Sunday, July 26, 2015

1st 5 Pages July Workshop - Josephson Pitch

Name: Kalyn Josephson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Title: The Underground

Seventeen-year-old Ross Delshero gave up on making friends a long time ago. As a human running from Haven, a city of supernatural creatures, she has to pack up and move to a new town—a lot.
When Ross’s mother is kidnapped for trying to end Haven’s slave trade, Ross returns to Haven to rescue her. There she meets the city’s prince, Darius, who is also fighting to end the slave trade. But Darius has been cursed by one of the trade’s strongest supporters, and will die if he stands against it. Despite telling herself she’ll just have to leave after finding her mother, Ross grows attached to the people she meets and the city that was supposed to be her home. But the longer she spends in Haven, the more the city whittles away at the good in her, and the more she discovers she’s been fighting against a plan that’s been in motion for hundreds of years—and her family is much more involved than she thinks. With her new friends, Ross fights to rescue her mother and cure Darius, before the city falls past the point of saving.


  1. This first paragraph confused me. If she is running from a city, wouldn't she just have to move once? Or does this "city" move every time she does? Also, why is her mother trying to end something in a city she has moved away from and why was it supposed to be her home? I feel like I'm missing some major pieces of information here.

    I do like that you've kept the goal of saving her mother clear, but I think she may have a larger inner goal at play here. Otherwise, she should just grab her mother and run. What is it that she really longs for that this city gives her and why does that pull her away from achieving the outer goal?

    Good luck!

  2. Is her mother in the slave trade? I would like to hear more about that. I would like to know more about the curse on Darius. Other than that, I think you did a good job.

  3. You’ve gotten some really good suggestions, and queries are my Kryptonite, so I’m going to do my best to comment on what I know. :-) Your pitch matches up to the first five pages. Yay! You’ve given us some great info about Ross in the first two sentences, so that covers one of the big tasks with a query pitch. Yay! You’ve also given us the plot catalyst—Ross returning to Haven. Good job! And you’ve given us some backstory and later plot events—another good job!

    A question I had: Were her parents some sort of activists to save people from Haven?

    Random thought: I wonder if part of your inner conflict is Ross’ struggle to be confident in her own abilities?

    The part about Ross’ mother being kidnapped and Ross returning to rescue her… That’s sort of a hook killer for me because part of the reason I want to read is to find out what happened to her mother. Dad says she’s dead. Ross doesn’t believe it, so I don’t know what to believe, but when I read this, one of my questions re: Mom seems to be answered. But at the same time, I like that saving her mom is part of her conflict, and maybe you answer that part about her mom pretty fast in the book.

    Ohh! I like that she meets the city’s prince! Question: If he’s cursed to not stand against the slave trade, how is he fighting against it?

    This is so little, but you can almost always cut the word “just.”

    I am a bit confused about her attachment to Haven. She loves the people there, but the city whittles away the good in her. Is it the atmosphere of the city? Is there some undercurrent of evil that sucks away the good in all people? If that’s true, what does she find redeeming in the people? Or is it just humans that are affected by the city? Or is it just Ross that is affected by the city?

    I definitely like the last sentence. It gives the ticking time bomb and her motivation.

    Overall kudos, Kalyn! I can't wait to read your whole story someday!

  4. I think you have a good start. The way you include who she is (human) and what Haven is (a city of supernatural creatures) – you worded that nicely. I do agree there seems to be some info missing from the first paragraph. Why does she have to pick up and move a lot? What is the connection between moving and her mother getting kidnapped?

    I’ve read that writers should break up large chunks of text in query letters. Can you take your second paragraph and make it into two? How about start the third paragraph where it says, “But the longer she spends…” With that in mind, looking at the “second paragraph,” I don’t think it’s bad. I do have some questions. How has Darius been cursed? If he’s the prince, why can’t he end the slave trade? Does Ross remember living in Haven at all and that’s why it’s so easy for her to become attached to it? I don’t know if you necessarily need to answer those in the query. Something to think about.

    In what I would call the “third paragraph,” how does the city whittle away at the good in her? Is there a way you can make that more specific? I like the line “…her family is much more involved than she thinks.” That’s intriguing!

  5. Hi Kalyn,

    You’ve got some great suggestions so far. I’m actually wondering if you need to tell us that she moves a lot and doesn’t bother making friends at all—it doesn’t seem really that important, compared to the rest of the plot, and I think if you started with Ross’s mother being kidnapped, it’d be a much stronger hook.

    I also have a lot of the same questions as the comments above, so I won’t reiterate those. And I think breaking up the second paragraph (and some of those long sentences) would be beneficial.

    I want to know what is personally at stake for Ross if she doesn’t rescue her mother and cure Darius before the city falls past the point of saving. What does it matter if she city falls past the point of saving if Ross was avoiding Haven at the beginning of the story? We know she can just go home again—with her mother and Darius in tow, assuming she saves them. I just think the time bomb here (that she must save them both before the city is unsalvageable) would be much stronger if we understood why it was so important to Ross to save the city, too.

    I hope this helps! I wish you all the best with your writing and querying.

  6. So I have the same comments as above. It seems in the first 5 pages Haven is such a place of danger for humans (glad to find that out) but she comes to love it and the people in it. I didn't quite get that part. Also what about Haven whittles away at the good in her.
    I like the love interest but am confused how Darius can fight against the slave trade is he is cursed. Good luck.

  7. The comments are all great, as an overall strategy, try thinking of it like this: Hook with the character, what's her conflict/struggle/goal? What's in the way? What's the consequence of choosing?

    Also, think on whether the questions you're creating are confusing the reader or are illogical Vs. whether you are creating questions that beg to be answered by reading on! I love your first five so make the query just as great! :D