Wednesday, October 11, 2017

PitchWars Critique - BONDED BY LIES


I LOVE being a mentor for PitchWars. BUT there is one bad part - having to choose just one manuscript to mentor when there are so many with so much potential.

And so, wanting to give something back to those who chose Mindy McGinnis and myself as one of the mentor teams to submit to, we decided to offer first page and query critiques on our blogs. 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.

And for anyone out there looking for personalized feedback, I also offer manuscript critique services which you can find more out about here.  

Dear Mentor,

Lina was all set to spend her spring break training to finally beating her mentor in a sparring match., Instead she found herself not fighting demons and chasing down her mom’s kidnappers! There's a lot in this first sentence. I'd maybe break it up and make it two. Also it's a little overly wordy. 

New paragraph just to give a break after the big set-up above. When horn-headed, foul-smelling demons invade Lina’s suburban Georgia life, her nemesis, nemesis why? Also maybe mention he's her fellow classmate or whatever else he is. Dray, goes after them for the same reason she does- they took his mom, too. Lina knows that he’s just as likely to turn her over to the demons himself, but he’s still her best shot, if she can prove that she’s worth more to him as an ally than as a bargaining chip. This sentence is too wordy. Also why would he turn her over to the demons? It'd be nice to know why they hate each other so much that she thinks he'd do that.

Dray and Lina share more than open animosity for each other; they’re also angels- Oh! The angel thing is a surprise and changes so many of my assumptions. You need to have that detail right in there from the beginning, not coming out of nowhere in the third paragraph. which is next to useless when she didn’t even get a pair of wings out of the deal. Her lack of faith leaves her powers unreliable, but she’s still ready to take down any demon that gets in the way of saving her mom. As a four-thousand-year-old war drags Lina in, demons prove more reliant than her fellow angels. Meanwhile, her increasingly conflicted feelings about Dray and the role her own mother played in his painful past complicate the choice Lina is faced with.

She has to choose between the angels who can save her mother but will kill Dray for the sin of being born half-demon, or the demons who will help them both. But the demons’ aid would comes at a price- Lina would will have to betray her own kind. get her hands dirty  to further their cause against her own kind. Much less wordy this way.  Otherwise, this is a good summation of what's at stake here.

BONDED BY LIES is a young adult contemporary fantasy complete at 104,000 words that would appeal to fans of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE and THRONE OF GLASS.

I am a college instructor who spends 8 hours a day trying to motivate young adults. I was inspired to write about a martial arts-savvy heroine through my own experience of earning my black belt in Taekwondo as a teenager. Good bio paragraph!

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best Regards,

The way Lina saw it, there were two ways to come back from a sucker punch. Cower in the shadows with a scrape on your cheek and mud drying on your knees, or come back up swinging harder than that bastard could’ve ever seen coming. this second sentence feels overly wordy and reads a bit awkwardly. Maybe break into two sentences?
Lina slammed the metal door of her locker shut, smiling at the way the bang echoed down the hallway. Andy sighed and shook his head, leaning against the row of lockers beside her. Why does this have to do with the above sucker punch opening? Seems unrelated? Why not just start with this paragraph instead?  
“Bonus points. You flinched.” Lina smirked at him.
“Don’t take it out on the poor locker, Freshie. Your grade in calc is your own fault.”
“What’s the point of getting good grades if my mom is going to make me go to community college, anyway?” Lina scowled at the textbook in her hands. She had to prove, somehow, that she was strong enough to leave her mother’s protective nest. Then maybe a university that was two hours away wouldn’t be so out of the question. 
“Hey, it feeds into Georgia tech. Do your homework- for once- and in two years, you can come beg me to show you how to find your classes.” He lifted his sandy-blond eyebrows and leaned over, adding, “Freshie.”
Lina reached out to pinch him, but he leapt out of the way with those annoying reflexes that came from years of martial arts training. He laughed and stepped back to her, and she was forced to crane her neck to glare up at him.
“Damn you for getting so much taller than me!” Sophomore trig class felt like decades ago, not just three years, when Andy had insisted that she looked too young, and must’ve been a freshman. Thus, the nickname.
He continued to laugh and her cheeks warmed. 
Overall the writing here is good, but it doesn't jump off the page. You may be starting the story in the wrong place as nothing is happening here and there's no tension to draw me in and make me want to keep reading and turning the pages.

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