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.
Maybelle Langton had always known her pirate captain father, Petey, was the best liar in the 18th century Caribbean, but she never thought he would betray her. I think this would make more sense as, "but she never thought he would lie to her."
When Petey is killed in a battle with the Royal Navy
and he leaves Maybelle his treasure and a letter telling her about her Mam, Rose. She isn't dead as he'd always told her. She isn't even human. Rose is a selkie.
To her amazement Maybelle is half selkie and has a seal skin of her own. The seal skin wears less like it's on her body and more like it's a nice coat.
Maybelle escapes being enslaved, avenges her father, and has to find a way to stop her supernatural nature from dominating. To discover her true heritage she commands a pirate vessel across the Atlantic to find her ancestral home in Scotland. Woh! This paragraph is really underwritten and this paragraph is your book - everything else is just the set-up. So you need to expand this and explain what she wants, what she's up against, what happens if she fails. Might be nice to give a hint of other characters - friends, love interests, etc - as well.
I did a creative writing course as part of my degree, and more recently completed a few online writing courses. I regularly blog spontaneous and unpolished short stories.
I sing song after song calling to my Maybelle. I ask the oceans to take the songs to her, to call her back to me.
My Da, Petey Langton, was the best liar in the Caribbean; he had to be as a pirate captain. I never thought he'd lie to me. I knew he loved me, I trusted him in that unthinking way you do as a child. I was wrong. He lied to me all my life, from the very start, till the day he died. I don't think this is the best place to start your story - not if you want to then segue into a scene where Da is still alive. Either start by showing us the moment when your main character realizes her father lied to her or else move this to that point.
'Get out of there. I want you back in the ship now, Maybelle!' Da shouted. I
trod tread water staring at him, he was on the river bank looking the angriest I'd ever seen him. What was wrong with swimming? I'd never tried it before, but I'd been so hot. I'd seen the village boys all laughing and splashing in the water. I had to join them.
I'd run over the sand of the bank and leapt out. I flew over the water, shrieking. I lifted my knees up, hugging them to me, falling with a smack onto the river. It slapped my feet and I sank through the surface, nearly gasping at the freshness of the water, until my feet hit the mud of the bottom. I pushed down and flew back up through the water, my arms reaching upwards. Opening my eyes I saw the clear green water streaming past me. I broke through the river into the hot blue air, spluttering.
I yelled at Billy and the other ship's boys on the bank.
'Come in, it's great!' This is really confusing. You start with Da yelling at her to get out of water and then you go back in time to when she first decided to jump into the water. Either simply start with her getting in the water and move forward chronologically from there or else start with Da yelling and skip the reminiscences about how she got into the water.
Pirate stories are fun and I love the idea of a girl who commands a pirate vessel! However, both your query and first page need a bit of work to really make that story idea shine.