discovered a true love for writing, though I really began writing earnestly back in 2001, composing poetry for my own enjoyment. As of now, I have over four hundred poems and have written several other currently unpublished novels, with several more in the works. I attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia from 2004-2008 with a major in English, and took at least ten English courses ranging from Children’s Literature to Shakespeare. I also wrote devotionals for my church’s monthly newsletter for four years.
Should you find yourself further interested in Muse, I would be happy to send you the full manuscript for your review. In any case, I thank you for your time.
You'll notice I crossed out A LOT of your query and this is because you really want to keep them on the shorter side. Think of what would be printed on the back of a book - you want just the essential story information. I would recommend checking out Query Shark for some really great examples of what not to do.
to the rescue
The blue-black clouds of night slowly retreated into the sky as the first signs of dawn peeked out from over the horizon; perhaps an ominous sign of things to come. I feel like the sun rising is usually the opposite of an ominous sign - it's usually seen as hopeful. As the caravan sped toward the stark white hangar in the distance, the man and his daughter silently prayed. When they had reached the end of their path, they watched from inside the black SUV as other similar vehicles pulled up next to them, followed by SWAT vans carrying a multitude of agents.He had been told to remain in the car until given the okay over the earpiece he wore in his left ear. He waited what seemed like an eternity, mind and heart racing at the prospect of seeing his youngest daughter again. There had been no gunshots or shouts that would indicate they had been set up; nothing but silence. Then he heard it, the voice of the agent in charge telling him all was clear. This does not read as YA when it's mostly from the POV of an adult.“Stay here Lilly…” he said to the girl that sat next to him in the back seat of the car. Could you rewrite this scene from Lilly's perspective instead?She nodded silently and he slowly opened the door and got out, unsure of what he might find in the hangar. Lilly, thankfully, had been spared from harm. Shortly after Piper’s disappearance, the F.B.I. got in contact with them and they began devising a plan to rescue Piper; this was the execution of that plan.
So overall, I feel like this is not a young adult novel - which is totally okay! But it's good to know where your novel would fit in the market when trying to find an agent so that's definitely something you want to have a better feel for.