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ON THE EDGE OF BOTH SIDES - YA #OWN. New version in #32 (will critique back)

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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


#27 AsperBlurry

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 05:48 AM

Thank you so much! CarterT, Anna.k, London C. I took your advice and came up with something a bit different. I decided to put Punk's quote from the book as a hook. I heard that writing query from MC's pov is a bad idea but it's just the hook. Also, I don't know if I should leave it as a quote or without it - as if I, as a writer, wrote it. Any suggestions? I'll get back to your queries within next few days - I've been away for a while & couldn't do it!

 

 

#VERSION 6

 

 

Dear Ms./Mr. [name of the agent]

 
“That’s the problem when you’re talented and ambitious but mad. You want more out of life than this grey neighborhood tainted with poverty and drunks, but you know it’s a long shot and it kills you.” – Punk.
 
Emotionally scarred by her parents, seventeen-year-old Punk escapes the perils of her untreated bipolar disorder by writing poetry. 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. And during a manic episode, she decides to apply for a writing scholarship next summer in her newly discovered travel obsession - Italy. 
 
As rapid, extreme mood swings challenge her sense of purpose, tampering with her plan of becoming a published poet traveling the world, she craves the solace of drugs and parties. But her escapes put her one step away from expulsion from school, and a lifetime away from Italy. 
 
Armed with the support of her best friend and her Polish teacher, Punk must break free from the cycle of mental illness if she has any chance of winning the scholarship. But she has to accept help before she’s locked up in a psychiatric hospital and there’s no way out.
 
As your Manuscript Wish List includes YA with mental health issues, strong female lead and #own-voices representation, I hope you will enjoy my 70,000-word YA contemporary, ON THE EDGE OF BOTH SIDES. Loosely based on my teenage experience with bipolar disorder, it’s part of a series “On the Road to…?” and will appeal to readers of Ellen Hopkins and “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher. 
 
My short stories and poems have been published in several Polish literary magazines. 
 
Following your submission guidelines, I have pasted below the first [no of pages] pages of my book.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,
Asper Blurry

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


#28 London C

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 10:17 AM

 

But she has to accept help before she’s locked up in a psychiatric hospital and there’s no way out. I'd support this with a mention of how her behavior is this out-of-control. The stakes leading up to this felt like her issues were ones where she would lose the scholarship and chance to go to Italy. This is a big shift.

 

Hi Asper, 

 

This reads well to me. It checks all the boxes I think of for a good query: the stakes are clear, the motivation is clear, the setting is clear. 

 

However, it still feels a bit lacking in specificity to me. I don't think you need a lot more, but if you can build on what either/both the poetry or travel do for her psychologically, it might give this that added bit. Is her travel obsession about escaping from her parents? Is she in love with something specific about Italy? Is poetry art or therapy for her?

 

I don't think I'd keep the quote, but the  ambition you mention in the quote isn't in the rest of the query. If Punk is driven by something other than escaping from her family and illness, I'd leverage that. Is her ambition to be a great poet? 

 

 

This is getting close.


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#29 AsperBlurry

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Posted 27 June 2019 - 06:04 AM

Thank you, London, I took your advice & added more details to my query. Also, I left feedback on yours :)

 

I decided to keep the new hook but not as Punk's quote. 

 

 

#VERSION 7

 

 

Dear Ms./Mr. [name of the agent]

 
 
That’s the problem when you’re talented and ambitious but mad. You want more out of life than this grey neighborhood tainted with poverty and drunks, but you know it’s a long shot and it kills you.
 
Emotionally scarred by her parents, seventeen-year-old Punk escapes the perils of her untreated bipolar disorder by writing poetry. 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. During a manic episode, she applies for a summer writing scholarship in her newly discovered destination obsession – Italy, but in order to go, she has to submit references and new poems and survive her senior year.
 
As rapid, extreme mood swings challenge her sense of purpose, her plans of becoming a published poet and traveling the world start slipping out of reach. Punk craves the solace of drugs and parties, but when she overdoses on pills and crashes a car in illegal racing, her “quick fixes” put her one step away from expulsion and a lifetime away from Italy. 
 
Armed with the support of her best friend and her Polish teacher, Punk must break free from the cycle of mental illness if she has any chance of getting the scholarship. Accepting help before she’s locked up in a psychiatric hospital is crucial, except it’s the hardest thing she’s ever done. She’s determined to do it anyway.
 
As your Manuscript Wish List includes YA with mental health issues and #own-voices representation, I hope you will enjoy my 72,000-word YA contemporary, ON THE EDGE OF BOTH SIDES. It’s a part of the series “On the Road to…?” and will appeal to readers of Ellen Hopkins and “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher. 
 
Loosely based on my teenage experience with bipolar disorder and written during my manic and depressive episodes, Punk’s struggle is both realistic and personal.
 
My short stories and poems have been published in several Polish literary magazines. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
 
Sincerely,

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


#30 London C

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Posted 27 June 2019 - 09:36 AM

While I don't  think the quote, dequoted, serves as a hook, I think  you can get rid of it because the rest of this works. You have enough detail in there it doesn't feel generic to me—you got enough of Punk in there to make me want to know about her story. 


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#31 ddcash80

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Posted 27 June 2019 - 09:38 AM


Thank you, London, I took your advice & added more details to my query. Also, I left feedback on yours :)

I decided to keep the new hook but not as Punk's quote.


#VERSION 7


Dear Ms./Mr. [name of the agent]


That’s the problem when you’re talented and ambitious but mad. You want more out of life than this grey neighborhood tainted with poverty and drunks, but you know it’s a long shot and it kills you.
I don't like the hook. "it kills you' seems abstract. I know no one is dying so there doesn't seem to be an important idea or theme here.

Emotionally scarred by her parents, seventeen-year-old Punk escapes the perils of her untreated bipolar disorder by writing poetry. perils of untreated bipolar also seems too generic. what are the perils? I would simply say: Emotionally scarred by her parents, seventeen-year-old Punk uses writing poetry as an escape for her untreated bipolar disorder.

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. During a manic episode, she applies for a summer writing scholarship in her newly discovered destination obsession – Italy, but in order to go, she has to submit references and new poems and survive her senior year. these 3 things listed here seems really bland (especially referenecs), it's turning down my reader excitement. can you make it seem more interesting like: in order to go, she has to come up with 3 new poems before an encroaching deadline, as well as survive her senior year without slashing her own wrist (just an idea, but hopefully you get the gist)

As rapid, extreme mood swings challenge her sense of purpose, her plans of becoming a published poet and traveling the world start slipping out of reach. Punk craves the solace of drugs and parties, but when she overdoses on pills and crashes a car in illegal racing, her “quick fixes” put her one step away from expulsion and a lifetime away from Italy. good sentences here, with some drama

Armed with the support of her best friend and her Polish teacher, mentioning Polish throws me way out of the reading vibe. I would say: Armed with the support of her best friend and a dedicated teacher (or something like that). Punk must break free from the cycle of mental illness if she has any chance of getting the scholarship. Accepting help before she’s locked up in a psychiatric hospital is crucial, except it’s the hardest thing she’s ever done. She’s determined to do it anyway. Ending seems a bit too wordy. I would end it on: Punk must break free from the cycle of mental illness before she loses any chance of getting her dream scholarship - or even worse, locked up in a psych hospital.

As your Manuscript Wish List includes YA with mental health issues and #own-voices representation, I hope you will enjoy my 72,000-word YA contemporary, ON THE EDGE OF BOTH SIDES. It’s a part of the series “On the Road to…?” and will appeal to readers of Ellen Hopkins and “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher.

Loosely based on my teenage experience with bipolar disorder and written during my manic and depressive episodes, Punk’s struggle is both realistic and personal.

My short stories and poems have been published in several Polish literary magazines.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sincerely,

Overall I think it is a decent query, but the most important part (the first line/hook) needs much work. I would make it some cool way to introduce that she is bipolar. Like: 17-yr-old has good days, but on the bad days she's ripping out her hair and driving her nails through her skin. (Then next paragraph, first sentence say she's bipolar)

good luck with your query. if you have time, can you check mine out:
http://agentquerycon...crits/?p=361101

#32 AsperBlurry

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Posted 28 June 2019 - 07:53 AM

Thank you so much, guys, great feedback! I'm posting 2 versions of my query. I can't decide which one is better...:D  Only hook & ending are different.

 

 

#VERSION 8
 

 

 

Dear [name of the agent]

 
 
Emotionally scarred by her parents, seventeen-year-old Punk uses writing poetry as an escape for her untreated bipolar disorder. When her symptoms intensify, she finds herself on the edge of addiction and questions her ability to make something of herself.
 
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. During a manic episode, she applies for a summer writing scholarship in her newly discovered destination obsession – Italy. But in order to go, she has to compose with three new poems before the impending deadline, as well as survive her senior year without slashing her own wrists.
 
As rapid, extreme mood swings challenge Punk’s sense of purpose, her plans of becoming a published poet and traveling the world start slipping out of reach. She craves the solace of drugs and parties, but when she overdoses on pills, her “quick fixes” put her one step away from expulsion and a lifetime away from Italy. 
 
Armed with the support of her best friend and dedicated teacher, Punk must break free from the cycle of mental illness before she loses any chance of winning her dream scholarship. Or even worse, is locked up in a psychiatric hospital.
 
As your Manuscript Wish List includes YA with mental health issues and #own-voices representation, I hope you will enjoy my 72,000-word YA contemporary, “On the Edge of Both Sides”. It’s a part of the series “On the Road to…?” and will appeal to readers of Ellen Hopkins and “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher. 
 
Loosely based on my teenage experience with bipolar disorder and written during my manic and depressive episodes, Punk’s struggle is both realistic and personal. My short stories and poems have been published in several Polish literary magazines including "Wyspa" and “Zupełnie inny świat”.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
 
#VERSION 9
 
 
Dear [name of the agent]
 
That’s the problem when you’re talented and ambitious but mad. You want more out of life than this grey neighborhood tainted with poverty and drunks, but you know it’s a long shot and it makes you feel helpless. Punk’s problem is, she’s got talent and ambitions, but she’s also got untreated bipolar disorder. 
 
Tired of feeling helpless and emotionally scarred by her parents, the seventeen-year-old writes poetry, which earns her the first prize at Warsaw’s poetry contest. Maybe, despite her upbringing and never feeling good enough, she’s not doomed to be a failure. 
 
During a manic episode, Punk applies for a summer writing scholarship in her newly discovered destination obsession – Italy. But in order to go, she has to compose three new poems before the impending deadline, as well as survive her senior year without slashing her own wrists.
 
As rapid, extreme mood swings challenge Punk’s sense of purpose, her plans of becoming a published poet and traveling the world start slipping out of reach. She craves the solace of drugs and parties, but when she overdoses on pills, her “quick fixes” put her one step away from expulsion and a lifetime away from Italy. 
 
Armed with the support of her best friend and dedicated teacher, Punk must break free from the cycle of mental illness before she loses any chance of winning her dream scholarship. But accepting help before she’s locked up in a psychiatric hospital is the hardest thing she’s ever done. 
 
As your Manuscript Wish List includes YA with mental health issues and #ownvoices representation, I hope you will enjoy my 72,000-word YA contemporary, “On the Edge of Both Sides”. It’s a part of the series “On the Road to…?” and will appeal to readers of Ellen Hopkins and “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher. 
 
Loosely based on my teenage experience with bipolar disorder and written during my manic and depressive episodes, Punk’s struggle is both realistic and personal. My short stories and poems have been published in several Polish literary magazines including "Wyspa" and “Zupełnie inny świat”.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,
 
 

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


#33 London C

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Posted 29 June 2019 - 07:25 PM

I'm a little sad that there's no mention of illegal racing in these new ones—that was a fascinating element. However, I can see that it might require some explanation, and I think version 2 is very strong. The additional text from the de-quoted quote makes it much stronger, and the phrasing of the sentence about psychiatric hospitalization makes that more compelling. Great work


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#34 AsperBlurry

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Posted 01 July 2019 - 02:55 AM

Thank you, London! I also prefer the 2nd version, I feel it's more emotional & punchy which is my book described in 2 words, haha. I decided to cut an illegal racing since it happens only twice & like you said would require some explanation.

 

I followed your thread & hope to see your new query version soon :)

 

Ok, wish me luck!

 

 

I'm a little sad that there's no mention of illegal racing in these new ones—that was a fascinating element. However, I can see that it might require some explanation, and I think version 2 is very strong. The additional text from the de-quoted quote makes it much stronger, and the phrasing of the sentence about psychiatric hospitalization makes that more compelling. Great work


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


#35 lionspaws

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Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:39 AM

Not to muddy your waters at all... but I think I'd like a *combo* of both hooks! The second is definitely more interesting and has a lot of voice, though the opening sentence didn't sit right with me - "that's the problem when you're talented and ambitious but mad." Starting with "that's the problem" implies that you are referring to something already stated, but you aren't. I didn't find the actual problem until sentence #3. 

 

I hope it's not presumptuous, but rather than trying to explain my thinking, here's an example... 

 

"Punk wants more out of life than her grey neighborhood tainted with poverty and drunks, but she knows it's a long shot. Her problem isn't lack of talent or ambition--she's got plenty of both--but this untreated bipolar is really kicking her butt."

 

Ignore my silly wording there but you get the idea :) 

 

I'm also just looking for thoughts on my hook and I'd appreciate if you can take a look: http://agentquerycon...l-the-stars-ya/


http://agentquerycon...sail-the-stars/

http://agentquerycon...ique-in-return/

 

"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." - Mark Twain 

"There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds." - G.K. Chesterton 


#36 Anna.k

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 09:23 PM

Hi AsperBlurry! 

Thanks for checking out my query.

I do like the first version better but I still think you need a 'hook', something to really reel us in (I wouldn't put a direct quote in there though...that seems kinda red flag to me..)

And I wish you kept the drag racing in there! That was fun. I do like the bipolar bit in the hook but maybe you could have something more like, Half of Punk wants to give in to her addiction and the other half wants to be a poet, but being bipolar makes the decision doubly difficult ....not necessarily that verbatim but sth to that effect if you get what I mean...so you make the -struggle- real and present first off, a bit of a play on words even to make it more 'punchy'.



#37 SuzieTheWriter

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 10:54 AM

 

Thank you so much, guys, great feedback! I'm posting 2 versions of my query. I can't decide which one is better...:D  Only hook & ending are different.

 

 

#VERSION 8
 

 

 

Dear [name of the agent]

 
 
Emotionally scarred by her parents, seventeen-year-old Punk uses writing poetry as an escape for her untreated bipolar disorder. When her symptoms intensify, she finds herself on the edge of addiction and questions her ability to make something of herself.
 
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. During a manic episode, she applies for a summer writing scholarship in her newly discovered destination obsession – Italy. But in order to go, she has to compose with three new poems before the impending deadline, as well as survive her senior year without slashing her own wrists.
 
As rapid, extreme mood swings challenge Punk’s sense of purpose, her plans of becoming a published poet and traveling the world start slipping out of reach. She craves the solace of drugs and parties, but when she overdoses on pills, her “quick fixes” put her one step away from expulsion and a lifetime away from Italy. 
 
Armed with the support of her best friend and dedicated teacher, Punk must break free from the cycle of mental illness before she loses any chance of winning her dream scholarship. Or even worse, is locked up in a psychiatric hospital.
 
As your Manuscript Wish List includes YA with mental health issues and #own-voices representation, I hope you will enjoy my 72,000-word YA contemporary, “On the Edge of Both Sides”. It’s a part of the series “On the Road to…?” and will appeal to readers of Ellen Hopkins and “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher. 
 
Loosely based on my teenage experience with bipolar disorder and written during my manic and depressive episodes, Punk’s struggle is both realistic and personal. My short stories and poems have been published in several Polish literary magazines including "Wyspa" and “Zupełnie inny świat”.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
 
#VERSION 9
 
(I like this second version better! I feel like I've already been taken into the story and feel Punk's voice, granted I'm not sure agents want to be immediately transported into the novel).
 
Dear [name of the agent]
 
That’s the problem when you’re talented and ambitious but mad. You want more out of life than this grey neighborhood tainted with poverty and drunks, but you know it’s a long shot and it makes you feel helpless. Punk’s problem is, she’s got talent and ambitions, but she’s also got untreated bipolar disorder. 
 
Tired of feeling helpless and emotionally scarred by her parents, (Can you hint at what the parents do that emotionally scars?) the seventeen-year-old writes poetry, which earns her the first prize at Warsaw’s poetry contest. Maybe, despite her upbringing and never feeling good enough, she’s not doomed to be a failure. 
 
During a manic episode, Punk applies for a summer writing scholarship in her newly discovered destination obsession – Italy. But in order to go, she has to compose three new poems before the impending deadline, as well as survive her senior year without slashing her own wrists. The tone is very much jokey of how a teenager would talk, so I like it.
 
As rapid, extreme mood swings challenge Punk’s sense of purpose, her plans of becoming a published poet and traveling the world start slipping out of reach. She craves the solace of drugs and parties, but when she overdoses on pills, her “quick fixes” put her one step away from expulsion and a lifetime away from Italy. 
 
Armed with the support of her best friend and dedicated teacher, Punk must break free from the cycle of mental illness before she loses any chance of winning her dream scholarship. But accepting help before she’s locked up in a psychiatric hospital is the hardest thing she’s ever done. 
 
As your Manuscript Wish List includes YA with mental health issues and #ownvoices representation, I hope you will enjoy my 72,000-word YA contemporary, “On the Edge of Both Sides”. It’s a part of the series “On the Road to…?” and will appeal to readers of Ellen Hopkins and “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher. 
 
Loosely based on my teenage experience with bipolar disorder and written during my manic and depressive episodes, Punk’s struggle is both realistic and personal. My short stories and poems have been published in several Polish literary magazines including "Wyspa" and “Zupełnie inny świat”. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,
 
Overall, I love the tone of the (second query).
 

 


Please check out my latest query:

http://agentquerycon...antic-thriller/






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