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ON THE EDGE OF BOTH SIDES - YA Contemporary (will critique back)

Fiction Young Adult

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#1 AsperBlurry

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Posted 19 April 2019 - 01:05 PM

Hi there,
 
Last time I got very helpful feedback from you, hope you can help me now as well :) I will critique back, just leave the link in your comment!
 
 
QUERY #1
 
Dear Name of the Agent,
 
 
Growing up in a poor neighborhood with abusive parents has made 17-year-old Punk tough. And determined to escape the curse of nurture. 
 
The first prize at a state poetry contest boosts Punk’s belief that despite her upbringing, she’s not doomed to be a failure. She has a purpose now - get a scholarship for a writing residency in Italy next summer.
 
But when mania and depression slowly gain control over her, she tries to cope using drugs and alcohol. Scared of her turbulent thoughts and unpredictable actions, she feels like wanting more out of life is now nothing but a distant wish. 
 
Hurting her loved ones and being pulled away from her goal push Punk to make a choice. 
 
Either she seeks help and faces her bipolar disorder or ruins everything she’s been working for so hard. 
 


#2 Jackie B

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 10:45 PM

Hi,

Interesting story. A couple of questions

 

1 - I was confused about the mania and depression, until I read that Punk has bipolar disorder. That should perhaps come in para 1. 

2 - Why is seeking help so hard? Why is taking drugs easier? It doesn't tally with what the 



#3 Jackie B

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 10:50 PM

Sorry, this got posed accidentally.  :blink:

To continue

 

2 It doesn't tally with the picture you paint of Punk. 

3. Even with the bipolar disorder she was coping. What makes her go off the rails? Perhaps she loses the chance to go to Italy? Perhaps there is some other loss. But there is no inciting incident for her resorting to drugs etc.

4. We know who Punk is and what she wants. The questions are

What is the inciting incident?

What are the new roadblocks preventing her from seeking help?

 

Hope this is useful. Good luck. 



#4 Derrick

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 10:24 AM

I'm not really sure the first paragraph is your hook. This all just seems like a chronological retelling, a very short synopsis. And it seems episodic. I think the query needs focus.

 

So let me ask some questions:

 

1) What is the one thing you would say makes your book stand out?

2) What is the urgency and stakes? I get a little sense of it, but it's not strong enough to pull me in.

 

Start here. Start with 2 sentences, like a pitch, that you think best describes your book while enticing others.

 

Then with that hyper-focus on the premise, go into a synopsis that builds upon that idea.


Would you do me the kindness of critiquing my query?


#5 b.katona

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Posted 30 April 2019 - 09:28 AM

Growing up in a poor neighborhood with abusive parents has made 17-year-old Punk tough. And determined to escape the curse of nurture. 
 
The first prize at a state poetry contest boosts Punk’s belief that despite her upbringing, she’s not doomed to be a failure. She has a purpose now - get a scholarship for a writing residency in Italy next summer. up until here, it's very good, i'm getting invested, my interest is piqued
 
But when mania and depression slowly gain control over her if she has always been suffering from these it should go right along with the "abusive parents" detail. if this is a new development, or is presented as an obstacle just now, something like "Her sense of purpose is challenged, as mania and depression appear in her life" , she tries to cope using drugs and alcohol while this is an understandable human reaction, more than the fact the agent might want to get a sense of the characters motivations behind it. is she using these believing it's only temporary? is someone luring her to this path? was she once a junkie? i'm pretty sure you have something going on here and that might be a pretty good selling point. Scared of her turbulent thoughts and unpredictable actions, good so far she feels like wanting more out of life is now nothing but a distant wish. but the ending of the sentence is a bit vague. it might be more punchy to reword as something like "her ambition to get somewhere in life feels intangible and dreamlike" or "she can barely remember that not so long ago she harbored dreams about a big breakthrough"
 
Hurting her loved ones and being pulled away from her goal push Punk to make a choice. 
 
Either she seeks help and faces her bipolar disorder or ruins everything she’s been working for so hard. i'm sure in the book this struggle is very gripping but it's too trivial a question. you have basically said that she might reach her goal or she might not. as to the why of it: because it's hard. and to communicate why this is hard, in your novel you have thousands of words, but it doesn't translate well here. i might be very off with where your story is going but you could try something along the lines of "Punk can't afford a psychiatrist and her bipolar disorder prevents her from keeping up the same quality in her poetry. Fearing her boyfrind might leave her over the drugs, she breaks up first. Alone and broken, Punk will have to make a choice between still trying to apply for the scholarship and giving it all up to commit herself to a hospital."
 
Obviously, this is not a synopsis, so I beg your pardon if all of my suggestions were far from the actual direction of the narrative. This story, even based on such a brief intro, sounds like a very interesting, human struggle. If you can get the query right, I'm sure you won't have trouble selling the book :)


#6 alibi174

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 06:11 AM

Growing up in a poor neighborhood with abusive parents has made 17-year-old Punk tough. And determined to escape the curse of nurture. (I read this sentence a few times before I understood what you were getting at. It feels a little too vague to be in your hook)
 
The Winning first prize at a state poetry contest boosts Punk’s belief that despite her upbringing, she’s not doomed to be a failure. She has a purpose now - get a scholarship for a writing residency in Italy next summer.
 
But when mania and depression slowly gain control over her, she tries to cope using drugs and alcohol.(Is there a particular moment or event that brings on this transition? The reason I ask is you have a setup of 1) troubled teen, 2) on the mend, 3) back to troubled teen) Scared of her turbulent thoughts and unpredictable actions, she feels like wanting more out of life is now nothing but a distant wish. 
 
Hurting her loved ones and being pulled away from her goal push Punk to make a choice. (this sentence is a bit too vague and doesn't tell us anything about the primary conflict.)
 
Either she seeks help and faces her bipolar disorder or ruins everything she’s been working for so hard.(what has she been working so hard for? My reading from your previous couple of paragraphs was that she gave up)

If you have a few moments, I'd appreciate your feedback on my query


#7 Robin LeeAnn

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 01:34 AM

Dear Name of the Agent, (I'm not sure you've heard this tip before, so just in case you haven't: Search up the agent's profile. Know what they like and what they're interested in. Say how your book also has that.)
 
 
Growing up in a poor neighborhood with abusive parents has made 17-year-old Punk (Strange name. Almost thought it was an adjective.) tough and determined to escape the curse of nurture. (Describe this curse of nature. -- This hook isn't too punchy as well. I'd consider revising.)
 
The first prize at a state poetry contest boosts Punk’s belief (belief in what?) that despite her upbringing, she’s not doomed to be a failure. (Expand on this more.) She has a purpose now: to get a scholarship for a writing residency in Italy next summer. (Why there? What pushes her into that decision?)
 
But when mania and depression (So, bipolar? Why not just say bipolar? -- Also, using called "depression and mania." But that's nit pickey, so not something you gotta do.) slowly gain control of her (Describe it more too.), she tries to cope using drugs and alcohol. (Why does she revert to drugs and alcohol?) Scared of her turbulent thoughts and unpredictable actions, she feels that wanting more out of life is now nothing but a distant wish now
 
Hurting her loved ones and being pulled away from her goal (Be more descriptive. What's an example?) pushes Punk to make a choice: either she seeks help and faces her bipolar illness or ruins everything she’s been working for so hard. (This makes the choice seem obvious. Why wouldn't she go seek help if it's that destructive?)
 
 
Honestly, I love a story that faces mental illnesses, so great job. You got me interested in your story, but I need to know more about it. Give some specific examples about what happens. Right now, I feel like I'm looking at your story from a far distance, but I want to see more images up close. Also, I'd work on having more "punch" in your first sentence so you can grab the reader's attention faster.

Good luck!

 


#8 mindy24601

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 10:13 AM

 

Hi there,
 
Last time I got very helpful feedback from you, hope you can help me now as well :) I will critique back, just leave the link in your comment!
 
 
QUERY #1
 
Dear Name of the Agent,
 
 
Growing up in a poor neighborhood with abusive parents has made 17-year-old Punk tough. very bland words...can you spruce it up a little? show, not tell? And determined to escape the curse of nurture. 
 
The first prize at a state poetry contest boosts Punk’s belief that despite her upbringing, she’s not doomed to be a failure. you mean, winning it? state that explicitly She has a purpose now - to get a scholarship for a writing residency in Italy next summer.
 
But when mania and depression slowly gainmaybe vie rather than gain control over her, she tries to cope using drugs and alcohol. Scared of her turbulent thoughts and unpredictable actions, she feels like wanting more out of life is now nothing but a distant wish. 
 
Hurting her loved ones and being pulled away from her goal push Punk to make a choice. 
 
Either she seeks help and faces her bipolar disorder or ruins everything she’s been working for so hard. 
 
good start, but i'd flesh it out a little more. add some interesting details. watch your word choice. and lead with something catchy and engaging. 
 
 
 
please consider a re-critique: http://agentquerycon...sysupernatural/
 

 



#9 lnloft

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 09:43 PM

 

Hi there,
 
Last time I got very helpful feedback from you, hope you can help me now as well :) I will critique back, just leave the link in your comment!
 
 
QUERY #1
 
Dear Name of the Agent,
 
 
Growing up in a poor neighborhood with abusive parents has made 17seventeen-year-old Punk tough. And determined to escape the curse of nurture. This feels a little too generic. Can you get some more specifics about how her parents were abusive, how she's tough, etc?
 
The first prize at a state poetry contest boosts Punk’s belief that despite her upbringing, she’s not doomed to be a failure. She has a purpose now - get a scholarship for a writing residency in Italy next summer. I didn't get the proper transition into this paragraph. We just sort of jumped right in. Also, given the first paragraph, where a teenage girl goes by the name Punk and is described as tough, I'm imagining someone who wouldn't really care about things like poetry, thinking they were lame and wimpy. That's obviously not the case, but it makes me wonder if you could use her softer interests to contrast her toughness in the hook. Like, despite the fact that her parents beat her and she has to shoplift in order to get food (or whatever is the actual case in your book), she manages to provide herself with an escape in the form of poetry. Setting up the poetry in the hook will help the transition and also not potentially throw the reader for a loop based off of quick assumptions made by the current hook.
 
But when mania and depression slowly gain control over her These are also just abruptly introduced , she tries to cope using drugs and alcohol. Scared of her turbulent thoughts and unpredictable actions, she feels like wanting more out of life is now nothing but a distant wish. 
 
Hurting her loved ones and being pulled away from her goal push Punk to make a choice. 
 
Either she seeks help and faces her bipolar disorder or ruins everything she’s been working for so hard. I mean, it's not that much of a choice when presented like this, is it? I'm not trying to make light of mental disorders, because goodness knows they're not rational and it can be so hard to get on the right path, but as is this feels a bit like these are presented as equally doable. Like it's as easy as Punk waking up one morning and saying, "You know, I think I'd like to no longer be depressed and bipolar."

 

I think the biggest issue I see with the query is that things aren't tied together quite as well as I would like. Poetry is just introduced in paragraph 2 (and then not mentioned again, incidentally, other than as "her goal"). I thought the story then was going to be about Punk overcoming the odds, maybe parental disapproval, in order to be a writer. But then it's only paragraph 3 that really introduces the big problem and the main crux of the story, which is her mania and depression. Those need to make their way up to the hook. As an extremely rough hook outline, I would consider something like, "Punk wants to escape her upbringing through poetry but can't because of mental disorders." That way you get who she is, what she wants, and what's in the way established from from the start, and you can spend the rest of the query fleshing these pieces out.

 

Hope this helps. Good luck.


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#10 London C

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Posted 08 May 2019 - 02:07 PM

Growing up in a poor neighborhood with abusive parents has made 17-year-old Punk tough. And determined to escape the curse of nurture. 

This reads fairly generic to me—it could  describe a lot of books. Can you put the focus on her unique traits, like her poetry? And work in her bipolar here? You might add something about why she's called Punk. 

 
The first prize at a state poetry contest boosts Punk’s belief that despite her upbringing, she’s not doomed to be a failure. She has gives Punk a purpose now - get a scholarship for a writing residency in Italy next summer.
You have room to expand on her  background—the  specific things that she wants to escape that set her apart. 
 
But when mania and depression slowly gain control over her, she tries to cope using drugs and alcohol. Scared of her turbulent thoughts and unpredictable actions, she feels like wanting more out of life is now nothing but a distant wish. Does her bipolar disorder start to manifest after she wins the contest, or has this been an ongoing issue for her? 
 
Hurting her loved ones and being pulled away from her goal push Punk to make a choice. 
 
Either she seeks help and faces her bipolar disorder or ruins everything she’s been working for so hard. You don't establish that she's been working hard at college/poetry. Doing so earlier would strengthen our sense of who she is and the stakes. 
 

 

 

You've got a nice skeleton, but I think this needs more specifics to flesh it out. As it is, we don't have much information about Punk other than she's poor and bipolar, and likes poetry. Since the conflict here appears to be structural issues and mental illness, getting her on the page is especially important—audiences  will read  or not read your book based on how interesting Punk is. Right now, I just don't know enough about her to asses if I'd want to read her story.


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#11 Anna.k

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Posted 17 May 2019 - 03:59 PM

 

Hi there,
 
Last time I got very helpful feedback from you, hope you can help me now as well :) I will critique back, just leave the link in your comment!
 
 
QUERY #1
 
Dear Name of the Agent,
 
 
Growing up in a poor neighborhood with abusive parents has made 17-year-old Punk tough. (Not in love with this hook, this could be the follow up line, maybe start it off with a hook about her bipolarity?And determined to escape the curse of nurture. (??)
 
Winning The first prize at a state poetry contest boosts Punk’s belief that despite her upbringing, she’s not doomed to be a failure. She has a purpose now - get a scholarship for a writing residency in Italy next summer. Good.
 
But when mania and depression slowly gain control over her, 'Slowly' doesn't promise a fast paced storyline, I feel like this could be worded differently. she tries to cope using drugs and alcohol. ​Like other reviewers have mentioned...how does this happen? Need more of a timeline, more details. Scared of her turbulent thoughts and unpredictable actions, she feels like wanting more out of life is now nothing but a distant wish. 
 
Hurting her loved ones and being pulled away from her goal push Punk to make a choice. 
 
Either she seeks help and faces her bipolar disorder or ruins everything she’s been working for so hard. What is preventing her from seeking help?? You have the dynamics of this query right, but it doesn't pack enough of a punch...it should be more dramatic. Also, the bipolar is just thrown in at the end. It should be front and center if that is one of the focuses of the book. 
 
Pls check out my query! :D thnx 
 
 

 







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