Thursday, July 28, 2016

July Pass Or Pages Entry #4

Time for our favorite part of Pass Or Pages, the feedback reveals! We hope that everyone following along will get something out of these reveals that they can apply to their own writing. I did!
We are so grateful to our agent panel for critiquing these entries. We would also like to give a shout-out to the authors for being brave and willing to improve.
Final note: with 4 agents on the panel, we have trimmed down some of their comments to keep the posts from being overwhelming.



Entry #4: GIRL (DOT) COM

Query:

It's 1996[MJ1][DB1], the dawn of the internet gold rush, and Barrie Isaacs can't catch a break.[PN1]

A neurotic workaholic web producer at SugarSugarMountain(Dot)Com, Barrie can't crack the upper echelons of management (AKA the boys’ club.)[MJ2] Though her top-notch efforts speak for themselves, she trembles at the thought of asking for a promotion. Worse, she panics each time she contemplates asking out long-time crush Josh, her brilliant-yet-clueless work counterpart.[PN2] And when management brings in a couple of Hollywood heavies to shake up the start-up, no Yahoo search results can teach Barrie how to navigate the shark-infested hallways. In GIRL (DOT)COM, Barrie must click her Doc Marten’d heels together and re-discover her confidence by creating an out-of-the-box idea to wow everyone -- before the company goes public and she loses her stock option payday, her burgeoning career, and her chance with Josh.[MJ3]

GIRL(DOT)COM combines the popular romantic comedy of BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY with the colorful internet universe of THE UNDERWRITING. GIRL(DOT)COM, my first women’s commercial[MJ4] fiction novel, is complete at just over 88,000 words.[DB2]

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Andrea's Notes:
I think this is an effective description of the novel in that it estalishes the protagonist, the conflict and the stakes in an engaging way.

Melissa's Notes:
[MJ1] Are you aiming for nostalgia with the time period? I’m wondering about the market?
[MJ2] You don’t need the parenthesis, the AKA sets it apart.
[MJ3] The plot is very chick lit.
[MJ4] Call it either commercial fiction or women's fiction, not both.

Danielle's Notes:
[DB1] This is a personal taste thing, but I’m not really looking for projects set in the near past. I prefer either contemporary fiction or historical that is a bit more removed.
[DB2] My earlier comment aside, you’ve written a great query letter! It is crafted really nicely and makes me wonder whether I might enjoy a novel set in the 1990’s more than I initially thought I would.

Patricia's Notes:
[PN1] Great opening sentence!
[PN2] Based on this description, Barrie is reading as a fairly frustrating protagonist – she seems like such a wimp! It’s okay if your protagonist starts off in a place she has to grow from, but I still have to understand why I would want to spend a whole novel with her. What about Barrie makes me want to root for her? Show that in your query.

First 250:

The Nerf guns fired pop-pop-pop[MJ1], but I was not deterred. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of tech boys aiming at my head, this Nice Jewish Girl® fears nothing. I'd practiced my spiel at home so many times that even my surly cat Chairman Miao could've parrotted[PN1] it. My shag hair swung over my shoulders, behaving for once. My makeup was touched-up perfection. I'd earned this promotion. And it was time I claimed it.

I'd asked for a five o’clock meeting, banking on Sammy consuming at least one cocktail by then to take the edge off. (We work all the time in the land where the Internet never slept.) Wiggling my toes in my too-tight Nine West pumps, I stalled at his shut office door. Don't be afraid, Barrie. Remember your mantra: I am worth it. I am worth it.

I hadn't eaten all day in order to fit into my favorite Jones NY[MJ2] suit—professional and fashionably black. My stomach growled furiously, but I needed quiet to advocate to become the first woman in upper management at SugarSugarMountain.Com. Eh, I could eat later. I knocked purposefully, knuckles rapping on the door. Sammy called me in. Showtime!

I am worth it, I am worth it, I thought with each high-heeled step.

“Hey Barrie!” said Josh. Languidly, he pushed one of his long, blond surferboy curls behind his ear. “Wow, look at you! Going somewhere special?”

What the hell was Josh doing in my meeting?[MJ3][PN2]
 
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Andrea's Notes:
There's some strong prose throughout both the query letter and the sample pages, but I'm worried that the plot feels a bit too quiet and overly familiar. I'm afraid this is a pass for me. 

Melissa's Notes:
[MJ1] Sounds usually get italicized.
[MJ2] Nice callback to a brand big in the day. But I believe the logo was always spelled out and so should the name.
[MJ3] You start your manuscript as I warn so many not to: getting somewhere. Yes, it’s just down the hall to an offic. But why not start THERE instead of chatting to people and slowing up the plot. Too much lead up to get to the headline. Which is: what the hell was he doing in my meeting?

Danielle's Notes:
This is fun! It is a little too stream-of-consciousness for me. It would benefit from more showing instead of telling. Because I can already see several editorial comments I would give, I feel as though this needs another edit before it would be ready for an agent, which makes it a PASS for me. I think you’d benefit from slowing down a teeny bit and grounding the reader more. That said, I see potential here! It seems entertaining.

Patricia's Notes:
[PN1] This should be “parroted” – typos on page 1 raise an eyebrow, so make sure you’ve run spell-check.
[PN2] This also opens with quite a bit of telling voice, but the character voice is engaging, so it carried me through a bit longer. I would read to here, but probably not past this – I’m not quite engaged enough by the action that’s been set up on this first page to read on.
Results:
Andrea Somberg: PASS
Melissa Jeglinski: PASS
Danielle Burby: PASS
Patricia Nelson: PASS

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