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 #1: THE SACRED FLAME
I am pleased to submit a sample of my manuscript "The Sacred Flame" [CR1] for your consideration. The complete manuscript is 50,916 words [KP1][CR2] and would fit well in the Horror or Paranormal-Fantasy genres beneath the umbrella of YA fiction.
The story follows the character of Lisbeth Thomas as she fights to deal with the literal demons stalking her in the night [KP2]. She is the descedent of an ancient race of guardians and the only one whose power can keep the devil contained in his Holy vault [KP3]. The path to victory over an evil that began before creation is bloodied and dark, but as Lisbeth begins to realize the full range of her gifts [KP4] she ensures the blood spilled is not just her own [KP5][CR3].
Originally written as a paranormal-romance [KP6], The Sacred Flame has veered away from the light into the realm of demonic agendas and Holy justice [KP7]. I hope this preview warrants a further look at my manuscript and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
[KP1] Low word count for this genre and age range. I would feel better in the 65-80k word range or higher, depending on the world building needed to bring the fantasy elements to life.
[KP2] What kind of literal demons? How are they stalking her?
[KP3] Does she know she’s a descendant, or is this a surprise to her? Is she a chosen one?
[KP4] What kind of gifts? Please explain.
[KP5] What are the stakes? What will happen if she fails? What is her goal? What is her drive? What does she want, and what will happen if she doesn’t get it?
[KP6] Delete this phrase
[KP7] How so? I’m not sure I understand what you mean…
[CR1] Book title should be in all caps, no quotation marks. Published books (for comp titles) should be all caps in italics.
[CR2] Still technically within the right word count range, but running a little low—this sets off a flag for me, wondering if something might be missing in the MS to keep the word count low?
[CR3] This is all very generic. There’s not really anything here for me to latch onto, nothing that grabs me and makes me think “ohhhh this is different, this is special, I want to see more”. It doesn’t have much voice, either—mostly it feels like a longer logline than an actual query. It needs more punch, more showing what makes this story unique, and more personal conflict and tension for the MC.
First 250 words:
Lisbeth stopped, as she always did, to examine the ferocious glare of the monster. It's mouth was pulled back in a grimacing snarl, blank eyes regarding her with both curiosity and disdain in equal measure. Lisbeth shivered. She adjusted her bag on her shoulder before continuing up the steps to the oversized oak doors of Morgan Senior High School.
The old red building was suited to stone monsters: it's brick wall, with black iron spears threatening the sky itself, loomed around the perimeter, while the black bars along some of the windows told a story of the school's past Lisbeth shuddered to recall. Even the way creepers had grown over the bricks, reaching longingly for the old clock tower – which was only used for storing old desks or busted lockers – gave the building the sense that it had been plucked out of a time of darkness. Morgan Senior High had been a residential school for a while, after they had dismantled the sanatorium; both its previous guises had been places where nightmares were made real. Now it was only a high school somewhere in the middle of North Vancouver.
The gargoyle's twin struck a mirrored pose on the column across the walkway, but somehow, it's menace was diminished by the stony nature of it's eyes. Lisbeth had never been able to properly explain the differences between the two beasts, except that the one on the right never followed her with it's penetrating gaze [KP1][CR1].
[KP1] This is an interesting beginning, but it’s all expository details, and there’s not much to know ABOUT Lisbeth here besides the fact that she attends Morgan Senior High. I’d like to dig immediately more into Lisbeth and what she wants so that your reader has something to connect to. Then sprinkle in the details and build the world around her.
[CR1] For me, I didn’t get anything that attached me to the MC in these first couple paragraphs. We see a couple monsters, get a shot of the school—but I’m not grounded in the MC. I personally prefer to be firmly planted in the MC’s POV before digging into any conflict or worldbuilding.
Kelly: PASS: Query needs to be built upon, and the pages/voice needs to be less distant for my taste.