Tuesday, September 24, 2019

September 2019 Pass or Pages Entry #2

It's time for the Pass or Pages feedback reveal!  We're so thankful for our awesome agent Kelly Peterson for taking the time to critique these entries.  And a shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week.  You are awesome!

Entry #2:  OCTAVIA BLOOM AND THE MISSING KEY


Query


Dear Agent

I am seeking representation for my 38,500-word debut MG Fairy Tale / Magic Realism novel with fairytale influences, Octavia Bloom and the Missing Key.[KP1]

At almost 10, thank you very much, Octavia Bloom is desperate for adventure, unaware that it awaits tantalisingly close behind a tiny, magical, golden door - if only she could find the key that opens it.

What started out as an ordinary day finds Octavia Bloom playing hide and seek in the forbidden attic of her family's ancestral Castle, Octavia Bloom's. The day swiftly turns extraordinary with the discovery of a hidden Fairy Door. Setting out to investigate she finds that her family are hiding not one, but two life-changing secrets. Along with her sister, cousins and a talking mouse she embarks on a dangerous quest, taking her through the miniature door and into Fairy Land. Needing to locate a magical flower in order to make a cure to save her secret twin brother Otto,[KP2] she enlists the help of the good Fairy Queen and an ensemble of magical characters. The evil fairy Queen puts many obstacles in their way,[KP3] but they are victorious in obtaining the flower and restoring Otto.[KP4] The adventure takes a sinister turn as Octavia’s cousin Beatrice is kidnapped by the evil fairy Queen and a battle ensues to rescue her.[KP5] They are triumphant and return home together as a family.

Thank you for your time and consideration.[KP6]

*****
Kelly's comments:
[KP1] Title should be all capitalized since it’s an unpublished work.
[KP2] Otto should probably be introduced into the query earlier so that the agent/editor has an idea this is happening and why she would NEED to find the flower. How does it cure him? Why does he need to be cured in the first place? How did she find out she has a secret twin brother?
[KP3] Can you be specific here? What does she conquer?
[KP4] Claiming this now and restoring Otto gets rid of your stakes before the story is actually resolved. I’m wondering if this might not be better off saving restoring Otto for last, and having her cousin getting kidnapped WHILE they’re searching for the flower.
[KP5] What are your stakes here? What would happen if they don’t rescue her? What would happen if they don’t find a cure for Otto? Your query shouldn’t give away your ending and it should leave a reader on their toes with the stakes and really wanting to know what happens.
[KP6] Insert a biography paragraph here.

First 250


Dust hung in the air, suspended in the golden light slanting across the faded floorboards. From behind an old, striped couch a swatch of yellow could be seen. Crouched down, quiet as a mouse, Octavia Bloom was holding her breath,[KP7] which was very difficult to do; the dust floating like glitter in the old attic was tickling her nose. Laughter bubbled up inside her, which she quickly suppressed by biting down on her lip, it wouldn’t do to make a noise now and give away her position. If she kept quiet, she was certain to win this round of hide and seek, her silly sister and annoying cousins wouldn't think to look up here.[KP8] The attic at Grandmother's House was strictly forbidden.

Well, it was actually a Castle, rather than a House, cut into the craggy cliffs with the thundering waves below, you could[KP9] imagine great battles being fought and terrifying pirates having many adventures here. Octavia wasn't afraid though, she was nearly ten thank you very much, she often slipped up to the attic when no one was looking to have adventures of her own. She brought her handmade dolls and handfuls of moss and played fairy land in the patch of weak sunlight, nibbling on crumbly biscuits snatched from the kitchen. Many idyllic hours had passed here when Grandmother was having her afternoon nap. Leaving her sister and cousins to their giggling chatter, Octavia would sneak off, always looking for adventure.[KP10][KP11]

*****
Kelly's comments:
[KP7] This makes a lot stronger of a beginning! I’d suggest cutting the first two sentences out completely
[KP8] These adjectives are making it seem as if Octavia really doesn’t like her sister or her cousins, and it’s putting them down. What type of person is Octavia? Does she enjoy time with her family? Is she positive and a leader, or is she negative and a pessimist? These adjectives are making me think she leans quite a bit negative.
[KP9] Don’t address the reader and break the 4th wall! =) This is a bit of subjective bias, but I can’t stand when I’m addressed because it pulls me out of the story and reminds me that I’m in reality.
[KP10] So this is a bit of an info dump and I’d prefer to stay with Octavia in the moment for a while, sprinkling the first chapter with these types of tidbits. When you go into this type of expository detail, as well, it puts your voice into a higher reader level and making it sound as if you’re switching over to an adult manuscript and voice, as opposed to staying with the middle grade
[KP11] Overall, there’s a lot of grammar inconsistencies and mistakes in here that are making it a bit hard to read. Because this also sounds very similar in a way to The Chronicles of Narnia, I’m going to have to pass. Best of luck!

Results:  Pass



1 comment:

  1. I know it's supposed to be anonymous, but I want to thank Kelly for the great feedback. This is exactly what I needed to make my query and manuscript the best that it can be. And likening it to The Chronicles of Narnia, well I shall take that as a compliment, because that is kind of what I was aiming for! Appreciate your time, thank you!

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