Monday, October 1, 2012

Get Your Pitch On Workshop Critique 1: SUMMER OF HOPE

Name: Jodie Andrefski
Country of residence: United States
Genre: YA Contemporary romantic drama (this is a mouthful- YA Contemporary Romance sounds cleaner)
Word-count: 58,000

Pitch: Sixteen-year-old Callie watched her best friend die and couldn't do anything to stop it. Now the boy she loves is dying too. When Ethan confesses that the secret he'd been hiding is that he has Hodgkin's disease, Callie has to choose whether she'll stay by his side and watch another boy she loves die; or run, and risk losing any hope of ever loving again. Her decision changes both of their families' lives--forever.

*I really like the premise of this. It's a YA romance, but with a much deeper touch than what I'm used to seeing. Depending on the voice you use, this could be a great novel with some potentially amazing character arcs. It would be interesting to read about the emotional growth and maturity of the MC through this event. I think that may be what intrigues me the most!
*There are some really strong points in the pitch. The last line- "Her decision changes both of their families' lives-- forever" is great. It grabbed my attention because it shows her decision was something so crucial, everyone's lives were turned upside down- whether for the good or bad, we don't know, and I'm not sure we need to.
*You do a great job of getting to the main conflict/plot without cluttering with a bunch of unnecessary details.

Some suggestions:

*I'm not sure the best friend's death is relevant in the pitch. I understand you want to get across the point that Callie is already broken, and this new potential death is enough to make her want to flee. But it might be more of an unnecessary space filler. Maybe try a pitch without this info and see how it comes out.
*Is the boy she loves her boyfriend? Does he love her back? This seems important to me. If he doesn't love her back, it doesn't seem as crucial that she stay. She would have a lot less to sacrifice by running if he wasn't depending on her to be there for him.
*Not sure if the stakes are enough for me to read on. I would automatically assume she stays with the boy she loves. And if she does run away, she probably comes back. I'd like the pitch to have some type of stakes that surprise me- that really grab my attention. While the choice to run or stay is dramatic, and a horrible position to be in, it doesn't quite shock me or make it memorable.
*Again, the part about changing the families' lives forever really intrigues me. Perhaps say in the pitch what she does- stay or run (instead of portraying it as a choice)- and how exactly that impacts them.
*I want more of a sense of the voice in the pitch. It's so hard with so little words, but maybe if you could put just touch of it in there, it would help get more of a feel for the MC's personality.

Hope this helped! And remember, I'm just one person with one opinion. Please feel free to post other versions in the comments section, and I'll give you some more feedback! Would love to see a couple of different options.

Don't forget: Check out all of the workshop host blogs to critique as many pitches as you can. For each critique you leave in the comments, you get an entry into the drawing to win one of eight 10-page critiques from our contest host Sharon Johnston and workshop hosts Larissa HardestyStephanie DiazCatherine ScullyJodie AndrefskiPaula SangareTalynn Lynn and Kaitlin Adams. Also, Sarah Nicolas will be giving away three query critiques! Please use the exact same name for all of your critiques. The opportunity ends 10/14/2012.


  1. Hi Jodie,
    Your pitch sounds very heartfelt and interesting.
    I do like it as is, but like J. Kaitlin mentioned... I would also assume she stays with the boy or comes back to him, if not I would have a hard time liking the MC.
    A vibe that I am getting is that you've set up a really nice picture for us, but maybe have not quite finished painting the big dramatic hook or focal point. Is her choice to stay really the journey of the book? The last sentence makes me think she has already decided, which leaves me wondering what the story is about.

    Hope this helps. Best of luck :)

  2. Thanks for all the feedback guys! I hear what you are both saying, and am taking it in. The best friend dying is really important...and in a "regular" length query, it plays a big role. Her best friend had been her twin brother. She was standing in the yard and saw him step off a curb and get hit by a car and die. Messed her up big time.

    The boy she meets is the first person she's opened up to...after a major downward spiral. The confession happens maybe just over the halfway mark of the book btw. And yes, He does love her too...she just doesn't realize it. She thought there were other things going on. He puts her above himself...BIG TIME...often. And unfortunately, after he makes his "confession"...she runs....literally. She is a mess and is crying and runs out of the yard crying and freaking out. She falls, cracks her head...and she is the one that ends up in the hospital---with her last words to him before taking off being pretty darn awful ones. No one knows where she is at, the doctors don't know who she is.

    Obviously, I don't want to give this all is a big turning point in the story. But the way the story ends..everyone IS very much affected.

  3. I thought this pitch was interesting, but not enough for me to actively seek out the book. The pitch is a little too sedate for the drama it seems you're trying to convey. I like the idea (in your comment above) that the dying boy is the first person she's opened up to after a major downward spiral. Why not put that in your pitch? You don't need to mention the best friend/brother's death, necessarily - just the emotional state in which she begins the story. I'd like to see a little more specific detail about the main character, so I care about her choice to stay or run from love/heartbreak.

    For me, the line "Her decision changes both of their families' lives--forever." seems kind of like a cheesy cliche. Every decision we make changes our lives forever - that's the nature of choice. I'd like to see what kind of change her choice brings. Is she destroying or building up these families? (Or destroying one family while saving the other?) Make the stakes more personal to her. Yes, our choices have far-reaching consequences, but what will it do to her personally if she doesn't open her heart?

  4. Jodie, I'm going to think on this a little bit more, but I think it would be even stronger to mention her twin died, instead of saying best friend. Feel free to post some more drafts on here!

  5. Hi Jodie, it does need to be tightened up a little... the whole idea is great, just needs to be tightened up. Do we need to know what illness the boy has? Love the last line, very effective, very powerful punch! Well done and good luck with it.