Tuesday, March 29, 2016

March Pass Or Pages Entry #2

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!



Seventeen-year-old Kristi Kyle cares for convention [CP1] about as much as she cares for boys—which, for the record, is not at all. [WA1] When the mood strikes, she has no qualms [CP2] lying her way through any situation. The only thing more fun than inventing tales is the thrill of convincing people to believe them. [PK1]

Sierra Johnson is a nervous wreck, but only because she’s an introvert itching to impress anyone who will give her praise. Her two-parent middle-class household in urban Michigan is cushier than most of her classmates’, but her mixed-race background and panicky self-doubt make fitting in difficult. 

When the two girls meet, Kristi’s elated that Sierra’s buttons are so easy to push (and the view’s not too bad, either). Sierra, well, she can’t believe a girl [CP3] showed [CP4] interest in her in the first place. What starts out as a game for Kristi soon becomes much more; the harder she tries to impress, the more far-fetched her compulsive lies become. [CP5] As Kristi continues to push, [WA2] Sierra realizes the offbeat cynic isn’t right for her. [CP6] [PK2]

Afraid of facing rejection, [CP7] Kristi breaks out the biggest lie yet: her impending death from malaria. Sierra jumps into action, playing the role of supportive full-time girlfriend [PK3] and part-time caregiver. Kristi must maintain the sick patient act, and the lies surrounding it, or risk smothering the one person she needs most. [CP8] Sierra must decide what’s more important to her—sticking around to help her girlfriend through a life-threatening illness, or breaking free from a psychologically abusive relationship.
Carrie's notes:
[CP1] replace with "the truth"
[CP2] insert "about"
[CP3] replace with "someone"
[CP4] replace with "is showing"
[CP5] Can you give an example here?
[CP6] How does she realize this? Does she become more confident in herself as the story goes on?
[CP7] Is it just rejection, or does Kristi really love Sierra?
[CP8] Being at risk of smothering her girlfriend doesn't seem like what's really at stake here.

Peter's notes:
[PK1] The first sentence intrigued me, but then the rest of the paragraph was too vague, and so the result is this opening feels a little too abstract -- can you make it more concrete so we see how Kristi defies convention?
[PK2] Did Sierra ever think they were right together?
[PK3] Why is Sierra attracted to her in the first place? In the query it feels like they're forced together despite being such an odd match. Also, you begin the query with Kristi, which made me go into it feeling like she's one of our protagonists, but by the end she seems to be the antagonist -- it's a little unclear whose story this is.

Whitley's notes:
[WA1] LOVE this first line
[WA2] I have a great sense of Kristi from this query, but not much of a sense of who's Sierra. And since the agency of the story seems to be with Sierra, we really need to grasp her as well.


Kristi bounced her eyes between the open menu in her hands and the waitress standing fifteen feet away. She knew every item and number on the menu, from the $4.95 queso dip on page one, to the $6.49 chocolate volcano cake on the back cover. There was no point reading the laminated pages—they were the same as they’d been every Friday evening for the past year. [WA1]

She had examined the menu and the waitress an equal number of times during Friday Night Dinners with her so-called family, but there was always a new curve or freckle to discover about the latter. [CP1] Her eyes had scanned many a woman in her seventeen years of life (well, okay, maybe only the last four years or so), and this waitress wasn’t particularly high on the originality meter. [CP2] But she offered a pleasant view, what with the smooth legs sticking out from her shorts, and the rounded rear end Kristi wished stuck out. [WA2]

Kristi dragged her eyes back to the menu, skimming over page four without registering a single word, price, or picture. She had no doubt the waitress—Nicole, not like it mattered—was on her way over, pen and paper poised in her hands, gliding heel to toe as if afraid of dropping a tray of drinks. 

“Hi, folks. So good to see y’all again!” Nicole said with a Southern drawl, which had no place in suburban Michigan and was as fake as the makeup plastered to her face.
Carrie's notes:
[CP1] This reads awkwardly
[CP2] But from the previous sentence, it sounds like Kristi is fascinated by her.
[CP] This is something that I could be interested in, since I love books that examine the unusual relationships. The query could use more detail so I get a fuller sense of what the story is about and how it stands out in the marketplace, though. PASS.

Peter's notes:
The opening doesn't have enough tension to really hook me, and the query didn't wow me enough. PASS.

Whitley's notes:
[WA1] It's hard to tell from just 250 words, but I'm wondering why we're starting thinking about the diner menu Kristi has memorized instead of somewhere else.
[WA2] This feels a little oversexualized for the start of a YA


Carrie Pestritto: PASS
Peter Knapp: PASS
Whitley Abell: PASS

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