Sunday, July 16, 2017

1st 5 Pages July Workshop - Choi Rev 2

Name: Stacy Choi
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Title: Deity Girl


When sixteen-year-old Mel cracks the lid of Pandora’s Box, ancient magic spills out. It turns the small town of Belleview into a prison and traps all the newly transformed townspeople within the magical boundaries. Now everything from witches to unicorns to ghouls walks the streets. Horrified by, Mel hides the box, vowing it will never be opened again.

When Mel’s finally secret comes out, someone decides they want Pandora’s Box for themselves. To get it they take the one thing that matters most to Mel: her best friend, Milt. So when Milt’s life is threatened in exchange for the box, she has to make a choice—save the world from potential destruction or save her only friend in the world.  

Having been told only she could open Pandora’s Box, Mel hands it over, confident she can get it back before any real damage can be done. She doesn’t consider that she’s been lied to, that there is someone else that can open the box. Desperate to close it once again, Mel teams up with some unlikely allies in a battle for Pandora’s Box. But with the magic already spreading beyond the boundaries of Belleview, it may be too late.

First 1250 words:

I flipped open the box of Della’s Donuts sitting on my lap and pulled out a plain glazed. My fourth donut of the morning. Despite eating enough sugar on a daily basis to satisfy a horse, my figure hadn’t changed. Not since the first time I died.

Not changed much, anyhow.

Rubbing a hand across my stomach, I plucked at the t-shirt pulling a little tight across my middle. Didn’t matter. When I died again—and that’d probably be soon considering who I just robbed—I’d come back looking exactly like my half-starved sixteen-year-old self of three years ago, with the worst haircut of my life.

I glared through the film of magic rippling along the town border, between me and the buyer’s car. Three hours and he still wasn’t back.

Rockng forward on the bus stop bench that no buses ran to anymore, I peered down the empty road. The direction the buyer had gone

 Still nothing.       
Just a rusty sign warning outsiders that they’d crossed into Belleview. As if the dingy gray unicorn scratching its rump against the post didn’t give that away. Baring big square teeth at me, it heaved from the sign post, and clopped away.

Shaking my head, I continued to stare down the empty road.

Since cars didn’t work in Belleview, the buyer headed into town on foot to meet with my business partner and BFF, Milt, hours ago. What could be taking so long?

Worry needled me. Pulse thumping a little faster, my heart knocked against my ribs, like a moth trapped in a jar. What if the deal went sideways? Could something have happened to Milt?

No. What had gotten into me?

I did the dirty work for a reason. Dying sucked, but I’d come back. Not Milt. He didn’t have my not-so-fun party trick. If something ever happened to him, he’d be gone forever.

An icy breeze raked its way across my bare arms, feeling like frozen fingernails. Cold by Florida standards, normal for the magic-altered weather patterns of Belleview. I tucked my legs closer to my body, folding them to sit cross-legged.

I’d give the buyer five more minutes, that was it. Feeling around in the half-empty donut box, I grabbed another.


Jaw freezing mid-chew, I turned toward the voice and slumped in relief. Just the buyer. I’d been so distracted I hadn’t heard him coming. A mistake that could’ve cost me big time.

Had it been Tomas, the Corpse Witch enforcer, chances were I’d already be dead.

My question came out with a mouthful of crumbs, “Payment made?”

“Yeah,” the man croaked, nerves clogging his throat.

Licking powdered sugar from my fingertips, I extended my hand. Sugar-free fingers wiggling impatiently.

“Oh, sorry.” The man fumbled a walkie-talkie from his jacket pocket and scooted close enough to hand it to me before scurrying away. He pulled out a yellow-silk handkerchief and dabbed it along his receding hairline.

I didn’t blame him for being twitchy. He either had to have huge titanium balls or no brains to be here, a regular human with no way to protect himself, trying to steal from the Corpse Witches—witches whose magic dealt with the dead.

My money was on the no brains thing.

Whatever Twitchy here and his employer planned, it wouldn’t work. It took Reaper Weed and a Corpse Witch to raise a ghoul. Since they’d never find a Corpser outside of Belleview, the world wasn’t in danger of being invaded by ghouls.

“Are you…” he stuttered, the question not quite rolling off his tongue.

I arched a brow. “Am I what?”

Leaves crinkled beneath his loafers as he rocked from foot to foot. “I heard you were a zombie.” The man’s unsettling pale blue eyes traveled from the frizzy mess of Crayola-red hair on my head, down to my crossed legs, and back. He stilled. “You don’t look much like a zombie.”

“That’s because I’m not.” Scowling, I tried to run my fingers through the snarled mess on my head.

“So, what are you?”

“Not dead.” I gave him my best crazy girl grin.

There wasn’t a word for what I was, all because of the magic trapped inside Pandora’s Box that spilled out when I cracked the lid. The magic Turned or killed everyone it touched—it did a bit of both to me.

“But I heard…”

Knowing Tomas could show up any minute I cut him off.  “Didn’t you know anything about this place before your boss sent you here?”

“Sure, but come on. Who’s going to believe it without seeing it?”

I snorted. “Stupid people that come here and get themselves killed. Or worse, Turned.”

My finger mashed the little black button on the side of the walkie before Twitchy could ask anything else. “Milt?”

No answer.

If he left the walkie behind and went to Imogen’s for lunch without me, we were gonna have words

“Milt?” I spoke into the walkie again.

Still no answer.

I rolled my lower lip between my teeth. The job felt wrong from the start and this solidified my feelings about it. Milt always answered.

Protocol was to check in with Milt and make sure everything went alright. This would be the first time I’d left a job without doing that, but I had to get back and check on him. He should be at the warehouse by now.

I slid off the bench, slipped the walkie into my back pocket, and tucked the donut box under my arm.

“You can’t leave yet!” Twitchy shouted, but I was already walking away. “We had a deal. Where’s my stuff?”

“In the tree next to the bench,” I answered without turning to see if he found it. Either he would or he wouldn’t.

The fwip, fwip. fwip of Twitchy’s slick soled loafers slipping on the tree trunk, along with some creative cursing, told me he’d spotted it. I widened my steps, moving faster, leaving the sounds of the man’s struggle to climb behind.

Before long the road fell quiet, just the crunch of fall leaves beneath my feet and the harsh rasp of my breath from the pace I’d set.

“Mel.” Milt’s muffled voice crackled from my back pocket.

Relief rolled through me and I tugged the walkie from my jeans. “Geez, about time. I’ve been having a panic...”

“Boomerang,” He wheezed out his nickname for me, cutting me off mid-sentence. Usually all sunshine and laughter, my best friend sounded desperate and out of breath.

My hand clenched the donut box, crumpling the cardboard sides.

The crack of flesh connecting with flesh came through the walkie before it went dead.

I didn’t need to see the action to know what that sound meant. A distinct sound I’d heard—and felt—plenty of times before. Jolting into a run, my feet kicked up a cloud of leaves and gravel, terror driving me faster than I’d ever moved before. I leaped over fallen trees and barreled through overgrown shrubs.

Close. Less than a mile from the warehouse. He just had to hang on til I got there. Had to be Corpses Witches. Payback for stealing their Reaper Weed. Milt didn’t steal it, but that wouldn’t matter if they found out we were working together.

As a null, Milt didn’t have any magic of his own, but magic couldn’t hurt him either. Magic raised the ghouls from the grave. If any ghouls touched him, they’d drop like flies. So he had a chance.  


  1. Hi Stacy, I think you're missing a word in this sentence in your pitch. "Horrified by," or maybe just take by out.

    I think the words here are out of order: "When Mel’s finally secret comes out, "

    Overall, I think you could probably spice up the verbs in the pitch s'more. Personally, I try to avoid using the word "get," as it's such a weak verb. However, the premise sounds really fun and you've definitely established the stakes :)

    This sentence is missing a period: If he left the walkie behind and went to Imogen’s for lunch without me, we were gonna have words

    There's a period here instead of a comma? The fwip, fwip. fwip

    The "He" here is capitalized: “Boomerang,” He wheezed out his nickname for me,

    Well enough picking at the lines :') I really like how you got through the "buy" faster this time and introduced Milt's peril earlier. I think you did a good job introducing him here and that he's in trouble and he's Mel's bestie and oh god she needs to help him and fast. Maybe you could introduce some of this urgency earlier on? I like how you set up Belleview as a magical suburb that used to be normal, but Mel is kinda just sittin' around for something to happen. Milt's danger is what really grabbed me.

    Great job on the revisions and let me know if you have any questions :)

  2. Thanks for the feedback! The pitch mistakes are kind of horrifying. That last minute push to condense 250 words to 200 and all that. Same thing goes for the errors you spotted in the writing. Last minute tweaks based off of some suggestions. Those late night revisions can be evil...

  3. Dear Stacy,

    I’ve really enjoyed watching this story progress. I think this is a tighter beginning than you initially had. I still have thoughts, of course. (Always!) But I really appreciate how responsive you’ve been to everyone’s feedback.

    I know someone else already mentioned typos and, earlier, commas. Such things seem tweaky, but as with other businesses, people in the publishing world like to work with writers who deliver clean copy. Typos and punctuation errors on first pages are a red flag, as they suggest a manuscript might be full of them. If you were an editor and you read two stories of equal quality, but one had punctuation errors and typos while the other didn’t, which would you pick for a limited slot on your publication schedule? I’m not saying all this to embarrass you at all. I’m just trying to emphasize the realities of the profession. If you have trouble spotting such things in your own work, make friends with a good proofreader. Or you might hire one.

    Regarding your pitch, I like that you have a double bind. This suggests the story has a lot of tension. In terms of your pitch, you might want to work on phrasing. Tighten phrases and use strong verbs. You might want to focus and clarify a bit, too. There’s a lot of unnamed ‘someone’ and ‘they,’ which makes the pitch sound vague. Also, I’m a bit confused by the logic. Wouldn’t she suspect that someone besides her could open it if someone requested it?

    On to the story.

    I like the pulse of her concern about Milt. This definitely has improved the pacing. I also like that you’ve tightened the section with Twitchy. I still think that if he were a more important character to the story overall, you might be able to use this scene more to your advantage. Still, you maintain the tension by focusing on her concerns.

    I’m just going to go through piece by piece.

    Donuts: You spend a lot of time on the sugar and her figure. I know the section is establishing her voice, but I think you can cut a few lines in here. The “Not changed much” as its own paragraph emphasizes her body and the sugar, but in the larger scope of things, these don’t matter much.

    Is Milt trapped inside Belleview? Is that why she’s out here and he’s in there? If not, why wouldn’t they just meet the buyer together? This seems a touch unclear.

    “Worry needled me. Pulse thumping a little faster, my heart knocked against my ribs, like a moth trapped in a jar.” This is a lot of moving parts, particularly body parts. Cut down to one evocative phrase? Maybe your best and most original phrase that stands out?

    I became a little confused in the two pieces about the Reaper Weed and Corpse Witches and ghouls. I think you could just cut this down to essentials. You’re integrating info, but it’s a lot at once. Particularly when we get to the paragraph after “My money was on the no brains.” Do we really need all of the paragraph that follows it?

    “Solidified my feelings” - this doesn’t seem to be in her voice. You have such few slips that I know you can come up with a phrase that really speaks as she does.

    I often tell students and writers I’m editing to look at the last words of their paragraphs. What words are you using to send the reader into white space? For example, you might instead write:” leaving behind the sounds of the man’s struggle.” Also you might revise to, “the harsh rasp of my breath.” Ending on strong words can make a sentence and a paragraph strike the reader with more intensity.

    When she’s running, I don’t think she’d notice the cloud of leaves and gravel she’s kicking up. She’s focused on him, on getting there.

    With “as a null,” you give us information, but this slows the pace here. You might put it more in her desperate perspective.

    Good luck with this imaginative story! I’ve enjoyed reading your work.


    1. Hi, Laura! Thank you for all your feedback and suggestions. They have been appreciated.

      I understand completely about the typos. It is unprofessional. I would never present work I hadn't proofed (and proofed and proofed) outside of this situation. I wish it hadn't happened here, either. Unfortunately, last minute changes just before submitting and it slipped by. I'm almost finished with full manuscript revisions and I will be going over that baby with a fine tooth comb!

      The suggestions you've made this round are all very valid points. I look forward to going back over the pages with them in mind.

      As far as the pitch, in my full query it isn't so vague and it actually names Tomas, not "someone" as the person who discovers her secret. I left it out in this version for the sake of condensing the pitch. Still, I will go back and take a look at the phrasing in the original query and the verbs.

      This workshop has been tremendous. Your (and all the other feedback) has been invaluable. I've enjoyed having you as the guest mentor and appreciate the time you've taken out of your schedule to help everyone here.


    2. It's been my pleasure! I'm glad you found it helpful.

      Take good care.

  4. Hi Stacy,

    These pages have consistently improved since your first submission, great work!

    There are a few errors in your pitch, so watch out for those. The pitch nicely sets up the conflict of the story and gives a good idea of what Mel stands to lose. One little thing I’d suggest is adding in that (as I remember from an earlier revision) Mel was tricked into opening the box. It’s not an essential thing to know, but it’s an interesting detail and whether she opened it on purpose or not I think reveals something about her character.

    There are a few instances of ‘get’ in the pitch which I think could be replaced by stronger words. For example, “To find it they take…” or “…confident she can reclaim it before…”. Just some suggestions.

    For the pages, I think the beginning could still be tightened up a bit. It’s very introspective, and I’d like to see the situation outside of Mel’s head come in a bit sooner.

    Keep on polishing these pages, overall they’re in good shape!


    1. Thank you for the feedback, Alyssa. You've had wonderful suggestions throughout this workshop and it's appreciated. :)

  5. Hi Stacy,

    So, first of all, these pages feel a LOT tighter than when you first submitted them! Look how far the story gets by the time you hit your word count -- you've introduced a whole new conflict with more peril and suspense than you had before! Now there's a real sense of urgency when your pages come to an end! I'd recommend dropping the last paragraph altogether or maybe replacing it with something harder hitting. Maybe "... that wouldn't matter if they found out we were working together -- we'd both be dead. And for Milt, that'd be a permanent condition." Or something to that effect.

    As others have pointed out, you'll need to scrub your pages for typos, missing words and comma issues, etc. Totally understandable that they'd find their way into your pages with this workshop's tight deadlines, but be sure you have pristine pages before you query!

    On to the pitch. This needs some work in my opinion. It feels really flat compared to your first five pages. You'll want your pitch to sparkle just as much as your pages. It should be tight, specific and voicey. Otherwise an agent may not even go on to read your sample pages. For a lot of people, the pitch is way harder than writing the book itself :)

    Specifically, take a look at some of the language you use in the pitch. "When Mel’s finally secret comes out, someone decides they want Pandora’s Box for themselves." What's her secret? That's not clear. How does it come out? Who is "someone"? Specificity here is important. As it stands, it kinda sounds like you're not sure of your plot yourself.

    I love the double bind you put Mel in -- save the world or save her friend? That's great! But the exposition around Mel thinking only she can open the box but she's been lied to is both flat and probably more detailed than we need. You can gloss over how/why the baddies get a hold of the box and just make the point that they do, which means Mel has to make difficult decisions and sacrifices to do what's right.

    "Mel teams up with some unlikely allies in a battle for Pandora’s Box." We could use more specificity here as well. Who are the allies? Why are they unlikely? Does the nature of these allies create tension? Humor? Will they turn on her? Are they incompetent? Dangerous?

    Finally, I'd love to hear mention of the Corpsers in the pitch, assuming Mel is going to be in jeopardy from them during the course of the story. That would raise the stakes for her and put in even more of a bind.

    That's the sum of it from me. Work on that pitch! But you should feel great about the progress you've made over the past few weeks! You came in with some really strong pages that are now tighter and harder hitting than before! Plus, you've demonstrated a really important trait for a writer -- being able to take feedback with grace and use it to make your MS better. (Good critique partners are a must, by the way!)

    It's been a pleasure reading your pages! Thanks for sharing them! And best of luck with your publishing career!

    All best,

    1. Rob, thank you very much for the kind words. I agree, the opening pages move along much faster and I really like them! While I wouldn't implement something I don't agree with, I'm not one to put ego over progress and the suggestions I've received from everyone have been so helpful.

      Ah, the pitch. So much was snipped from it that it was left too vague. Many of the things you asked are in there (it's 250 words, so still pretty short). I would love to get more voice into it, though. The story has a strong voice and I would love for the pitch to as well. This is definitely something I will work on.

      Thank you for reading the pages and the wonderful critiques.


    2. Your Pitch:

      Your opening paragraph sounds like you are describing the inciting incident, but now that I’ve you’re your opening pages – which take place after this event…is it backstory? I was at a conference last year and had the pleasure of listening to Janet Reid (Query Shark!) not only give a detailed presentation on queries…but she reviewed mine afterwards (So. Lucky.). The first thing she asked me was, “When does the story start in this query?” I pointed to the fourth sentence. Her answer: “Delete everything before that. It’s backstory.” I’ve since learned that it’s important to establish some sense of “life before change” in a query, but try to keep it crisp and tight. I don’t know that I do that in my own…after 89 revisions, who knows anymore, but my big inciting happens at the end of my first paragraph in the QL and the pages open with what’s described in the query. Just something to think about and consider for your own.

      Questions I’d love to see answered in your QL:

      Who is the antagonist? Is it the “someone” mentioned in the second paragraph? Also, is kidnapping Milt meant to be a bribe? Release him in exchange for the box? It sounds like yes, but right now it’s wordy in that second paragraph. It can be tightened. There’s another “someone” alluded to in the third paragraph. Is this the antagonist?

      A little bit of transition is needed between the time Milt is exchanged for the box (which I assumed happened) and the box is opened. You probably have this smoothed over in your full QL, though.

      You’ve probably heard this before as well, but it’s good to end the QL in one of two ways: 1) a choice that the MC has to make, or 2) highlight the stakes if the MC doesn’t succeed. Ideally, both are presented in the QL. The way it reads now, it tells us what Mel does…but you haven’t revealed the antagonist or what stands in the MC’s way to achieve success. So, then ending could be a little stronger.

      Your Pages:

      Still love your hooky opening. I’ve never mastered the art of the elusive hook. You have my praise 😊

      Small suggestion: You mention “Three years ago, with the words haircut of my life,” and then “Three hours and he still wasn’t back.” Is the number three critical? If not, suggest you change one of them. Like I said, small and a nitpicky, but we are trying to achieve perfection, right?

      “…that no buses ran to anymore,” is a tad awkward.
      I think it would be good to mention her concern for Milt a little earlier. You might even do so in the opening, and mention how she hadn’t saved any donuts for Milt. I only say this because it sounds like you amped up Mel’s worry quotient, which is fine, but I feel like Milt should be #1 on her mind.

      I really love the voice in this piece. It comes through loud and clear.

      The “showing” of Twitchy being twitchy works much better now. Nicely done. And you didn’t spend as much time with him. More focus on the good stuff (i.e. the attack on Milt). I do have questions about the setup of this scenario. Where is Milt? In Belleview? Was Milt the one meeting the buyer? If Mel is worried about Milt, I imagine the first thing she’d asked Twitchy is, “Where’s Milt?” It is insinuated that Twitchy and Milt were together, but it’s not clear.

      There’s still some awkward wording throughout, but others have already highlighted it. I only mentioned one or two examples here, so you will want to check sentence by sentence.

      Hope this helps!

    3. Thank you for the feedback, Danielle.

      First, that's awesome you met Janet Reid and had the good fortune of having her look at your query. It's ridiculous how many times I have scoured the Query Shark archive! I have tried to apply what she says into my full query pitch, but the chop-job I did to make it fit here is poor. I only had to cut 50 words. It sounds like such a small number!

      That's also great (and very valid) advice about starting where the story begins, and I've tried, but I'm not sure how to introduce an altered world without pre-explaining. Argh! I feel your pain on the number of revisions.

      Your suggestions are appreciated, on this draft as well as the entire workshop.

      Best of luck with your story!

    4. It was a golden opportunity. Janet Reid is the one who pointed my query in the right direction...a gazillion revisions later and it still basically follows the format she told me to follow...and I think this can apply to any of our queries:

      Paragraph 1 - Introduce the MC and inciting incident. Hint at the challenge faced.
      Paragraph 2 - What stands in the way of the MC of achieving her goal?
      Paragraph 3 - What are the stakes?
      Paragraph 4 - What must the MC do and/or what choice must the MC make?

      Sounds so easy, doesn't it?

    5. "Sounds" is the key word. :) I have been making tweaks for the past few days and think it's on its way though.

      Great formula to go by. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Hi, Stacy! Last but not least! Thanks so much for participating, and I'm so excited to review your material. As noted elsewhere, my comments are getting chopped by Blogger, so look forward to the full comment in two parts!

    The nitpicky:
    "sixteen-year-old" -- so we see in the first few paragraphs that Mel has been 16 for 3 years... so is she really nineteen? Otherwise maybe couch by inserting 'perpetually' or something to that effect.
    "Mel cracks the lid of Pandora's Box" -- from the very beginning, I'm wondering why she has Pandora's Box to begin with. Is it passed down to her? Does she find it? Does she know that it's dangerous to open? Knowing how she came to possess the Box might better inform the audience: a) how her secret is revealed later and b) why it's her responsibility to resolve it (other than generally fixing her mistake).
    "everything from witches to unicorns to ghouls" -- This is COOL but are they all originally townspeople? I'm not sure this was 100% clear between the second and third sentences. Also, could be a place to introduce the Corpse Witches, since they seem like the primary antagonist based on the pages.
    "someone decides they want..." -- If this someone is the main antagonist, I would identify them here.
    general comment: are there adults in Belleview at all? I'm getting the impression that they're kind of AWOL, but it's something to consider.
    "potential destruction" -- does Mel have a concrete idea of how bad it could be? Or is she just extrapolating based on the first time she opened the box?
    "only she could open" -- This ties into my earlier comment, but who told her that? And why would she think she's special enough that it would be tied to her? I think I saw this also mentioned above, but if wouldn't she expect that if someone wants the Box, they could open it or use it for something nefarious?

    NOTES: Generally, I thought the concept in your pitch was interesting, but I was concerned by the number of holes that I saw in the plot at this level. I always hope that they're resolved within the novel (and usually air on the side of anticipating that they have been when I'm considering requesting more material), but throughout, I wished for more clarity. I understand that it can be difficult to constrain yourself to a word count, but start with your one sentence elevator pitch and focus on the main plot, and then expand outwards. You're getting bogged down a little by world-building in the first paragraph and your writing style. For example, you could further condense the second paragraph:

    "When Mel’s secret is revealed, X is determined to take Pandora’s Box for themselves. They threaten Milt, Mel's best friend, in exchange for the box. Mel has to make a choice—save the world from potential destruction or save her only friend in the world." (I cut 17 words).

    By getting to the point quicker, you can use those words to either enhance the nuance of the situation or further explain the plot. [1/2]

  7. OVERALL: You did a lot of things really well! Mel's voice was very well developed and you are clearly confident writing her character. The world seemed fully realized in your head, but there were a couple points where there was a disconnect in your pages. The first example was your comment about the bus stop--I assume that you're including this detail to develop the world, but then you didn't clarify why there were no more buses. Same comment goes for the "magic-altered weather patterns." We don't actually see the reference to Pandora's Box until halfway through Mel's interaction with Twitchy. It may be more useful to insert this information when Mel explains that's why she does the "dirty work" instead of Milt. Another note about the world-building: you reference the Corpse Witches a couple times, but I had no idea what the scope of their abilities/powers were, and really what their role is in the political atmosphere of Belleview. They seem to be fairly important, but why was lost on me.

    You dropped a huge bomb in the first paragraph, which worked so well! I was immediately hooked and had to know more. But then we get a couple details about Mel that seemed contrary to the badass she seemed to be later in the sample pages—her too-tight t-shirt, that she regenerates/reincarnates as half-starved with a crappy haircut. Is this minutiae really what she would be worried about while she's waiting for Milt? Further, it may turn off your culturally aware female teens. Keep Mel focused on the situation at hand. My comment about condensing your query applies generally here, too; introduce her current situation and the salient characters in the first couple pages as quickly and efficiently as possible. As much as I enjoyed the imagery of the donuts, it didn't really add anything to the pages. Since Mel herself is so colorful, you could remove and instead consider clarifying the world-building.

    A couple questions: Why doesn’t Mel make the deal instead of Milt? If it's so dangerous, there should be logic to why she sent him instead. Again, why don't Mel and Milt already use the walkie-talkies throughout the drop? Why does Twitchy bring the walkie-talkie to Mel instead? Lastly, I was curious what the actual trade/robbery was for (Reaper Weed, maybe?). And whether Twitchy was buying the product or selling it (or neither)?

    That being said, the tension and emotions at the end when Mel realized Milt was definitely in danger was well done. I was immediately back in the action and alongside Mel until the end of the sample pages. Perhaps condense the first 1,000 words and jump into this action as quickly as possible, since that was the strongest part of the sample. Throughout, you have elements that were well done, but I think you could tighten the narrative a bit and be clearer when you introduce elements that are unique to this world and Mel's situation. Great start, just go through everything with a fine-tooth comb!

    And thanks everyone for picking up the grammatical errors throughout. Stacy, I'm not going to drag you through the wringer on it again, as I’m sure you’d clean them up before you query an agent. Since we receive so many queries, the quality of submission needs to be in the top 1-3% to receive a request for more material. Thanks!

  8. Hi, Gabrielle! Thank you so much for your detailed feedback. I can't wait to go back and dig in based on some of your comments.

    Regarding the query, I love some of the questions you asked. They are the exact ones I labored over the past few days. Hopefully I have answered them clearly but succinctly in the most recent version of my query.

    I am so glad that you (as well as some of the other mentors/mentees) brought the confusion between what Milt is doing meeting with Twitchy first to my attention. I have plans to explain that and the walkie part up. There is a reason they don't keep in contact the entire time and the buyer brings the walkie to Mel, so I need to clarify that for sure!

    I appreciate everything you pointed out and plan to make another run through the opening pages with your feedback in mind.

    Thank you for offering up your time to give this feedback!