Friday, March 27, 2020

March 2020 Pass or Pages Entry #4

It's time for the Pass or Pages feedback reveal!  We're so thankful for our awesome agents Stephanie Winter of PS Literary, Amy Bishop of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret, and Samantha Fabien of Laura Dail Literary Agency 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!



ER doctor by day, assassin by night [SW1]. It's a cushy job until you get the assignment of your life.

It's another [SW2] job done as Alexa gets up from the bed of the man she just killed, but when her mark turns out to be the sixth employee of a genetics research firm [SW3] to die in three months, Alexa becomes determined to learn the secrets that truly exist in THE EAGLE ORDER—an elite group of assassins selectively bred for the purpose. With rituals and traditions that can kill, assuming you survived to adulthood, and the bodies of pregnant women being disposed of in a volcanic sinkhole, things need to change [AB1][SW4].

But the head of THE EAGLE ORDER has disappeared, believed to have gone rogue. If Alexa wants answers, and her freedom, she must accept what might well be her last mission: to hunt down the rogue and bring her in dead or alive [SW5]. There's only one problem: the rogue taught Alexa everything she knows about being an Eagle. The rogue is her mother.

THE EAGLE ORDER is an adult thriller [SW6] with near-future technologies, complete at 96,000 words. If Max of Dark Angel (italicized [SW7], but the entry form strips italics) fame was to become the next Red Sparrow (italicized) [SW8], the steps she would take to claim her freedom and protect the ones she loves would be incalculable.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Stephanie's comments:
[SW1] This has great potential! I find the subsequent line vague and that it loses the momentum of this line. 
[SW2] This is phrased a bit awkwardly.
[SW3] Why Alexa feels invested in this search isn’t very clear to me—what’s her stake?
[SW4] I’m unclear as to how this line relates to the plot.
[SW5] Is this her primary mission, or the one above? And how is this complicated by Alexa being an ER doctor?
[SW6] It’s evident this novel has many twists befitting of a thriller. For the query, we want teasers so that we can appreciate the tension and want to read more. I felt that there were so many twists in this query that I didn’t completely understand how they all tied together. You’re on the right track, but I’d pass. 
[SW7] It’s completely acceptable to turn italics into all caps in these situations.
[SW8] I’m liking these comparative titles! But DARK ANGEL is a bit of an old reference.  

Amy's comments:
[AB1] I think this is more confusing than helpful (syntax-wise), and I’d just cut it. I think the transition works better without this sentence!

First 250

Alexa searched for her dress, not quite certain where it was thrown in the heat of the moment. Cursing at the crumpled blue pile by the bathroom door, she picked it up, pulled the sleek little number over her head, and brushed out the creases over her hips. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she stuffed her feet into her high-heeled boots and zipped them up.

Yet another job done.

She glanced over her shoulder at the man lying on the bed. His eyes were closed and a contented smile rested on his face. If she didn't know better, she would have thought he was sleeping [SW9].

"Good to see that pleasure accompanied you to the world of death." [SW10]

How many had she allowed to die in this fashion? How many did she watch as they took their final breaths in their moment of climax? How many had she killed?

The numbers were rapidly approaching triple digits, but the exact number… She lost count long ago.

She finished donning the remainder of her clothing and walked across the small hotel room to the coffee table just inside the main door. There, in the center, were two mugs of partially drunk tea. Well, one mug partially drunk. The other had been untouched, and with good reason too. It was a tea that Alexa had made specially for the occasion, insisting that it would help her mark last the distance, enjoying a ride he would never be able to experience again.[SW11][SW12]


Stephanie's comments:
[SW9] This is a clever concealment of what’s actually just occurred. 

[SW10] These words sound a little forced. Try saying your dialogue out loud. Does it sound natural on your tongue? This practice can help make spoken words sound more authentic. 
[SW11] Does she poison him? 
[SW12] The first page starts after a significant action, which is not a bad thing, but I didn’t feel a strong sense of intrigue to make me want to learn the circumstances for this assassination. The sexual nature of this felt more off-putting than intriguing.  

Results:  Pass

Amy's comments: None

Results:  Pass

Samantha's comments:
Be mindful of sentence structures, lengths, and clarity. Although it's unclear if Alexa's mother being the rogue is a spoiler or not, I would allude to it rather than say it explicitly. I would also revisit some of your favorite thrillers — especially your comp titles— and see how they're first 250 words, 5 pages, and 10 pages begin. What about them hooked you and how can you mimic that in your query?

Results: Pass

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