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"BEHIND THE GHOST METROPOLIS", YA Contemporary. Will critique back.

Fiction Young Adult

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#21 AsperBlurry

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 07:06 AM

Thank you, W.P, I've returned a favor :)

 

Here's the latest version (always in my 1st post): http://agentquerycon...back/?p=356167 

 

And as always, I will critique back. 



#22 richard p

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 08:32 AM

When 15-year-old Punk is raped by a classmate she once considered a friend it brings her closer to the edge of darkness. She deals with it by hiding in a haze of alcohol and drugs and starts causing troubles at school. Unaware of the traumatic experience, her friend and teacher try to help her, but Punk pushes them away. Abused by her parents she's convinced she’s unworthy of kindness.

 

Soon Punk discovers that she has a junkie brother Dragon and a ray of hope sneaks into her life as she slowly opens up to him. With the support of Punk’s new boyfriend, her rebellious spirit awakens and she fights her demons to escape the clutches of addiction.

 

But even their love can’t quiet Punk’s inner voice, ‘You worthless piece of shit’. The dark secret from her past she’s been trying to forget haunts her down leaving her helpless once again. Terrified of facing it Punk realizes she has to make a decision which will change everything.

 

 

The pacing is a bit choppy. Jumping from one person to another is a bit distracting. While the query leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions, which can help sometimes, in this one, the unanswered questions leave me confused, not intrigued. Try re-writing this so that it flows more naturally, and fill us in on some of the mystery surrounding this girl.


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#23 AsperBlurry

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 09:01 AM

Thank you, Richard, for your feedback, I'll do my best to rewrite it :)

 

When 15-year-old Punk is raped by a classmate she once considered a friend it brings her closer to the edge of darkness. She deals with it by hiding in a haze of alcohol and drugs and starts causing troubles at school. Unaware of the traumatic experience, her friend and teacher try to help her, but Punk pushes them away. Abused by her parents she's convinced she’s unworthy of kindness.

 

Soon Punk discovers that she has a junkie brother Dragon and a ray of hope sneaks into her life as she slowly opens up to him. With the support of Punk’s new boyfriend, her rebellious spirit awakens and she fights her demons to escape the clutches of addiction.

 

But even their love can’t quiet Punk’s inner voice, ‘You worthless piece of shit’. The dark secret from her past she’s been trying to forget haunts her down leaving her helpless once again. Terrified of facing it Punk realizes she has to make a decision which will change everything.

 

 

The pacing is a bit choppy. Jumping from one person to another is a bit distracting. While the query leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions, which can help sometimes, in this one, the unanswered questions leave me confused, not intrigued. Try re-writing this so that it flows more naturally, and fill us in on some of the mystery surrounding this girl.

 



#24 AsperBlurry

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 09:09 AM

Someone made me realize that my story sounds super depressing. There's a silver lining in the book, but I didn't want to spoil it. Anyway, I came up with a more optimistic ending. Here's the latest version: http://agentquerycon...back/?p=356167 



#25 AsperBlurry

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Posted 20 May 2018 - 09:58 AM

The new version is up: http://agentquerycon...-back/?p=356167

 

Remember to link me your query as well :)



#26 yawriter

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Posted 20 May 2018 - 12:20 PM

I always put the latest version of my query here, in my first post.

 

Thank you for all your help so far! I will critique back, just reply with the link :)

 

Another attempt. I really feel like I totally suck at it, though. I follow all your instructions, I read successful queries and query shark website, but my query is still bad. Anyway, here's the newest version:

 

NEW VERSION: 

 

When troubled 15-year-old Punk is raped by a classmate, she once considered a friend it brings her closer to the edge of darkness. I think getting down to the point grabs the reader much quicker :) Most of the time it is "friends" that do that stuff. Ashamed of telling anyone, she blames herself for provoking her attacker. She still has to see him every day at school though and the only way to do it is by hiding in a haze of alcohol and drugs.
 
A ray of hope sneaks into Punk’s life as she discovers that she’s not alone anymore. She has a junkie brother, Dragon,I still don't get this "junkie brother" thing...it seems disjointed. How does her brother "sneak into her life as a ray of hope?" If she's never met him before...how there they siblings? When you say "ray of hope" I get a romantic vibe, so maybe "partner in crime" or something more like that? Just my opinion .  who she’s never met before. Slowly they form a bond based on a mutual trust and understanding. But, seeing her brother defeated by heroin addiction (no comma) makes Punk realize that she needs help. 
 
With Dragon’s and her new boyfriend’s support, Punk’s rebellious spirit awakens. Torn between survival instinct and self-destructive voices whispering in her head she struggles to escape the clutches of mental illness. 
 

 

 

Definitely much better than the first draft! Keep up the good work. Keep an eye out for those pesky commas...You've put a few in the wrong places and left out a few as well. Please take a look at the latest draft of my query. Hope this helps!



#27 Ajax

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Posted 20 May 2018 - 07:27 PM

NEW VERSION: 

 

When troubled 15-year-old Punk is raped by a classmate she once considered a friend it brings her closer to the edge of darkness. (How was she close to the darkness before?) Ashamed of telling anyone she blames herself for provoking her attacker. (You can add more specifics; there's enough room for that. Also, that's one heavy blame. It's also vital in this scenario for us to learn about her thought process.) She has to see him every day at school though and the only way to do it is by hiding in a haze of alcohol and drugs. (Okay, but why hasn't she reported the rapist to the authorities yet? What's stopping her? I think that's necessary to mention in the query so that we know she has at least tried.)
 
A ray of hope sneaks into Punk’s life as she discovers that she’s not alone anymore. She has a junkie brother, (How is a brother who is suffering from his own demons a "ray of hope". Do you mean she isn't alone anymore in her grief? Mention it. Also, I seriously don't think that the word 'junkie' is appropriate here. I'm not sure if that's just the voice of the MC though.) Dragon, who she’s never met before. Slowly they form a bond based on a mutual trust and understanding. But seeing her brother defeated by heroin addiction, makes Punk realize that she needs help. 
 
With Dragon’s and her new boyfriend’s support, Punk’s rebellious spirit awakens. Torn between survival instinct and self-destructive voices whispering in her head she struggles to escape (If this is her main conflict, you need to elaborate how the MC's illness stopping her from getting help for her issues.) the clutches of mental illness. (What mental illness?! This is the first time you have used this term. If it's the MC's main goal, you should have mentioned it in the first paragraph. Substance abuse is not mental illness. You need to be specific and avoid vagueness.) 
 

 

Right from the start my concern is if you've been respectful to such a sensitive topic. I just hope that you will employ sensitivity readers and revise with their feedback if you haven't already. 

I don't know what's the conflict here but for that you need specific goals. Is the MC's goal about her getting justice or is it about getting help for her substance abuse and mental illness? Once you can focus on ONE of the above, you can then talk about the conflicts/roadblocks/barriers.

Keep revising. 
 



#28 AsperBlurry

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Posted 21 May 2018 - 08:27 AM

Thank you, Ajax, I'll keep revising it! Also, if you want my feedback on your query, just leave the link :)

 

Right from the start my concern is if you've been respectful to such a sensitive topic. I just hope that you will employ sensitivity readers and revise with their feedback if you haven't already. 

I don't know what's the conflict here but for that you need specific goals. Is the MC's goal about her getting justice or is it about getting help for her substance abuse and mental illness? Once you can focus on ONE of the above, you can then talk about the conflicts/roadblocks/barriers.

Keep revising. 
 

 

Thank you, yawriter for your feedback, I'll try to get to your query tonight :)

Definitely much better than the first draft! Keep up the good work. Keep an eye out for those pesky commas...You've put a few in the wrong places and left out a few as well. Please take a look at the latest draft of my query. Hope this helps!



#29 AsperBlurry

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Posted 21 May 2018 - 01:36 PM

New version: http://agentquerycon...-back/?p=356167

 

Remember to link me your query as well :)



#30 yawriter

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 07:59 PM

The latest version of my query is always here, in my first post.

 

Thank you for all your help so far! I will critique back, just reply with the link :)

 

 

NEW VERSION:

 

When troubled fifteen-year-old Punk is raped by a friend it brings her to the edge of darkness. I like this :) and just looking at the words, it's not too overwhelming at all :)
 
Ashamed and scared of telling anyone, she thinks that no one would believe her because she’s a good, well-behaved student. She still has to see him when you say him...no boys have been introduced yet, so I don't know what you mean...maybe her "abuser" is a better word? every day at school and the only way to do it is by hiding in a haze of alcohol and drugs.
 
Alone and depressed, Punk discovers that she has an older half-brother, Dragon. He’s fighting heroin addiction, so he understands her demons all too well. Like her, he’s struggling, and through their struggles too many "struggling" here...find a synonym, they form a friendship. But, seeing Dragon losing the battle makes Punk realize that she, too, might need help. 
 
Tired of being terrified by her self-destructive voices, one way or another Punk is going to end them. Good strong ending. 
 
 

 

 



#31 MICRONESIA

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Posted 24 May 2018 - 06:56 AM

When troubled fifteen-year-old Punk is raped by a friend it brings her to the edge of darkness. This needs re-doing. It's not punchy because it has no rhythm. "The edge of darkness" is vague and means nothing. And... wow. At least you let us know quickly it's a rape story. It will weed people out early, so I guess that's good. Either you're with this or you're not.

 
Ashamed and scared of telling anyone, she thinks that no one would believe her because he’s a good, well-behaved student. She still has to see him every day at school Comma. and the only way to do it is by hiding in a haze of alcohol and drugs. This is VERY cookie-cutter so far. Sadly, this exact situation has played out millions of times. So yeah. Highlight the uniqueness of your story as soon as you can.
 
Alone and depressed, Punk discovers that she has an older half-brother, Dragon. He’s fighting heroin addiction so he understands her demons all too well. Like her, he’s struggling, and through their struggles, they form a friendship. But, seeing Dragon losing the battle makes Punk realize that she, too, might need help. 
 
Tired of being terrified by her self-destructive voices, one way or another Punk is going to end them. 

 

This doesn't work for me. There's not a whole lot... here. I mean, I have a good idea of what the story is about. But I barely know the characters at all. The story isn't unique (at least how it's presented here). The voice doesn't exactly leap off the page.

 

In other words: you have what feel like bare bones. You NEED to add some color -- uniqueness, voice, character, excitement. It's cool, though. You have room.


A Darkness in Spring (query | synopsis)


#32 Denisa

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Posted 24 May 2018 - 07:31 AM

When troubled fifteen-year-old Punk is raped by a friend it brings her to the edge of darkness.  Be  bit more specific here. Wht does this darkness mean for her? Does she want to commit suicide? Get revenge? For example:When troubled fifteen-year-old Punk is raped by a friend, guilt brings her on the edge of self destruction. (guilt being common in rape victims) Something specific. I know you tell us about the drugs and alcohol in the next para, but you want to be as specific as you can be, and avoid cliches.  
 
Ashamed and scared of telling anyone, she thinks that no one would believe her because he’s a good, well-behaved student. She still has to see him every day at school and the only way to do it is by hiding in a haze of alcohol and drugs. This para is good!
 
Alone and depressed, Punk discovers that she has an older half-brother, Dragon. He’s fighting heroin addiction so he understands her demons all too well. Like her, he’s struggling, and through their struggles, they form a friendship. But, seeing Dragon losing the battle makes Punk realize that she, too, might need help. What is Dragon's part in the plot? Is he trying to revenge Punk's rape?  
 
Tired of being terrified by her self-destructive voices, one way or another Punk is going to end them. 
 
I only read this version of your query, and as is, it isn't clear if the book is about Punk's battle with substance abuse, or about her rape. 
 


#33 W.P.

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Posted 24 May 2018 - 07:40 AM

When troubled fifteen-year-old Punk is raped by a friend it brings her to the edge of darkness. ((I like this opening better, because it's more specific. However, I feel like the way it's phrased doesn't have enough impact. I feel like the "strongest" part of the sentence should be the last. Like, "Troubled fifteen-year-old Punk is pushed closer to the edge when a friend rapes her." Also, "friend" makes it sound very odd.))

 

 
Ashamed and scared of telling anyone  ((not needed)), she thinks (("is sure" --> makes it sound more like a fact)) that no one would believe her because he’s a good, well-behaved student  ((the description is a bit too "soft". doesn't have enough "punch" to it if you know what I mean.)). She still has to see him every day at school and the only way to do it is by hiding in a haze of alcohol and drugs.  ((could be more concise. like "Still having to see him every day at school, she hides herself in a haze of alcohol and drugs."))
 
Alone and depressed, Punk discovers that she has an older half-brother, Dragon. He’s fighting heroin addiction so he understands her demons all too well. Like her, he’s struggling, and through their struggles, they form a friendship. But, seeing Dragon losing the battle makes Punk realize that she, too, might need help. 
 
Tired of being terrified by her self-destructive voices, one way or another Punk is going to end them.  ((this last sentence isn't working for me. It's too vague and feels all over the place.))
 
 
 
I like this version waaaay better. :) It's more specific and I feel for Punk. I hope my feedback is helpful. 


#34 Heliagrey

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Posted 24 May 2018 - 09:54 AM

Thank you, yawriter for your feedback! I'll try to ramp up the drama. Punk's suicidal thoughts aren't the secret, it's the story about overcoming depression at young age :)

 

Thank you, Heliagrey for your feedback! Could you please tell me why you don't think that Punk will kill herself? I thought that the last sentence is ambiguous? 

Haha, yes it's crazy to write a query and even worse to sum your book in a tweet :D 

 

I think it's clear that you're saying she's considering suicide. What I meant is that... I don't think she'll actually do it. Even without reading the whole book, I think it'd be unlikely that a writer would end a book that way. It's like a main character in a show... even if they're in danger, I don't think they're going to actually die. So that alone wouldn't be enough stakes for me to buy the book. If I read a jacket copy that said "She's depressed, she's been raped, and she's going to kill herself (or debating it)"... I'd put the book down. Those can absolutely all be elements in the story- HUGE ones- but I need something a little more to make me invest in Punk. Have you read ROOM? So many horrible things are happening in the beginning of that book- kidnapping, rape, a little boy's life being contained- quite literally. You start reading it for that dark, trainwrecky kind of voyeurism... but you stay reading because you become invested in the relationship between the two characters and how the boy's mother has done the impossible- she's made a life in a dark place, and how sometimes the darkness follows even when you think you've been set free.

 

So for Punk... let's say I come for the voyeurism of a life falling apart. What makes me stay? It's less IF she lives- than how. 



#35 AsperBlurry

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Posted Yesterday, 09:08 AM

Thank you all for your feedback, you've been very helpful! 

 

Here's the newest version, I tried to do it differently this time: http://agentquerycon...-back/?p=356167

 

And as always, leave the link to your query :)



#36 lnloft

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Posted Yesterday, 09:55 AM

The latest version of my query is always here.

 

Thank you for all your help so far! I will critique back, just reply with the link :)

 

My problem is that I try to follow all the rules and along the way, I lose my unique style and the query seems flat, without a voice (as some of you pointed out). So I came up with something different. Let's call it a new approach. 

 

 

NEW VERSION:

 

 
Troubled fifteen-year-old Punk is looking down into the abyss of suicide. Just so you're aware, my first reaction was to think Punk was another descriptor, so I was waiting for her name to follow. I'm not suggesting you change her name, and I don't think there's a way around it, unless you have something like, "15-year-old Samantha, who goes by Punk", but I honestly don't recommend that necessarily, either, because that can complicate things. So I guess I'm not saying change anything, but you should just be aware.
 
Her so-called friend, who just yesterday brought her cookies and made her laugh, rapes her at the party. At first, Punk tries to convince herself that she wanted to sleep with him. And why wouldn’t she, he’s such a good and pretty boy, after all. But the sudden realization of what really happened breaks Punk. Ashamed and scared, she’s sure that no one would believe her. Guilt and ugly smirks on his face Wait, he's feeling guilty but also smirking about it? That's how I'm reading this right now, although I'm thinking that you mean it that she's feeling guilty. at school push her into a haze of alcohol and drugs. The timeline of this paragraph seems a little off, mostly caused by the word "yesterday". Like, yesterday he was nice to her, which implies that EVERYTHING that follows is today, and that seems a bit too much of a condensed timeline for all of it. Maybe it's "who just the day before brought her cookies"?
 
But a glimmer of hope sneaks through her loneliness as Punk meets rebellious Nihil. She’s suspicious and confused about her feelings yet drawn to his bad boy attitude. The fire of love and fights, tears and joy. And one broken heart. That’s how it goes in their little world of no tomorrow. I don't know what you mean by this.
 
Torments of her abuse and fear of intimacy bring Punk closer on the edge of addiction Isn't she already drinking and doing drugs? and depression. Nihil desperately tries to save her, but it might be too much for him. This sentence sounds too much like it's from Nihil's POV. I think you can slightly rephrase it to get the same point across, but keeping it from Punk's POV.
 
Tired of being a victim and self-destructive voices whispering in her head, Punk faces a choice of letting go or asking for help. This last line if lacking in the needed "whumph". It seems, why doesn't she just ask for help? And that's sort of the point of depression and the struggles she's going through, that it's so hard to do something so simple. So you can work from that. Show us that Punk thinks letting go would be way easier than asking for help, show us a bit more of that struggle.

You've got one heck of a timely topic right now, and it doesn't feel like you're just cavalierly using some pretty heavy topics because they would make a story. I do feel from this that you are treating these topics with the respect they deserve. Overall, you're query makes sense and follows logically. Just some rephrasing here and there. Good luck.


If you found my feedback useful, I'd appreciate yours: Ouroboros


#37 MICRONESIA

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Posted Yesterday, 02:57 PM

Troubled fifteen-year-old Punk is looking down into the abyss of suicide. This is overwritten. For one, we know she's troubled because she's contemplating suicide. Secondly, you always look down into an abyss. Overall, the whole thing could be shortened to "15yo Punk is contemplating suicide" and we'd get the exact same meaning. My suggestion? Go with a different hook. This isn't your most interesting lead-in.

 
Her so-called friend, who just yesterday brought her cookies and made her laugh, Cookies = good detail. "Made her laugh" = lifeless detail. rapes her at the party. At first, Punk tries to convince herself that she wanted to sleep with him. And why wouldn’t she, Em-dash or semicolon. he’s such a good and pretty boy Good and pretty are super, super vague. The height of vagueness. Give us SPECIFICS., after all. But the sudden realization of what really happened breaks Punk. Ashamed and scared, she’s sure that Cut useless "that"s. no one will believe her. Guilt and ugly smirks on his face He has guilt on his face? at school push her into a haze of alcohol and drugs. 
 
But a glimmer of hope sneaks through her loneliness Nice! as Punk meets rebellious Nihil. She’s suspicious and confused about her feelings Comma. Also, "suspicious and confused" are a couple more yawners. yet drawn to his bad boy attitude. The fire of love and fights, tears and joy. I have no idea what this fragment is trying to convey. And one broken heart. Isn't THIS the story you should be telling us about? Again, it feels like you're skipping over the good stuff! That’s how it goes in their little world of no tomorrow.
 
Torments of her abuse and fear of intimacy Yawn. Give this LIFE! bring Punk closer on the edge of addiction and depression. Nihil desperately tries to save her, but it might be too much for him. This is all...
 
Tired of being a victim ...much too... and self-destructive voices whispering in her head, Punk faces a choice of letting go or asking for help. ...vague.

 

Have you typed out a synopsis yet? I'm still not sure about what HAPPENS. Chick has traumatic experience, turns to drugs, falls for some dude, and...? You've GOT to emphasize how your story is different from a million others. You do this with specific details.


A Darkness in Spring (query | synopsis)


#38 Heliagrey

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Posted Yesterday, 04:14 PM

The latest version of my query is always here.

 

Thank you for all your help so far! I will critique back, just reply with the link :)

 

My problem is that I try to follow all the rules and along the way, I lose my unique style and the query seems flat, without a voice (as some of you pointed out). So I came up with something different. Let's call it a new approach. Trust yourself- at some point, you just need to say- I feel this, the major elements are here (stakes, character, choice) and this is the style I choose. Do you think you're getting close to that point? <3

 

 

NEW VERSION:

 

 
Troubled fifteen-year-old Punk is looking down into the abyss of suicide. 
 
Her so-called friend, who just yesterday brought her cookies and made her laugh, rapes her at the party. At first, Punk tries to convince herself that she wanted to sleep with him. And why wouldn’t she, he’s such a good and pretty boy, after all. But the sudden realization of what really happened breaks Punk. Ashamed and scared, she’s sure that no one would believe her. Guilt and ugly smirks on his face at school push her into a haze of alcohol and drugs. Okay- I love the info here, but not the new delivery system. I think the timing of your topic is so perfect for how ambiguous- yet how clear cut rape seems to be in the media right now. You can tighten this up by getting rid of some of the unnecessary color, and keeping only the 'punch moments'. For example  'made her laugh' falls flat.  Brought her cookies- good. Even better (literary wise, not in reality!!): He brought her cookies and then raped her. It's a gut punch, but it explains that back and forth feeling she has about it- you don't even need to say he seems like a nice guy, because only a "seemingly nice guy" would bring her cookies. But ... then he did what he did. You can cut most of this out and just have a gut puncher like that- where the first half of the sentence absolutely does not match the ending. Sorry for the wall of text. I just want to help you get this as good as the story probably is!
 
But a glimmer of hope sneaks through her loneliness as Punk meets rebellious Nihil. As she meets, or after she meets? She’s You haven't established if Nihil is a boy or girl, so starting with she is a confusing moment in next sentence- who are you talking about? suspicious and confused about her feelings yet drawn to his bad boy attitude. Mm...  I'd use another 'punch' moment here. Who is Nihil? Use that to maybe be a stark comparison to the first boy. The first one was a "sweet" rapist. This one? A bad-boy (find a better phrase than bad boy, please) who... what? Might mend her broken heart. The fire of love and fights, tears and joy. And one broken heart. That’s how it goes in their little world of no tomorrow.
 
Torments of her abuse and fear of intimacy bring Punk closer on the edge of addiction and depression. Nihil desperately tries to save her, but it might be too much for him. Yeah, but... what does SHE do? Where's her stakes? Live or die?
 
Tired of being a victim and self-destructive voices whispering in her head, Punk faces a choice of letting go or asking for help. 
 

It's gettin' there, love. I'm getting to the point where, as I read this, I think- I would read this story. Before, I wasn't there yet. I do think you can clean up the language, really focus on the emotional moments. 

 

I'd love some feedback on my own retooled one (esp the ending, which I'm struggling with) when you have a chance: 

 

http://agentquerycon...-the-guardians/







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