Hey Hey everyone!



Today is our critique session. We have an Alley in the Agent Pitch Contest coming up this Wednesday with agent Vickie Motter (don't forget!) so we wanted to take today and give you the option to get some feedback from us and Alley readers on your pitch.

For details on the event, click here. Your MS must be complete and polished for this contest, and of course that means the entire MS, but we also all know how important those first words are. After all, those first words need to be perfect and polished if you want the rest of your cleaned and polished manuscript to be seen. 

So if you would like some feedback, please post the following in the comments:

  • Name:
  • Email:
  • Title:
  • Genre:
  • Word Count:
  • Twitter style pitch (140 characters):
  • First 200 Words:

Please note that the twitter style pitch is 140 characters, not 140 words.  And just to clarify, this critique session is for today only. 

If you would only like feedback on your pitch or first 200 words, feel free to post whichever section you would like feedback on.



Happy posting



Post a Comment

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tara Brown

    tarbrow@hotmail.com

    Cursed

    Paranormal Romance

    93,000

    There is a place between worlds where our souls take a moment when we die. The place where everything pauses.
    The place she first saw him.



    Prologue
    The heels of her boots clicked with every strike against the cold soaked cement. She rounded the corner, never taking her eyes from him. His outdated pleather jacket gave him away from the three blocks distance between them. She never would have noticed it before, but diversions were a necessity and fashion seemed like a reasonable one.
    In overconfidence, he never looked behind him. He never imagined he would be followed. His instincts lied to him, allowing for a false sense of security, as is common with the fiercest animals in the forest.
    She fingered the platinum ring on her right middle finger with her thumb. The small band had a thin red line running through the middle of it. On the under side of the ring sat a rose. The ring was her mark. It was her badge. It permitted her to follow the man. It made her brand of deadly force acceptable.
    His foolish and seedy way of life led him down a dark alley. She grimaced, wondering if perhaps he looked for his next victim. She winked her right eye, flashing in front of him. He didn’t have time to respond.
    She lifted him into the air. Gasping, she let her bare hands make contact with the warm fleshy meat of his arm. The contact made every moment crystal clear, as her senses heightened for the feast. His eyes shot to the ring on her finger, recognition and fear spread across his face, "You're a Rose."
    His last words.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Hi Tara!
      Thanks so much for sharing this with us.
      So let me start with this: This is your work, so if I say something that helps you and you agree, awesome, and if not, that's ok too. :)

      Pitch: I really like this. I know this short of a pitch can be frustrating and feel weird, but I really do like this. You have done a lot in this short space: You have given us a hint at the world (the space in between--we at least know that is somehow a part of it), you have given us a bit of an idea about the plot (though general and vague, we still get a sense of it), and you have a nice hook (that last line--nice!)
      So, I really enjoy this pitch.

      The words:
      This may sound goofy, but the line "she rounded the corner, never taking her eyes from him" throws me off a little because I'm not sure where he is, and since she is rounding a corner I have a hard time picturing her being able to watch him. Unless he is next to her, rounding the corner as well? Does that make sense? And then we get the next sentence, and now I know where he is but now I am slightly confused about how she is watching him if she is turning a corner. I realize that is kind of nit-picky, and others may not have the problem making the visualization that I am.
      I like the description of the jacket- it's rather straightfoward and that works. The last line in that paragraph is slightly cloudy just because of the pronoun refering to the jacket is kind of far from the initial mention of the jacket. I do like the last part of that line because it indicates that she needs to distract herself with his fashion, which makes me wonder why. It's a nice way to get readers thinking and curious!
      The second paragraph needs a little tweaking because it feels like we have just jumped into his head. That may have been what you meant, but I'm not sure. It's 3rd POV, but we have been with the female, so my initial assumption was close third. This paragraph kind of changes that. Is she thinking this about him? If so, you could keep the "in overconfidence, he never looked behind him." But the "he never imagined..." is the issue. If it is close 3rd with the female, how do we know he never imagined? If she is assuming this, that's fine, that just needs to be a little clearer. And honestly, you don't even really need that line because the first line about his overconfidence tells us that already. As for the last line in that paragaph, you could make it still close 3rd to the girl by just adding something like "she knew/she guessed/she figured...".
      This ring has my interest. As does the "her brand of deadly force acceptable." I'm interested. Nice!
      Is she gasping? If she's gasping because of the contact, then move the gasping to after her bare hands make contact. Otherwise she is gasping before (or so it reads).
      I would think of maybe a different word or two instead of 'crystal clear' just because it tends to be done a lot. Make sure you have a period after "spread across his face" and before the dialogue, instead of a comma.

      I hope something in my ramble helps :) I know somethings I mentioned may seem nit-picky, and as I said, use what you want and leave the rest.
      You definitely made me interested. The pitch itself did, and the first 200 words did. The paragraph on the ring is what got my attention the most, made me the most interested. And, of course, the last bit makes me wonder what a Rose is and what that guy was. Nicely done!

      Delete
  3. It's my first time pitching, just would love a critique of it all lol

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dale S. Rogers

    Email: DaleSRogers@gmail.com
    Title: Lighthouse on Tortola
    Genre: NA Romance
    Word Count: 30,000 wds

    Twitter style pitch: When photojournalist Andra Phillips flies to the Virgin Islands
    on assignment, she risks her life to battle a force which threatens to take over the entire island of Tortola.


    First 200 Words:


    Andra stared down at tiny white houses on the hillsides of Saint Thomas.

    The jet circled lower, and she caught a glimpse of cobalt blue water. “Gorgeous,”

    she whispered, brushing long blond hair away from her face.

    The plane shuddered and panic filled Andra’s being. We’re going to crash

    into the ocean! she thought wildly, seeing the waves only a few feet from the craft’s

    belly. She held her breath until, as if from nowhere, a landing strip appeared and

    the plane skidded onto the firm surface.

    Exhausted, Andra reached for her carry-on with shaking hands, making sure her

    camera equipment survived the bumpy trip. She was already anxious about what she

    might accomplish while in the Virgin Islands. Finding everything intact, she looped

    the bag over her shoulder and pressed her slender frame into the crowd already filling

    the narrow aisle.

    “Excuse me--” a frantic woman called to anyone who might listen, “can we get out,

    please? Our connecting flight’s about to leave--we need to run!”

    Silence prevailed as the queue inched forward, unconcerned with her request.

    “I’m afraid it doesn’t work that way, dear,” her husband consoled, and they waited

    their turn, hoping for the best.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dale. Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us!
      First-- is this a novella? Just so you know, Vickie does not accept novellas.
      Pitch: I like that we get to know Andra is a photojournalist. I also like that we get a hit at the plot and the stakes (her life). I do wonder, though, if there is a way to make it a little more specific? Maybe even by narrowing down what the foce is that you mention. You could also get rid of the word "entire", which may give you some more characters.
      Words:
      This is more of a personal preference (on adverbs), so as with everything I say, feel free to take it or leave it-- I don't like the "wildly" in "she thought, widly." We already know she's panicking, so we don't need that adverb.
      The "exhausted" throws me a little bit. I think it is because when I read the sentence, I link her shaking hands back to the panic she just had, not exhaustion. Are they supposed to be related?
      The last little bit needs some tweaking in regards to POV. This is obviously 3rd, and I'm assuming it will be limited 3rd, with Andra? The "hoping for the best" throws us out of that because suddenly we know what these people are hoping/feeling. If they are going to be involved and you are switching to close 3rd with them, then I would indicate it with some kind of break. And, if you are doing omni, then just ignore everything I said.
      If you have any questions about what I said, just ask. And I hope something in there was helpful to you.
      LG

      Delete
    2. Sorry, I wanted to add something I forgot to mention:
      Try to stay away from telling. Make sure we see how she is feeling, not just being told.

      Delete
    3. Hi Dale! Thanks for taking part in our critique session. :) Once again, LG & Victoria have made excellent points.

      Things to work on:

      - Show (rather than tell).

      - Nix 'wildly'.

      - Be more specific about what Andra must battle in the pitch.

      Things that are working for you:

      - The setup. In the first 200 words, we learn that Andra is some kind of photographer and has just landed in the Virgin Islands.

      - The imagery. Hillsides and cobalt blue water? Count me in!

      - The concept. I’m intrigued. :)

      Best of luck!

      Delete
    4. Thanks for doing this, and for your input! I understand the issues I need to work on, and I appreciate the encouragement!

      Delete
  5. Makes perfect sense hahahaha. God she has hawk eyes apparently. I think it was always meant to be three shop's down not blocks. I didn't realized how choppy it was after I cut and pasted because of the words limit. Yikes. I am not good with limits on words.

    Is this better? Do I get two chances lol?


    The dank night air crept in through her thin sweater. She wrapped her arms around herself and tried to keep up with his pace. The heels of her boots clicked with every strike against the cold soaked cement. She rounded the corner, staying across the street from him. She tried not to let him get too far ahead of her. His outdated pleather jacket made it easy to keep him in her sights. No one but an immortal would be wearing pleather. She never would have noticed it before, but diversions were a necessity and fashion seemed like a reasonable one.
    He turned down a dark alley. She grimaced, wondering if perhaps he looked for his next victim. He never looked behind him. He was overconfident. They always were. His kind always believed they were the strongest animals in the urban jungle. His instincts lied to him and allowed for a false sense of security. He just didn't know it yet.
    She fingered the platinum ring on her right middle finger with her thumb. The small band had a thin red line running through the middle of it. On the under side of the ring sat a red rose. The ring was her mark. It was her badge. It permitted her to follow the man. It made her brand of deadly force acceptable.
    She winked her right eye, flashing in front of him.
    She lifted him into the air before he had a chance to change into a worthy adversary.
    She gasped when her bare hands made contact with the warm fleshy meat of his throat and the spark started to fill her. The touch of his skin made every moment magnify, as her senses heightened from the feast.
    He choked and fought but it was useless. His eyes shot to the ring on her finger, recognition and fear spread across his face. "You're a Rose."
    His last words.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Much better. You fixed the pov issue, and I like the "he just didn't know it yet." The line "she tried not to let him get too far of head of her" could be cut because you already say she tries to keep up with his pace etc. The only thing that I wouldn't mind having a bit more clarification on is the "she blinked part." Does that mean she literally transported? If so, maybe that could somehow be clarified. I like the word "flash" but it also gives me the impression of a quick thing, like how lightening flashes for example, so I think a few more words about her actually transporting (if that's what happened) would be beneficial. Also, I like she change of she "gasped when." Makes much more sense. Same for the "moment magnify"--much better than crystal clear.
      Nice revision!

      Delete
    2. Hey Tara!

      So my girl LG hit mostly everything, so I'm just going to add a few things. First off LOVED your pitch. I read it and I was like I have to read more. I have nothing to add to that, so great job.

      Your first 200 words. I don't recommend sharing the prologue as the agents first look at the work. Rather than explain let me share a link from agent Kristin Nelson. While I don't agree prologues don't work, I do agree that when sending pages to get a request for a full you should leave that out until they request for the full MS. I recommend sharing the first 200 of the actual MS. Again the decision rides with you and only you know what's best for yourself!

      http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2012/06/fridays-with-agent-kristin-episode-8.html

      But if you are sharing the prologue I did like the first line your originally had better. So emotive and I just loved how that was what started the the story out :) I love your words, but I am wondering like LG if you are doing this from multiple POVs from the examples she provided. You cleaned this up a bit in the second round above, but I feel you can do more to show his overconfidence with more queues that our heroine can see, so she can finalize that he is overconfident.


      He turned down a dark alley (show why him going down the dark alley would make her grimace -- example: eyes darting around, a prowl in his step--this let's us know that he's hunting). She grimaced, wondering if perhaps he looked for his next victim. He never looked behind him (continue this. "He never looked behind him, his steps casual with a hint of cockiness to the strides. He was overconfident...). He was overconfident. They always were. His kind always believed they were the strongest animals in the urban jungle. His instincts lied to him and allowed for a false sense of security. He just didn't know it yet.

      So just clean up the head hopping and I think you're good! Great job and good luck :)

      Delete
    3. Hi Tara! Thank you for stopping by. :) LG & Victoria have already made some great points, so I’ll just mention a few things that stood out.

      Things to work on:

      - Be careful that your first page doesn’t get too play-by-play, e.g. “She (verb). She (verb). She (verb).” Change the sentence structures up a little bit, and you’ll be fine.

      - Underside is one word.

      - Watch your word proximity. “She fingered the platinum ring on her right middle finger with her thumb.” While it’s not technically wrong, seeing ‘finger’ twice caused me to stumble. Perhaps she worried the platinum ring? (When used as a transitive verb, ‘worry’ means to touch, move, or interfere with something repeatedly.)

      Things that are working for you:

      - I loved the bit about only immortals wearing pleather. Too funny!

      - The ring fascinates me. I want to learn more about it. :)

      - The opening scene was easy to visualize.

      I think you've got a great concept here, and I can't wait to hear more about this MS in the future! :)

      Delete
    4. I've been reading and rereading this, trying to see something my NA sisters skipped, but I can't. I think they covered everything I spotted and more.
      And I agree the second one is much better, and that the concept sounds very intriguing.

      Good luck!

      Delete
  6. Hi Dale!

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your pitch and first 200 words with us! So here are my thoughts. Please take what you wish and feel free to ignore just as well! This is your work and only you know what's best for you!

    So the pitch:

    I like what you have here and I only have a few issues. You say the word "force" and it has me thinking: "What kind of force?" A force can mean many things. Is this supernatural? Political? That word leaves the reader open to too many possibilities. You might want to flesh this out more. My second thing: what about Andra would cause her to risk her life for this Island? She's just a journalist, so why would she feel impulsed to do this? She could go back home and forget all about this island, so why would it's take over effect her on a personal level? Is it the homeland of her love? Or something else? We need to see the stakes for her. What does she lose if something bad happens to this island?

    The first 200:

    So I see this is short story, but I think the same thing applies here for any length novel. The first couple of pages have to be emotive and described in heavy detail to get a reaction out of the reader. Showing is key and telling needs to be kept minimal until at least a few pages in. Here are my thoughts:

    "White houses" she sees. Go into detail here. Let us see what she's seeing. Unique elements of her surroundings and all. Helps us see a more colorful story world.

    What emotions are Andra feeling as she's landing? Anxious? Excited for her next assignment? And these emotions need to be shown not told. Don't tell us she's anxious or excited. Show us. Nervous hands, pricks on her skin, etc.

    You state she panics. Show this. Example "a shrill of panic shot up her spine in sharp pricks" Also, you state that she panics before you show us why she's panicking about landing. This is a bit backwards. Give us a reason for her to panic. Example: The waves drew in closer and closer to the planes underbelly, sending a turn of sickness into Andra's usually strong stomach. Where's the helipad? she thought. Why are we landing on the water!

    Also, I'm wondering why she's anxious as you describe later on, on this assignment. Isn't she used to doing these type of assignments? Why is she anxious for this one in particular?

    There's also a word I feel you should replace. The word "being" to describe her body. That word is very intense and for a more laid back story I would just say "body"

    So with your 200 words I am seeing a lot of telling. Example "Exhausted, Andra reached for her carry-on with shaking hands, making sure her camera equipment survived the bumpy trip. She was already anxious about what she might accomplish while in the Virgin Islands. Finding everything intact..."

    Most of this is telling. You should describe her exhaustion, how she made sure her camera equipment survived the trip (checking for cracks and things), why she's anxious about this trip, and how she found everything intact (again checking and accounting for various items.)

    So just watch out for this. I just have one last thing.

    “I’m afraid it doesn’t work that way, dear,” her husband consoled, and they waited their turn, hoping for the best.

    This sentence above is head hopping. Your showing us what the couple is feeling by stating they were "hoping for the best." How would Andra know they were hoping? She's not inside their heads. You can't show us anything that your MC can't touch, smell, or feel otherwise you're head hopping. This is fine if that's what you do consistently throughout the work, but if this is told from one POV you have to stay consistent.

    I think that's about it. This story sounds really fun and I wish you luck. Feel free to comment again if you have any questions about what I've said! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Victoria, I must have been posting when you were. lol.

      Delete
  7. Hi! I'm excited about the pitch on Wednesday! Thank y'all for hosting it :)

    Name: Karen Y. Bynum
    Email: bynum.karen@gmail.com
    Title: Running From Shadows
    Genre: young adult paranormal romance
    Word Count: 77k words
    Twitter style pitch (140 characters): A unicorn shifter must choose to kill the boy she loves to save her coven from the shadow demon who lusts after her soul.

    First 200 Words:

    Today was Jill’s birthday. At least…it would’ve been. Goddess. It felt like only yesterday we’d been teasing Haven about her latest trend and giggling over something a boy had done at school.

    If I could piece together that shattered moment, I would tell Jill how special she was instead of just thinking it. Appreciate what I had. Stop searching and live.

    Sitting on the edge of my bed, I wrote Jill’s name on bay leaf number eighteen and laid it in a row with the others. I’d burn them later tonight, even though I knew wishes didn’t come true. If they did, this wouldn’t be the tenth time I’d performed the ritual, praying Jill would magickally appear.

    It was all my fault. I’d been careless, stubborn. Because of me, my friend was dead. She’d never graduate or go to college. Never have the chance to make love or find her soul mate. Nothing.

    I couldn’t live with this pain any longer…this ache. No punishment would be true justice, but with the coven meeting here tonight, hopefully they’d pass judgment. Do something. It wouldn’t balance things out but it might alleviate the guilt…let me breathe again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Karen! Thanks for stopping by. :) Since I’m first, I’ll only tackle the pitch…

      I love the concept here, but I’d like to see a little more punch. This part makes me feel like she’s already made her choice:

      “A unicorn shifter must choose to kill the boy she loves to save her coven from the shadow demon who lusts after her soul.”

      Know what I mean? It would make for a great one sentence summary, though! Keep that baby on hand. ;)

      Now let’s play around with it. The main thing you want to do is entice the reader. Show us the character, her choice, and the consequences (stakes). What about something like this?

      (I’m totally guessing because I don’t know the story…)

      “(Name) knows the only way to save her unicorn-shifting coven from a shadow demon is to make a sacrifice--but can she kill her own boyfriend?”

      140 words exactly. *Sweat*

      Just a thought! Sometimes a little restructuring goes a long way. :) I hope this helps!

      Delete
    2. Hey Karen!

      I agree with Carrie about the pitch. That exact part in bold throws me off, but the rest is golden.

      Including your first words. Just be careful not to give away too much backstory right off the bat. Perhaps put in a little bit more of actions and what she's waiting for, about her feelings about the meeting, then glaze over about her friend's death.

      Anyway, this is just my opinion. Disregard it if you see fit ;)
      Good luck!

      Delete
    3. Hi Karen. Thanks for sharing!

      I agree with what Carrie & Juliana said regarding the pitch. It does read like she already made the decision, and we want to know what's at stake etc-not what she choses.
      As for the words:
      This does make me interested. The concept sounds intrigueing. But I would watch the backstory. We need enough but not too much. Try to make us curious. Tease us. Give us little bits that leave us wondering. I am wondering how she is to blame, so that's good. The coven is also an intrigueing idea. One idea would be to see if you could bring up the coven a little earlier, or focus a little more on it, to help break up this inner narration/backstory.
      LG

      Delete
    4. Thanks Carrie and Juliana! I appreciate the advice! Looking forward to the pitch contest! :)

      Delete
  8. Hi ladies! Thank you!

    How about this for the pitch? A unicorn shifter knows the only way to save her coven from a shadow demon is to make a sacrifice--but can she kill her own boyfriend? (I switched it up a bit since not all of the witches shift.)

    200 words -- I had considered starting with the prologue for the 200 words instead... What do you think?

    Part of me had always felt carved out. Missing. Today, I was hoping to find a reason. The giant oaks of the Red Forest loomed above me. Unease prickled down my spine. Something else was in the woods. Lurking in the shadows. Watching me. I froze mid-step, ice in my veins. Peered into the darkness with my breath caught in my throat.

    Haven slammed into my back. “Greta, seriously?”

    A shiver rippled through me. The thing in the shadows had taken my attention so completely I’d forgotten that my two best friends trailed behind me. What was that thing? Had I imagined it?

    When I didn’t answer she stomped in front of me. “Don’t just stop like that.” Haven smoothed a loose strand of pink hair behind her ear. “Damn. Maybe I should take the lead.”

    “Whatever, girl.” I risked a quick glance over Haven’s shoulder toward the shadowy figure. Gone.

    “What are you looking at?” She followed my gaze.

    Jill joined us, her blond hair swaying over her shoulders as she bobbed her head up and down. The giddy smile on her face said she might start clapping at any second. “Ooh, I hope it’s something witchy and dangerous.”

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Karen,
    hmmm... I like that this one has more action but I like the questions your first one creates. I find the coven and judgment very interesting, and while I do find this thing hiding in the shadows interesting as well, it's a little less intrigueing for me. I think this is personal preference so keep that in mind. I tend to lean towards more action intermixed with the inner narration, but I actually was more intrigued by the first.
    one idea would be to try to do some combinging. Give us some hints, like you did in the first about how it would be Jills birthday, and give a few thoughts/memories of this new scene. You could even add this stuff from the one you just posted throughout the story, such as during the scene with the coven, so you wouldn't need the prologue.
    Sorry if that wasn't very helpful, but I guess I'd prefer the first, just with a little more mystery.
    LG
    oh and as for the pitch: I do like the new one better. We get character, stakes, consequences.

    ReplyDelete
  10. VICTORIA you have saved meeeeeeee!!!! Omg. So guilty of sin number three there. The video was awesome. I'll be watching that every week. Eek!!
    Sound advice ladies but I'm pulling the prologue.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Okay I realize it's not the 3rd anymore and I am pushing my luck with my third post, omg I'm that person, but here is what I'm pitching tomorrow.

    After watching that video I see the idea of the prologue is not a good one.

    Thanks so much for the help ladies.

    Tara Brown

    tarbrow@hotmail.com

    Cursed

    Paranormal Romance

    93,000

    The pitch

    There is a place between worlds where our souls take a moment when we die. The place where everything pauses.
    The place she first saw him.


    The first 200


    “Aimee?”
    I looked up from my pages of scribbles confused. Sometimes that happened. It was new.
    I needed a moment to recognize not only where I was, but also who spoke to me.
    I had let my daydream take me again.
    “Aimee?”
    I looked at the front of the class recognizing the glare Miss Simms, my English teacher, gave me. It was the look she gave all the bad kids. I realize the PC term is ‘challenged youth’ but my sister is one of them, I'm not fooled. They made the only challenges in their idiotic world. I looked at the board behind her, remembering what we had been doing, Twelfth Night.
    “Aimee what is the theme Shakespeare is trying to hide beneath the themes we easily see?” She asked as if trying to trick me.
    I nodded, “Beyond the obvious themes of the folly in ambition and the uncertainty of gender. He, as he always did, liked to use the theme of love as a means to suffering as if it were a weapon. Twelfth Night is only one of many of his plays, if not in all of them, where this theme is present.”
    And there it was, the difference between the ‘challenged youth’ and I.
    She wasn’t used to catching me lost in space. It was new.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Tara,
    sorry we missed this post since it was after the 3rd, but good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No prob!! Thanks so much for the critique. You guys are amazing and you gave me tons to think about.

      Delete

We LOVE hearing from you!

 
NA Alley © 2013. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Blogger
Top