Wednesday, March 28, 2018

March Pass Or Pages Entry #3

Welcome to the feedback reveals for the first round of Pass Or Pages in 2018! Many thanks to our agent panel for taking the time to critique these entries. Props to the authors who were brave enough to submit. We hope everyone learns something new this week!



Time is the selfish fourth dimension that few humans can control. In my young adult fantasy TIME IS DRY CLEAN ONLY,[MF1] complete at 89,000 words, time is not only traveled through, but wielded like magic.[KA1] Each time a tragedy strikes[MF2], the universe apologizes by giving one human the ability to control time. These eccentric dimers secretly live among us and can shift to any time period in history or age of their life.[LM1]

One of these is Lark Robles, an eighteen-year-old student, wishing she hadn’t eaten that breakfast burrito, panicking without her physics notebook, very late for her dreaded flight home. But then she stops. In fact, time stops. Two mysterious women step through the time-frozen airport and explain that she must choose[LM2] between becoming a dimer or dying in the 9/11 tragedy. If Lark becomes a dimer, she abandons her life, her family, her memories, and forces someone else to take her place on the destined plane.[KA2][LM3]

Lark hastily says yes to train in the art of time and trades her bejeweled jean jacket for a fur coat. She rides water subways in 2071, parties with Cleopatra, and plays tag at Woodstock.[KA3] When another dimer decides 9/11 is perfect for her disastrous plan, Lark must relive the events she deserted. But can she make the same decision again and fully let go of her painful past?[KA4][MF3][LM4]

This novel answers the question, what would the Outlander series be like if Marie Lu wrote it for teens?[KA5] [LM5]Thank you for your consideration and time.

Kurestin's Notes:
[KA1]: You mention this here, but I didn’t see this at all in the query, so I wonder if it’s really such a standout part of the story?
[KA2]: I have no idea what’s going on. Why do I care about Lark, again? Why 9/11, specifically? Is that something teens are going to be particularly drawn to? And whoa, she has to force someone else to take her place? 
[KA3]: So she just hops around time partying? That doesn’t sound like much of a plot to hang a book on, honestly. And without a reason to care about it all, it sounds fairly boring.
[KA4]: So the plot appears! But because you’ve shoved it here at the end, it’s so vague as to be nonexistent. So the dimers are involved with each other, somehow? Who is this other dimer? How does Lark get involved? What is this plan, and why does Lark care? And how exactly would making the same decision fix things? It doesn’t sound like Lark does much of anything here to actively combat and face this challenge.
[KA5]: Honestly this entire query left me confused. Nothing about it sounds like YA, and these comps don’t really mean anything to me when paired together. It doesn’t give me a sense of what you’re going for, other than the time travel element. 

And even with all the time spent on explaining the time travel element, none of it sounds particularly convincing. Assume we’ll take the time travel on faith if you don’t try to overexplain it, and spend more of the query getting us hooked by Lark and what exactly is intriguing about the plot. 

Moe's Notes:
[MF1]: OMG I love the title.
[MF2]: Okay, so I’m going to poke at your world building here. I’m not saying you need to get all of this into your query but a single line like this is also a bit confusing to me. What sort of tragedy? Are we talking about things like a hurricane or a mass shooting (that affects a ton of people) – or something like the death of a loved one that affects only a few people? What one human gets the power? How long do they get the ability to control time?
[MF3]: I’m totally with you up until this point. And it is walking a thin line between getting too much backstory and not enough plot of the book in here but I want to see a bit more of what your 89k is about. Your stakes and what Lark is fighting for, etc.

Lindsay's Notes:
[LM1]: I got the genre, word count, then skimmed the rest of this paragraph. This is a really cool concept, but you don’t want to spend an entire paragraph of valuable word count telling me about your magic system. Incorporate this into your pitch and tighten it up.
[LM2]: Words like this make me feel immediately your character isn’t going to have agency. Can you rephrase this in a way that does?
[LM3]: I’m liking these stakes – really intense.
[LM4]: Hmm, these last two sentences feel like they’re hinting at something good, but not quite getting there. I’d like to see you rework this with a bit more character motivation and stakes.
[LM5]: I like what you’re doing here, but rephrase this without the question.

First 250:

Thisbe Endurant always loved being young. She loved the way her voice never tired, her stomach never filled, and her legs never stopped. She loved how she could witness the pink sunrise then the violet sunset without thinking about the day of the week, without complaining about work, and without looking forward to the weekend. Time was something Thisbe never thought about.

But today.

Oh today, at the ripe old age of seven years, two months, and three days, Thisbe Endurant didn’t feel so young. She felt old. She felt like time had taken a hammer and smashed her into the wood. Time had found her weakness and twisted till it burned. Time undid her saltshaker and shook it till it emptied.[KA1] She studied herself in the mirror. With eyes that smiled and lips the shined, she didn’t look how she felt.[LM1]

“Well this won’t do,” Thisbe stated. She closed her eyes, started at fifty-four and counted backward by three.[LM2] Her eyes blinked open.

“Much better,” Thisbe mused.[KA2] She smiled, her face deep with wrinkles, her neck loosely folded, and her lips weathered with the winds of age. Thisbe’s body hunched forward at eighty-five years, four months, and sixteen days.

She slowly opened the medicine cabinet, not knowing what creaked more, her fingers or the door. She smiled; she hoped it were her fingers. She grabbed the long pill case with a pocket for every day of the week. Forgetting to close the cabinet, Thisbe shuffled out the room.
Kurestin's Notes:
[KA1]: I do really like these descriptions.
[KA2]: Be careful with dialogue tags, especially in cases like this where they feel out of place. There’s nothing wrong with a nice “said.”

There are multiple typos in this sample. Proofread!

Moe's Notes:
I’m totally confused here – since your query opened talking about Lark Robles, why are we opening with Thisbe? My guess is this is a prologue. Honestly? I’d skip your prologue. This is a cool idea and yes, it does introduce us to your world building but I’d much rather see it through the eyes of your main character.

That said, I do love the voice. If you get rid of the prologue, I’d love to take a look!

Lindsay's Notes:
[LM1]: I’m rather intrigued by this opening. The reversal of expectations makes me curious to know more.
[LM2]: Well this is just cool.

While the query wasn’t quite there yet, the first page was intriguing. Personally it is a pass for me because I’m not a fan of time travel tropes, but this is purely subjective and another agent is likely to feel differently.

Kurestin: PASS
Moe: PAGES! Please upload the full MS and a synopsis to my QueryManager:
Lindsay: PASS

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