Friday, July 27, 2018

July Pass Or Pages Entry #5

Time for the Pass Or Pages feedback reveals! We're so thankful to our agent panel for taking the time to critique these entries. Shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week. You are awesome!

Entry #5: ART GIRL


Seventeen-year-old Korean-American artist Lillie Kang has one more painting to do for the high school’s art contest. The winner will receive a cash prize and an exhibit of their work in an art gallery—which is one of Lillie’s big dreams[WA1]. With her label of 'Art Girl,' all her classmates expect her to win. After finding out her dad is unemployed[WA2] stepdad and mom[JD1] is pregnant, she's determined to win the cash prize.[JD2]

There’s one problem: all the pressure has made her so anxious she’s lost inspiration to paint anything. But when Lillie meets Zevi, a boy who saved his cousin in a fire and has vivid scars to prove it, she may have found her subject. Despite her social anxiety, Zevi attempts to coax her out from hiding behind her canvas.[JD3] In a desperate attempt to finish the painting, she tries to paint him, but fails to express the image in her mind.

The pressure increases when she finds out the gallery has a scholarship opportunity for one of the participants to her dream university—a rare opportunity and her ultimate wish.[JD4][WA3] The only way she can achieve her goals is to fall in love with art all over again and paint Zevi. With the deadline approaching fast, Lillie must finish the painting, or she loses all chance for her future.[WA4]

ART GIRL is a young adult contemporary novel at 53,000 words.[JD5] It will appeal to readers of Starfish and Since You Asked.[JD6]

Jess's Notes:
[JD1] There is no separation of thought here.
[JD2] For her family? Or to save it for herself? 
[JD3] This should be about her and what she does to/for Zevi, not the other way around. Since this appears to be her story, it needs to be about what she is doing.
[JD4] I would delete this since you already talk about big dreams earlier. Perhaps something like ‘a rare and incredible opportunity’
[JD5] A short word-count like this makes me believe the characters and the story aren’t quite as developed as they should be.
[JD6] Capitalize your titles and add the authors.

Whitley's Notes:
[WA1] Cut. Unnecessary
[WA2] Awkward phrasing. I think something is missing after “unemployed”
[WA3] Cut, unnecessary info
[WA4] So if she doesn't get the scholarship, she can never paint again?
I wish I reached the end of the query with a clearer sense of why Lillie needs *this* exhibit, *this* scholarship.

Andrea's Notes:
The query is well written but I do wonder if there is enough happening in the novel? Some editors might feel that the story arc feels too quiet.

First 250:

My hand trembled as I eased the brush over the canvas. With a light coat of black paint, it glowed. I was retouching an old painting of a starry sky in an attempt to spark back my lost art mojo. When I created this, the topic was ‘Freedom’ and I thought of the infinite stars scattered around the cosmos and drew the backside of a girl reaching out to all those possibilities[AS1]. Cheesy as hell[JD1] , but at the time, the idea possessed me. 

I didn’t feel any sense of freedom anymore, and a broken laugh escaped my throat at the irony. Now, the concept of stars reminded me that we only saw the past in the sky. Not the present or the future. The girl stood in front of the darkness.

Mr. Akhiro gave me a gentle smile. “Your work is fantastic, Lillie.”

Tension slipped away from my shoulders.[WA1] As I inhaled the familiar, bitter scent of paints in the art room, I ignored the empty, twisted feeling in my stomach[WA2]. Since lunch time was almost over, I had to leave.

The upcoming submission to an art gallery was due in one month, and an outside judge would pick the best artist. The cash prize attracted every art student in Lincoln High, but Mr. Akhiro narrowed down the list to ten, with my name being first on the list. He needed my best paintings because he knew it was my golden ticket to university. If only I could paint.

Jess's Notes:
[JD1] Try "It's cheesy as hell now"
Even with the short word count, the query left me interested enough to want to request. Please send your first 3 chapters and your revised query in the body of your email to Put Pass or Pages in the subject line.
Whitley's Notes:
[WA1] Is she just using the old paintings to find inspiration, or is she trying to retouch so they can be good enough for entry?
[WA2] Lovely

Andrea's Notes:
[AS1] I found the phrasing of this sentence to be a bit confusing.
I'd be happy to take a look at the first fifty pages. Please feel free to send them to

Jess: PAGES!
Whitley: PASS
Andrea: PAGES!

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