Saturday, March 28, 2020

March 2020 Pass or Pages Entry #5

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!



Novice psychotherapist Duncan Holmes ignores his own lack of experience [SW1] when he agrees to treat the complex diagnosis of Dr. Ethan Abraham, a brilliant surgeon who gained national attention when it was discovered he kidnapped and imprisoned two female medical students [AB1] [SW2]. Though Ethan admits this transgression, he maintains his innocence concerning a more troubling matter: the realization that several local women have gone missing in recent years who all share similar qualities to Ethan’s known victims [SW3].

Law enforcement think they have a serial killer on their hands and are convinced that Ethan is the culprit, but without enough evidence to link him to the missing, they pressure Duncan to get a confession from Ethan. All Duncan gets though is the feeling that Ethan isn’t capable of doing any harm, and even questions if Ethan committed the crime he admits. Desperate to know the truth, Duncan blurs the boundaries and gets involved with Ethan outside of their sessions, and soon Duncan discovers that the impetus of Ethan’s actions is an external force that is more dangerous than any mental illness [SW4].

TIME TELLS ALL is an adult thriller complete at 92,000 words. There are no scenes of violence against women in the manuscript, though details of cases are discussed in the same language and manner as on Law & Order or Criminal Minds [SW5]

Thank you for your time and consideration. Included is a writing sample.

Stephanie's comments:
[SW1] I find that this weakness shared up front without explanation does not encourage me to see Duncan as our protagonist. Why is Duncan thrown into this situation, and why does his perspective matter most here?
[SW2] This is a lot to learn in a first line! Try breaking it up into multiple sentences.
[SW3] This is starting to have the makings of a hook. Is Duncan trying to recover the missing women?
[SW4] If possible, try to clarify with specifics. This sounds like it could be intriguing.
[SW5] You have an opportunity here to clarify what your book is like with competitive titles, rather than just explain the level of explicitness.  

Amy's comments:
[AB1] Great hook right from the beginning.

First 250

Charleston, South Carolina sits eight feet below sea level. Downtown will see six inches of flood water during high tide with zero rainfall. That’s why were nicknamed the Lowcountry. This is why the national media has taken to calling him the Lowcountry Captor [AB2]. I call him my newest client [SW6].

It’s 8:57AM on the console clock when I exit my car and walk towards the agency. Jake’s single-speed Harper is chained to the bike rack so he’s here, but we always keep the entrance locked and I use my key to enter.

“Is Dr. Holmes in the house?” Jake appears from his office. His hair sticks up like he stuck his finger in an electrical outlet and he’s wearing his usual skinny jeans and flip-flops. Jake specializes in cyber counseling and seldom sees a client face-to-face. We became fast friends in our first year of college when we learned of our mutual love for Dragon Ball Z and have been inseparable ever since. Starting a behavioral health agency together was a no-brainer [SW7].

“Hey, hey,” I say, closing the door behind me. “You’re here early.”

“Yeah. In case [SW8] there’s any craziness with news cameras or something, I wanted to be inside already. I mean, he’ll be here today, right? In our little, one-way-in-and-one-way-out agency. The Lowcountry Captor.”

“Yes, he will,” I say. “And we are not calling him that.”

“Not to his face, at least.” Jake whistles. “Your first killer.”

“He didn’t kill anyone, Jake. Jesus [AB3][SW9].”

Stephanie's comments:
[SW6] I like the strong narrative voice used here. It evokes almost a noir tone. 

[SW7] I hope to get further detail later on that allows the reader to agree with this statement. I also wonder how a person under police suspicion is sent to a startup, but I imagine this will be cleared up later?
[SW8] This is a great way to start the novel, with the anticipation of something to come in the near/immediate future. 
[SW9] The query did not do justice to the first 250 but I am curious to see how this plot unfolds. For future querying, a strong hook is needed, and perhaps a brief line that explains why Duncan is involved in this criminal investigative plot at all. 

Results:  I’d love to read your first 30 pages!

Amy's comments:
[AB2] This starts feeling a little clunky and disjointed — can you join those two sentences together?
[AB3] I’m definitely intrigued and would be happy to read more!

Results:  Would love to see the query + first 50 pages as a Word doc!

Samantha's comments:
Great query! It's not too clear why Dr. Holmes is responsible for treating Dr. Abraham though. The intrigue is set up well and sparks interest to uncover how far Dr. Holmes will go to find the truth. It also sparks interest on what mysterious entity is at work within Dr. Abraham's mind. Great comps! I like the opening three sentences a lot, but would be careful not to dump too much information right away that could be casually peppered in as you go on.

Results:  Pass

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