Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Winners and Thoughts

I know you're probably anxious to get to the results, so let's just get those out of the way so you don't have to scroll and scroll:

The full critique goes to Dana Edwards's HARVEY THE BEDAZZLER.

I'd also like to critique the first fifty pages of Katherine T.'s THE WITCH AND THE DEMON and Spring's UNTIL THE STARS BURN OUT.

Congratulations, winners! If you see this post before I have a chance to e-mail you, feel free to send your manuscripts as Word attachments to kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com. Can't wait to dig in!

On the whole, I was super impressed with these entries. If I were an agent, I would have requested sixteen out of the thirty-eight manuscripts. And those were just the ones that spoke to me. I found many more of the entries to be compelling and well-written; they just didn't quite match up with my personal tastes.

That said, there were a few things that made me raise my eyebrows. I was immediately put off by word counts that were significantly under or over anticipated values. If, for instance, a YA fantasy was under 70,000 words, I worried that the story--plot, characters, and world--wouldn't be developed enough. On the flip side, if an adult contemporary was over 90,000 words, I worried that it might be bogged down with too many superfluous words and scenes.

(It's worth noting that these word counts are by no means set in stone. Obviously, each story is going to have a right number of words in which it needs to be told, but it is a good idea to try to be in the ballpark. For a supremely helpful post that you've probably been referred to at least a million times, check out Jennifer Laughran's "Wordcount Dracula." While she only addresses children's fiction, I'd say it's fair to add 10,000 to 20,000 words to the YA numbers to arrive at average adult figures in similar genres.)

I should also add that, while I usually discount the importance of titles (probably because I'm terrible at coming up with them myself), there were several in this bunch that immediately caught my attention, including UNTIL THE STARS BURN OUT, ONE IS FOR SORROW, and LET THEM EAT CAKE. I'd argue that the title is the least important part of your query (since everyone knows that they get changed at least half of the time), but if you've got a great title, you should definitely showcase it.

Lastly, thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your stories with me. Best of luck to you and them!


Julie said...

Thanks for the opportunity, Krista. I hope you have a great time with the book you chose. It sounds like a great story.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

You're so welcome, Julie. (Sorry for my belated reply!)