Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pass Or Pages Entry #3

Welcome to our feedback reveal for Pass Or Pages. In this contest, randomly chosen entries were critiqued by our agent panel. We hope it will give everyone a sense of what is going on in an agent's head as they read queries and first pages. We're so grateful to the members of the agent panel who gave their time to provide feedback on these entries. We'd also like to thank the entrants. It's hard to put yourself out there. Thanks for being brave!

Entry #3 BENEATH


Journalist Cora Mayburn doesn’t believe in demons, at least not those with horns and pitchforks.
When she receives an assignment on a snake-handling church in Appalachia, she’s hesitant. A survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a supposed holy man, Cora ran from the church and never looked back. But taking the story is a smart career move, so she agrees. [US]

Cora observes the town preacher's naked [CF1] lust for a teenage girl in his congregation and decides to stay and expose the minister for what he is. But something more than desire is drawing the preacher to the girl, something much older than the devil, something that wants to remake first the town, then the world beyond, in its abominable image.

Cora must fight against a being that has always slumbered deep beneath the earth, a being that will usher in the end of everything she has ever known.

Beneath is an adult horror thriller complete at 80,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

[US] I don’t like to read sexual abuse stories so stop. But even if I did, I don’t like the writing here. The query is (un)intentionally vague.
[CF1] I suggest deleting this word.
[CF] I would have to pass on this because it is not the type of horror thriller I represent.
That said, it is a very strong query. Your main character is intriguing, the plot is creative, and the writing is strong.
[MG] Horror is a tough genre

FIRST 250:

Cora Mayburn had read about sleepy little towns like Hensley, North Carolina, had passed by more than her share of them on her drives from Atlanta to New York, but she had never actually stopped longer than the time it took her to fill up and use the ladies. This time, however, she was staying longer, not on her accord, but because Jimmy had told her not to come back until she had her story. [US]

“Snake handling,” he said as he stubbed out his cigarette and lit another. “People love to read about extremism in religion. Makes them feel better about their own shitty lives to know that somewhere out there is someone whose life is more fucked than theirs. If they know that there are people who have never seen a television, they can handle one more day of not ramming their car into oncoming traffic.” He blew a thin stream of smoke into the air, took a sip of coffee, winced, and set the mug on the edge of her desk.

“I don’t touch the religion stuff, Jimmy. You know that.”

“It’s a hot story, Cora. I’m talking national attention kind of hot. Alan put a teaser on the site last week. Most clicks we’ve had in a while.”

“You put a teaser up without a story?”

Jimmy grinned and traced his toe across the navy carpet like a little boy caught doing something he shouldn’t. “Way I figured it, I needed my best reporter on it.

 [US] I don’t like the writing here at all. Just uninteresting. I would stop here. I need to know Cora better before I am invested in her point of view.
[CF] I think you could make this leaner. Look at cutting “had” from the first paragraph. It reads better as “Cora read about…passed by…never actually stopped”
Also look at cutting words from last sentence of the first paragraph. Every word should need to be there and right now it feels wordy. You could cut “however” and “not on her accord, but” and it flows a little better.

[LA] I’m passing on this entry. The writing isn’t pulling me into the story. I didn’t feel grounded enough in the scene and didn’t connect with the characters.

Uwe Stender: PASS
Caitie Flum: PASS
Mark Gottlieb: PASS
Lisa Abellera: PASS

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