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ON THE EDGE OF BOTH SIDES - YA #OWN. New version in #23 (will critique back, pls give me more time)

Fiction Young Adult

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#21 CarterT

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 09:55 AM

Hey, well done! I think you made some really good progress on this one. 

 

I ended up putting way more red in there than I expected I would after the first read. Given your topic, I think you've got a very solid query. It's got the right amount of emotional charge, and touches on the different aspects of dealing with mental illness. Maybe some other folks will chime in, because one opinion is rarely enough, but I think you're pretty close. 

 

 

 

Ok, so I've revised the query, adding more information and limiting the number of paragraphs to 4, longer ones. Hopefully it's more punchy & has an emotional impact :)

 

 

VERSION #4
 
 
Emotionally scarred by her parents, seventeen-year-old Punk finds an escape through poetry. But when her untreated bipolar disorder gets more extreme, putting her on the edge of addiction, she struggles to uphold her ambition of getting somewhere in life. Love it! The only thing I might suggest, and this is very loose, is if you can identify in one or two words what about her parents emotionally scarred her. Was it abuse? Neglect? Unreasonable expectations? Judgments? If you can't do it in one or two words, don't do it at all. But if you can, it'll give your sentence a good 'beat'. 
 
Winning the first prize at Warsaw’s poetry contest boosts Punk’s belief that despite her upbringing, she’s not doomed to be a failure. In her manic state, she decides to apply for a writing scholarship in Italy next summer  –  her newly discovered obsession. There are a few word choices here I WOULD suggest changing, but they are mental illness specific, so leave em. All in all, good paragraph. 
 
I feel like you need a connection to the previous paragraph here. It starts off too abruptly. Punk’s sense of purpose is challenged as her rapid mood swings tamper with her future Finally figured out what's bugging me about this sentence - It's a passive statement, instead of part of the story, so it doesn't flow the same way. Maybe something like: Burning the candle at both ends, fatigue and rapid mood swings tamper with Punk's future, challenging/blurring her sense of purpose. Drugs and parties are the solace she craves, while the threat of being expelled from school is real Need to change 'real' - it lacks oomph. Maybe something like '...craves, but her escapes put her one step away from expulsion, and a lifetime away from Italy'. Worried about Punk’s erratic behavior, her best friend, Em, and her Polish teacher drag her to a therapist where she receives an official diagnosis of bipolar II. Terrified of being branded as “crazy”, she refuses to take her meds.
 
It takes a series of dangerous falls for Punk to realize she needs help This is another statement. Also, it might give away a bit of the 'ending'. Like the last paragraph, you need something to connect it, and to remove the statement feel. Something like: Now, battling labels and her own inner doubts, Punk must rely on her friend's support, and her scholarship dream, to break free from the cycle of mental illness and succeed - or end up just like her parents said she would. Armed with their her friend's support and her scholarship dream she must break free from the cycle of mental illness to succeed. Before her world is shattered into pieces and there’s no way out. 

 



#22 AsperBlurry

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 04:08 AM

Great advice, CarterT, thank you so, so much!!! I changed my query a bit (using some of your sentences, haha). I decided to skip the therapist part since it would be a spoiler. Hopefully it's better now :) 

 

Let me know when you need help with your query! 

Hey, well done! I think you made some really good progress on this one. 

 

I ended up putting way more red in there than I expected I would after the first read. Given your topic, I think you've got a very solid query. It's got the right amount of emotional charge, and touches on the different aspects of dealing with mental illness. Maybe some other folks will chime in, because one opinion is rarely enough, but I think you're pretty close. 


Please consider a re-critique http://agentquerycon...-back/?p=360734


#23 AsperBlurry

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 04:15 AM

Here's the latest version of my whole query (with bio & bond with an agent). I managed to down it to less than 300 words, yay!

 

Again, sorry to everyone that I'm so slow critiquing back but I had to focus on my query after #Pitmad! But I'll get there :)

 

 

#VERSION 5

 

 

 
Dear Ms./Mr. [name of the agent]
 
Thank you for your "like" of my pitch during #PitMad! Because your Manuscript Wish List includes YA with mental health issues, strong female lead and own voices representation, I'm hoping you will enjoy my 69,000-word YA contemporary, ON THE EDGE OF BOTH SIDES. It’s part of a series “On the Road to…?” and will appeal to readers of Ellen Hopkins and “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher. It’s loosely based on my teenage struggles with bipolar disorder.
 
Emotionally scarred by her parents’ abuse, seventeen-year-old Punk finds an escape through poetry. But when her untreated bipolar disorder gets more extreme, putting her on the edge of addiction, she struggles to uphold her ambition of getting somewhere in life. 
 
Winning the first prize at Warsaw’s poetry contest boosts Punk’s belief that despite her upbringing, she’s not doomed to be a failure. While manic, she decides to apply for a writing scholarship in Italy next summer  –  her newly discovered travel obsession. 
 
Burning the candle at both ends, fatigue and rapid mood swings tamper with Punk's future, challenging her sense of purpose. Drugs and parties are the solace she craves but her escapes put her one step away from expulsion from school, and a lifetime away from Italy. And when she crashes a car in illegal racing, she finally realizes she needs help.
 
Armed with her friends’ support and her scholarship dream, Punk must break free from the cycle of mental illness if she truly wants to succeed. Or she’ll end up just like her parents said she would.
 
My short stories and poems have been published in several Polish literary magazines. 
 
Following your submission guidelines, I have pasted the first twenty pages of my book.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,

Please consider a re-critique http://agentquerycon...-back/?p=360734


#24 CarterT

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 03:49 PM

Hey, I think it looks great. Just one last sentence to work on (in my limited opinion). 

 

And when she crashes a car in illegal racing, she finally realizes she needs help. - I wonder if you need the 'she realizes she needs help' part. It kind of gives it away. Maybe you could leave it as... '...from Italy. And then she crashes a car in illegal racing.' 

 

I'm not sure about this, but something to show she's hit rock bottom. The realization is a bit of a give-away that she's going to make things better, and you'd put that in a synopsis, but it takes away some of the hook. 

 

Maybe wait on a second (or third) opinion on this though. I could be WAY off base here.  

 

Sorry, sorry! One other thing. Now that you removed the part about going to a doctor, the armed with her friend's support comes out of nowhere; there's nothing that talks about her friends in it. Need to mention the friends somewhere earlier for that to make sense. 



#25 Anna.k

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 09:18 AM

 

Here's the latest version of my whole query (with bio & bond with an agent). I managed to down it to less than 300 words, yay!

 

Again, sorry to everyone that I'm so slow critiquing back but I had to focus on my query after #Pitmad! But I'll get there :)

 

 

#VERSION 5

 

 

 
Dear Ms./Mr. [name of the agent]
 
Thank you for your "like" of my pitch during #PitMad! Because your Manuscript Wish List includes YA with mental health issues, strong female lead and own voices representation, I'm hoping you will enjoy my 69,000-word YA contemporary, ON THE EDGE OF BOTH SIDES. It’s part of a series “On the Road to…?” and will appeal to readers of Ellen Hopkins and “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher. It’s loosely based on my teenage struggles with bipolar disorder.
 
Emotionally scarred by her parents’ abuse, seventeen-year-old Punk finds an escape through poetry. Hmm, this feels more like a follow up line to your hook. Need more of a hook. But when her untreated bipolar disorder gets more extreme, putting her on the edge of addiction, she struggles to uphold her ambition of getting somewhere in life. Reword this or specify?
 
Winning the first prize at Warsaw’s poetry contest boosts Punk’s belief that despite her upbringing, she’s not doomed to be a failure. While manic, she decides to apply for a writing scholarship in Italy next summer  –  her newly discovered travel obsession. 
 
Burning the candle at both ends (This is a reaaalllly cliche line) fatigue and rapid mood swings tamper with Punk's future, challenging her sense of purpose. Drugs and parties are the solace she craves but her escapes put her one step away  (Again a little cliche) from expulsion from school, and a lifetime away from Italy. And when she crashes a car in illegal (drag?) racing, she finally realizes she needs help. Like this.
 
Armed with her friends’ support (Doesn't sound like her friends are supporting her if they're inviting her to drug parties and drag racing...lol .)and her scholarship dream, Punk must break free from the cycle of mental illness if she truly wants to succeed. Or she’ll end up just like her parents said she would. Not bad, but how about rewording to something like: Punk must break free from the cycle of mental illness if she truly wants to succeed or risk ending up like the failure her parents predicted?...) what awful parents btw :P )
 
My short stories and poems have been published in several Polish literary magazines. 
 
Following your submission guidelines, I have pasted the first twenty pages of my book.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,

 

 

You're almost there it's getting better!!!! Thanks for your feedback on my query I appreciated it!



#26 London C

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:13 PM

 

Here's the latest version of my whole query (with bio & bond with an agent). I managed to down it to less than 300 words, yay!

 

Again, sorry to everyone that I'm so slow critiquing back but I had to focus on my query after #Pitmad! But I'll get there :)

 

 

#VERSION 5

 

 

 
Dear Ms./Mr. [name of the agent]
 
Thank you for your "like" of my pitch during #PitMad! Because your Manuscript Wish List includes YA with mental health issues, strong female lead and own voices representation, I'm hoping you will enjoy my 69,000-word YA contemporary, ON THE EDGE OF BOTH SIDES. It’s part of a series “On the Road to…?” and will appeal to readers of Ellen Hopkins and “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher. It’s loosely based on my teenage struggles with bipolar disorder.
 
Emotionally scarred by her parents’ abuse, seventeen-year-old Punk finds an escape through poetry. But when her untreated bipolar disorder gets more extreme, putting her on the edge of addiction, she struggles to uphold her ambition of getting somewhere in life. 
 
Winning the first prize at Warsaw’s poetry contest boosts Punk’s belief that despite her upbringing, she’s not doomed to be a failure. While manic, she decides to apply for a writing scholarship in Italy next summer  –  her newly discovered travel obsession​The travel obsession  doesn't play into the rest of the query, so I'd cut it or work it into the stakes later. On second thought, I'd put more of into the query if it plays a role in the novel.  You need something to make this feel specific, something that's Punk's story, not a generic recovery story. 
 
Burning the candle at both ends, fatigue and rapid mood swings tamper with Punk's future, challenging her sense of purpose. Drugs and parties are the solace she craves but her escapes put her one step away from expulsion from school, and a lifetime away from Italy. And when she crashes a car in illegal racing, she finally realizes she needs help.
 
Armed with her friends’ support and her scholarship dream, Punk must break free from the cycle of mental illness if she truly wants to succeed. Or she’ll end up just like her parents said she would. I'd like more specificity here. This paragraph could  be applied to almost every story of addition or serious mental illness, or even cult-like religious upbringings. What about your novel stands out from similar stories? Can you bring out more of  the poetry element? or perhaps build on the street racing? I don't see many stories set in Poland: can you leverage the setting a bit more?
 
My short stories and poems have been published in several Polish literary magazines. 
 
Following your submission guidelines, I have pasted the first twenty pages of my book.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,

 

 

 

As my inline comments suggest, I think this suffers from being too generic. Since this reflects some of your own experiences, I suspect the novel is rich with specific details that aren't in other books, so it's just a matter of finding a way to get that into the query. Good luck!


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques






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