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THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN HURT ME- Will critique back!!

Womens Fiction

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#1 yawriter

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 12:25 PM

Newest versions are always here.

 

VERSION #25... Thanks for the feedback everyone!

 

 

Dear Ms. Agent,

 

Alice’s reward for breaking free of Seth’s manipulation is a beating. After six months of no communication, Alice still feels his influence swimming in her veins. That is until she meets her teenage crush, Jake—the hooded guitar player at the beach who never noticed her. Quickly,Jake’s charm and sapphire eyes begin to ward off the toxic thoughts of Seth.

 

Just as the couple’s playful and tender connection deepens, Seth reappears. His jealous aggression escalates each time Alice rejects him.

 

To forcefully rekindle their relationship, Seth abducts Alice. She fears there are no clues for Jake to follow since Seth is a cunning police officer. Desperate, she seizes the only opportunity to escape. She hopes to find Jake before Seth finds her. The hunt for Alice begins.

 

 

THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN HURT ME is a (women’s fiction) completed at 98,000 words. 


Edited by yawriter, 15 July 2018 - 01:57 PM.


#2 lnloft

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 05:02 PM

Remember, love is a curse not a blessing. I do not like this. For one thing, it tells us absolutely nothing about your story, and, two, it sounds a bit pretentious. Twenty-two-year-old Alice Bakers knows this all too well as her family breaks apart and her ex, Jonny Presser, abuses her. But, sometimes all it takes is one unlawful decision and one charming Jake Taylor for her hardened defenses to tumble. This is all so vague. How is her family breaking apart? What does Jonny do specifically? What unlawful decision does she make? Who is Jake Taylor? The query is not the place to be vague. Yes, you want to leave the reader wanting to know more, in the I-need-to-keep-going sort of sense, but the problem with these things you list is that they are too generic to make your book stand out. Be specific, show us what is unique about your book.

 

Unwilling to return home to her feuding parents, Alice trespasses onto the Paradise Hotel’s pool area after hours. Before she can relax, Jake, the manager, spots her. She hurries to escape, but his comforting presents and quick wit persuades her to stay. This is the first night since her beating from Jonny that Alice feels safe. This feels more like the inciting incident, so I'd start your query from here. That being said, I'm somewhat scratching my head, because I don't really see why these things are tied together. Why does she go to a hotel's pool? Why wouldn't Jake kick her out like a good manager should? So, take the concept of her meeting Jake here as your jumping off point, but tie it together better.

 

However, lurking in the trees behind the fence is Jonny. The interaction he observes between the couple triggers a chain of jealous reactions. Romance you can sometimes get away with doing two POVs in a query, but be very careful of jumping about. Often, it's safest to keep it from one person's POV. You can still portray this from Alice's POV. Soon after Jake and Alice meet, Jonny’s sick methods of control puts her in the hospital Again, specifics. Jake’s persistent desire to fight this battle alongside her ignites a raging love This sentence is hyperbolic platitudes. Also, why does Jake want to fight for her? We know nothing about these characters, especially not Alice, so why is it worth the drama for him to get involved when he could easily tap out?. When Jonny’s line of fire shifts to Jake, Alice flees, knowing that the danger will follow her instead. In a matter of a few chaotic minutes, Alice goes missing...for years. What? Wait... what? This last line just completely threw me. Alice is the MC, right? But then it seems the drama of the story is about her being missing, or...? I'm confused. What are the stakes of your story? Is it about Alice trying to escape Jonny and be with Jake? Jake trying to find Alice after she disappears? If the latter is the case, then you need to reframe your entire query. I'm just... confused.

 

PIECES OF ALICE is a XX,XXX-word romance/thriller/whichever genre you're going for.

 

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

I was harsh. I know. I'm sorry. But you need specifics so we know what makes your story unique. Make it pop. And show us why we should care about Alice. She seems very passive, with the men around her doing stuff. But I don't even know why Jake wants to be involved. Jonny's a possessive asshole, so I can go with that, but Jake and Alice need more, because we're supposed to be rooting for them, right? And, not to harp, but that last line just made me question what the entire story was about, like if all of this is backstory to Jake trying to find Alice. I don't think that's what's going on, but you don't want that question there, so that's got to get fixed.

 

I've seen people drastically improve queries that I thought had no chance on their first draft, and I don't see this as a no chance query, so you're not a hopeless case. But you do have work to do. So, deep breath, and once more into the fray. Good luck.


Nothing to reciprocate on right now; I'm off in the query trenches.


#3 yawriter

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 06:32 PM

I was harsh. I know. I'm sorry. But you need specifics so we know what makes your story unique. Make it pop. And show us why we should care about Alice. She seems very passive, with the men around her doing stuff. But I don't even know why Jake wants to be involved. Jonny's a possessive asshole, so I can go with that, but Jake and Alice need more, because we're supposed to be rooting for them, right? And, not to harp, but that last line just made me question what the entire story was about, like if all of this is backstory to Jake trying to find Alice. I don't think that's what's going on, but you don't want that question there, so that's got to get fixed.

 

I've seen people drastically improve queries that I thought had no chance on their first draft, and I don't see this as a no chance query, so you're not a hopeless case. But you do have work to do. So, deep breath, and once more into the fray. Good luck.

 

Thank you for your feedback! I just updated my second draft with your help! :)

 

I don't quite see what query you have posted. Let me know!



#4 Heliagrey

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 06:54 PM

Remember, love is a curse not a blessing. Twenty-two-year-old Alice Bakers knows this all too well as her family breaks apart and her ex, Jonny Presser, abuses her. But, sometimes all it takes is one unlawful decision and one charming Jake Taylor for her hardened defenses to tumble. (I think your strongest sentence is this last one- and with some reworking could be a really good hook- something like "Sometimes, all it takes to turn love from a curse into a blessing is one unlawful decision. I'd read that. Don't think you have to get too many details into the hook! You can fit the name,age, and love interest in next paragraph- or add one more sentence to your hook, ala, After 22 yr old Alice Baker's family falls apart, etc, etc... BUT I don't think you need that- since you already establish she's got a poor relationship with her family in the next sentence.)

 

Unwilling to return home to her feuding parents, Alice trespasses onto the Paradise Hotel’s pool area after hours. Before she can relax, Jake, the manager, spots her. (She doesn't know why she doesn't try to escape after manager Jake Taylor catches her, but etc., etc...)She hurries to escape, but his comforting presents and quick wit persuades her to stay. This is the first night since her beating from Jonny that Alice feels safe. (What she doesn't know is that he's lurking, etc. Don't mention the specifics that he's in the trees behind the fence. Too much detail.)

 

However, lurking in the trees behind the fence is Jonny. The interaction he observes between the couple triggers a chain of jealous reactions. (Eh. The grammar here feels a little weird?) Soon after Jake and Alice meet, Jonny’s sick methods of control puts her in the hospital. (?)  Jake’s persistent desire to fight this battle alongside her ignites a raging love. (?) When Jonny’s line of fire shifts to Jake, Alice flees, knowing that the danger will follow her instead. In a matter of a few chaotic minutes, Alice goes missing...for years. This isn't a final choice, or a raised stakes. This is an odd place to end the query, and I'm very confused by the 'in the matter of minutes she goes missing for years.. ehh... what?) 

 

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

 

Okay, you lost me a little in the last paragraph. I think you need less detail, more bare bones of the what her motivations are. I'm gathering it's a girl who's found a new love, but her ex is controlling and chasing her. I'm not sure I'd read that book- because either she'll get the guy and be safe, or ... it's a scary, bad ending. What's the real reason I should read it? Is it a tale of how there's always someone out there who won't give up on you? Is it... a thriller? A romance? I'm not sure after reading the query.

 

Keep going, query writing is CRAZY. HARD. It's like a foreign language. <3 



#5 yawriter

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 08:20 PM

Okay, you lost me a little in the last paragraph. I think you need less detail, more bare bones of the what her motivations are. I'm gathering it's a girl who's found a new love, but her ex is controlling and chasing her. I'm not sure I'd read that book- because either she'll get the guy and be safe, or ... it's a scary, bad ending. What's the real reason I should read it? Is it a tale of how there's always someone out there who won't give up on you? Is it... a thriller? A romance? I'm not sure after reading the query.

 

Keep going, query writing is CRAZY. HARD. It's like a foreign language. <3 

 

Thank you so much for your help! You made me like my hook again, but I changed it just slightly :) I have updated a new version of my query and I'd love to hear your thoughts! Please let send me a link to your query. Yes! Queries are EXTREMELY HARD! Yay for friendly support!



#6 Springfield

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 08:21 PM

The calming atmosphere at the Paradise Hotel reminds twenty-two-year-old Why do we need her age if she's an adult? Alice Bakers of family vacations—back before her parents started feuding and her ex, Jonny Presser, abused her. A small taste of vacation inspires her to trespass after hours. Trespass where?   Before she can relax, Jake Taylor, the charming manager, spots her. She hurries to escape, but his comforting presence and quick wit persuades her to stay. Why does he persuade her to stay wherever she's trespassing? A long-lost sense of security envelopes Alice when he calls her his breath of fresh air. After he... just met her trespassing? This is all too quick and unexplained. I dunno what genre this is, as it's got a bunch of tags and no housekeeping paragraph here, but in, say, romance. some silliness and 'love at first sight' is generally acceptable, but there's kind of a line. You're nut just saying they fall for each other; you're giving specifics that make no sense, like 'she's a breath of fresh air' when she trespassed someplace and he met her a minute ago.

 

However, lurking in the trees behind the fence is Jonny. The interaction he observes between the couple triggers a chain of jealous reactions.If he can’t have Alice, then no one can. This is super trite.

 

Alice withstands beatings from Jonny. When is this? Before? She survives a lethal overdose of opiates Huh?  that he slipped into her water. Tense Alice watches Jake do everything he can to keep her out of her ex’s reign of fire. I'm confused by the timeline, and by Alice. She seems entirely passive. Just as she finally believes that Jake’s love is enough to always keep her safe Oh, gross -- I think this may give you trouble. , Jonny chains her up and hides her away. Years of starvation and torment has Alice wondering if Jake will ever find her before Jonny breaks her into pieces. Ugh, for Jake's sake. I hope he's found someone else.

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

 

 

So I'm not sure what this is meant to be -- it's not a romance, and if it's a thriller, it seems like your MC is Jake, or Jonny, as Alice does nothing the entire query, but if it's one of them then this needs a rewrite with their goals and stakes and such. What POV is this?  



#7 yawriter

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 09:25 PM

 

 

So I'm not sure what this is meant to be -- it's not a romance, and if it's a thriller, it seems like your MC is Jake, or Jonny, as Alice does nothing the entire query, but if it's one of them then this needs a rewrite with their goals and stakes and such. What POV is this?  

 

 

Thanks for the harsh words. I needed a kick in the pants. The POV is shifting 3rd person, so it's a bit tough to remember to keep one POV for the query. I've updated a new version. Happy to review your query too ! Please send me a link :) 



#8 Springfield

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 10:38 PM

Shifting 3rd person? Do you mean omni or are you head-hopping? 

 

Also, you're better off putting revisions in new posts -- it's super hard to follow a thread when you overwrite the original.

 

Sometimes all it takes to turn love from a curse to a blessing is one unlawful decision. This is vague and hard to parse. The Paradise Hotel reminds Alice Bakers of family vacations—back before her parents started feuding and her ex, Jonny Presser, abused her. The desperate need for a vacation inspires her to trespass onto the property of the hotel after hours. What desperate need? I don't know anything about her currently. This says in the past those things happened. For all I know from the query, she's a senator now -- or a vagrant. Establish a character.

 

Before she can relax, Jake Taylor, the charming manager, spots her. He allows her to stay after the bushes behind the fence rustle and a fresh footprint appears in the dirt. Huh? Nervous that it is Jonny lurking in the darkness, she decides it is safest to stay with Jake through the night. I thought he heard those things -- also, see above. If she's like, on the run being followed literally by someone, that's a whole thing.

 

Soon after thoroughly enjoying Jake’s company, Jonny confronts Alice at night in the back of her work. This says Jake slept with Jonny. Trying to fend off Jonny’s beating, he And then Jonny beat him up, apparently. This has taken quite the turn. makes it clear that he is not done with her. Who? Alice seeks protection against her ex’s reign of fire in Jake’s offering arms. Ugh.  Just as she trusts that Jake’s love is enough to always keep her safe, Ok, sorry, I hate Alice. I also think this kind of portrayal is going to be seriously troublesome for you, querywise. I don't know what happens in the ms, but in the query., I'd wager this is going to garner hard rejections. Jonny chains her up and hides her away. Years of starvation and torment has Alice wondering if Jake is out there thinking of her Hate her.—wondering if he will find her before Jonny breaks her into pieces. 

 

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

 

Again, I don't know what this is -- it's formatted and reads kind of like a genre romance but then goes super off the rails into the whole it puts the lotion in the basket land and I have no idea what's going on.



#9 Springfield

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 10:40 PM

Thanks for the harsh words. I needed a kick in the pants. The POV is shifting 3rd person, so it's a bit tough to remember to keep one POV for the query. I've updated a new version. Happy to review your query too ! Please send me a link :) 

 

I feel like better you hear it here than hear crickets from agents. That said, it's just one opinion -- six other people might come along and love it.



#10 punitrastogi

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 01:58 AM

You really need to update a new version in either a new post, or at least mention that the first post will always contain your latest version.

I wanted to check what the others have pointed out, and it turns out that the version they have replied to is completely different.

So, I had to go through the entire thread to learn that the first post is the latest version.

 

If this goes through multiple iterations, mentioning a hint to the latest version would be of great help to everyone.

Now, on to your query.

 

Sometimes all it takes to turn love from a curse to a blessing is one unlawful decision. Wait! Curse to blessing by an unlawful decision? Shouldn't this be the other way around? The Paradise Hotel reminds Alice Bakers of family vacations—back before her parents started feuding and her ex, Jonny Presser, abused her since you are saying that Alice is going through a bad patch, might consider replacing "Family vacations" with "happier times" or something like that. Because you talk about family and then bring in her ex.. The desperate need for a vacation inspires her to trespass onto the property of the hotel after hours. I dont know if you have read a lot of query feedback or basics, but the first para is the moment agents would decide if they want to go through the query or not. That is why, it is almost imperative that you make this as interesting as possible. Because currently, it is not working as a hook.

 

Before she can relax, Jake Taylor, the charming manager, spots her. He allows her to stay after the bushes behind the fence rustle and a fresh footprint appears in the dirt. This is an interesting revelation which needs to be presented better to show Jake's urgency. Nervous that it is Jonny lurking in the darkness, she decides it is safest to stay with Jake through the night. I guess she doesnt have a choice. If its Jonny, she needs to be safe. If its not, she chose to stay anyway. So, this sentence doesnt add anything.

 

Soon after thoroughly enjoying Jake’s companyWhat do you mean? Be specific if this piece is important, else consider deleting it., Jonny confronts Alice at night in the back of her work In its current form, this sentence seems like Jonny enjoyed Jake's company. Also, is Alice's work the hotel or some other place? . Trying to fend off Jonny’s beating, he makes it clear that he(who is not done with her?) is not done with her . Alice seeks protection against her ex’s reign of fire in Jake’s offering arms. Just as she trusts that Jake’s love is enough to always keep her safe(too vague and cliched), Jonny chains her up and hides her away. Years of starvation (Years before the arrival at hotel or after her abduction?) and torment has Alice wondering if Jake is out there thinking of her—wondering if he will find her before Jonny breaks her into pieces.

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

 

Sorry to say this, but your writing is so confusing and cliched, that I am not sure what this story is about.

Is it about a guy intending to save his love from her abusive past?

Is it a thriller about a psychopathic boyfriend and his victim girlfriend trying to run away?

 

This is probably because your protagonist is not coming across as a strong character.

But if written properly, that is a trait of hers that should be acceptable to the reader.

I guess when you present your story properly, the folks of this community would be able to help you even more.

 

Hope it helps. :)



#11 jpfranco

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 08:43 AM

that'Posted Yesterday, 01:25 PM

Sometimes all it takes to turn love from a curse to a blessing is one unlawful decision. This is your hook. It stands alone.  It's interesting, but it took me a few times reading it to understand it, just because I've never thought of love as a curse. The Paradise Hotel reminds Alice Bakers of family vacations—back before her parents started feuding are her parents important enough to the story that they need a place in the query? and her ex, Jonny Presser, abused her. This is kind of vague. There are lots of forms of abuse. The desperate need for a vacation inspires her to trespass onto the property of the hotel after hours. I assumed she was on vacation at the hotel, so how could she trespass? 

 

Before she can relax, how was she going to do that at night? while trespassing? Jake Taylor, the charming manager, spots her. He allows her to stay after the bushes behind the fence rustle and a fresh footprint appears in the dirt. Did it appear? Like by magic? Or did someone make it? You need to word that differently. How can they even see the footprint in the dark? Nervous that it is Jonny lurking in the darkness, she decides it is safest to stay with Jake through the night. What makes her think Jonny is stalking her? Why can't Jake just escort her home? Why doesn't he call the police?  If they are super attracted to each other, put that in. Give us a reason to keep reading. 

 

Soon after thoroughly enjoying Jake’s company, Jonny confronts Alice at night in the back of her workThis needs to be re-worded.  How soon after? What's happened with Jake in the meantime? Anything? Right now it reads like they had one hookup. Trying to fend off Jonny’s beating, he who? Jonny's not trying to fend off his own beating. makes it clear that he is not done with her. How does he make it clear? Alice seeks protection against her ex’s reign of fire that's a bit much, and doesn't really seem to make sense, unless he's been actually using fire.  in Jake’s offering use a stronger word arms. Just as she trusts that Jake’s love is enough to always keep her safe, why? we have no sense of any relationship between them Jonny chains her up and hides her away how does he do this? show us, don't tell us Years of starvation and torment has Alice wondering if Jake is out there thinking of her—wondering if he will find her before Jonny breaks her into pieces. Years? That's pretty intense. I'm not sure from your query how long she is with Jake before this happens, but it seems like it hasn't been that long, and if we are being totally honest, someone she's known for a few weeks is probably not going to pine away for her or try to find her. He'd probably assume she went back to Jonny if she just disappeared. There's not anything in the query to indicate Jake has some incredible connection to her. 

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

 

I critique the way I like to be critiqued myself, so I hope you don't mind my picking this apart. This query thing is by far one of the hardest things about being a writer. 

The relationship between Alice and Jake seems pretty flat here. They meet and hook up (I assume) right away, which usually isn't a recipe for an amazing love life. Alice isn't doing much here -besides trespassing and hooking up- other than that, she's mostly a victim. I'm not sure of the circumstances that lead her to trespass, why does she desperately need a vacation? 

Your hero and villain both have 'J' names, and it can get confusing, so you may want to consider changing one of the names. 

I think a little bit of setting might help. Where is the Paradise hotel? Is it an exotic location? Palm trees? A lagoon? If we could picture it, it would help pull us in. The damsel in distress thing has been done a lot, but I don't think we tire of it, if you can make it new and interesting. You have show in a compelling way what makes your story different. 

The first draft of the query always gets shredded, I think. Don't let it discourage you. This is a starting point. Good luck!

 

 



#12 cmmg

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 09:50 AM

Sometimes all it takes to turn love from a curse to a blessing is one unlawful decision (This is too vague and a little confusing too be a good hook. What does this means?). The Paradise Hotel reminds Alice Bakers of family vacations—back before her parents started feuding and her ex, Jonny Presser, abused her.(You could punch up those verbs. But also, I'm not sure this is an effective draw.) The desperate need for a vacation inspires her to trespass onto the property of the hotel after hours. (Maybe I'm over thinking it but don't hotels have like, all hours? Sort of? Because people sleep there?)

 

Before she can relax, Jake Taylor, the charming manager, spots her. He allows her to stay after the bushes behind the fence rustle and a fresh footprint appears in the dirt.(I have no idea what this meant. At first I thought she was rustling in the bushes. If you want to have some threat of another trespasser, play that up, maybe?) Nervous that it is Jonny lurking in the darkness (why? she went to a hotel where her family vacations, which, given vacation, is presumably not close to where she lives?), she decides it is safest to stay with Jake through the night. 

 

Soon after thoroughly enjoying Jake’s company, Jonny confronts Alice at night in the back of her work. Trying to fend off Jonny’s beating, he makes it clear that he is not done with her. Alice seeks protection against her ex’s reign of fire in Jake’s offering arms. Just as she trusts that Jake’s love is enough to always keep her safe (This is sort of cliche and not really doing anything for me), Jonny chains her up and hides her away (YIKES! This is a huge escalation of conflict in Act 1). Years of starvation and torment has Alice wondering if Jake is out there thinking of her—wondering if he will find her before Jonny breaks her into pieces. (Wait there's a time skip of years? Why did you start off with Jake if the central conflict of the story is that Alice has been KIDNAPPED)

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

 

I think the biggest problem here is that you have your priorities a little loose here. Some issues are: I'm not sure what the central conflict is,  I'm not getting a clear cause and effect, I'm not sure how Alice can enact any agency to improve her situation and I'm sure what this story is really about.

 

First, is the central conflict about finding love after abuse? Like the first 90% of the query? Where the stakes if she fails is that she's alone? Or is it that's BEEN KIDNAPPED AND POSSIBLY MURDERED those are very different stakes. No one wants to read what they think is a love story and find out it's a thriller or whatever. What is your category? That doesn't come across here. Furthermore, you should make the central conflict and theme of your query the same as the novel. You can't drastically ramp up like that, it's jarring and makes me think "why didn't you use a voice and tone and words to make it clear what the stakes were previously?"

 

ALSO, Johnny just shows up. Out of nowhere? And I'm not sure the cause-effect relationship of this. He doesn't know she was with Jake, right? He couldn't have been at the hotel? He has no reason to act? And Alice's action don't lead to anything either. So this feels like "a bunch of bad stuff happens to Alice."

 

Furthermore, you don't really talk about the situation where she's kidnapped, or what she would do to escape. Why the fuck  (if you excuse my language) would she be thinking about JAKE a dude she knew for one night, whe  she is being STARVED and TORTURED for years. Shouldn't she be thinking of escape? Why would Jake find her? He doesn't know her!

 

I feel like this query is a  bit all over the place in the sense that, a BUNCH of things are happening, but the theme and link of them isn't there and it's unclear what the audience is supposed to takeaway here. This leaves me going "what the hell" and not "I can't wait to read more" because I don't know what kind of story this is, or how it could play out. What is winning for Alice? I don't know. What does it mean for her to win/succeed? I don't know.


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

synopsis


#13 JasperHines

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 12:08 PM

Sometimes all it takes to turn love from a curse to a blessing is one unlawful decision. Lose this line or alter it heavily. Its confusing and odd, especially seeing as how most people don't believe love to be a curse. The Paradise Hotel reminds Alice Bakers of family vacations—back before her parents started feuding and her ex, Jonny Presser, abused her. The desperate need for a vacation inspires her to trespass onto the property of the hotel after hours. 

 

Before she can relax, Jake Taylor, the charming manager, spots her. He allows her to stay after the bushes behind the fence rustle and a fresh footprint appears in the dirt. Nervous that it is Jonny lurking in the darkness, she decides it is safest to stay with Jake through the night. 

 

Soon after thoroughly enjoying Jake’s company, Jonny confronts Alice at night in the back of her work. Trying to fend off Jonny’s beating, he makes it clear that he is not done with her. Alice seeks protection against her ex’s reign of fire in Jake’s offering arms. Just as she trusts that Jake’s love is enough to always keep her safe, Jonny chains her up and hides her away. Years of starvation and torment has Alice wondering if Jake is out there thinking of her—wondering if he will find her before Jonny breaks her into pieces.

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

Hi!

My initial reaction after reading this is that it comes across as more of a synopsis and less of a query. I would suggest that you really look into how others have formulated their queries (specifically the ones that snagged an agent and a subsequent book deal) and see how those are written. A lot of what you're doing is leading us from minor event to minor event essentially telling us everything that happens in your book (its kind of like a movie trailer that you walk away from saying well I don't need to go and pay and see that I just saw the whole thing in two minutes). I don't usually "re-write" people's queries for them as I think it can be counter productive as one I don't know the ends and of their story and additionally my writer's voice is not someone else's and vice versa but I think for your sake I think I would be remiss to leave without giving you something to lean on in regards to what I mean.

 

This could be how your query opens: Alice Baker doesn't know love, but what she does know is that her ex-boyfriend Jonny would beat her senseless and call it that. What she does know is that she needs an escape. To get somewhere Jonny's rage induced tirades can't harm her. Driven by fear and desperation Alice does the unthinkable--she breaks the law and sneaks onto the private grounds of the luxurious Paradise Hotel.... 

 

^This of course is not perfect, its just an idea of what I mean. Pare it down, gives us characters, inciting incident and stakes. I would also suggest you check out QueryShark. She gives really awesome advice that can help steer you in the right direction. Hope this helps :).



#14 Bkrasnik

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 03:25 PM

Sometimes all it takes to turn love from a curse to a blessing is one unlawful decision. The Paradise Hotel reminds Alice Bakers of family vacations—back before her parents started feuding (I would make sure you can use this word in that tense, because I have never heard of it said that way before)  and her ex, Jonny Presser, abused her. The desperate need for a vacation inspires her to trespass onto the property of the hotel after hours. (The first sentence isn't clearly connected to the following sentences. You don't really tell us how it turns into a blessing. You don't give us any stakes either. She is inspired to trespass on the property but what are the consequences of that? Because right now, I am just imagining a security guard telling Alice to get off the property which is pretty anti-climatic. I would simplify this paragraph and keep it focused on one idea.)

 

Before she can relax, Jake Taylor, the charming manager, spots her (You answered my question above, but this is anti-climatic. I think this needs to be deleted.) . He allows her to stay after the bushes behind the fence rustle and a fresh footprint appears in the dirt. Nervous that it is Jonny lurking in the darkness, she decides it is safest to stay with Jake through the night. (This paragraph reads more like a synopsis. Also the last two sentences are poorly written and a little confusing. You are describing events that don't add much value. You need to stay focused on the primary narrative arc and not some details. Because so far I don't know what she wants, who is keeping her from getting it, and the stakes.)

 

Soon after thoroughly enjoying Jake’s company (this sounds really cheesy), Jonny confronts Alice at night in the back of her work. Trying to fend off Jonny’s beating, he makes it clear that he is not done with her. Alice seeks protection against her ex’s reign of fire in Jake’s offering arms. Just as she trusts that Jake’s love is enough to always keep her safe, Jonny chains her up and hides her away (I think this needs to have a bigger emphasis in your story and mentioned from the very beginning--I want to get the details on this and what happens to Alice. Because right now, the beginning-middle of your query seems like its more positive than negative, and those types of stories are cliché and boring). Years of starvation and torment has Alice wondering if Jake is out there thinking of her—wondering if he will find her before Jonny breaks her into pieces. (good last sentence, but this needs to be moved up top.)

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

 

I think you need to reorder the sequence of events in your query, in a way where the climax is included in the hook. Also, don't get too mushy in the love story because it starts to read as cliché. Good luck! 


Have a moment to offer up some very much appreciated feedback? :)

My Young Adult Dystopian Query: http://agentquerycon...ate-on-post-15/


#15 Heliagrey

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 03:32 PM

Sometimes all it takes to turn love from a (I'd leave out love- just say transform a curse into a blessing is... but if it's a romance, I can see keeping love in) curse to a blessing is one unlawful decision. The Paradise Hotel reminds Alice Bakers of family vacations—back before her parents started feuding and her ex, Jonny Presser, abused her. The desperate need for a vacation inspires her to trespass onto the property of the hotel after hours. 

 

Before she can relax, Jake Taylor, the charming manager, spots her. He allows her to stay after the bushes behind the fence rustle and a fresh footprint appears in the dirt. (This sentence is confusing) Nervous that it is Jonny lurking in the darkness, she decides it is safest to stay with Jake through the night. 

 

Soon after thoroughly enjoying Jake’s company, Jonny confronts Alice at night in the back of her work. Trying to fend off Jonny’s beating, he makes it clear that he is not done with her. (A little grammar confusing- you start the sentence with her as the subject, then he switches in- it doesn't quite work. ) Alice seeks protection against her ex’s reign of fire in Jake’s offering arms. Just as she trusts that Jake’s love is enough to always (I'd cut out always) keep her safe, Jonny chains her up and hides her away. Years of starvation and torment has Alice wondering if Jake is out there thinking of her—wondering if he will find her before Jonny breaks her into pieces.

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

Okay, so now we're cooking- much more succinct... but honestly, the most exciting part for me is that she's being held hostage/torment/torture slave by this sicko- and that's at the end of the query. Does it only take place at the end of the book, or is it an early thing? I'd move it up earlier in the query.

 

LOTS of improvement from last one to this one. These things are a bear to write, and you're moving in the right direction!



#16 yawriter

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 07:32 PM

Thanks for the help! I edited and made a new version! I'd love to know what you think :) I also left you a comment for your latest version of your query :)



#17 yawriter

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 07:33 PM

You really need to update a new version in either a new post, or at least mention that the first post will always contain your latest version.

I wanted to check what the others have pointed out, and it turns out that the version they have replied to is completely different.

So, I had to go through the entire thread to learn that the first post is the latest version.

 

If this goes through multiple iterations, mentioning a hint to the latest version would be of great help to everyone.

Now, on to your query.

 

 

Sorry to say this, but your writing is so confusing and cliched, that I am not sure what this story is about.

Is it about a guy intending to save his love from her abusive past?

Is it a thriller about a psychopathic boyfriend and his victim girlfriend trying to run away?

 

This is probably because your protagonist is not coming across as a strong character.

But if written properly, that is a trait of hers that should be acceptable to the reader.

I guess when you present your story properly, the folks of this community would be able to help you even more.

 

Hope it helps. :)

 

 

Thanks for the help! I edited and made a new version! I'd love to know what you think :) I also left you a comment for your latest version of your query :)



#18 yawriter

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 07:34 PM

 

that'Posted Yesterday, 01:25 PM

Sometimes all it takes to turn love from a curse to a blessing is one unlawful decision. This is your hook. It stands alone.  It's interesting, but it took me a few times reading it to understand it, just because I've never thought of love as a curse. The Paradise Hotel reminds Alice Bakers of family vacations—back before her parents started feuding are her parents important enough to the story that they need a place in the query? and her ex, Jonny Presser, abused her. This is kind of vague. There are lots of forms of abuse. The desperate need for a vacation inspires her to trespass onto the property of the hotel after hours. I assumed she was on vacation at the hotel, so how could she trespass? 

 

Before she can relax, how was she going to do that at night? while trespassing? Jake Taylor, the charming manager, spots her. He allows her to stay after the bushes behind the fence rustle and a fresh footprint appears in the dirt. Did it appear? Like by magic? Or did someone make it? You need to word that differently. How can they even see the footprint in the dark? Nervous that it is Jonny lurking in the darkness, she decides it is safest to stay with Jake through the night. What makes her think Jonny is stalking her? Why can't Jake just escort her home? Why doesn't he call the police?  If they are super attracted to each other, put that in. Give us a reason to keep reading. 

 

Soon after thoroughly enjoying Jake’s company, Jonny confronts Alice at night in the back of her workThis needs to be re-worded.  How soon after? What's happened with Jake in the meantime? Anything? Right now it reads like they had one hookup. Trying to fend off Jonny’s beating, he who? Jonny's not trying to fend off his own beating. makes it clear that he is not done with her. How does he make it clear? Alice seeks protection against her ex’s reign of fire that's a bit much, and doesn't really seem to make sense, unless he's been actually using fire.  in Jake’s offering use a stronger word arms. Just as she trusts that Jake’s love is enough to always keep her safe, why? we have no sense of any relationship between them Jonny chains her up and hides her away how does he do this? show us, don't tell us Years of starvation and torment has Alice wondering if Jake is out there thinking of her—wondering if he will find her before Jonny breaks her into pieces. Years? That's pretty intense. I'm not sure from your query how long she is with Jake before this happens, but it seems like it hasn't been that long, and if we are being totally honest, someone she's known for a few weeks is probably not going to pine away for her or try to find her. He'd probably assume she went back to Jonny if she just disappeared. There's not anything in the query to indicate Jake has some incredible connection to her. 

 

Thank you in advance for your help!

 

I critique the way I like to be critiqued myself, so I hope you don't mind my picking this apart. This query thing is by far one of the hardest things about being a writer. 

The relationship between Alice and Jake seems pretty flat here. They meet and hook up (I assume) right away, which usually isn't a recipe for an amazing love life. Alice isn't doing much here -besides trespassing and hooking up- other than that, she's mostly a victim. I'm not sure of the circumstances that lead her to trespass, why does she desperately need a vacation? 

Your hero and villain both have 'J' names, and it can get confusing, so you may want to consider changing one of the names. 

I think a little bit of setting might help. Where is the Paradise hotel? Is it an exotic location? Palm trees? A lagoon? If we could picture it, it would help pull us in. The damsel in distress thing has been done a lot, but I don't think we tire of it, if you can make it new and interesting. You have show in a compelling way what makes your story different. 

The first draft of the query always gets shredded, I think. Don't let it discourage you. This is a starting point. Good luck!

 

 

 

 

Thank you for your help! I took your advice and reedited :) I cannot seem to find your query. Please let me know what you'd like for me to review so I can return the favor!



#19 Springfield

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 07:56 PM

ALL NEW VERSIONS ARE POSTED HERE. I hope it's easier to find here. 

 

VERSION #3

 

For most, falling in love is a blessing. For Alice Bakers, it is a curse. Falling in love with Jonny Presser left her with physical and emotional scars. Since the brutal end of that relationship, Alice’s pristine record no longer matters as she chooses to trespasses onto the Paradise Hotel after hours for a quiet getaway. This sentence is super confusing -- it first seems like the record refers to love, then implies she gets arrested.Fortunately, this one unlawful decision may break the curse. This further muddles the thing, especially with the tenses.

 

Jake Taylor, the charming manager of the hotel, spots Alice when he, too, desires to escape the perils of life and lay pool side. What perils? As a connection spark between the two, a rustle in the bushes and a fresh footprint has Jake firing questions at Alice. You have an agreement error, and this reads like he's going to call the cops on her, because see the first paragraph.

 

After Alice establishes a firm romantic foundation with Jake A second ago, he was "firing questions at" her -- there's no indication of a romantic anything at all., Jonny is triggered Not the word you want. by raging jealousy. Jonny confronts Alice, making it clear that he is not done with her. Trying to fend off Jonny’s beating and sick methods of control, Alice can only hope that she is blessed with Jake’s love to save from her Jonny’s reign of fire. Oh, gross. I repeat, you are going to have problems if you present this this way. If the book is this way, I'd suggest you give it some thought, because I sense it's going to have trouble.



#20 AstrMikeDexter

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 08:25 PM

ALL NEW VERSIONS ARE POSTED HERE. I hope it's easier to find here. 

 

VERSION #3

 

For most, falling in love is a blessing. For Alice Bakers, it is a curse. Falling in love with Jonny Presser left her with physical and emotional scars. Since the brutal end of that relationship, Alice’s pristine record no longer matters as she chooses to trespasses onto the Paradise Hotel after hours for a quiet getaway (I'm a little confused why the end of the relationship propels her to do this. To get away from a stressful situation? If she has a "pristine record" what makes her throw that away?). Fortunately, this one unlawful decision may break the curse. 

 

Jake Taylor, the charming manager of the hotel, spots Alice when he, too, desires to escape the perils of life (This is a vague.) and lay pool side. As a connection spark between the two, a rustle in the bushes and a fresh footprint has Jake firing questions at Alice. (How come? It sounds like Jake and Alice just met, so what makes him "fire questions" at her? It seems a little intense for two strangers.)

 

After Alice establishes a firm romantic foundation with Jake, Jonny is triggered by raging jealousy. Jonny confronts Alice, making it clear that he is not done with her. Trying to fend off Jonny’s beating and sick methods of control, Alice can only hope that she is blessed with Jake’s (I'd avoid saying a woman is blessed by a man's love, especially in this context.) love to save from her Jonny’s reign of fire.

 

This sounds like a very passionate story! I have a few suggestions. Good luck!


Any help with my query would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!






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