Short version: I’m critiquing the first page of any interested YA (or MG*) writers. Scroll to the end for details!
Long version: Today is the day–the Big Day–where all of the Pitch Wars mentees (why do I want to say manatees?) are revealed. For some, the result will be OHMYGAWSH so exciting. For others… not so much. But to all of those who didn’t make it: there were over one thousand entries. It was impossible to choose just three, because they were all so good. So not making it doesn’t mean anything about your writing. YOU. ALL. ROCK. (Also, subjectivity.)
Anyway, the mentors were awesome and gave personalized feedback to every entry. (Go, thank them for their awesomeness if you haven’t already!) I, however, was not so awesome. I didn’t critique entries sent to me. In my defense, I didn’t have the time. (Translation: I probably could have done them, but I was LAZY.) I do feel bad about this, though, and since I have time time this weekend, I thought: why don’t I do a bunch of critiques? And then I remembered Taryn Albright‘s critique opportunity from a few weeks ago, and so here I am, doing something similar. I am not as qualified as Taryn is, but hopefully my critique will mean something to you. (You can read my “about me” to see qualifications.) So, more officially:
This Saturday, I’m critiquing first pages. This is open to any and all YA writers. (MG writers, I love you and I can try to critique you if you like, but I don’t feel as qualified with MG.) Pitch Wars people, this will hopefully make up for my lack of critiques. Other equally-awesome people, you do not need to have entered Pitch Wars to send in your first page. It also does not matter whether or not you’re agented, or whether it’s only a first draft, or third draft, or its completely polished. I’ll critique any YA first page.
However, I won’t necessarily do a line-by-line. My one goal is to honestly (so if you only want a cheerleader, please don’t enter) tell you whether or not I’d read on. (Which, as a side note, is a hugely-important question that is not very often critiqued for.) In some cases that may involve a line-by-line; in many others, however, it will just be a paragraph detailing why I would, or would not, read on. Also, please don’t attach a query or pitch of some sort. See, I’m a strong believer that people put too much stress on queries and not enough on pages, because in the end, it’s only the pages that matter, right? (Don’t get me wrong; queries are VERY important, but pages trump query.)
Just a quick note: remember that this is very a subjective. So while I may not like something for certain reasons, others may love it for equally valid reasons, or vice versa. Please please please keep that in mind and take my opinion with a grain of salt.
Anyway, HOW TO ACTUALLY GET THE SHINY (OR NOT SHINY) CRITIQUES:
Email your first page–and JUST your first page–in the body of the email to JHansenAuthor(at)gmail(dot)com with the subject line “Critique.” You can send it in starting now and ending on Saturday, 12/15. I will be doing the actual critiques all day Saturday (12/15) and tweeting general advice with the hashtag #JohnCrits, so check in there every so often if you feel inclined. If I get more than fifty entries, though, I’ll critique (and tweet!) through Sunday.
But like any contest, there have to be shiny prizes, right? RIGHT. So I’ll select my top five entries and have them submit their first ten pages. Of those, I’ll choose one favorite and critique their full manuscript! Woot! (Or if you don’t want my critique, I give you permission to ninja stare. I know, I KNOW, you totally needed my permission first.)
Hopefully my critique will be helpful to YA writers, because you get the perspective of an intern + beta-reader for published authors + other things, as well as that of a teen. (Except, I don’t critique as a teen; I critique as someone who has an eye for critiquing, but who can also pick out when something is non-teen-like.)
RANDOM, UNSUBTLE SELF-PROMO-UTILIZING-GUILT THING: As you know I’m doing all of these for free. And that’s okay, because I want to do this, but anything you can do to spread the word would be much appreciated–and also a great way to show your thanks. *wink wink nudge nudge* (I know, how did I even get so unsubtle??)
Let me know if you have any questions!