Monday, May 23, 2016

May Pass Or Pages Entry #1

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 #1: SECRETS NEVER TO BE TOLD (60,000 words)


Twelve-year-old twins, Henry and Maggie, burst awake from a shared nightmare that comes true when their quantum physicist father [RW1] disappears over the Bermuda Triangle. More dreams and paranormal experiences [RW2] lead the twins to realize they share a gift for ESP. Or is it a curse?

After dreaming about her father's abusive childhood, Maggie delves into his past and unearths secrets that make her doubt his integrity. [RW3]

Meanwhile, a voice in Henry’s head [RW4] demands he break into a government facility to steal confidential research in exchange for information about his missing father. [RW5]

Evidence builds that the twins’ father is being held by a terrorist [RW6] bent on attaining power. Will Henry and Maggie's burgeoning ESP skills save their father or strand them all in a parallel universe? [MF1]
Moe's notes:
[MF1] Avoid hypothetical questions in your query if at all possible.
[MF] I’m finding the query is confusing and I don’t have a good sense of what the stakes are here. Break up that first sentence – it’s a bit cumbersome!

Roseanne's notes:
[RW1] I know that writers are trying to get as much information into a query as possible, but this kind of description like “lawyer mom” comes off as awkward.
[RW2] This is really vague. You have space in your query to go into more specifics.
[RW3] More vague hints. Use specifics to draw the reader in. I have no personal investment in their story right now because I don’t know what is actually happening.
[RW4] This sounds less like ESP and more like schizophrenia. If I knew more specifics from above, like what kind of ESP they have, then I think this would be clearer.
[RW5] Does he do it? It’s never stated if he breaks in or not.
[RW6] I thought he disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle? This isn’t a BT story?


“He’s psychic!” [RW1]

Henry knocked his twin sister’s hand down as she pointed at the turbaned swami [RW2] waving a cheap stuffed animal as carnival goers passed. “No. He’s a scammer. How hard can it be to guess the month you were born within two months? He scribbles a couple letters that look like they could be January, June or July. So every month is covered except October.” [RW3]

“You sound like Dad.” Maggie turned to step into the Viking ship [RW4].

Grimacing, Henry wiggled his tennis shoe free of the sticky pink mess [RW5] on the ground and followed her on. “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.”

“Skeptical, is all I mean.” Her tone was teasing, but when Henry scowled she shrugged. “Just saying.”

As she headed toward the tip of the boat, he yanked her back. [RW6] “Let’s sit in the middle.” He made for the center row but a gray haired lady in a Virginia Tech t-shirt beat him to it. In the short time he’d wasted, the next two rows filled up. He turned to leave. “It’s a sign we need to find the new Demons and Aliens’ trailer [EK1], instead.”

“Not a chance.” Maggie pushed him into the only seat still open—one row from the back and next to a man with stomach folds sticking out from beneath his shirt. “If I can’t have someone guess my birthday, you can’t waste Dad’s money on video games.”
Moe's notes:
I’m very confused by the opening pages. I don’t have a sense of setting at all. Carnival, then Viking ship? Is this a carnival ride or a ferry-type boat? I will say, I like the dialogue in this.

Roseanne's notes:
[RW1] Starting with dialogue usually doesn’t work because it feels like we are missing half of the conversation, which is either then explained (instead of shown) or leaves the reader with no explanation.
[RW2] This sounds problematic.
[RW3] I don’t understand this at all.
[RW4] What? Where are they?
[RW5] What mess?
[RW6] He sounds very controlling and almost mean.
[RW] The query wasn’t clear about what’s going on, and the pages were very confusing, dropping us into a scene and then moving on, without getting to know the characters or what’s happening or where they are.

Emily's notes:
[EK1] I initially assumed this mean it was a movie trailer, not a video game.
[EK] An okay premise but I wasn't pulled in by the pages.


Moe Ferrara: PASS
Roseanne Wells: PASS
Emily Keyes: PASS

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