My PitchWars mentor-partner Kate Karyus Quinn and I agree that we didn't read a single query that was bad - nor did we read any first pages that were unsalvageable. And honestly with as many submissions as we had, we were surprised at the quality of them. Which is why we decided to offer query and first page critiques on our blogs to everyone who submitted to us.
Quite a few people have taken us up on the offer. Through November, Kate and I will be posting these critiques on Mondays and Wednesdays. Any writer can learn from these - not just the author of the material being critiqued. You'll see my comments in green.
All beautiful and intelligent Tinkerbell wants is to survive, though granted I'd cut "granted" for flow she does it differently than other UnSeelie Fae. Neverland is a carnival, petting zoo, playground, fun-filled wonderland, and Tinkerbell has happily spent her centuries luring children there with the help of her brainwashed, broken, and beloved Peter Pan. There children are safe from that nasty outside world full of horrific pain, and can be carefree and happy always. At least until the day prior to their thirteenth birthday. It's unclear how this ties into her survival, and how what she does is different than other fae.
But now some useless, nasty, scum-filled imaginary friend by the name of Wendy has come along. She thinks Tinkerbell’s Neverland is barbaric, that Peter Pan needs to be saved, that Neverland needs to come crashing down and Tinkerbell needs to die. So naturally, Tinkerbell wants her gone. But paradise has gotten boring, so a game is decided upon rather than just sending the snivelling thing to whatever afterlife imaginary friends have.
So it’s a chess game to gain control over Peter Pan; whoever captures the king’s mind wins the chess game. If Tinkerbell wins she’ll make sure a fate worse than full body mutilation awaits her opponent. But if Wendy wins, one way or another Neverland will fall.
NEVERLAND is a 61,000 word YA psychological thriller retelling of Peter Pan, and is told from the point of views of both Tinkerbell and Wendy If this is the case then I think the query needs to reflect this a little more. Right now the query feels entirely Tink-centric. There are examples of racial diversity as well as LGBTA+ diversity in my manuscript, as I believe diversity in literature is essential. That's great, but mentioning it here almost feels like a marketing ploy. I'd leave it alone in the query and let it speak for itself in the manuscript.
Tinkerbell yawned and shifted in the warm morning’s rays there's no mention of a sun here - just morning rays to glance down at the human bed below her warm nest. Her boy hadn’t left without her then, good, and a smile curled as the Fae watched him rub his eyes. She tied her pixie dust bag to her waist and then wings fluttered to bring feet cloaked in leaves and dandelion puffs down to rest upon her twelve-year-old’s pillow. Awkward phasing - the wings sound like they're acting independently of Tink He was so cute, he had been even before she magicked him to be twelve forever.
“Good morning my Peter Pan…” Tiny fingers brushed through auburn hair as he shifted into them. “Are you fully awake yet my darling? How did you sleep?”
Brown eyes I mentioned this on my last crit as well, and it may be a personal preference, but I think character description slipped into narrative like this always feels awkward fluttered open, and a cute crocodile grin stretched his lips as Tinkerbell’s Peter Pan scrambled up and her wings fluttered wildly to keep from tipping over. Lots of -ed verbs at work in this sentence, it's slowing down the narrative.
“Mornin’ Tink! I slept good how’d you sleep? What’re we gonna do t’day, somethin’ fun?”
“Yes, yes of course.” She fluttered out of the way as he rolled out of bed and shook his hair about. “Lots of fun things but you must do what I please too darling. Always obey me.” He rarely needed a reminder, but sometimes it was nice to give one.
“Yes Tink!” He was an amusing and cute little thing, and Tinkerbell followed as her Peter Pan galloped down the swirled staircase of their tree. “Up up ev’rybody up!” The excitable crowing that amplified itself with each word made everyone stir, and soon all twenty three twelve-year-olds were yawning and grumbling. Tinkerbell gave Oliver a sweet smile and wave as she landed on his wooden clock that dangled from his shelf, and his delighted grin gained him noises akin to falling glitter. Unsure what you're saying here -- is Tink making the noises? Does falling glitter make a noise?
Each boy was greeted as Tinkerbell checked the days left on their clocks and dove down into the depths of the tree to greet more of them. “Tinkerbell…?” Who was this little brunet boy, David? Yes, David. Her tinkles of gibberish that they all thought was “fairy language” eased a small smile onto his face as he rose and adjusted his yarmulke. The standing was strange, I don't know what you're saying here - standing? but it was likely just a cultural happening among whatever his race of humans were.
You have a lot of awkward phrasing at work here, and some sentences that are quite frankly, confusing. It's easy for an author to read their own work and interpret it correctly because you know exactly what you mean, and your brain fills in the blanks. I would suggest getting a critique partner to read over this to mark passages that are confusing.