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#21 taylorhale

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 08:50 PM

Oh man--It saddens me that you don't like it! You'll definitely want to be confident in what you're putting out there, so if you feel like you want to make more edits, do so, but don't drive yourself crazy. 

As far as the hook goes, I look forward to seeing some drafts! 

I just feel like I'm not pitching it right, so I came up with something different :-) I hope you don't mind me sharing it with you! I want to keep it in one paragraph but I feel like it doesn't flow. Is it acceptable to break it up like this? I see other people do it in queries but I'm not sure.

 

 

At seventeen, hockey prodigy Elliot Wexler lost everything—his team, his NHL dreams and his best friends. The only way he knew how to cope was to take his own life, but he couldn’t even do that right.

 

A year later, Elliot feels isolated, depressed and suicidal, a result of his bipolar disorder. Then he meets seventeen-year-old Lucy Pembroke, a self-proclaimed street rat who survives the harsh city streets with nothing but a flannel, a backpack and a heart-shaped box. Elliot gives Lucy a place to stay, and Lucy gives Elliot something he thought he’d lost—a reason to live. But then she disappears. 

 

One Google search shows Elliot that he doesn’t know Lucy at all—her parents are dead, her deranged ex-boyfriend might have something to do with it and she’s classified as one thing: Missing. In a desperate attempt to chase Lucy, Elliot has a choice—to give up on the girl he loves, or risk getting caught in the crossfire of Lucy’s past. When one of Elliot’s family members goes missing, that choice is ripped away.



#22 ThatDan

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 01:55 AM

I just feel like I'm not pitching it right, so I came up with something different :-) I hope you don't mind me sharing it with you! I want to keep it in one paragraph but I feel like it doesn't flow. Is it acceptable to break it up like this?​ I don't see why not I see other people do it in queries but I'm not sure.

 

 

At seventeen, hockey prodigy Elliot Wexler lost everything—his team, his NHL dreams and his best friends. The only way he knew how to cope was to take his own life, but he couldn’t even do that right.

 

A year later, Elliot feels isolated, depressed and suicidal​<to mention here that he is suicidal is a little redundant. he already tried suicide, a result of his bipolar disorder. Then he meets seventeen-year-old Lucy Pembroke, a self-proclaimed street rat who survives the harsh city streets with nothing but a flannel, a backpack and a heart-shaped box. Elliot gives Lucy a place to stay, and Lucy gives Elliot something he thought he’d lost—a reason to live... But then ​suggest 'Until' she disappears. 

 

​For better flow, maybe link that the google search is to help find her, but exposes some of her secrets?> One Google search shows Elliot that he doesn’t know Lucy at all—her parents are dead, her deranged ex-boyfriend might have something to do with it and she’s classified as one thing: Missing. In a desperate attempt to chase Lucy, ​1: Elliot has a choice—to give up on the girl he loves, or risk getting caught in the crossfire of Lucy’s past. ​2: When one of Elliot’s family members goes missing, that choice is ripped away.

The last part feels a little backwards to me. I think the sections 1 and 2 I've identified could be reversed. Ie, mention that tracking down Lucy starts to have negative side-effects (dangerous encounters, missing family members, etc), then propose his dilemma (keep searching and risk more devastating consequences, or give up and lose the girl he loves.)

 

​Great progress so far. Query is concise and intriguing. Definitely feels on the lighter side (word count) compared to most queries I've read here, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

 

​One other thing I would suggest, is to research "serial commas". It's not necessary (many people prefer not to use them), but I always advocate them as they can often eliminate ambiguity and confusion.

 

Hope my feedback helps.


I'm no professional. Take my critiques merely as suggestions.

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#23 taylorhale

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 01:10 PM

 

I just feel like I'm not pitching it right, so I came up with something different :-) I hope you don't mind me sharing it with you! I want to keep it in one paragraph but I feel like it doesn't flow. Is it acceptable to break it up like this?​ I don't see why not I see other people do it in queries but I'm not sure.

 

 

At seventeen, hockey prodigy Elliot Wexler lost everything—his team, his NHL dreams and his best friends. The only way he knew how to cope was to take his own life, but he couldn’t even do that right.

 

A year later, Elliot feels isolated, depressed and suicidal​<to mention here that he is suicidal is a little redundant. he already tried suicide, a result of his bipolar disorder. Then he meets seventeen-year-old Lucy Pembroke, a self-proclaimed street rat who survives the harsh city streets with nothing but a flannel, a backpack and a heart-shaped box. Elliot gives Lucy a place to stay, and Lucy gives Elliot something he thought he’d lost—a reason to live... But then ​suggest 'Until' she disappears. 

 

​For better flow, maybe link that the google search is to help find her, but exposes some of her secrets?> One Google search shows Elliot that he doesn’t know Lucy at all—her parents are dead, her deranged ex-boyfriend might have something to do with it and she’s classified as one thing: Missing. In a desperate attempt to chase Lucy, ​1: Elliot has a choice—to give up on the girl he loves, or risk getting caught in the crossfire of Lucy’s past. ​2: When one of Elliot’s family members goes missing, that choice is ripped away.

The last part feels a little backwards to me. I think the sections 1 and 2 I've identified could be reversed. Ie, mention that tracking down Lucy starts to have negative side-effects (dangerous encounters, missing family members, etc), then propose his dilemma (keep searching and risk more devastating consequences, or give up and lose the girl he loves.)

 

​Great progress so far. Query is concise and intriguing. Definitely feels on the lighter side (word count) compared to most queries I've read here, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

 

​One other thing I would suggest, is to research "serial commas". It's not necessary (many people prefer not to use them), but I always advocate them as they can often eliminate ambiguity and confusion.

 

Hope my feedback helps.

 

Thank you so much, this is very helpful! I typically do not use serial commas but I see the appeal in using them in a query to make sure there's no confusion. I will definitely consider it!

 

Here's my new version :-)

 

Eighteen-year-old hockey prodigy Elliot Wexler knows about his city’s issue with homeless kids, but he never expected to find one in his dad’s shed.

 

Seventeen-year-old, self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke is from different universe than Elliot. After losing his hockey team, Elliot’s depressed all the time, self-medicating his bipolar disorder to suppress urges of suicide. But Lucy survives with nothing but a flannel, a backpack, and a heart-shaped box. Elliot falls for Lucy, and when his family goes to Cuba for Christmas, he invites her to stay with him. Lucy shows Elliot that life is worth living and makes him feel whole again, but then she disappears.

 

In an attempt to discover Lucy’s true identity, Elliot resorts to Google, but he doesn’t like what he finds. Lucy’s parents are dead, her deranged ex-boyfriend might have something to do with it and she’s classified as one thing: Missing. But as Elliot tries to keep Lucy safe, he has a near-death encounter and loses a family member. When Lucy’s weight on his life becomes too much, Elliot is faced with a choice: to risk more consequences, or give up on the girl he loves, all while trying to balance high school and his mental illness.



#24 mzbritney12

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 02:33 PM

Thank you so much, this is very helpful! I typically do not use serial commas but I see the appeal in using them in a query to make sure there's no confusion. I will definitely consider it!

 

Here's my new version :-)

 

Eighteen-year-old hockey prodigy Elliot Wexler knows about his city’s issue with homeless kids, but he never expected to find one in his dad’s shed. (Yay! I'm so glad you're cooking up hooks now! I If you do revise, I do suggest possibly adding something with Lucy in it, too. I do also suggest some serial commas as well)

 

Seventeen-year-old, self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke is from different universe than Elliot. After losing his hockey team, Elliot’s depressed all the time, self-medicating his bipolar disorder to suppress urges of suicide. But Lucy survives with nothing but a flannel, a backpack, and a heart-shaped box. (still love this prior sentence) Elliot falls for Lucy, and when his family goes to Cuba for Christmas, he invites her to stay with him. Lucy shows Elliot that life is worth living and makes him feel whole again, but then she disappears. (Yas! Loving these revisions.)

 

In an attempt to discover Lucy’s true identity, Elliot resorts to Google, but he doesn’t like what he finds. Lucy’s parents are dead, her deranged ex-boyfriend might have something to do with it and she’s classified as one thing: Missing. But as Elliot tries to keep Lucy safe, he has a near-death encounter and loses a family member (and loses a family member when....) When Lucy’s weight (It's nit picky, but I do suggest using a different word here. "Weight" just doesn't flow right in this sentence") on his life becomes too much, Elliot is faced with a choice: to risk more consequences, or give up on the girl he loves, all while trying to balance high school and his mental illness. (This last sentence, your closing hook, wasn't as strong as I hoped it would be. I do think you should actually spell out what the consequences are. I think with some stronger words, and some tightening, you'll have a great closing sentence)

 

Taylor!

Loving these edits! You've made so much progress, and I like how it's growing and reading like a great-flowing query. 

Can't wait to see what's next. 

 

Oh, and before I forget, yes it is acceptable to break your query up how you have done so. 


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#25 taylorhale

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 03:02 PM

Taylor!

Loving these edits! You've made so much progress, and I like how it's growing and reading like a great-flowing query. 

Can't wait to see what's next. 

 

Oh, and before I forget, yes it is acceptable to break your query up how you have done so. 

Thank you so much for coming back to give my query another critique. I've been reading through your blog and I really love it! Congrats on finding an agent, that's so exciting :-D

 

I'm still trying to decide if I should if I should end off with the implied suicide, I know you said before that it worked for you. Here is my latest revision :-)

 

When hockey prodigy Elliot Wexler finds self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke in his dad’s shed, he doesn’t know if he should call the cops or invite her inside.

 

Eighteen-year-old Elliot and seventeen-year-old Lucy are from different worlds. After losing his hockey team, Elliot is depressed all the time, self-medicating his bipolar disorder to suppress his suicidal urges. But Lucy survives the streets with nothing but a flannel, a backpack and a heart-shaped box. When Elliot’s family goes to Cuba for Christmas, he invites Lucy to stay with him, where they have an intense, but short-lived relationship. Lucy then disappears.

 

Attempting to discover Lucy’s true identity, Elliot resorts to Google, but he doesn’t like what he finds. Lucy’s parents are dead, her deranged ex-boyfriend might have something to do with it and she’s classified as missing. But as Elliot tries to keep Lucy safe, he has a near-death encounter that leads Lucy’s ex-boyfriend right to his doorstep. When one of Elliot’s family members goes missing, the impact Lucy is leaving on his life becomes too much, and Elliot is faced with a choice: to risk more consequences, or give up on the girl he loves. But with his growing feelings of self-hatred and failure, Elliot goes down a different path—one that might lead to the bottom of a bottle of pills. 



#26 AmberA

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 08:13 PM

Thank you so much for coming back to give my query another critique. I've been reading through your blog and I really love it! Congrats on finding an agent, that's so exciting :-D

 

I'm still trying to decide if I should if I should end off with the implied suicide, I know you said before that it worked for you. Here is my latest revision :-)

 

When hockey prodigy Elliot Wexler finds self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke in his dad’s shed, he doesn’t know if he should call the cops or invite her inside. ( Nice hook ) 

 

Eighteen-year-old Elliot and seventeen-year-old Lucy are from different worlds. After losing his hockey team, Elliot is depressed all the time, self-medicating his bipolar disorder to suppress his suicidal urges. But Lucy survives the streets with nothing but a flannel, a backpack and a heart-shaped box. When Elliot’s family goes to Cuba for Christmas, he invites Lucy to stay with him, where they have an intense, but short-lived relationship. Then Lucy then disappears. 

 

Attempting to discover Lucy’s true identity ( Identity or do you mean whereabouts? How does he know Lucy gave him a false identity ?) , Elliot resorts to Google, but he doesn’t like what he finds. Lucy’s parents are dead, her deranged ex-boyfriend might have something to do with it and she’s classified as missing. But as Elliot tries to keep Lucy safe ( I thought she disappeared? How did he find her or did she come back?) , he has a near-death encounter that leads Lucy’s ex-boyfriend right to his doorstep. When one of Elliot’s family members goes missing, the impact Lucy is leaving on his life becomes too much ( This reads awkwardly. Maybe try rewording it.) , and Elliot is faced with a choice: to risk more consequences, or give up on the girl he loves. But with his growing feelings of self-hatred and failure, Elliot goes down a different path—one that might lead to the bottom of a bottle of pills. ( I wasn't not expecting him to suicide... That's so sad) 

 

Thank you for your feedback :) 

You have a really good story and I really love the twists you got going. I never expected Elliot would die. ( That's sad ;( ... I wanted them to be together forever ) I made a few suggestions. You query is almost ready to be sent out to agents, just a few minor changes needed. Hope it helps, Goodluck ;) 


Would appreciate critiques on my YA- VENGEANCE query: http://agentquerycon...edits/?p=352035


#27 taylorhale

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 08:15 PM

Thank you for your feedback :) 

You have a really good story and I really love the twists you got going. I never expected Elliot would die. ( That's sad ;( ... I wanted them to be together forever ) I made a few suggestions. You query is almost ready to be sent out to agents, just a few minor changes needed. Hope it helps, Goodluck ;) 

well Elliot MIGHT not succeed in killing himself ;P thanks a lot for your feedback, I'll keep revising!



#28 taylorhale

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 10:52 PM

current draft: 

 

 

When hockey prodigy Elliot Wexler finds self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke in his dad’s shed, he doesn’t know if he should call the cops or invite her in for hot chocolate.
 
Eighteen-year-old Elliot is depressed after getting bullied by his hockey team, self-medicating his bipolar disorder to suppress his suicidal urges. But for seventeen-year-old Lucy, survival is all that matters, even with nothing but a flannel, a backpack, and a heart-shaped box. When Elliot’s family goes away for Christmas, he invites Lucy to stay with him, and life is suddenly brighter—until she disappears.
 
Searching for Lucy’s true identity, Elliot resorts to Google, where he uncovers that Lucy’s parents are dead, she’s classified as missing, and her deranged ex-boyfriend might be behind it. But as Elliot chases Lucy, a near-death encounter leads her ex-boyfriend to his doorstep. When one of Elliot’s family members is taken, the impact Lucy is leaving on his life becomes too much, and Elliot is faced with a choice: to risk more consequences, or give up on the girl he loves. 
 


#29 robertguitar

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 04:34 PM

Eighteen-year-old Elliot Wexler had spent his high school career preparing for the NHL, but after a violent outburst and a failed suicide attempt, he was ditched by his team and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. When Elliot catches seventeen-year-old, self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke stealing from his dad’s shed, he forges an unlikely relationship with her. As a girl who survives with nothing but a flannel, a backpack and a heart-shaped box, Lucy challenges Elliot to overcome the weight of his mental illness. Up to here, I think it's great. But when Lucy disappears, she leaves behind a trail of secrets—a deranged ex-boyfriend, the unexplained death of her parents, illicit relationships. It feels like you're throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. While I was very interested up until this sentence, now I've lost the thread. And in a desperate attempt to keep Lucy safe, Elliot puts his own family at risk. With his growing thoughts of self-hatred and failure, Elliot’s mental health wears thin—if he can’t save the people he loves, his only answer might be at the bottom of a bottle of pills. I'm not keen on his own mental health being the stakes. It doesn't work for me. We're told in the beginning that he has attempted suicide. So, there's no real arc. He starts off attempting suicide. He ends up in danger of committing suicide. Why should we care unless we're his therapist?



#30 taylorhale

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 04:50 PM

Eighteen-year-old Elliot Wexler had spent his high school career preparing for the NHL, but after a violent outburst and a failed suicide attempt, he was ditched by his team and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. When Elliot catches seventeen-year-old, self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke stealing from his dad’s shed, he forges an unlikely relationship with her. As a girl who survives with nothing but a flannel, a backpack and a heart-shaped box, Lucy challenges Elliot to overcome the weight of his mental illness. Up to here, I think it's great. But when Lucy disappears, she leaves behind a trail of secrets—a deranged ex-boyfriend, the unexplained death of her parents, illicit relationships. It feels like you're throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. While I was very interested up until this sentence, now I've lost the thread. And in a desperate attempt to keep Lucy safe, Elliot puts his own family at risk. With his growing thoughts of self-hatred and failure, Elliot’s mental health wears thin—if he can’t save the people he loves, his only answer might be at the bottom of a bottle of pills. I'm not keen on his own mental health being the stakes. It doesn't work for me. We're told in the beginning that he has attempted suicide. So, there's no real arc. He starts off attempting suicide. He ends up in danger of committing suicide. Why should we care unless we're his therapist?

Hi, thank you for the critique but that is actually an old draft :-) but I am feeling similar about ending it with the suicide thing - i feel like saying he is suicidal will imply that he'll try somewhere in the book. So I agree with you, I am leaning toward taking that out, even in the new drafts!



#31 shauny1287

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 12:02 PM

Hi Taylor! Thanks so much for looking at my query. Here are my thoughts on yours:
 
When eighteen-year-old (I think you should put his age in the first sentence. It flows better) hockey prodigy Elliot Wexler finds self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke in his dad’s shed, he doesn’t know if he should call the cops or invite her in for hot chocolate.
 
Elliot is depressed after getting bullied by his hockey team (If he's a prodigy, why is he being bullied? Wouldn't he be respected by his team? You have the word count space, so I'd love to see a reason why. He's bullied by his team because... they think he's strange? He missed a big shot in an important game? Etc), self-medicating his bipolar disorder to suppress his suicidal urges (Is there another way to phrase this? Maybe something like, "which has been making the management of his bipolar disorder even harder" or something?) But for seventeen-year-old Lucy, survival is all that matters, even with nothing but a flannel, a backpack, and a heart-shaped box. When Elliot’s family goes away for Christmas (without him? again, a little clarification... my attention snags on the fact that his family left him alone at home over Christmas, which feels wrong. If you give a reason, even a quick one, my attention won't snag. He was left behind so he could go to his hockey practices/because he didn't want to go/etc), he invites Lucy to stay with him, and life is suddenly brighter—until she disappears.
 
Searching for Lucy’s true identity, Elliot resorts to Google, where he uncovers that Lucy’s parents are dead, she’s classified as missing, and her deranged (for a story that sounds like it will dive deep into issues of mental health, I'm not sure the use of the word "deranged" is the best choice. Is there another, less loaded word choice you can use? Overly possessive? Abusive?) ex-boyfriend might be behind it. But as Elliot chases Lucy, a near-death encounter (can you say what that encounter was, specifically? Otherwise I'm wondering how the two are related, as an ex-boyfriend showing up and almost dying don't seem totally related) leads her ex-boyfriend to his doorstep. When one of Elliot’s family members is taken (by the ex-boyfriend? IMO, this stands out as a plot point that doesn't exactly fit in with the vibe of the rest of the story. You get into thriller territory here), the impact Lucy is leaving on his life becomes too much, and Elliot is faced with a choice: to risk more consequences, or give up on the girl he loves. 
 
The query is snappy and well-paced, but I'm not 100% sure you get to the heart of your story here. Is this a story about finding love under difficult circumstances? Finding inner strength in the face of mental illness? Or is it a high-octane thriller with missing people, chases, and kidnapping? Because right now it feels like it starts as a love story with a thread of mental illness, but then it ends feeling more like a thriller. I would try to weave in the stakes of the love story or his mental illness in the third paragraph somehow.
 
And speaking of your stakes, what are they exactly? Is there anyway to make hockey a part of it? If he's a prodigy, I would assume it's a huge part of his life. Like, maybe despite the bullying, Elliot thinks that playing hockey is the only thing that does help him, and if he continues down the Lucy rabbit-hole his spot on the team will be forfeited. (Or maybe that's his misbelief, and he realizes that all this time, he actually hates playing despite his skills and Lucy is the one who helps him realize that at the end, therefore helping him manage his mental illness better. You don't have to mention any of that in the query, but from Elliot's perspective, losing his chance to play on the hockey team would be huge stakes. See what I mean?)
 
TL;DR: I love the first paragraph. Hooked me 100%. Now is there a way to make sure the 3rd paragraph comes back around to the things that matter for the heart of the story? 


#32 taylorhale

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:56 PM

 

Hi Taylor! Thanks so much for looking at my query. Here are my thoughts on yours:
 
When eighteen-year-old (I think you should put his age in the first sentence. It flows better) hockey prodigy Elliot Wexler finds self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke in his dad’s shed, he doesn’t know if he should call the cops or invite her in for hot chocolate.
 
Elliot is depressed after getting bullied by his hockey team (If he's a prodigy, why is he being bullied? Wouldn't he be respected by his team? You have the word count space, so I'd love to see a reason why. He's bullied by his team because... they think he's strange? He missed a big shot in an important game? Etc), self-medicating his bipolar disorder to suppress his suicidal urges (Is there another way to phrase this? Maybe something like, "which has been making the management of his bipolar disorder even harder" or something?) But for seventeen-year-old Lucy, survival is all that matters, even with nothing but a flannel, a backpack, and a heart-shaped box. When Elliot’s family goes away for Christmas (without him? again, a little clarification... my attention snags on the fact that his family left him alone at home over Christmas, which feels wrong. If you give a reason, even a quick one, my attention won't snag. He was left behind so he could go to his hockey practices/because he didn't want to go/etc), he invites Lucy to stay with him, and life is suddenly brighter—until she disappears.
 
Searching for Lucy’s true identity, Elliot resorts to Google, where he uncovers that Lucy’s parents are dead, she’s classified as missing, and her deranged (for a story that sounds like it will dive deep into issues of mental health, I'm not sure the use of the word "deranged" is the best choice. Is there another, less loaded word choice you can use? Overly possessive? Abusive?) ex-boyfriend might be behind it. But as Elliot chases Lucy, a near-death encounter (can you say what that encounter was, specifically? Otherwise I'm wondering how the two are related, as an ex-boyfriend showing up and almost dying don't seem totally related) leads her ex-boyfriend to his doorstep. When one of Elliot’s family members is taken (by the ex-boyfriend? IMO, this stands out as a plot point that doesn't exactly fit in with the vibe of the rest of the story. You get into thriller territory here), the impact Lucy is leaving on his life becomes too much, and Elliot is faced with a choice: to risk more consequences, or give up on the girl he loves. 
 
The query is snappy and well-paced, but I'm not 100% sure you get to the heart of your story here. Is this a story about finding love under difficult circumstances? Finding inner strength in the face of mental illness? Or is it a high-octane thriller with missing people, chases, and kidnapping? Because right now it feels like it starts as a love story with a thread of mental illness, but then it ends feeling more like a thriller. I would try to weave in the stakes of the love story or his mental illness in the third paragraph somehow.
 
And speaking of your stakes, what are they exactly? Is there anyway to make hockey a part of it? If he's a prodigy, I would assume it's a huge part of his life. Like, maybe despite the bullying, Elliot thinks that playing hockey is the only thing that does help him, and if he continues down the Lucy rabbit-hole his spot on the team will be forfeited. (Or maybe that's his misbelief, and he realizes that all this time, he actually hates playing despite his skills and Lucy is the one who helps him realize that at the end, therefore helping him manage his mental illness better. You don't have to mention any of that in the query, but from Elliot's perspective, losing his chance to play on the hockey team would be huge stakes. See what I mean?)
 
TL;DR: I love the first paragraph. Hooked me 100%. Now is there a way to make sure the 3rd paragraph comes back around to the things that matter for the heart of the story? 

 

 

Thank you so much for such an in depth critique!! To answer some of your questions, the story is both about mental illness and first love, but does get into some thriller aspects with the ex-boyfriend danger, but is overall still a love story so I'm sort of like... having trouble pitching it all the right way LOL. Because there are quite a few ways to go about it. I decided to focus on the danger of Lucy's past rather than Elliot's mental illness, but now I'm not sure. 

 

As for Elliot, I changed a recent draft to his hockey team ditched him, but I wasn't sure if I needed to explain why right away! In the story, he no longer plays because he was bullied into quitting by kids who didn't like him + a bipolar episode. So I'll try to weave that back in. This is super helpful, right back to the drawing board :-D



#33 sereneew

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:47 PM

Just read your last post.. I'll wait for your next revision to critique (: 


If I helped please leave a feedback on my YA FANTASY QUERY http://agentquerycon...st-50/?p=350935


#34 taylorhale

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 10:01 PM

Latest revision:

 

When eighteen-year-old hockey prodigy Elliot Wexler finds self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke in his dad’s shed, he doesn’t know if he should call the cops or invite her in for hot chocolate.
 
Elliot had spent his entire high school career preparing for the NHL, but after a violent outburst and a failed suicide attempt, he was ditched by his team and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As for seventeen-year-old Lucy, survival is all that matters, even when she owns nothing but a flannel, a backpack and a heart-shaped box. When Elliot’s parents leave him alone over Christmas, sparing him from an anxiety-filled vacation, they have one rule: no girls. But Lucy has nowhere to go, and Elliot isn't about to abandon her.
 
With Lucy, Elliot feels like he can finally heal from the ostracization he faces at school, but then she disappears. As Elliot searches for Lucy’s true identity, he resorts to Google, where he discovers three things: Lucy’s parents are dead, her abusive ex-boyfriend might be behind it, and she’s classified as missing. But Elliot can’t give up on her, even when her ex stands between them, even when she keeps leaving. With the pressure of chasing Lucy and dealing with his failed hockey dreams, Elliot’s mental health wears thin—until he has to choose between the girl he loves and his own life. 

Just read your last post.. I'll wait for your next revision to critique (: 

thank you sereneew! I just updated it :) 



#35 shauny1287

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 01:04 AM

When eighteen-year-old hockey prodigy (prodigy might be too strong of a word here if he isn't actively playing hockey during much of the manuscript. Maybe "hockey star" might be better.) Elliot Wexler finds self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke in his dad’s shed, he doesn’t know if he should call the cops or invite her in for hot chocolate.
 
Elliot had spent his entire high school career preparing for the NHL, but after a violent outburst and a failed suicide attempt, he was ditched by his team (not sure "ditched" is the right word. Kicked off, maybe?) and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As for seventeen-year-old Lucy, survival is all that matters, even when she owns nothing but a flannel, a backpack and a heart-shaped box. When Elliot’s parents leave him alone over Christmas, sparing him from an anxiety-filled vacation, they have one rule: no girls. But Lucy has nowhere to go, and Elliot isn't about to abandon her. (Great.)
 
With Lucy, Elliot feels like he can finally heal from the ostracization he faces at school, but then she disappears. As Elliot searches for Lucy’s true identity, he resorts to Google, where he discovers three things: Lucy’s parents are dead, her abusive ex-boyfriend might be behind it, and she’s classified as missing. But Elliot can’t give up on her, even when her ex stands between them, even when she keeps leaving. With the pressure of chasing (again, not exactly the right word choice. "Trying to find" would be better.) Lucy and dealing with his failed hockey dreams, Elliot’s mental health wears thin—until he has to choose between the girl he loves and his own life. 
 
Wow, great improvement! REALLY great first two paragraphs. As you can see, my comments are mostly about word choice.
 
I actually also really like the third paragraph until you reach the last sentence, which I'm having some trouble with. Right now it feels like Elliot "needs" Lucy in order to feel better, which makes me feel like his dependence on her is quite unhealthy and something I wouldn't actually root for as a reader. The way it's phrased makes me think Elliot is considering killing himself if he can't find/have Lucy in his life. That's not an either/or I'd like to see set up. 
 
Is there another way of thinking about the stakes? Can you separate the suicidal feelings from the love story? For example, maybe what Elliot only feels comfortable reaching out for professional help with his mental health after he tries to help Lucy (whether he succeeds or doesn't, what he learns from giving help is that its okay to get it, too.) So maybe something like... "his mental health wears thin and it becomes a race to get either help for the girl he loves, or help for himself." That's not quite right, either, but see what I mean? Just needs to be tweaked so Elliot and Lucy's relationship doesn't come across as unhealthy. 
 
Overall, awesome revision job. I love this version. You're really close!!


#36 taylorhale

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 01:43 AM

 

When eighteen-year-old hockey prodigy (prodigy might be too strong of a word here if he isn't actively playing hockey during much of the manuscript. Maybe "hockey star" might be better.) Elliot Wexler finds self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke in his dad’s shed, he doesn’t know if he should call the cops or invite her in for hot chocolate.
 
Elliot had spent his entire high school career preparing for the NHL, but after a violent outburst and a failed suicide attempt, he was ditched by his team (not sure "ditched" is the right word. Kicked off, maybe?) and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As for seventeen-year-old Lucy, survival is all that matters, even when she owns nothing but a flannel, a backpack and a heart-shaped box. When Elliot’s parents leave him alone over Christmas, sparing him from an anxiety-filled vacation, they have one rule: no girls. But Lucy has nowhere to go, and Elliot isn't about to abandon her. (Great.)
 
With Lucy, Elliot feels like he can finally heal from the ostracization he faces at school, but then she disappears. As Elliot searches for Lucy’s true identity, he resorts to Google, where he discovers three things: Lucy’s parents are dead, her abusive ex-boyfriend might be behind it, and she’s classified as missing. But Elliot can’t give up on her, even when her ex stands between them, even when she keeps leaving. With the pressure of chasing (again, not exactly the right word choice. "Trying to find" would be better.) Lucy and dealing with his failed hockey dreams, Elliot’s mental health wears thin—until he has to choose between the girl he loves and his own life. 
 
Wow, great improvement! REALLY great first two paragraphs. As you can see, my comments are mostly about word choice.
 
I actually also really like the third paragraph until you reach the last sentence, which I'm having some trouble with. Right now it feels like Elliot "needs" Lucy in order to feel better, which makes me feel like his dependence on her is quite unhealthy and something I wouldn't actually root for as a reader. The way it's phrased makes me think Elliot is considering killing himself if he can't find/have Lucy in his life. That's not an either/or I'd like to see set up. 
 
Is there another way of thinking about the stakes? Can you separate the suicidal feelings from the love story? For example, maybe what Elliot only feels comfortable reaching out for professional help with his mental health after he tries to help Lucy (whether he succeeds or doesn't, what he learns from giving help is that its okay to get it, too.) So maybe something like... "his mental health wears thin and it becomes a race to get either help for the girl he loves, or help for himself." That's not quite right, either, but see what I mean? Just needs to be tweaked so Elliot and Lucy's relationship doesn't come across as unhealthy. 
 
Overall, awesome revision job. I love this version. You're really close!!

 

Ooh thank you so much to give it another critique! I really, truly appreciate it. The theme of toxic love is apparent throughout the novel, however, I can see how pitching it that way is unappealing maybe not the impression I want to give. I actually like what you were onto there with your suggestion for the last sentence - it makes it sound like more of a mental health success story (which it is)

 

Here's what I have now :-)

 

When high school hockey star Elliot Wexler finds self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke in his dad’s shed, he doesn’t know if he should call the cops or invite her in for hot chocolate.
 
Eighteen-year-old Elliot had spent his entire life preparing for the NHL, but after a violent outburst and a failed suicide attempt, he was kicked off his team and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. For seventeen-year-old Lucy, survival is all that matters, even when she owns nothing but a flannel, a backpack and a heart-shaped box. When Elliot’s parents leave him alone over Christmas, sparing him from an anxiety-filled vacation, they have one rule: no girls. But Lucy has nowhere to go, and Elliot isn't about to abandon her.
 
With Lucy, Elliot feels like he can heal from the ostracization he faces at school, maybe even play hockey again. But then Lucy disappears. As Elliot searches for her true identity, he resorts to Google, where he discovers three things: Lucy’s parents are dead, her abusive ex-boyfriend might be behind it, and she’s classified as missing. But Elliot can’t give up on her, even when her ex stands between them, even when she keeps leaving. With the pressure of trying to find Lucy and dealing with his failed hockey dreams, Elliot’s mental health wears thin—until it comes down to either getting help for the girl he loves, or getting help for himself. 


#37 julialynn

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 02:03 AM

When high school hockey star Elliot Wexler finds self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke in his dad’s shed, he doesn’t know if he should call the cops or invite her in for hot chocolate. [The street rat thing makes me think of Aladdin! It throws me off a bit. I almost like opening with a more WTF WHY IS SHE IN HIS SHED? hook. Then you can explain why she's homeless, etc.]
 
Eighteen-year-old Elliot had spent his entire life preparing for the NHL, but after a violent outburst [with who? over what?] and a failed suicide attempt, he was kicked off his team and diagnosed with bipolar disorder [I assume his parents made him go into therapy, where he was then diagnosed]. For seventeen-year-old Lucy, survival is all that matters, even when she owns nothing but a flannel [blanket? sweater?], a backpack and a heart-shaped box. When Elliot’s parents leave him alone over Christmas, sparing him from an anxiety-filled vacation [I'd like to get more of a sense of his family situation. Why does he have an outburst? Why is it violent? Why would being with his parents be anxiety-inducing? You don't have to write a lot here, but I'd add in little details and specifics to make me really understand these characters], they have one rule: no girls. But Lucy has nowhere to go, and Elliot isn't about to abandon her. [I'm also curious as to how violent the outburst was if it resulted in him getting treatment, only to be left home alone. But why does he decide to let Lucy in?]
 
With Lucy, Elliot feels like he can heal from the ostracization he faces at school [I assume this is what triggered the outburst? Make it clearer who his "enemies" are], and maybe even play hockey again. But then Lucy disappears. As Elliot searches for her true identity, he resorts to Google, where he discovers three things: Lucy’s parents are dead, her abusive ex-boyfriend might be behind it, and she’s classified as missing. [Okay, HERE IS YOUR STORY. This is really interesting, and you could potentially use it as your opening hook] But Elliot can’t give up on her [why? is he in love with her? How well does he even know her?], even when her ex stands between them, even when she keeps leaving [did she come back? I need a bit more context]. With the pressure of trying to find Lucy and dealing with his failed hockey dreams [what is the timeframe of this story? How does he plan on getting back on the team? Why is it a pressure cooker? Does he have to prove himself somehow? If he does, this would up the stakes], Elliot’s mental health wears thin—until it comes down to either getting help for the girl he loves, or getting help for himself. 
 
I hope this helps!
 
Personally, this would be my hook from what I've seen:
 
When eighteen-year-old Elliot searches for the true identity of the girl who's been living in his family's shed, he discovers three things: her parents are dead, her abusive ex-boyfriend might be behind it, and she’s classified as missing.

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#38 taylorhale

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 03:29 AM



 

When high school hockey star Elliot Wexler finds self-proclaimed street rat Lucy Pembroke in his dad’s shed, he doesn’t know if he should call the cops or invite her in for hot chocolate. [The street rat thing makes me think of Aladdin! It throws me off a bit. I almost like opening with a more WTF WHY IS SHE IN HIS SHED? hook. Then you can explain why she's homeless, etc.]
 
Eighteen-year-old Elliot had spent his entire life preparing for the NHL, but after a violent outburst [with who? over what?] and a failed suicide attempt, he was kicked off his team and diagnosed with bipolar disorder [I assume his parents made him go into therapy, where he was then diagnosed]. For seventeen-year-old Lucy, survival is all that matters, even when she owns nothing but a flannel [blanket? sweater?], a backpack and a heart-shaped box. When Elliot’s parents leave him alone over Christmas, sparing him from an anxiety-filled vacation [I'd like to get more of a sense of his family situation. Why does he have an outburst? Why is it violent? Why would being with his parents be anxiety-inducing? You don't have to write a lot here, but I'd add in little details and specifics to make me really understand these characters], they have one rule: no girls. But Lucy has nowhere to go, and Elliot isn't about to abandon her. [I'm also curious as to how violent the outburst was if it resulted in him getting treatment, only to be left home alone. But why does he decide to let Lucy in?]
 
With Lucy, Elliot feels like he can heal from the ostracization he faces at school [I assume this is what triggered the outburst? Make it clearer who his "enemies" are], and maybe even play hockey again. But then Lucy disappears. As Elliot searches for her true identity, he resorts to Google, where he discovers three things: Lucy’s parents are dead, her abusive ex-boyfriend might be behind it, and she’s classified as missing. [Okay, HERE IS YOUR STORY. This is really interesting, and you could potentially use it as your opening hook] But Elliot can’t give up on her [why? is he in love with her? How well does he even know her?], even when her ex stands between them, even when she keeps leaving [did she come back? I need a bit more context]. With the pressure of trying to find Lucy and dealing with his failed hockey dreams [what is the timeframe of this story? How does he plan on getting back on the team? Why is it a pressure cooker? Does he have to prove himself somehow? If he does, this would up the stakes], Elliot’s mental health wears thin—until it comes down to either getting help for the girl he loves, or getting help for himself. 
 
I hope this helps!
 
Personally, this would be my hook from what I've seen:
 
When eighteen-year-old Elliot searches for the true identity of the girl who's been living in his family's shed, he discovers three things: her parents are dead, her abusive ex-boyfriend might be behind it, and she’s classified as missing.

 

Thank you so much! This is very helpful! :) lol Aladdin, I haven't even seen it since I was a kid so that fell short on me. 

 

I would use your suggested hook, but my problem with it is that I don't want to immediately give off the sense that the book is a thriller when it's mostly romance/teen fiction. It does have thriller elements, but I don't want to pitch it that way, you know? Would be misleading. I revised and tried to answer all of the questions that popped into your head. Thanks again! :-D

 

 

 

Here's what I have now: 

 

When ex-high school hockey star Elliot Wexler finds homeless girl Lucy Pembroke in his dad’s shed, he isn’t sure if he should call the cops or invite her in for hot chocolate. 
 
Eighteen-year-old Elliot spent his entire life preparing for the NHL, but after a blowout with his team and a failed suicide attempt, he quit playing and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. For seventeen-year-old Lucy, survival is everything, even when she owns nothing more than a backpack and a heart-shaped box. Despite their differences, Elliot falls for Lucy, so when his family lets him stay home while they go on vacation—knowing that his mental health needs stability—Elliot invites her to stay with him. 
 
With Lucy, Elliot feels like he can get past the ostracization he faces at school, maybe even play hockey again. But then she disappears. Searching for Lucy’s true identity, Elliot discovers three things: Lucy’s parents are dead, her abusive ex-boyfriend might be behind it, and she’s classified as missing. But Lucy filled the hole in Elliot’s heart, so he doesn’t want to let her go, even when her ex-boyfriend stands in the way, even when every time he finds her, she leaves again. As Elliot tries to keep Lucy with him, his mental health declines—until it comes down to either getting help for the girl he loves, or getting help for himself. 


#39 darsenault

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 03:56 AM

Here's what I have now: 

 

When ex-high school hockey star Elliot Wexler finds homeless girl Lucy Pembroke in his dad’s shed, he isn’t sure if he should call the cops or invite her in for hot chocolate. 
 
You can probably leave out "ex-high school hockey star" here since its addressed in the next line. However, since his hockey career seems to be one of the more important parts of the story (it is, right?), I can understand why you might keep it in your hook.
 
Eighteen-year-old Elliot spent his entire life preparing for the NHL, but after a blowout with his team and a failed suicide attempt, he quit playing and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. For seventeen-year-old Lucy, survival is everything, even when she owns nothing more than a backpack and a heart-shaped box. Despite their differences, Elliot falls for Lucy, so when his family lets him stay home while they go on vacation—knowing that his mental health needs stability—Elliot invites her to stay with him. 
 
This sentence has too many clauses and addendum, so it's well worth taking out anything that isn't essential.
 
With Lucy, Elliot feels like he can get past the ostracization he faces at school as long as he has Lucy, maybe even play hockey again. (Again, is hockey really that important to the story? If it is, keep this, if not, cut it. Especially since without it, this paragraph gains a much stronger focus on the weight of Lucy's disappearance.) But then she disappears. Searching for Lucy’s true identity, Elliot discovers three things on the search for Lucy: Her parents are dead, her abusive ex-boyfriend might be behind it, and she’s classified as missing. (The list is good up until the third point, which is the least shocking of the three. It might be better just to rework the whole sentence and say, "Elliot discovers two things on his search for Lucy: Her parents are dead, and her abusive ex-boyfriend might be behind it." Keep it clear, keep it concise.) But Lucy filled the hole in Elliot’s heart, so  Elliot doesn’t want to let her go, even when her potentially murderous ex-boyfriend stands in the way, even when every time he finds her, she leaves again. As Elliot tries to keep Lucy with him, his mental health declines—until it comes down to either getting help for the girl he loves, or getting help for himself. 

 

"But Lucy filled the hole in Elliot's heart" is purple prose. We already knows he cares about her, so this doesn't add to the stakes. 

 

Looking through your various drafts, this is definitely a winner. Your sentences tend to be overly long and are filled with unnecessary clauses, but the story is clearly there. I see the stakes, I see the choice Elliot has to make, and I'm curious to see how it goes.

If you find yourself with words to spare when you cut out everything unnecessary, your next draft could have a little more to say about Lucy's motivations- right now, the fact that she ran from Elliot and back to a potentially murderous ex-boyfriend seems insane. With that said, your query is excellently focused at the moment, so exercise caution if you do add details about Lucy's motivations. If you can do it in a single subject-verb-clause sentence, all the better.

 

Good luck!



#40 taylorhale

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 04:00 AM

Looking through your various drafts, this is definitely a winner. Your sentences tend to be overly long and are filled with unnecessary clauses, but the story is clearly there. I see the stakes, I see the choice Elliot has to make, and I'm curious to see how it goes.

If you find yourself with words to spare when you cut out everything unnecessary, your next draft could have a little more to say about Lucy's motivations- right now, the fact that she ran from Elliot and back to a potentially murderous ex-boyfriend seems insane. With that said, your query is excellently focused at the moment, so exercise caution if you do add details about Lucy's motivations. If you can do it in a single subject-verb-clause sentence, all the better.

 

Good luck!

I'm sooo guilty of overly long, flowy sentences - I have trouble stringing words together without them (at least when confided so such a small space lol) - I'll try to cut them down! Thanks a lot for your tips :-) very helpful, and looks like I'm getting close to being ready! Will revise after I get some sleep. xD and will definitely cut out that filling the hole in his heart cliche lol

 

Also, yes, Lucy is forced to go back to her ex - I'll try to make that clear so it doesn't seem like she went to him on her own







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