Jun 1, 2016

QK Round 1: Ticket to Ride vs. Love (Tri) Angle

Title: Breaking Down Glass Doors
Entry Nickname: Ticket to Ride
Word Count: 78K
Genre: YA contemporary

Query:

Seventeen-year-old Jack wants to escape his narrow-minded Appalachian hometown more than anything. His family’s welfare checks pay for little more than food on the table, his mom’s pastor won’t stop lecturing him about the sinfulness of lust, and the rumors about his sexuality floating around school make him feel unsafe at every turn. The only thing worth looking forward to is the full-ride scholarship with his name on it—his one-way ticket to a better life.

But his plans hadn’t involved falling for Casey, the boy from the trailer park down the road who understands him in ways no one else in their town can. With the countdown to college ticking away, there’s only a limited amount of time to make the most out of their relationship. And unfortunately for Jack, using his scholarship means leaving Casey behind.

Then, right before college starts, the unthinkable happens: his mother tries to commit suicide, blaming her attempt on her son’s sexual orientation. Overwhelmed with guilt, Jack finds his mental state heading in the same direction as his mom’s. It doesn’t help that he hasn’t slept since she kicked him out of her room at the psychiatric clinic, or that Casey hasn’t returned any of his calls since the incident. Now, Jack must learn to balance the life he’s been dealt and the life he wants before he can patch up the situation with his mom and win back the guy he loves.

First 250:

Jack flicked his head around the instant he saw movement out of the corner of his eye.

What was different? Had the shower curtain moved? He swiped a hand over his face to clear away the flecks of soapy water, then jerked his gaze to each corner of the shower stall. Nothing, nothing, and nothing. There was nothing within reach, except his tiny bottle of shampoo.

Wait

Jack turned to the bar above the curtain and saw it: Nothing. No clothes hanging over it, no towel, even though they’d been there just moments before.

Shit.

He rotated the lever until the water stopped flowing. Surely this couldn’t be happening. His towel must’ve fallen off the curtain rod. His clothes, too. Because there was no way someone had taken them. Right?

Jack placed a hand on the shower curtain, ready to pull it back. Then he noticed the real source of the problem: the noise level in the locker room also fell into the “nothing” category. He heard no talking, no footsteps, no lockers slamming. Had he lost track of time? Had he been so focused on his thoughts—what was he thinking about, again?—that he’d missed when the entire gym class left?

With a turn of his wrist, he peeled back the edge of the shower curtain. His eyes landed on the bare floor, the empty bench, and the vacated shower stalls. The only sound prickling his ears was his own breathing.

Everyone was gone. And they’d taken his clothes on their way out.


VS.


Title: Waiting on  Delilah
Entry Nickname: Love (Tri) Angle
Word Count: 58,000
Genre: YA Contemporary

Secretly gay and engaged at seventeen, Anya Samuels’ reality is a nightmare. Her Father, a radical TV evangelist, has kept her on a tight leash, and now it’s soon to be a legally binding noose. But despite Anya’s secret preference, her fiancé’s genuine adoration starts to wear on her resolve. Maybe she can live a lie and get a happily ever after.

But just as she’s resigned herself to becoming Mrs. Kaden Carmichael, enter Tara Manalo. Unapologetically vibrant and dynamic, Tara walks into Kingdom Academy and immediately catches Anya’s eye. And when a seemingly shared hurt convinces Anya that “just friends” could be a reality, Tara instantly becomes her priority. But with the wedding fast approaching a choice needs to be made: Tara or Kaden? And will Anya choose, or will the choice be made for her?

First 250:

I’ve had an itch on my calf for the last fifteen minutes. I leave it alone, knowing better than to even think about scratching it. 

“… and we pray that this country’s exceedingly liberal culture and government will not corrupt our children. Amen.”

I lift my head and watch the sea of parishioners straighten back up as my Father descends the steps and retakes his seat.

“Anya,” my head swivels to the right, “it’s time to lead the hymn, dear.”

I stand and match Mother’s mechanical tone with a robotic ascension up the altar steps, taking my position behind the podium.

“Our hymn is number 37: How Great Thou Art.”

The congregation stands, and I go on autopilot as the first note rings out. There are only two hundred and nine days until my eighteenth birthday. Now, eighteen is a big deal no matter who you are, but for me, it’s legitimately a new life. Eighteen means I can finally get away from here, but for now, at a meager seventeen and five-ish months, this gilded hell-hole is my reality. The final chord of the hymn thrums through the organ, and the resounding “Amen” reverberates throughout the sanctuary as I step back from the podium. Taking care not to trip, I walk back to where my family is seated. Mother gives me her signature tight-lipped smile. Jonah just keeps his head down, studying the hymnal like it might have an escape route written on the back. It doesn’t. I’ve checked.

19 comments :

  1. Judges, please leave votes and comments as a REPLY to this comment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. These are both really, really great entries, with a lot of similarities.
      Ticket to ride: I think you’ve done a great job of setting up the stakes. I think you can streamline a little, and move the choice to stay or to go to the third paragraph, at the end and make it a little more open ended, i.e. now Jack must decide whether to stay to help save his mom and try to win back Casey, or take the scholarship and start over.
      The first 250 is strong, too. Congrats!
      Love Triangle:
      Great voice in the query! I think a “shared hurt” is a little vague, as is that whole sentence. I also wonder if it works as a YA Contemporary, honestly. I’d look into aging up the characters and making it a New Adult romance, which may give you some more freedom as a writer.
      Really vivid 250 as well. The only issue I have is that there is a little too much “telling” in the last paragraph. Is there a way to work some of the back story into dialogue?
      This was a close call, but I’m concerned about the word count on Love Triangle. I’m not sure you can do the story or character development justice at only 58K words. I’d love to see it fleshed out more.
      VICTORY TO TICKET TO RIDE

      Delete
    2. TICKET TO RIDE
      Query: Jack’s struggle becomes immediately clear to me after reading your pitch, which I appreciate. I get a good impression of his home life and the struggles he faces, and I can easily imagine how living in such a restricted, rural community would further his feelings of isolation.
      First 250:
      The voice in your first 250 words feels authentic, and I can easily see the shower accident happening in your typical high school. I immediately feel sympathy for the protagonist and I want to see how he manages this humiliating situation.

      LOVE TRIANGLE
      Query: I like the way you worded her engagement as a “legally binding noose.” That really puts things in perspective. It seems to me that her father was the one who planned her engagement, but from the query, I don’t really get the impression that it’s an arranged marriage dropped on her out of the blue. I’d like a little more clarity regarding her feelings for her fiancé. Is she actually becoming attracted to him, or is this her way of avoiding the overwhelming stress of turning her back on her family and culture? Since she’s gay, I had a feeling it was the latter, but when I think of a love triangle, I think of someone having equal romantic attraction to two different people.
      First 250: I love your character’s voice. You present your characters in a smooth, realistic fashion, and from that first page alone, I get a decent idea of what each character is like. I love the way you described the mother.

      Difficult decision. VICTORY TO LOVE TRIANGLE.

      Delete
    3. TICKET:

      query - I literally have nothing to say because this amazing as is. I want to read this immediately. The stakes are high and clear, you have representation and intersectionality, and the writing is solid. Yes please!
      250 - Again, love it. This is every high school kid’s nightmare and you’ve portrayed Jack’s anxiety so well. Awesome job!

      TRIANGLE:

      query - Another winner, I’d read this right now. I did wonder while reading it WHY Anya puts up with her dad’s charade of marriage. Is she attracted to Kaden? Is she bi or questioning? The sentence about him wearing on her resolve could use some clarification. Also, the “shared hurt” is confusing. I think the situation sounds a bit over the top for reality but I’d still read the heck out of it.
      250 - Very nice! I can identify with Anya right away. You can see how she’s ready to bolt from the service and her life very clearly.

      This is an impossible choice, really, because both are so great but I'm going with the one I think is ready NOW and the one that has a slight edge in terms of market IMO.

      Victory to tICKET TO RIDE

      Delete
    4. These entries are similar stories. Both feature a teen who can’t wait to turn 18 and escape their situation. Both are secretly gay and chained to an intolerant family who also happen to be highly religious. The other similarity in these two stories is that both feature teen MCs who’re in love for the first time and feeling like they have to choose between their new lover and the stable future laid out before them.

      TICKET TO RIDE had me wondering if this was a false choice for the MC. It’s hard for me to respect any teen who would even consider turning down a college scholarship in favor of nurturing a new romance. And if his new love would make him feel like he has to choose between their relationship and a college scholarship, it’s not a relationship I’d root for as a reader. That felt incredibly selfish and was sticking point for me from this synopsis. I’m hoping there’s more depth to Casey and to this situation than I what I got from the query. I do like the dynamic with Jack’s mom, though she too seems borderline unbelievably selfish. Poor Jack is just a hot mess.

      I like the opening scene, but to me it felt a bit humorous, and I’m not sure if that’s the mood of the story. Knowing Jack’s background going in, I feel like this should’ve had a more ominous sort of bullying undertone. I think the slightest tweak could fix that up. Maybe he thinks he hears someone say “Fag” or something before the locker room door clicks shut. Something slight might set a lot of Jack’s world up on this page 1. I did like the writing and the instant connection I had to Jack.

      LOVE (TRI)ANGLE has a great query with just a couple things that confused me. I didn’t know what a seemingly shared hurt could be. Also, the first sentence had me thinking (only for a moment) that Anya was secretly engaged. Maybe switch that order around? Engaged but secretly gay, seventeen-year-old…

      I absolutely loved the first page. The first sentence sets up the tension Anya has in her life perfectly. I loved that the last sentence made me chuckle.

      Victory to LOVE (TRI)ANGLE

      Delete
    5. What a great matchup! TICKET TO RIDE provides a wonderfully structured query, three clean paragraphs with clear character, conflict, and stakes. We sense the MC's dilemma right away. I might suggest a bit of tightening:
      "With the countdown to college ticking away, there’s only a limited amount of time..." might benefit from stronger verbs: the deadline LOOMS and his last moments SLIP AWAY (or similar).
      "Then, right before college starts, the unthinkable happens" could be streamlined: you don't need to tell us that "the unthinkable happens," because we're about to read it.
      "It doesn't help that he hasn't slept" might again benefit from stronger phrasing without the negatives.
      Yet these are minor points. Overall, an TICKET TO RIDE has an outstanding query.

      LOVE TRI(ANGLE) also presents a character with a strong dilemma: I love that the MC is caught between the rock (her father and the town) and the soft, possibly-tolerable place of an unlooked-for fiance. The first paragraph is solid. The second paragraph might need some attention. I really like the way the author introduces the love interest, but I want something stronger than "catches Tara's eye."
      I found the sentence "And when a seemingly shared hurt convinces Anya that “just friends” could be a reality, " to be a tad confusing. We might not need so much detail, but simply to understand that they bonded and there's the promise of something more. Last, but perhaps most importantly, I'd remove the questions at the end. Instead, tell us what she stands to lose if she chooses A or B.

      Overall, these are two of the strongest queries I've seen so far. Both authors should be proud.

      Victory to: TICKET TO RIDE.

      Delete
    6. Ticket to Ride

      Query:

      Intriguing story and premise. You introduce the character and explain his motivations.

      Maybe cut down this sentence:
      Then, right before college starts, (delete - the unthinkable happens) his mother tries to commit suicide, blaming her attempt on her son’s sexual orientation.

      First 250:

      You hooked me right away. I’m now invested in Jack’s story and want to read more.

      I did have a moment of confusion when I read this sentence and imagined his poor eyeballs falling out: “His eyes (gaze) landed on the bare floor, the empty bench, and the vacated shower stalls.”

      Otherwise, solid first 250!

      Love (Tri) Angle

      Query:

      Love this query! The story sounds amazing, and I understand the characters motivations and conflicts. The first sentence confused me at first. I thought she was gay and secretly engaged to someone her parents would disapprove of.

      I was also confused by this line: “And when a seemingly shared hurt convinces Anya that “just friends” could be a reality, Tara instantly becomes her priority.” – Do you mean (more) than “just friends” could be a reality?

      First 250:

      This is a very polished first 250. It flows well. I love your last line. 
      This is a hard choice. Both queries and first 250 are well-written. It comes down to which entry I gravitate to more, because they’re both fantastic! Victory to Love (Tri) Angle


      Delete
    7. TICKET TO RIDE: A good query with a lot of pertinent information and a very intriguing premise. I’m wondering if you could mention the full-ride scholarship in the first sentence, rather than waiting until the end of the paragraph. It might help with clarity. Other than that, this query seems in great shape, and I would read the book right now! 250: Ugh. I can just feel the horror of this situation. You do a good job bring that about! My only criticism would be there is a lot of flicking and jerking and prickling, those kinds of verbs. I understand wanting to keep things interesting, but sometimes those kinds of words stick out, and in the first sentence, especially, I would have liked more simplicity. Make sense? But very, very strong. Great job!

      LOVE (TRI)ANGLE: Great premise. I feel for Anya! Query! The first paragraph is a bit confusing. I thought she was secretly engaged as well as gay, so the legally binding noose didn’t make sense to me. Could that be clearer? I’m also not sure how the “just friends” works. Didn’t she want more? Very good 250! I could just feel the discomfort in the church, and Anya’s wish to be anywhere else. Great job. This sentence needs just a bit of punctuation change: “Anya.” My head swivels to the right. “It’s time to lead the hymn, dear.” Congrats on a great entry, and good luck!

      Two wonderful entries, and I’m sorry I can pick only one! Good luck to you both.

      Victory to TICKET TO RIDE

      Delete
    8. Katherine PierceJune 4, 2016 at 1:06 PM

      Ticket to Ride

      Query: This is such a solid query I really don’t have that much to comment on. My only nit-picky question would be as to why Casey’s not returning his calls. It seems a little strange that with Jack dealing with such a horrible situation the guy he’s in love with has chosen that time to ignore him. Obviously I’m assuming there’s more to it, but if you could give us a hint that would be nice. The last line, the stakes line, reads well, but I think you might be able to amp it up just a notch.

      250: This 250 really lives up to the quality of your query. I love the voice here, I’m immediately empathizing with Jack, and I want to read more. Great job!

      Love (Tri) Angle

      Query: I like what you’ve got going on here, but I’m left with a lot of questions. Why did Anya agree to marriage at such a young age? Is this an arranged marriage? If it is, why is her father insisting she get married at that point in her life? Is Anya questioning her sexuality based on her developing feelings for her fiancé, or is she just trying to make the best out of the situation? In your second paragraph I’d really like to see you expand on “a shared hurt” since that’s really vague. With a bit more clarity I think this query would be really strong.

      250: Overall I really like this. Especially the ending lines about the escape route. However, I’m not immediately drawn in by your opening. I’m not sure why she wouldn’t be able to discretely scratch her leg. There’s also a bit of a disconnect between the query and 250. You start off the query telling us that she’s already engaged, but here (based on her thinking she can escape at eighteen) it doesn’t seem like that’s happened yet. If she isn’t engaged yet, then I’d start the query that way, with a comment about her getting engaged and it upturning her life. A few tweaks here, and both the query and 250 will be fantastic.

      Yet another tough matchup, but my vote is going to TICKET TO RIDE!

      Delete
    9. Both of these are exceptional entries and I like them both a lot.

      Ticket to Ride:
      I loved both the voice and the first 250 words to this entry. My only suggestion here is for the first 250 words, your opening with "flicked" followed a sentence or two later with "flecks" curled my lip in an otherwise flawless opening. That could very well just be me, but given the strength of the rest of your prose, the two words just didn't fit. "turned" is fine and then leave "flecks"

      Otherwise, I loved it.

      Love (Tri) Angle:

      My problem here is less with the query and the first 250 words than the concept of a teenager willing to live a lie. I understand the crux of the story is whether Anya will take the easy way out (living a lie), or if she will fight to be who she truly is. A couple of things:

      1. Secretly gay and engaged at seventeen, Anya Samuels’ reality is a nightmare. Her Father, a radical TV evangelist, has kept her on a tight leash, and now it’s soon to be a legally binding noose.

      Here, you don't tell us what it is that makes Anya willing to deny herself in order to appease her father. Once she turns 18, he can't force her to marry (and he certainly can't force her to marry while she's 17). So I'm not seeing Anya's motivation to become engaged and be willing to please her father, especially if she's looking to get away.

      2. But despite Anya’s secret preference, her fiancé’s genuine adoration starts to wear on her resolve.

      Enough to make her deny herself? I know it's been a long time, but when I was a teenager, we were all desperately trying to be what we thought our true selves were and fighting any authority that told us otherwise.

      So I guess what I'm saying here is that I see a lack of motivation on Anya's part to stay with her finance, unless she isn't gay, but she's bisexual, which would give you the tension necessary to make this triangle work; however, based on your query, I didn't get the impression that Anya was bisexual.

      Finally, in a query, you don't end with questions, but you want to show your set-up and how you intend to resolve it. If learning self-acceptance is Anya's arc, then that needs to be clearly stated in the query.

      I loved the first 250 words of this entry, but the query raised more questions than it answered.

      Victory: Ticket to Ride

      Delete
    10. TICKET TO RIDE: The query is great! The only line that tripped me off was, "since she kicked him out of her room at the psychiatric clinic." Not sure if 'she' refers to his mom and if she is a psychiatrist or what 'her room' refers to.

      In the first 250 I'm not a fan of heads turning. ie: "flicked his head around" Wording like this makes me envision a cartoon character with their head spinning around on their neck. "Flecks of soapy water" tripped me up as I wondered what the flecks are. Soapy water is usually bubbly or sudsy, so 'flecks' seem odd. The repetition of 'nothing' made me wonder if you could reword a few of them a bit as it got to be too repetitive in my opinion. I'm being really nitpicky only because this is really good. The situation is great. The hook and horrifying experience you paint evokes emotion which makes the reader take notice right away! I think this is a wonderful entry!

      LOVE (TRI)ANGLE: 'Father' shouldn't be capitalized. Definitely change the questions at the end into statements. Having questions in the query is often an agent pet-peeve. Otherwise it sounds great and very catchy!

      In the 250: There are a couple of nitpicky things in the beginning--lowercase on father again if it is her own dad. Or is he a priest that has the title of Father? Double prepositions like, 'back up' can be cut down to just one word--'up' OR 'back' But the thing that takes me out of the story is the last paragraph. It's mostly an info-dump and definitely not needed here. Try to stay in the moment of the story that you're painting for us in the first few paragraphs and you'll have the reader hooked for what seems to be a great ride!

      VICTORY: TICKET TO RIDE

      Delete
  2. Ticket to Ride query: I think you really did an amazing job of setting up the stakes, giving us enough info to draw us into Jack's world, plus his internal and external conflicts. My one thought is that the last sentence implies that he is going to get back together with Casey, and I wonder if there is a way to stay with the idea that he isn't even sure he wants to, given what it might mean him giving up. But seriously, I thought overall this was a pretty masterful query.

    You lost me a bit more with the 250. I found the repetition of "nothing" and the many questions distracting, and I think the whole scene could have been condensed and streamlined a bit, but it's definitely a great conflict to start with - we sympathize with the protagonist right off the bat. Great work!!

    Love (Tri)Angle: I read the first sentence as her being both secretly gay and secretly engaged, but I don't think that is what you mean. Also, I might consider focusing on only one right off the bat, and then bringing in the conflict of her being gay. Liked the leash/noose parallel a lot, and her father being a televangelist really creates a vivid picture. The second paragraph sets up some of the conflict, but I think overall your query could clarify stakes more and up the drama. Like, part of me is wondering why she doesn't just hightail it out of there? What's keeping her clinging to her former life internally? I realize that leaving everything you've ever known at 17 is a lot, but I think you could show that a bit more.

    250: Okay, now I'm confused, because it starts right away with her waiting to be 18 to get out. I think something isn't clear and jiving, then, in your query vs. your first 250, because you really don't mention that in your query.

    I find your character's position really compelling, and totally identify with her being stuck in a confined (mental, emotional, spiritual, sexual, etc) space. I think the liberal line might be a bit too heavy-handed for right off the bat, even though I am sure it is totally realistic. Well done!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ticket to Ride:

    Amazing entry! I kept thinking about Will Lexington on Nashville! :-) On the query, aside from what the first judge suggested, I would only comment that I thought "patch things up with mom" didn't sound strong enough to describe what needs to happen when a mom tries to kill herself because her son is gay... might take more than "patching" - but an easy fix!

    The first 250 are wonderful. I can visualize it like it's a tv show! Really great. No suggestions!

    Love (Tri) Angle:
    While I can absolutely see how this will be an amazing book with a very hooky premise, I found a few things a little confusing. First, I definitely agree that unless the underage marriage thing is a big plot point, you should consider aging this up to New Adult. Maybe her parents force her to be at home until she's married (to prevent her from sinning) so she couldn't go off to college like her friends and the engagement to Kaden is an escape from her house, rather than turning 18? That would add to why she'd agree to be engaged to a man.

    The query: upon first reading, I thought the secretly in the first sentence applied to both "gay" and "engaged" - so I was thinking she was engaged to a woman. And it feels like the fact she is a particularly young bride is unremarkable. If it you don't age it up, maybe you could do something like, "Anya Samuels is only seventeen and she's already engaged to become Mrs. Kaden Carmichael. She's also secretly gay." Now you've highlighted two big, controversial and interesting issues. "Father" is only capitalized when used as a name "I said, Father, that I need you to listen to me" but "I said to my father that he needed to listen to me." "...fiance's genuine adoration" didn't grab me. But maybe something like, "Life with Kaden means escape from her overbearing TV evangelist father into the home of a kind, adoring (man? boy? how old is Kaden?). But it also means living a lifetime of lies." In the second paragraph, what do you mean "just friends could be a reality"? Is that what Anya wants? Clarify that and the paragraph works well for me. :-)

    First 250: Love your writing! Only two little comments here. 1) I actually thought "exceedingly liberal culture" didn't sound convincing because it wasn't strong enough. I've listened to those guys - they don't pull punches. Why not set up more conflict and have dad gay bash right from the start? "... and we pray we can save this nation from becoming a liberal den of debauchery, sullied by homosexuals and other sexual deviants." or something like that... Lastly, I'd just add a new paragraph after ... is my reality.

    I LOVE the first page and I think a little editing to query could be all you need to get an offer!

    Can't wait to see both entries on bookstore shelves!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ticket to Ride:

    Amazing entry! I kept thinking about Will Lexington on Nashville! :-) On the query, aside from what the first judge suggested, I would only comment that I thought "patch things up with mom" didn't sound strong enough to describe what needs to happen when a mom tries to kill herself because her son is gay... might take more than "patching" - but an easy fix!

    The first 250 are wonderful. I can visualize it like it's a tv show! Really great. No suggestions!

    Love (Tri) Angle:
    While I can absolutely see how this will be an amazing book with a very hooky premise, I found a few things a little confusing. First, I definitely agree that unless the underage marriage thing is a big plot point, you should consider aging this up to New Adult. Maybe her parents force her to be at home until she's married (to prevent her from sinning) so she couldn't go off to college like her friends and the engagement to Kaden is an escape from her house, rather than turning 18? That would add to why she'd agree to be engaged to a man.

    The query: upon first reading, I thought the secretly in the first sentence applied to both "gay" and "engaged" - so I was thinking she was engaged to a woman. And it feels like the fact she is a particularly young bride is unremarkable. If it you don't age it up, maybe you could do something like, "Anya Samuels is only seventeen and she's already engaged to become Mrs. Kaden Carmichael. She's also secretly gay." Now you've highlighted two big, controversial and interesting issues. "Father" is only capitalized when used as a name "I said, Father, that I need you to listen to me" but "I said to my father that he needed to listen to me." "...fiance's genuine adoration" didn't grab me. But maybe something like, "Life with Kaden means escape from her overbearing TV evangelist father into the home of a kind, adoring (man? boy? how old is Kaden?). But it also means living a lifetime of lies." In the second paragraph, what do you mean "just friends could be a reality"? Is that what Anya wants? Clarify that and the paragraph works well for me. :-)

    First 250: Love your writing! Only two little comments here. 1) I actually thought "exceedingly liberal culture" didn't sound convincing because it wasn't strong enough. I've listened to those guys - they don't pull punches. Why not set up more conflict and have dad gay bash right from the start? "... and we pray we can save this nation from becoming a liberal den of debauchery, sullied by homosexuals and other sexual deviants." or something like that... Lastly, I'd just add a new paragraph after ... is my reality.

    I LOVE the first page and I think a little editing to query could be all you need to get an offer!

    Can't wait to see both entries on bookstore shelves!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ticket to Ride: Query, Fantastic hook, great tension and voice. I know exactly what is going on, really well done.

    250, I want to go to the bookstore and buy this right now. You've done a fantastic job of hooking me with the character, the wording and the anxiety. You've also really captured the feeling of how he's thinking in the moment. Poor Jack!!! Again, I want to read this now!

    Triangle: Query, strong query, but I question why she's doing what daddy says if she's almost 18 and really not wanting to do it. If she knows she's gay, why in the world would she accept an arranged marriage? Maybe some clarity on the stakes there might help? Is it because she loves her dad and doesn't want to disappoint him? Is it cultural? Religion?

    250, I'm afraid you lost me because of the religious aspect of the first page. It's well written, but I wouldn't read something with this premise due to personal choice. It will likely appeal to a large market of people who are questioning faith and orientation. Best of luck to you both!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Both of these sound great, which I know is becoming a bit of a cliche response around here.

    Ticket to Ride: I really like the query and how it is set up. I'm not sure the first and second sentences need to be separate. Telling us that Jack needs to leave, then describing why may be redundant. It might be a stronger hook to just dump all his problems on him and let it speak for itself. Calling the town narrow-minded may be good to set up how Jack sees things, but it also may be a bit judgmental.

    the first page was great, I immediately wanted to read more. Seeing something out of the corner of the eye, however, is a stock phrase that I think is too ordinary for the opening line of a novel. I like that you get right into the action/dilemma, and wonder if something could grab us a bit more. You may even be able to get away with just the "What was different?" line first, it makes us wonder what is different.

    Triangle:

    This query had a really great first line. It instantly grabbed me. I was slightly confused by the "shared hurt" section. I realize you can't give a away what is likely an integral plot point, but it seems a little vague. I'm not sure how to make it better though.

    I really liked how the first page sets up the father daughter relationship in a clear but nuanced way. I imagine it's central to the story and it's always great to open with the theme.

    Well done both of you. I would likely read the Ticket first since it sounds more relatable to my experience, (I'm not religious nor is my family), but on an objective level it's a hard choice and I may go with Triangle if I was voting.

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  7. Ticket to Ride: The query does make me care for Jack. There is a sense of desperation revealed here that is compelling. I didn't think there might have been too many plot points revealed. I wanted more about his relationships with Casey and mom and less extraneous (i.e. His family’s welfare checks pay for little more than food on the table, his mom’s pastor won’t stop lecturing him about the sinfulness of lust). 250-liked the page, does a good job of showing how people feel about Jack. I did want one more focused thought from Jack about how he feels about the abuse.

    Love (Tri) Angle. I like what you tackling in this story. Anya feels seriously trapped by circumstances. Thoughts. Capitalizing Father bumps for me. To tighten this up some, remove words like: reality is a nightmare. You are doing a good job of showing this and don't need to tell. The 250. I liked the pages. You do make this Kingdom school seem like a proper nightmare. One question that hit me: Anya has a really hip, sophisticated internal voice for her background, where did she pick this up? I believe I'd read more of this.

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  8. Ticket to Ride: The query does make me care for Jack. There is a sense of desperation revealed here that is compelling. I didn't think there might have been too many plot points revealed. I wanted more about his relationships with Casey and mom and less extraneous (i.e. His family’s welfare checks pay for little more than food on the table, his mom’s pastor won’t stop lecturing him about the sinfulness of lust). 250-liked the page, does a good job of showing how people feel about Jack. I did want one more focused thought from Jack about how he feels about the abuse.

    Love (Tri) Angle. I like what you tackling in this story. Anya feels seriously trapped by circumstances. Thoughts. Capitalizing Father bumps for me. To tighten this up some, remove words like: reality is a nightmare. You are doing a good job of showing this and don't need to tell. The 250. I liked the pages. You do make this Kingdom school seem like a proper nightmare. One question that hit me: Anya has a really hip, sophisticated internal voice for her background, where did she pick this up? I believe I'd read more of this.

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  9. Ticket to Ride

    Well-structured query. Compelling stakes with a heavy plot twist. First 250 sets a great mood and scene, leading off one of the key conflicts.


    Love (Tri) Angle


    Very tight query, introducing a lot of conflict in a small space. In the first 250 I would expect to see "my father" or just "Father" rather than "my Father." I'd suggest Anya's mother deliver her line then Anya turns before she continues. Anya's voice is compelling and convincing.

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