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IF LIES COULD KILL (YA Contemporary) New #23


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#1 Katx

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 05:07 PM

Hello! Back again!! I queried this novel for the first time last summer with a similar query to this and received some success, including a request for a full. Unfortunately, it led nowhere, which I can now see was due to MS needing another round of editing. I've tweaked a few plot lines along the way, so I've made some changes to this, but I'd also just love a fresh pair of eyes to give it a glance! Any feedback is greatly appreciated, and I will happily return all crits to the best of my ability!

 

Thank you!

 

UPDATE: NEW POST IN #23

 

****

 

Dear Agent,

 

I am seeking representation for WHAT I NEVER NOTICED, a YA contemporary novel complete at 75,000 words.

 

Sixteen-year-old Emily Cole has OCD. She used to be anorexic too, only she’s convinced everyone – even herself – that she’s recovered now. But surely the smaller she is, the more control she’ll have. And Emily needs to stay in control, because her secrets have a jail sentence attached to them.

 

Fellow anorexic Alice Winters knows what control feels like. Once so close to perfection, it’s all slipping away now that she’s imprisoned inside this treatment centre. The only way out is to recover, but Alice has her own, dangerous plan to escape.

 

Classmate Lexi Jackson is popular, outgoing and dating Emily's gorgeous step-brother. She’s certain that if everyone else loves her, one day she’ll love herself. For three years now, her brother's autopsy report has echoed through her mind. The police ruled his death a suicide. Lexi is convinced he was murdered.

 

These three sick girls are telling lies, one of which will cost a life. At first, you’ll ask who died. Then, there’s the real question: who killed her?

 

WHAT I NEVER NOTICED is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs a nonlinear narrative and three points of view to piece together the events which led to these characters developing mental health problems.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.


If I've given you a critique please have a look at my latest thread, it is both much needed and appreciated! Thank you :)

 

http://agentquerycon...ry/#entry344705


#2 dovenestedtowers

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:30 PM

Dear Agent,

 

I am seeking representation for WHAT I NEVER NOTICED, a YA contemporary novel complete at 75,000 words.

 

Sixteen-year-old Emily Cole has OCD. Nice opening line--gives us a clear challenge that the protagonist is going to struggle with. She used to be anorexic too, only she’s convinced everyone – even herself – that she’s recovered now. Ooh, it gets even better. The "convinced herself" bit is worded perfectly, implying that that may not be the truth. But surely the smaller she is, the more control she’ll have. I don't quite understand the logic here--is there a clearer way you could phrase this concept? What is it about being smaller that'll help her stay in control? And Emily needs to stay in control, because her secrets have a jail sentence attached to them. And yet another twist. I'm really impressed by how well this flows from one idea to the next--it never seems to randomly jump to a new concept. I'm not certain about the phrasing here (her secrets have a jail sentence attached to them). It's more that she'll go to jail if her secrets get out, right? That's all implied, but I have a feeling you could reword that line to make that more clear.

 

Fellow anorexic Alice Winters knows what control feels like. Awesome, setting up a parallel. Once so close to perfection awkward phrasing, it’s also a dangling participle (she was once so close to perfection, not "it") all slipping away now that she’s imprisoned inside this treatment centre. The only way out is to recover, but Alice has her own, dangerous plan to escape. How did she know what control feels like? Also, I'd like to know how Alice's plot is related to Emily's. This sounds like a pitch for a different (although equally compelling) story.

 

Classmate Of whom? Emily? Alice? Both of them? Lexi Jackson is popular, outgoing and dating Emily's gorgeous step-brother. Nice--we can see how Lexi's storyline is related to Emily's. She’s certain that if everyone else loves her, one day she’ll love herself. Nice! For three years now, her brother's autopsy report has echoed through her mind. Again, "has echoed through her mind" isn't the most evocative way of phrasing that concept. Love the idea though. The police ruled his death a suicide. Lexi is convinced he was murdered. Yet another compelling hook. Your query is full of these. Awesome!

 

These three sick girls are telling lies, one of which will cost a life. At first, you’ll ask who died. I'm not sure the shift to addressing the reader directly works well here. The subject matter also comes a bit abruptly--I'm not sure if this is a new plot point or if it's in reference to Lexi's brother. Then, there’s the real question: who killed her? I guess it isn't. Who killed whom? Well, we're not supposed to know that. I like that you keep that a mystery. I think it's just the way you phrase these lines that's throwing me off. Something like... "Each of these three sick girls is telling a lie. One of those lies will cost the girl her life." I might even just end it there. Don't actually write that though--that's still phrased terribly (it was the first thing that popped into my head). But hopefully you get the idea.

 

WHAT I NEVER NOTICED is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression Great--letting us know what experience you're drawing on as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs a nonlinear narrative Cool! and three points of view to piece together the events The phrasing gets a bit awkward here again which led to these characters developing mental health problems.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

So, I think this is a great query. You have more hooks in here than I can count. I'd definitely want to read more. There are a number of lines that I think could be phrased more effectively/concisely. And I'd like to have a very clear sense of how the three stories intertwine (so that they don't just sound like three unconnected stories). But this is a great start!



#3 SnowFox23

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:36 PM

Okay.

 

I can absolutely tell that you have something special on your hands.

My problem is, that I am a little confused. There are so many awesome hooks that they are becoming a little off-putting.

 

Collectively, what do they girls need from each other? Why are they inter-connected? What is the plot that is tying them all to each other?

 

Although, to be completely honest, if I were an agent I would read this query and request anyway. It's that intriguing.

 

Good job. I'd be shocked if you don't get partial requests, at least, from this.



#4 Preston Copeland.Biz

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 08:17 PM

Hello! Back again!! I queried this novel for the first time last summer with a similar query to this and received some success, including a request for a full. Unfortunately, it led nowhere, which I can now see was due to MS needing another round of editing. I've tweaked a few plot lines along the way, so I've made some changes to this, but I'd also just love a fresh pair of eyes to give it a glance! Any feedback is greatly appreciated, and I will happily return all crits to the best of my ability!

 

Thank you!

 

****

​Hello Katx,

 

Dear Agent,

 

I am seeking representation for WHAT I NEVER NOTICED, a YA contemporary novel complete at 75,000 words.

 

Sixteen-year-old Emily Cole has OCD. She used to be anorexic too, only she’s convinced everyone – even herself – that she’s recovered now. But surely the smaller she is, the more control she’ll have. And Emily needs to stay in control, because her secrets have a jail sentence ​(is this jail sentence a literal jail sentence, or am I missing an expression?) attached to them.

 

Fellow anorexic Alice Winters knows what control feels like. Once so close to perfection, it’s all slipping away now that she’s imprisoned inside this treatment centre. ​Are these girls in the same treatment center? The only way out is to recover, but Alice has her own, dangerous plan to escape.

 

Classmate Lexi Jackson is popular, outgoing and dating Emily's gorgeous step-brother. She’s certain that if everyone else loves her, one day she’ll love herself. For three years now, her brother's autopsy report has echoed through her mind. The police ruled his death a suicide. Lexi is convinced he was murdered.

 

These three sick girls are telling lies, one of which will cost a life. At first, you’ll ask who died. Then, there’s the real question: who killed her?

 

​This query feels strange, like it was written well, but I don't know who any of the characters really are, and there's 3 characters. What about telling us more about your protagonist, and her struggle.

 

​I guess this could possibly work, like it will either completely turn a reader off because it lacks plot details, or it may keep them reading because you have a good last line. I guess that's up to you. But to me, the 3 characters were too many and I don't really know what's happening like where are they from; what are they going to do? what does your protagonist actually want?

 

​Honestly, see what other people think as well. It might be a solid query, even though it breaks the rules.

 

​Good job!    Please reciprocate at - http://agentquerycon...-book/?p=344715

 

 

 

WHAT I NEVER NOTICED ​(I might come up with a snappier title- this titles kind of weak, choose something closer to your plot that stands out better) ​what about something like THREE LITTLE LIARS, or perhaps that is already out there

 

is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs a nonlinear narrative and three points of view to piece together the events which led to these characters developing mental health problems.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Preston Copeland

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Twitter: @pcopeland2345

Email: pcopeland2345@gmail.com


#5 Springfield

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 10:07 PM

Hello! Back again!! I queried this novel for the first time last summer with a similar query to this and received some success, including a request for a full. Unfortunately, it led nowhere, which I can now see was due to MS needing another round of editing. I've tweaked a few plot lines along the way, so I've made some changes to this, but I'd also just love a fresh pair of eyes to give it a glance! Any feedback is greatly appreciated, and I will happily return all crits to the best of my ability!

 

Thank you!

 

****

 

Dear Agent,

 

I am seeking representation for WHAT I NEVER NOTICED, a YA contemporary novel complete at 75,000 words.

 

Sixteen-year-old Emily Cole has OCD. She used to be anorexic too, only she’s convinced everyone – even herself – that she’s recovered now. But surely the smaller she is, the more control she’ll have. And Emily needs to stay in control, because her secrets have a jail sentence attached to them. This is like thing after thing thrown in here -- she has OCD, she used to be or is anorexic, she wants to be in control because "her secrets have a jail sentence attached" which doesn't really make sense. If you lead with the OCD, I presume it's important, but there's nothing else about it but that it exists.

 

Fellow anorexic Alice Winters knows what control feels like. Once so close to perfection, it’s all slipping away now that she’s imprisoned inside this treatment centre. What treatment centre? The only way out is to recover, but Alice has her own, dangerous plan to escape. Stick with the MC -- this too is a bunch of stuff. Now there's someone with a plan to escape a treatment centre, and no known connection between they've got anorexia.

 

Classmate Classmate? Whose? Lexi Jackson is popular, outgoing and dating Emily's gorgeous step-brother. She’s certain that if everyone else loves her, one day she’ll love herself. For three years now, her brother's autopsy report has echoed through her mind. The police ruled his death a suicide. Lexi is convinced he was murdered. Ok, this isn't working for me at all -- it's like a back-of-the-book blurb, but it's lacking connection even for that. It's just a list of girls with problems.

 

These three sick girls You have one with OCD, one with anorexia and I have no idea what's meant to be wrong with Lexi. are telling lies, one of which will cost a life. At first, you’ll ask who died. If I were an agent, I'd hit autoreject right here. Don't break the fourth wall, for sure don't do it like that. Then, there’s the real question: who killed her? You haven't mentioned any murder until now besides the brother. This query is kind of profoundly disconnected. I

 

WHAT I NEVER NOTICED is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs a nonlinear narrative and three points of view to piece together the events which led to these characters developing mental health problems.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Even if the mss is nonlinear, the query should be simple to follow. 



#6 Katx

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 08:16 AM

Okay, that received a really mixed response! Thank you all! My query doesn't follow all the rules, but this is due to having three protagonists (all three girls are equally important / have their 'own' side to the story). I tried again and again to write something that stuck to a conventional format, and it just didn't work.

So I've made a few tweaks, and then rewritten the concluding paragraph. I've also used my second idea for a title - any opinions on which I should use are appreciated! Thanks again.

 

****

 

I am seeking representation for IF LIES COULD KILL, a YA contemporary novel complete at 75,000 words.

 

Sixteen-year-old Emily Cole accepts she has OCD. She used to be anorexic too, only she’s convinced everyone – even herself – that she’s recovered now. But surely the smaller she is, the more control she’ll have. That’s what the voices inside her head chant. And Emily needs to stay in control, because her secrets are dark enough to send her to jail.

 

Fellow anorexic Alice Winters knows what control feels like. But now that she’s imprisoned inside a treatment centre, it’s all slipping away. The only way out is to recover, but Alice has her own, dangerous plan to escape.

 

Classmate Lexi Jackson is popular, outgoing and dating Emily's gorgeous step-brother. She’s certain that if everyone else loves her, one day she’ll love herself. For three years now, her brother's autopsy report has plagued her thoughts. The police ruled his death a suicide. Lexi is convinced he was murdered.

 

Alice and Lexi were childhood friends. Emily and Alice bonded over their shared eating disorder last year. And now, there’s a weird frenemy situation bonding Lexi and Emily in Alice’s absence. Only one thing links all three: they’ll say anything to protect the voices inside their minds. But whilst the truth hurts, these lies could kill.

 

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs a nonlinear narrative and three points of view to connect the events which led to these characters developing mental health problems.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.


If I've given you a critique please have a look at my latest thread, it is both much needed and appreciated! Thank you :)

 

http://agentquerycon...ry/#entry344705


#7 Theo A. Gerken

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 11:27 AM

Okay, that received a really mixed response! Thank you all! My query doesn't follow all the rules, but this is due to having three protagonists (all three girls are equally important / have their 'own' side to the story). I tried again and again to write something that stuck to a conventional format, and it just didn't work.

So I've made a few tweaks, and then rewritten the concluding paragraph. I've also used my second idea for a title - any opinions on which I should use are appreciated! Thanks again.

 

****

 

I am seeking representation for IF LIES COULD KILL, a YA contemporary novel complete at 75,000 words.

 

Sixteen-year-old Emily Cole accepts she has OCD. She used to be anorexic too, only she’s convinced everyone – even herself – that she’s recovered now. But surely the smaller she is, the more control she’ll have. That’s what the voices inside her head chant. And Emily needs to stay in control, because her secrets are dark enough to send her to jail.

 

Fellow anorexic Alice Winters knows what control feels like. But now that she’s imprisoned inside a treatment centre, it’s all slipping away. The only way out is to recover, but Alice has her own, dangerous plan to escape.

 

Classmate Lexi Jackson is popular, outgoing and dating Emily's gorgeous step-brother. She’s certain that if everyone else loves her, one day she’ll love herself. For three years now, her brother's autopsy report has plagued her thoughts. The police ruled his death a suicide. Lexi is convinced he was murdered.

 

Alice and Lexi were childhood friends. Emily and Alice bonded over their shared eating disorder last year. And now, there’s a weird frenemy situation bonding Lexi and Emily in Alice’s absence. Only one thing links all three: they’ll say anything to protect the voices inside their minds. But whilst the truth hurts, these lies could kill.

 

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs a nonlinear narrative and three points of view to connect the events which led to these characters developing mental health problems.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I'm not sure where I stand. A book about 3 people developing mental health problems might be a hard sell? I wouldn't phrase it like that.

 

Frankly, I think, the query suffers because you have three narratives, non-linear even, which is a very complicated way to tell a story. It doesn't center around ONE plot, so what is it about, really? Then it's YA? YA is typically faster, more movement, fewer characters, so on. Doesn't have to be though.

 

I think there's a market for books like this. It just doesn't fit the "standard" model. The title is good. I'm just rambling. But that's what I got!



#8 Springfield

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 01:53 PM

Okay, that received a really mixed response! Thank you all! My query doesn't follow all the rules, but this is due to having three protagonists (all three girls are equally important / have their 'own' side to the story). I tried again and again to write something that stuck to a conventional format, and it just didn't work.

So I've made a few tweaks, and then rewritten the concluding paragraph. I've also used my second idea for a title - any opinions on which I should use are appreciated! Thanks again.

 

****

 

I am seeking representation for IF LIES COULD KILL, a YA contemporary novel complete at 75,000 words.

 

Sixteen-year-old Emily Cole accepts she has OCD. She used to be anorexic too, only she’s convinced everyone – even herself – that she’s recovered now. But surely the smaller she is, the more control she’ll have. That’s what the voices inside her head chant. And Emily needs to stay in control, because her secrets are dark enough to send her to jail.

 

Fellow anorexic Alice Winters knows what control feels like. But now that she’s imprisoned inside a treatment centre, it’s all slipping away. The only way out is to recover, but Alice has her own, dangerous plan to escape.

 

Classmate Lexi Jackson is popular, outgoing and dating Emily's gorgeous step-brother. She’s certain that if everyone else loves her, one day she’ll love herself. For three years now, her brother's autopsy report has plagued her thoughts. The police ruled his death a suicide. Lexi is convinced he was murdered.

 

Alice and Lexi were childhood friends. Emily and Alice bonded over their shared eating disorder last year. And now, there’s a weird frenemy situation bonding Lexi and Emily in Alice’s absence. Only one thing links all three: they’ll say anything to protect the voices inside their minds. But whilst the truth hurts, these lies could kill.

 

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs a nonlinear narrative and three points of view to connect the events which led to these characters developing mental health problems.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

So this kind of now reads like they're all schizophrenic and unreliable narrators. There's also no clear plot, stakes, etc.

 

Tons, absolutely tons of things with dual, triple, etc., pov are queried with single MCs. People generally query both povs in romance, but that's about it. Everyplace else, select one and work the story around him or her.



#9 Spaulding

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 01:53 PM

Okay, that received a really mixed response! Thank you all! My query doesn't follow all the rules, but this is due to having three protagonists (all three girls are equally important / have their 'own' side to the story). I tried again and again to write something that stuck to a conventional format, and it just didn't work.

So I've made a few tweaks, and then rewritten the concluding paragraph. I've also used my second idea for a title - any opinions on which I should use are appreciated! Thanks again.

 

****

 

I am seeking representation for IF LIES COULD KILL, a YA contemporary novel complete at 75,000 words.

 

Sixteen-year-old Emily Cole accepts she has OCD. She used to be anorexic too, only she’s convinced everyone – even herself – that she’s recovered now. But surely the smaller she is, the more control she’ll have. That’s what the voices inside her head chant. And Emily needs to stay in control, because her secrets are dark enough to send her to jail.

 

Fellow anorexic Alice Winters knows what control feels like. But now that she’s imprisoned inside a treatment centre, it’s all slipping away. The only way out is to recover, but Alice has her own, dangerous plan to escape.

 

Classmate Lexi Jackson is popular, outgoing and dating Emily's gorgeous step-brother. She’s certain that if everyone else loves her, one day she’ll love herself. For three years now, her brother's autopsy report has plagued her thoughts. The police ruled his death a suicide. Lexi is convinced he was murdered.

 

Alice and Lexi were childhood friends. Emily and Alice bonded over their shared eating disorder last year. And now, there’s a weird frenemy situation bonding Lexi and Emily in Alice’s absence. Only one thing links all three: they’ll say anything to protect the voices inside their minds. But whilst the truth hurts, these lies could kill.

 

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs a nonlinear narrative and three points of view to connect the events which led to these characters developing mental health problems.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

A few suggestions -- 

-- Three separate POVs boggled me. I assumed the first paragraph of summary was about a singular protag. When the second one came along, I had no idea she too was a protag and waited to see how she connected in the story. Notice, by the time that happens, I'm already lost, and more is coming. I haven't even heard what the story is about yet.

 

How about starting with what the story is about and then introduce the three characters? I think this paragraph (from your first attempt) is the hook to this story. "These three sick girls are telling lies, one of which will cost a life. At first, you’ll ask who died. Then, there’s the real question: who killed her?" It will need work, but it's a good start.

 

-- You also have timeline issues of an unusual sort. In the first post, you wrote "who killed her?" This time you said, "these lies could kill." Is someone already dead or is it possible someone will be killed? And clearly these three girls already have mental health problems, but you're last line suggests this is a story of how events "led to" them. After reading this, I'm not sure if we'll be watching problems happen or learning what happens as a result of the problems.

 

-- Lots of neutral verbs and passive verbs used in the description -- accepts, has, used to be, convinced, is, have, needs, are, sends. All in one paragraph that is supposed to be making us care about Emily. The only interesting verb used is chant. Basically, you're telling us who these girls are instead of showing us in ways we'd care. You've given their clinical patient files, instead of who they are as they see themselves.

 

And one thing that might help you in seeing the story better. There is something all three girls have in common -- control issues. OCD, anorexia (or bulimia), and tunnel vision on figuring the cause of death are all ways people use to control, because ultimately, we have very little control of our lives. Everyone with anorexia or bulimia also has OCD. Controlling what to eat or how to get rid of it after eating is as obsessive-compulsive as it gets. And yet, not everyone with OCD has those eating disorder.


If I helped you, please critique my query -- The Comfort Ban.

Or the synopsis. (If you're in a particularly cheery mood, I'll accept a crit for both. Better yet, if you're in a foul mood, take it out on both.  :wink: )


#10 Hollyhawk

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 10:21 AM

I am seeking representation for IF LIES COULD KILL, a YA contemporary novel complete at 75,000 words.

 

Sixteen-year-old Emily Cole accepts she has OCD. She used to be anorexic too, only she’s convinced everyone – even herself – that she’s recovered now. But surely the smaller she is, the more control she’ll have. That’s what the voices inside her head chant. And Emily needs to stay in control, because her secrets are dark enough to send her to jail.

 

Fellow anorexic Alice Winters knows what control feels like. But now that she’s imprisoned inside a treatment centre, it’s all slipping away. The only way out is to recover, but Alice has her own, dangerous plan to escape.

 

Classmate Lexi Jackson is popular, outgoing and dating Emily's gorgeous step-brother. She’s certain that if everyone else loves her, one day she’ll love herself. For three years now, her brother's autopsy report has plagued her thoughts. The police ruled his death a suicide. Lexi is convinced he was murdered.

 

Alice and Lexi were childhood friends. Emily and Alice bonded over their shared eating disorder last year. And now, there’s a weird frenemy situation bonding Lexi and Emily in Alice’s absence. Only one thing links all three: they’ll say anything to protect the voices inside their minds. But whilst the truth hurts, these lies could kill.

 

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs a nonlinear narrative and three points of view to connect the events which led to these characters developing mental health problems.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I agree with those who have already commented that the fact that there are 3 POVs should be introduced first thing. Then the individual reasons why each girl is interesting will flesh it out instead of feeling like new unconnected information. When I look at each MC, they all have good things, and seen separately I might be willing to read a story about each of them. But when I've already invested in Emily as the sole protagonist (which you did a good job of achieving, btw), the other girls end up feeling tacked on.


I love reading! Scratch my query and I'll scratch yours?

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#11 Katx

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 06:03 AM

I've tried to write a query from one character's POV. It feels unrepresentative, because to me the characters are equally important and all end up major players in the novel's conclusion. The book is nothing without all three of them. This query gives so little information on Lexi and Alice - is that acceptable in a query? It also doesn't include anything about their mental health problems, although neither of them have their problems revealed at the start of the novel (Alice about a quarter of the way through, Lexi about half way). So it feels like I'm missing half the plot lines. Anyway, have at it! As always, all crits will be returned.

 

****

 

I am seeking representation for IF LIES COULD KILL, a YA contemporary novel complete at 73,000 words.

 

Sixteen-year-old Emily Cole knows having friends is dangerous. Without friends, she’s in control and for a recovered anorexic with severe OCD, that is imperative.

 

Unfortunately, the popular leech dating her step-brother won’t take no for an answer. Lexi adopts Emily as a sort of project – driven by some inane urge Emily doesn’t understand and can’t seem to control. But as her world flips and she gets caught in the middle of crazy (i.e. between Lexi and her ex-best-friend Alice), her anorexia threatens to make a reappearance. Emily knows she must stay in control: her secrets are dark enough to send her to jail. But whilst the truth hurts, these lies could kill.

 

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with OCD, anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs three points of view to show mental health from the view of the sufferer, those who know they’re ill and those who are ignorant of the problem.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.


If I've given you a critique please have a look at my latest thread, it is both much needed and appreciated! Thank you :)

 

http://agentquerycon...ry/#entry344705


#12 punitrastogi

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 06:44 AM

There are rules to follow when writing a query.
But none of them override your own passion and belief in your story.

Having said that, if there are 5 rules, and you need to break 3, make sure you follow 2 to the best of your abilities.

I completely understand your desparation to include the three girls. And I agree that they seem equally important.
Therefore, I am critiquing your second version, not the final one.

Okay, that received a really mixed response! Thank you all! My query doesn't follow all the rules, but this is due to having three protagonists (all three girls are equally important / have their 'own' side to the story). I tried again and again to write something that stuck to a conventional format, and it just didn't work.
So I've made a few tweaks, and then rewritten the concluding paragraph. I've also used my second idea for a title - any opinions on which I should use are appreciated! Thanks again.

****

I am seeking representation for IF LIES COULD KILL, a YA contemporary novel complete at 75,000 words.
-- include a hook please. Setup the agent into expecting that this is a three MC story. If you sell that part, the rule for a single MC might not matter.

Sixteen-year-old Emily Cole accepts she has OCD. She used to be anorexic too, only she’s convinced everyone – even herself – that she’s recovered now. But surely the smaller she is, the more control she’ll have. --- control over what? --- That’s what the voices inside her head chant. And Emily needs to stay in control, because her secrets are dark enough to send her to jail.

Fellow anorexic --- remove the first two words --- Alice Winters knows what control feels like. --- it sounds like she was BEING controlled. If she was in control, reframe the sentence --- But now that she’s imprisoned inside a treatment centre, it’s all slipping away. The only way out is to recover, but Alice has her own, dangerous plan to escape. --- The last sentence also needs rephrasing, if not splitting into two.

Classmate --- or ex-classmate. Of whom?
--- Lexi Jackson is popular, outgoing and dating Emily's gorgeous step-brother. She’s certain that if everyone else loves her, one day she’ll love herself. For three years now, her brother's autopsy report has plagued her thoughts. The police ruled his death a suicide. Lexi is convinced he was murdered.

Alice and Lexi were childhood friends. Emily and Alice bonded over their shared eating disorder last year. --- This can be used in your hook/intro --- And now, there’s a weird frenemy situation bonding Lexi and Emily in Alice’s absence. Only one thing links all three: they’ll say anything to protect the voices inside their minds. But whilst the truth hurts, these lies could kill.

--- What is the goal of one or the three of them? Currently it seems like an abrupt end. The para below implies its about fighting mental problems. Then thats what at stake.

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs a nonlinear narrative and three points of view to connect the events which led to these characters developing mental health problems.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



#13 jaustail

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 10:05 AM

JMO:

 

I am seeking representation for IF LIES COULD KILL, a YA contemporary novel complete at 73,000 words.(put this at the end)

 

Sixteen-year-old Emily Cole knows having friends is dangerous(how does she know? does she have any bad experience with friends? mention that). Without friends, she’s in control and(maybe comma) for a recovered(how did she recover? medicines, therapy, self-help book?) anorexic with severe OCD, that is imperative.

 

Unfortunately, the popular leech(add: ,Lexi,) dating her step-brother won’t take no(who is telling 'no' to Lexi? Emily or her step-brother?) for an answer. Lexi adopts Emily as a sort of project(ugh i hate such people.) – driven by some inane urge Emily doesn’t understand and can’t seem to control. But as her world flips and she gets caught in the middle of crazy (i.e. between Lexi and her ex-best-friend Alice(why is Alice an ex? Why does Alice want to come back in Emily's life?)), her anorexia threatens to make a reappearance(threatens to return. uses less words). Emily knows she must stay in control: her secrets are dark enough to send her to jail(this comes out of nowhere. is someone blackmailing her? can someone find out those secrets?). But whilst the truth hurts, these lies could kill.

 

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with OCD, anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs three points of view to show mental health from the view of the sufferer, those who know they’re ill and those who are ignorant of the problem.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Honestly this doesn't work for me. If the three characters in your book are all main characters, then write three queries from each of their pov and then pick one query. It's okay to have a smaller query.  The questions I've posted above can help you add flesh to this query.

 

Good luck.



#14 Katx

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 01:27 PM

Latest draft: Any help greatly appreciated and will be returned as always :)

 

 

[PERSONALISATION] I am seeking representation for IF LIES COULD KILL, a YA contemporary novel complete at 74,000 words.

 

Three sick girls are telling lies, one of which could cost a life.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lexi started self-harming after her brother committed suicide three years ago. Alice has been starving herself since her childhood friend seemingly ditched her. And their classmate Emily began counting years ago: every single footstep. The numbers keep Emily sane, when her deepest secret threatens to send her to jail.

 

All three girls are desperate for control and their mental health conditions seem to answer that prayer – for a price. What started in their heads, now impacts every part of their lives. When Alice is removed from school and imprisoned in an anorexic treatment centre, Lexi and Emily face a sharp wakeup call. In each other, they find a friend who might understand their troubles but their friendship quickly becomes twisted by lies and deceit. Meanwhile, their classmate Alice is told she has two choices: recover or die. But her only focus is escape and she’ll say whatever they want to hear for a chance to regain a little control.

 

The truth demands a heavy price: social destruction, loss of control, even a jail sentence. But these lies could kill and they won’t just target the liar, they’ll harm those they lied to as well.

 

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs three points of view to explore mental health from the view of the sufferer, those who know they’re ill and those who’re ignorant of the problem.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.


If I've given you a critique please have a look at my latest thread, it is both much needed and appreciated! Thank you :)

 

http://agentquerycon...ry/#entry344705


#15 hgsylvan

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 02:01 PM

Hey Katx - I came across this when I was reading query shark, I don't know if you have seen it, just thought I would pass it along it case it could help. Best of luck!!

 

http://queryshark.bl...03/199-ftw.html



#16 Chloe Kleine

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 07:10 PM

Hey Katx

 

I’ve read through all your queries, and worked through a lot of the feedback from others. I have a feeling you’ve got a masterpiece of a MS, but one that’s very difficult to sell in a query. I’m guessing that the story line unfolds from the three different POV’s, with each chapter flipping from one protagonist to the next. For this subject matter, I find that hugely appealing.

 

I have a question. Are all three POV’s in the third-person singular, or is one of the POV’s in the first-person singular? If one POV is in the first-person singular then you really should write the query from that same POV.  Meanwhile, the link hgsylvan gave you above is extremely helpful as a reference on this, suggesting you use only ONE POV for the query, as long as it’s clear the MS will have three POVs.

Presumably, if it’s one POV then it will be Emily’s? You might like to strip out all the stuff relating to the other two girls, and just write the query from Emily’s POV (that’s what Reid is encouraging).

 

For titles, I prefer WHAT I NEVER NOTICED. It carries more intrigue. Meanwhile IF LIES COULD KILL doesn’t grab me. Lies can kill – we already know that. (Think espionage and corruption). Although I would ask, to whom does the ‘I’ (in What I Never Noticed) refer? The principle POV or someone else? Having said all this, I hear that 50% of the time, book titles get changed once a publishing deal is on the table. It’s rare that an agent would decline a query based on the book’s proposed title. 

 

Here’s my critique of your latest draft below:

  

PERSONALISATION] I am seeking representation for IF LIES COULD KILL, a YA contemporary novel complete at 74,000 words.

[PERSONALISATION] IF LIES COULD KILL is a YA contemporary novel complete at 74,000 words. (Put this at the bottom, before the bio paragraph. No need to say you’re seeking representation because this is a query letter so the reader knows that. Start the query with the next line below)

 

Three sick girls are telling lies, one of which could cost a life. Does it actually cost a life? If it does, then use ‘will’ not ‘could’ (you did in an earlier draft). You could also add in ‘teenage’ so you don’t have to spell out their ages later. And, are they / were they all at the same school? If yes, I would make that clear as well. Here’s a suggestion:

 

Three sick teenage classmates are telling lies, one of which will cost a life.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lexi started self-harming after her brother committed suicide three years ago. Alice has been starving herself since her childhood friend seemingly ditched her. And their classmate Emily began counting years ago: every single footstep. The numbers keep Emily sane, when her deepest secret threatens to send her to jail.

This can be refined. How about:

 

Lexi has been self-mutilating since her brother committed suicide three years ago. Alice has been starving herself since her childhood best friend ditched her. And Emily has been counting her footsteps, every single one, for longer than she can remember.

 

All three girls are desperate for control and their mental health conditions seem to answer that prayer – for a price. What started in their heads, now impacts every part of their lives. When Alice is removed from school and imprisoned in an anorexic treatment centre, Lexi and Emily face a sharp wakeup call. In each other, they find a friend who might understand their troubles but their friendship quickly becomes twisted by lies and deceit. Meanwhile, their classmate Alice is told she has two choices: recover or die. This seems harsh. Why will she die if she doesn’t recover? But her only focus is escape and she’ll say whatever they want to hear for a chance to regain a little control.

This paragraph needs work. It may need to change a lot if you decide to write only from one POV as well..

 

The truth demands a heavy price: social destruction, loss of control, even a jail sentence. But these lies could kill and they won’t just target the liar, they’ll harm those they lied to as well.

This business about the truth coming out is hard to grasp. I don’t know enough to understand why it could be socially destructive or even deliver a jail sentence. I’m getting that this is the main thing that’s at stake, but you need to steer us a bit more on why the truth coming out could prove to be so disastrous.

 

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the complicated friendships I made during my teenage years when I suffered with anorexia and depression.  It employs three points of view to (up to here is great. Find a better way to say what the three POVs do), explore mental health from the view of the sufferer, those who know they’re ill and those who’re ignorant of the problem.

This background paragraph is extremely appealing, but I think you can refine it a bit.

 

I hope this helps. I'm looking forward to seeing your next draft. 

Thanks again for critiquing my query a few days ago!

 

Regards

Chloe :-)


Please critique my query, and I will return the favour!

http://agentquerycon...n-bdsm-romance/

 


#17 jaustail

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 10:30 PM

JMO:

 

 

Three sick girls are telling lies, one of which could cost a life.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lexi started self-harming after her brother committed suicide three years ago. Alice has been starving herself since her childhood friend seemingly ditched her. And their classmate Emily began counting years ago: every single footstep. The numbers keep Emily sane, when her deepest secret threatens to send her to jail.(good mystery elements)

 

All three girls are desperate for control and their mental health conditions seem to answer that prayer – for a price. What started in their heads, now impacts every part of their lives. When Alice is removed from school and imprisoned in an anorexic treatment centre(who imprisons her? do her parents force her?), Lexi and Emily face a sharp wakeup call. In each other, they find a friend who might understand their troubles but their friendship quickly becomes twisted by lies and deceit. Meanwhile, their classmate Alice is told she has two choices: recover or die. But her only focus is escape and she’ll say whatever they want to hear for a chance to regain a little control.

 

The truth demands a heavy price: social destruction(of whom?), loss of control, even a jail sentence(for whom?). But these lies could kill and they won’t just target the liar, they’ll harm those they lied to as well.

 

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs three points of view to explore mental health from the view of the sufferer, those who know they’re ill and those who’re ignorant of the problem.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

I'd request pages, mainly because the theme interests me. You have lots of punches in the query. Good luck!!

 

Link to my query is in my signature in case you want to have a look.



#18 robiiehood

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 11:36 AM

[PERSONALISATION] I am seeking representation for IF LIES COULD KILL, a YA contemporary novel complete at 74,000 words.

 

Three sick girls are telling lies, one of which could cost a life. This line is intriguing, but "one of which could cost a life" is a little too vague. Are the lies endangering one of the girls? Or someone else's life outside of their group?

 

Fifteen-year-old Lexi started self-harming after her brother committed suicide three years ago. Alice has been starving herself since her childhood friend seemingly ditched her. (I removed the 'seemingly' because even if it turns out to not be true in the story, for the sake of impact, we should make it sound true here.) And their classmate Emily began counting years ago: every single footstep. Rewrite: And their classmate, Emily, counts footsteps; every single one. The numbers keep Emily sane, when her deepest secret threatens to send her to jail. I don't understand the cause and effect of this last sentence. We've got three elements here; counting, a secret, and jail. I get that the numbers keep her sane, but are they keeping her sane from a deep secret that could cause her to go crazy? If so, why does going crazy equal jail? Does she count because it keeps her mind off the secret? And as long as her mind is off the secret she won't accidentally spill the beans that would get her put in jail?

 

 

All three girls are desperate for control, (comma between two independent clauses) and their mental health conditions seem to answer that prayer – for a price. What started in their heads, now impacts every part of their lives. Great line! When Alice is removed from school and imprisoned in an anorexic treatment centre, Lexi and Emily face a sharp wake-up call. In each other, they find a friend who might understand their troubles but their friendship quickly becomes twisted by lies and deceit. How? Who's lies? Meanwhile, their classmate Alice is told she has two choices: recover or die. But her only focus is escape and she’ll say whatever they want to hear for a chance to regain a little control.

 

The truth demands a heavy price: social destruction, loss of control, (this sounds like a good theme in your book, but the idea has become repetitive in your query. It's taking up space where other ideas be given time to shine.) even a jail sentence. But these lies could kill and they won’t just target the liar, they’ll harm those they lied to as well.

 

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs three points of view to explore mental health from the view of the sufferer, those who know they’re ill, and those who are ignorant of the problem.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

It sounds like you have a great book here! Good luck!

-Robin



#19 Katx

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 11:37 AM

Hey Katx - I came across this when I was reading query shark, I don't know if you have seen it, just thought I would pass it along it case it could help. Best of luck!!

 

http://queryshark.bl...03/199-ftw.html

 

 

 

Hey Katx

 

I’ve read through all your queries, and worked through a lot of the feedback from others. I have a feeling you’ve got a masterpiece of a MS, but one that’s very difficult to sell in a query. I’m guessing that the story line unfolds from the three different POV’s, with each chapter flipping from one protagonist to the next. For this subject matter, I find that hugely appealing.

 

I have a question. Are all three POV’s in the third-person singular, or is one of the POV’s in the first-person singular? If one POV is in the first-person singular then you really should write the query from that same POV.  Meanwhile, the link hgsylvan gave you above is extremely helpful as a reference on this, suggesting you use only ONE POV for the query, as long as it’s clear the MS will have three POVs.

Presumably, if it’s one POV then it will be Emily’s? You might like to strip out all the stuff relating to the other two girls, and just write the query from Emily’s POV (that’s what Reid is encouraging).

 

For titles, I prefer WHAT I NEVER NOTICED. It carries more intrigue. Meanwhile IF LIES COULD KILL doesn’t grab me. Lies can kill – we already know that. (Think espionage and corruption). Although I would ask, to whom does the ‘I’ (in What I Never Noticed) refer? The principle POV or someone else? Having said all this, I hear that 50% of the time, book titles get changed once a publishing deal is on the table. It’s rare that an agent would decline a query based on the book’s proposed title. 

 

Here’s my critique of your latest draft below:

  

PERSONALISATION] I am seeking representation for IF LIES COULD KILL, a YA contemporary novel complete at 74,000 words.

[PERSONALISATION] IF LIES COULD KILL is a YA contemporary novel complete at 74,000 words. (Put this at the bottom, before the bio paragraph. No need to say you’re seeking representation because this is a query letter so the reader knows that. Start the query with the next line below)

 

Three sick girls are telling lies, one of which could cost a life. Does it actually cost a life? If it does, then use ‘will’ not ‘could’ (you did in an earlier draft). You could also add in ‘teenage’ so you don’t have to spell out their ages later. And, are they / were they all at the same school? If yes, I would make that clear as well. Here’s a suggestion:

 

Three sick teenage classmates are telling lies, one of which will cost a life.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lexi started self-harming after her brother committed suicide three years ago. Alice has been starving herself since her childhood friend seemingly ditched her. And their classmate Emily began counting years ago: every single footstep. The numbers keep Emily sane, when her deepest secret threatens to send her to jail.

This can be refined. How about:

 

Lexi has been self-mutilating since her brother committed suicide three years ago. Alice has been starving herself since her childhood best friend ditched her. And Emily has been counting her footsteps, every single one, for longer than she can remember.

 

All three girls are desperate for control and their mental health conditions seem to answer that prayer – for a price. What started in their heads, now impacts every part of their lives. When Alice is removed from school and imprisoned in an anorexic treatment centre, Lexi and Emily face a sharp wakeup call. In each other, they find a friend who might understand their troubles but their friendship quickly becomes twisted by lies and deceit. Meanwhile, their classmate Alice is told she has two choices: recover or die. This seems harsh. Why will she die if she doesn’t recover? But her only focus is escape and she’ll say whatever they want to hear for a chance to regain a little control.

This paragraph needs work. It may need to change a lot if you decide to write only from one POV as well..

 

The truth demands a heavy price: social destruction, loss of control, even a jail sentence. But these lies could kill and they won’t just target the liar, they’ll harm those they lied to as well.

This business about the truth coming out is hard to grasp. I don’t know enough to understand why it could be socially destructive or even deliver a jail sentence. I’m getting that this is the main thing that’s at stake, but you need to steer us a bit more on why the truth coming out could prove to be so disastrous.

 

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the complicated friendships I made during my teenage years when I suffered with anorexia and depression.  It employs three points of view to (up to here is great. Find a better way to say what the three POVs do), explore mental health from the view of the sufferer, those who know they’re ill and those who’re ignorant of the problem.

This background paragraph is extremely appealing, but I think you can refine it a bit.

 

I hope this helps. I'm looking forward to seeing your next draft. 

Thanks again for critiquing my query a few days ago!

 

Regards

Chloe :-)

 

 

 

JMO:

 

 

Three sick girls are telling lies, one of which could cost a life.

 

Fifteen-year-old Lexi started self-harming after her brother committed suicide three years ago. Alice has been starving herself since her childhood friend seemingly ditched her. And their classmate Emily began counting years ago: every single footstep. The numbers keep Emily sane, when her deepest secret threatens to send her to jail.(good mystery elements)

 

All three girls are desperate for control and their mental health conditions seem to answer that prayer – for a price. What started in their heads, now impacts every part of their lives. When Alice is removed from school and imprisoned in an anorexic treatment centre(who imprisons her? do her parents force her?), Lexi and Emily face a sharp wakeup call. In each other, they find a friend who might understand their troubles but their friendship quickly becomes twisted by lies and deceit. Meanwhile, their classmate Alice is told she has two choices: recover or die. But her only focus is escape and she’ll say whatever they want to hear for a chance to regain a little control.

 

The truth demands a heavy price: social destruction(of whom?), loss of control, even a jail sentence(for whom?). But these lies could kill and they won’t just target the liar, they’ll harm those they lied to as well.

 

IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. It employs three points of view to explore mental health from the view of the sufferer, those who know they’re ill and those who’re ignorant of the problem.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

I'd request pages, mainly because the theme interests me. You have lots of punches in the query. Good luck!!

 

Link to my query is in my signature in case you want to have a look.

 

 

Hi guys, thank you very much for your input - I will return the favour for those who are working on queries too.

 

I'd seen the Query Shark post before. I think that was what I was trying to incorporate in my final paragraph, but my biggest issue is simple: the plot has SO MANY twists and turns, each relevant to a different character, that to sum it up from one girl's POV is completely un-representational. (Not sure if I've made that last word up.)

 

My beta readers have tried to help me with this query too and we haven't gotten far. Many have agreed that to write from one girl's POV feels very wrong - like one of you mentioned, the chapters do rotate between the three and my chapter length is fairly short. I have also struggled to write a concise synopsis because of this. Furthermore, all three POV are first person. It's risky, but imperative for how the plot works and I have been reassured now by betas that all three are distinct (this took a lot of redrafting!).

 

There are two major plot twists in the final quarter of the book. One, I refuse to mention in the query (it is to do with Lexi's brothers death). The second is that one girl does die. That is something I'm happy to hint about, because it is hinted about all the way through the novel. I just don't want it to be obvious that one girl will die, because the reader should be routing for all three to live (and believe that they all will). I'm going to see if I can build these stakes more clearly though.

 

Thanks again


If I've given you a critique please have a look at my latest thread, it is both much needed and appreciated! Thank you :)

 

http://agentquerycon...ry/#entry344705


#20 Chloe Kleine

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 06:15 PM

In this case Katx, I am wondering if you could somehow write three hooks, with attaching paragraph for each character  and wrap it up with a statement combining the three, with the collective stakes, in a fourth paragraph. (And use third person for each character.) This could be slick and compelling, and may match up with your MS. The following structure might work:

 

Emily (hook 1- one sentence). Emily situation, stakes (included in paragraph 1)  40 words

 

Lexi (hook 2- one sentence). Lexi situation, stakes (included in paragraph 2)  40 words

 

Alice (hook 3- one sentence). Alice situation, stakes (included in paragraph 3)  40 words

 

Final wrap: Paragraph 4  40 words

 

Then add you bio paragraph at the bottom.

 

Just a suggestion - not based on any rule book - but you might like to try it!

 

Looking forward to seeing your next draft! 

 

Chloe :-) 


Please critique my query, and I will return the favour!

http://agentquerycon...n-bdsm-romance/

 





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