THE ELITE (YA) -revised!

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maggie
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THE ELITE (YA) -revised!

Post by maggie » December 5th, 2010, 1:52 pm

Revised version 2/27/11 on page 2


Hi everyone! I've gone through a few drafts of my query and am at that stage where I think I'm too close to it and need an outside perspective. Thanks SO much in advance for any thoughts, advice, etc! (This is just the descriptive part of the query for the moment--not the whole shebang.)

And also, any thoughts on what genre you'd call this? It's YA, obviously, but what kind of YA? It's not quite regular contemporary, but I'm hesitant to use fantasy/urban fantasy since there are no non-human creatures. Thanks so much!!

##

16-year-old Avery Hunter thinks she might finally have found her place in the world when she finds out that she has eccentric, wealthy family her mother never told her about. The villa in Paris, the ballgowns, the private jets—and the amazingly attractive young men they call knights—are all great fun.

But then Avery discovers that these same people who can shut down the Prada store for her own personal shopping day can order the bombing of a nation’s capital and not think twice about it. This group, the Elite, aren’t just a family. They are a very powerful society of twelve families who have secretly ruled the world since time began.

Both horrified by the existence of the Elite and oddly drawn to her impossible new status as one of them, the last thing Avery should be doing is falling for two of their young knights. But Stellan is beautiful, volatile, and makes her feel alive, and she feels more at home in sweet, protective Jack’s arms than she ever has anywhere else.

When Avery finally discovers her real place in the Elite as the first girl in their bloodline in centuries, meant to fulfill a prophecy that could plunge the world into World War 3, she wants no part in it. But she doesn’t have a choice. Because both Jack and Stellan have secrets of their own, and suddenly, choosing between them is not just a matter of broken hearts. It could change the course of the world.
Last edited by maggie on February 28th, 2011, 2:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by alienbogey » December 5th, 2010, 4:05 pm

Maggie,

Here are my comments, but don't forget how much you paid for them:
maggie wrote:
##

16-year-old Avery Hunter thinks she might finally have found her place in the world when she finds out that she has an eccentric, wealthy family her mother never told her about. The villa in Paris, the ballgowns, the private jets—and the amazingly attractive young men they call knights—are all great fun.

But then Avery discovers that these same people who can shut down the Prada store for her own personal shopping day can also order the bombing of a nation’s capital and not think twice about it. This group, the Elite, are a society of twelve families who have secretly ruled the world since civilization began. [ 'since time began' strikes me as a touch melodramatic, plus to be picky I feel like pointing out that when time began (assuming the Big Bang) there were no people, animals or planets, unless you're building a fantasy world where you make the rules. 'Since civilization began' feels more believable to me. ]

Both horrified by the existence of the Elite and oddly drawn to her impossible new status as one of them, the last thing Avery should be doing is falling for one of their young knights - let alone two. But Stellan is beautiful, volatile, and makes her feel alive, while she feels more at home in sweet, protective Jack’s arms than she ever has anywhere else.

When Avery finally discovers her real place in the Elite as the first girl in their bloodline in centuries, meant to fulfill a prophecy that could plunge the world into World War 3, she wants no part in it. But she doesn’t have a choice because both Jack and Stellan have secrets of their own and choosing between them is not just a matter of the heart - it could change the course of the world.

Respectfully submitted.

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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by Netti » December 5th, 2010, 4:34 pm

maggie wrote:Hi everyone! I've gone through a few drafts of my query and am at that stage where I think I'm too close to it and need an outside perspective. Thanks SO much in advance for any thoughts, advice, etc! (This is just the descriptive part of the query for the moment--not the whole shebang.)

And also, any thoughts on what genre you'd call this? It's YA, obviously, but what kind of YA? It's not quite regular contemporary, but I'm hesitant to use fantasy/urban fantasy since there are no non-human creatures. Thanks so much!!

##

16-year-old Avery Hunter thinks she might finally have found her place in the world when she finds out that she has eccentric, wealthy family her mother never told her about. The villa in Paris, the ballgowns, the private jets—and the amazingly attractive young men they call knights—are all great fun. (I love this frist paragraph! It gives a good sense of who Avery Hunter is. It says "she's a normal girl who has something extraordinary happen to her" by showing us. A refreshing change.)

But then Avery discovers that these same people who can shut down the Prada store for her own personal shopping day can also order the bombing of a nation’s capital and not think twice about it. This group, the Elite, aren’t just a family. They are a very powerful society of twelve families who have secretly ruled the world since time began.

Both horrified by the existence of the Elite and oddly drawn to her impossible new status as one of them, the last thing Avery should be doing is falling for two of their young knights. But Stellan is beautiful, volatile, and makes her feel alive, and she feels more at home in sweet, protective Jack’s arms than she ever has anywhere else. (This paragraph does give me some pause. There seems to be something off about it but I can't place what it is.)

When Avery finally discovers her real place in the Elite as the first girl in their bloodline in centuries, meant to fulfill a prophecy that could plunge the world into World War 3, she wants no part in it. But she doesn’t have a choice. Because both Jack and Stellan have secrets of their own, and suddenly, choosing between them is not just a matter of broken hearts. It could change the course of the world.
This is a pretty good query! Don't forget at the end to list genre, title, word count, and any other relative information. As for genre, you could call it speculative but some agents frown on that. It sounds like it could be classified as YA/Romance or even YA/Adventure. But you're right, fantasy definitely doesn't fit.

Edit: I forgot to mention, I find the prophecy thing to be a bit of a stretch. It's a little cliche. If it's not vital to your story, I'd suggest taking it out. If not, find a way to make it more unique.
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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by maggie » December 5th, 2010, 5:32 pm

Thank you so much for your comments! Very helpful.

alienbogey--You're totally right. I can trend towards the melodramatic occasionally and I need to watch out for it. :)

netti--I agree about that paragraph--I also feel like it's not quite right, but I can't put my finger on why. Good to know someone else felt that too, and I'll be sure to take a closer look at it.

Thank you both for taking the time to give me your thoughts! I really appreciate it.

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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by maggie » December 5th, 2010, 10:26 pm

Modified for the above comments...

(Thanks for the comments so far. Please feel free to be brutally honest. It won't bother me! :) This is the first time I've put the query out in public, so I'm glad to know what people think, good or bad, even if it's just general comments and not line edits. Thanks again!)

##

16-year-old Avery Hunter thinks she might finally have found her place in the world when she finds out that she has eccentric, wealthy family her mother never told her about. The villa in Paris, the ballgowns, the private jets—and the amazingly attractive young men they call knights—are all great fun.

But then Avery discovers that these same people who can shut down the Prada store for her own personal shopping day can order the bombing of a nation’s capital and not think twice about it. This group, the Elite, aren’t just a family. They are a very powerful society of twelve families who have secretly ruled the world for millennia.

Both horrified by the existence of the Elite and oddly drawn to her impossible new status as one of them, the last thing Avery should be doing is falling for one of their young knights--let alone two of them. But Stellan is beautiful, volatile, and makes her feel alive, while she feels more at home in sweet, protective Jack’s arms than she ever has anywhere else.

When Avery finally discovers her real place in the Elite as the first girl in their bloodline in centuries, meant to fulfill a prophecy that could plunge the world into World War 3, she wants no part in it. But she doesn’t have a choice. Both Jack and Stellan have secrets of their own, and suddenly, choosing between them is not just a matter of broken hearts. It could change the course of the world.

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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by Lil Tailor » December 6th, 2010, 1:51 pm

I'm going to give this my best shot.
maggie wrote:
16-year-old Avery Hunter thinks she might finally have found her place in the world when she finds out that she has eccentric, wealthy family her mother never told her about. I feel like the preceding sentance could be much tighter. Consider something like When avery finds out...The villa in Paris, the ballgowns, the private jets—and the amazingly attractive young men they call knights—are all great fun.

But then Avery discovers that these the same people who can shut down the Prada store for her own personal shopping day can order the bombing of a nation’s capital and not think twice about it. This group, the Elite, aren’t just a family. They are a very powerful society of twelve families who have secretly ruled the world for millennia.

Both horrified by the existence of the Elite and oddly drawn to her impossible new status as one of them, the last thing Avery should be doing is falling for one of their young knights--let alone two of them. But Stellan is beautiful, volatile, and makes her feel alive, while she feels more at home in sweet, protective Jack’s arms than she ever has anywhere else.

When Avery finally discovers her real place in the Elite as the first girl in their bloodline in centuries, meant to fulfill a prophecy that could plunge the world into World War 3, she wants no part in it. But she doesn’t have a choice. Both Jack and Stellan have secrets of their own, and suddenly, choosing between them is not just a matter of broken hearts. It could change the course of the world.
I kind of got lost in the last paragraph. I like the last 2 lines a lot though. Is the story about the prophecy or choosing a lover?

I think you're really close.

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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by maggie » December 6th, 2010, 9:34 pm

Thanks so much for your comments, Lil. I see how the last paragraph can seem a little confusing, and I'm going to work on tightening it. I'm trying to get across the idea that her choice between the two boys is BOTH about choosing who she likes best and about a choice that has to do with this prophecy as well. So pretty much, her heart says one thing, and the "right" guy to pick ends up being the other. (Don't want to be too spoilery just in case someone reading this ends up beta-ing for me or something.) :)

I can see how that's confusing in this paragraph and I'll work on it. Thanks!!

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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by gilesth » December 7th, 2010, 9:15 am

maggie wrote:
16-year-old Avery Hunter thinks she might finally have - this is sounds awkward to me. Perhaps try it without "finally" found her place in the world when she finds because you already have the word "found" in this sentense, "finds" sounds repetative. I recommend "discovers" out that she has eccentric, wealthy family her mother never told her about - relatives on her mother's sid. The villa in Paris, the ballgowns, the private jets—and the amazingly attractive young men they call knights - since you're talking about attractive men, and because you want your query to be concise, I'd recommend leaving out the fact that these men are called "knights". Leaving it in requires explanation that could detract from the "punch" you're trying to make with your letter, and getting rid of the mention won't hurt in any way.—are all great fun.

But then Avery discovers that these same people who can shut down the Prada store for her own personal shopping day can order the bombing of a nation’s capital and not think twice about it. - Consider instead something like: It isn't long before Avery discovers that these people can shut down the Prada store for their own private use and bomb any capital in the world all in the same day and with the same bored air of superiority. - it's not perfect, but (in my opinion) it slaps the reader in the face with how cruel these people can be. Obviously you know your story best :D This group, who call themselves"the Elite," aren’t just a family. They are a very powerful society of twelve families who have secretly ruled the world for millennia. I agree that "millennia" is a tad on the melodramatic side :)

Both horrified by the- their existence of the Elite and oddly drawn to her impossible new status as one of them - consider: excited to be included in their circle, the last thing Avery should be doing is falling for one of their young knights - men--let alone two of them. But Stellan is beautiful, volatile, and he makes her feel alive. while - At the same time she feels more at home in Jack’s sweetwarm, protective arms than she ever has anywhere else.

When Avery finally discovers her real place in the - that she is the first girl in the Elite's bloodline in centuries Elite as the first girl in their bloodline in centuries, and she'smeant to fulfill a prophecy that could plunge the world into World War 3, she wants no part in it. But she doesn’t have a choice.What choice does she have? Since your story is about Avery's big choices, and since you want the agent to ask "how will Avery answer that question?" you want it clear that Avery isn't just getting dragged through this story by an unseen hand (like fate). Both Jack and Stellan have secrets of their own, and suddenly, choosing between them is not just a matter of broken hearts I don't understand what this sentence has to do with Avery. How does it affect her? And can you explain that without adding too many words?. It could change the course of the world This sounds a little cliche. I would recommend revising :).
I hope this is helpful :) Let me know if you have questions. It definitely sounds like a good book!

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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by oldhousejunkie » December 7th, 2010, 4:27 pm

Welcome to the party! This is a really good query, and I think that word choice is what will take it from good to great.
maggie wrote:Modified for the above comments...

(Thanks for the comments so far. Please feel free to be brutally honest. It won't bother me! :) This is the first time I've put the query out in public, so I'm glad to know what people think, good or bad, even if it's just general comments and not line edits. Thanks again!)

##

16-year-old Avery Hunter thinks she might finally have found her place in the world when she finds out that she has eccentric, wealthy family her mother never told her about. The villa in Paris, the ballgowns, the private jets—and the amazingly attractive young men they call knights—are all great fun.

But then Avery discovers that these same people who can shut down the Prada store for her own personal shopping day can order the bombing of a nation’s capital and not think twice about it. This group, the Elite, aren’t just a family. They are a very powerful society of twelve families who have secretly ruled the world for millennia. I agree with Giles...still on the melodramatic side plus you kind of stumble over that word. "Centuries" would flow better, IMO.

Both horrified by the existence of the Elite and oddly drawn to her impossible new status as one of them, the last thing Avery should be doing is falling for one of their young knights--let alone two of them. But Stellan is beautiful, volatile, and makes her feel alive, while she feels more at home in sweet, protective Jack’s arms than she ever has anywhere else. I think you've already established that the guys are hot, so how about making that last sentence a little less wordy? Maybe" "But while the volatile Stellan makes her feel alive, Jack's protective arms make her feel at home like no where else."

When Avery finally discovers her real place in the Elite as the first girl in their bloodline in centuries, I think that this can be dropped. So: "When Avery discovers her real place in the Elite is meant to fulfill a prophecy...meant to fulfill a prophecy that could plunge the world into World War 3, she wants no part in it. But she doesn’t have a choice. Both Jack and Stellan have secrets of their own, and suddenly, choosing between them is not just a matter of broken hearts. It could change the course of the world.
This is too cool. Finally a riveting YA novel that doesn't have vampires, zombies, or other paranormal creatures! Good luck!

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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by maggie » December 7th, 2010, 7:14 pm

Thanks so much gilesth and oldhousejunkie! I want to give a hug to everyone who's helped me here, but, ya know, I don't know you, so I suppose it would be strange. :) So I'll just settle for a big thank you!!

I'm posting a new try below. I took a lot of your suggestions, but trying to explain some things better has made it longer...and I'm not really sure if it's better or worse! What I was trying to do especially, on the suggestion of gilesth, was to outline Avery's choice a little better. Thanks, gilesth!

And thanks oldhousejunkie for liking the idea--sometimes I feel like I have no chance trying to do a high-concept YA without paranormals, so...thanks for the encouragement. :)
This one also has a little logline at the top that could easily be ditched. Thoughts on that?


***
A love triangle is not supposed to have life or death consequences, but 16-year-old Avery Hunter is about to discover that the stakes are higher when you’re the missing heir to the most powerful family in the world.

Avery Hunter has always been alone, her only companion a flighty mother who moved her to a new town every few years. She is excited to discover that she might have finally found a place to belong when she discovers eccentric, wealthy family she never knew she had. Their villa in Paris, the ballgowns, the private jets—and the amazingly attractive young men they call Knights—are all great fun.

But the family is strange, too, with a social structure that would be more suitable to the middle ages than the 21st century and technology so advanced it’s like magic. It isn’t long before Avery discovers that these same people who can shut down the Prada store on the Champs Elysees for their own private use can order the bombing of any city in the world just as casually.

This group, who call themselves the Elite, aren’t just a family. They are a very powerful secret society of twelve families who have secretly ruled the world for centuries, and Avery is one of them.

Both horrified by the existence of the Elite and oddly drawn to her impossible new status, the last thing Avery should be doing is falling for one of their young knights—let alone two of them. But beautiful, volatile Stellan makes her feel alive, while Jack’s protective arms feel like the home she’s never had.

Just as Avery discovers her real place in the Elite, to fulfill a prophecy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she also learns that both Jack and Stellan have secrets of their own. Suddenly, Avery has to choose not only between doing the right thing and staying part of the family she’s always wanted, but also between the boy who might help her save the world and the one she’s falling in love with.

***
Is it too long now? Am I explaining too much? Thanks!!

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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by Lil Tailor » December 8th, 2010, 2:59 pm

maggie wrote: A love triangle is not supposed to have life or death consequences, but 16-year-old Avery Hunter is about to discover that the stakes are higherwhen you’re the missing heir to the most powerful family in the world a love triangle just may have life or death consequences.

Avery Hunter has always been alone, her only companionthere should be a comma here but this sentance sounds awkward to me, i might consider striking everything after alone unless its super important a flighty mother who moved her to a new town every few years. She is excited to discover that she might have finally found a place to belong when she soon discovers an eccentric, wealthy family she never knew she had. Their villa in Paris, the ballgowns, the private jets—and the amazingly attractive young men they call Knights—are all great fun.

But the family is strange, too, with a social structure that would be more suitable to the middle ages than the 21st century and technology so advanced it’s like magic. It isn’t long before Avery discovers that these same people who can shut down the Prada store on the Champs Elysees for their own private use can order the bombing of any city in the world just as casually. I don't like the last sentance. Consider something like: It isn't long before Avery discovers that the same people who can shut down the prada store for a whimsical private shopping trip can just as easily bomb any city in the world (lol I wanted to write something like can just as easily bomb an orphanage brimming with puppies on christmas day)

This group, who call themselves the Elite, aren’t just a family. They are a very powerful secret society of twelve families who have secretly ruled the world for centuries, and Avery is one of them.

Both horrified by the existence of the Elite and oddly drawn to her impossible new status, the last thing Avery should be doing is falling for one of their young knights—let alone two of them. But beautiful, volatile Stellan makes her feel alive, while Jack’s protective arms feel like the home she’s never had.

Just as Avery discovers her real place in the Elite, to fulfill a prophecy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she also learns that both Jack and Stellan have secrets of their own. Suddenly, Avery has to choose not only between doing the right thing why is staying a member of the elite the right thing?and staying part of the family she’s always wanted, but also between the boy who might help her save the world and the one she’s falling in love with.
The last paragraph doesn't feel right to me still. I still am interested though.

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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by Krista G. » December 8th, 2010, 6:17 pm

FIrst off, can I just say I love this? Because I do. I would read this in a heartbeat. I actually like the second version best, so that's the one I'll mark up.
maggie wrote:16-year-old Avery Hunter thinks she might finally have have finally found her place in the world when she finds out that she has eccentric, wealthy family her mother never told her about. I think this sentence is a little overly wordy. Not very much, but a little. Also, you could probably smooth over the repetition of "found" and "find," and I believe "16" should be spelled out, since it's at the beginning of the sentence.The villa in Paris, the ballgowns, the private jets—and the amazingly attractive young men they call knights—are all great fun.

But then Avery discovers that these same people who can shut down the Prada store for her own personal shopping day can order the bombing of a nation’s capital and not think twice about it. This group, the Elite, aren’t just a family. They are a very powerful society of twelve families who have secretly ruled the world for millennia. I agree with others that "centuries" sounds better.

Both horrified by the existence of the Elite and oddly drawn to her impossible new status as one of them, the last thing Avery should be doing is falling for one of their young knights--let alone two of them. The subject of the introductory clause is Avery, but the subject of the whole sentence is "the last thing Avery should be doing," so there's a disconnect. If you change "the last thing Avery should be doing" to "Avery knows the last thing she should be doing" (or something), that should take care of it. But Stellan is beautiful, volatile, and makes her feel alive, while she feels more at home in sweet, protective Jack’s arms than she ever has anywhere else.

When Avery finally discovers her real place in the Elite as the first girl in their bloodline in centuries, meant to fulfill a prophecy that could plunge the world into World War 3, she wants no part in it. This sentence is a little overly wordy, too. But she doesn’t have a choice. Why not? Both Jack and Stellan have secrets of their own, and suddenly, choosing between them is not just a matter of broken hearts. It could change the course of the world. Great stakes for a love triangle:)
I love your voice, and the reason I like this version better is that it has a more polished, effortless feel. You could probably get the latest version to feel the same way, but this one's already closer to the mark.

Best of luck with this. I foresee many requests in your future:)
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by maggie » December 9th, 2010, 1:17 am

Thanks so much, Lil and Krista G! (and Krista--I was just reading your blog earlier! It's great!)

Lil--
i might consider striking everything after alone unless its super important
Yea, I think it's getting a little wordy. I was trying to explain more of why her choice is so hard below because of the whole family thing...I think I went too far.
I don't like the last sentance. Consider something like: It isn't long before Avery discovers that the same people who can shut down the prada store for a whimsical private shopping trip can just as easily bomb any city in the world (lol I wanted to write something like can just as easily bomb an orphanage brimming with puppies on christmas day)
haha it does sound like it should be that, right? :) I like how you phrased that sentence, though. I might think more along those lines.
she also learns that both Jack and Stellan have secrets of their own. Suddenly, Avery has to choose not only between doing the right thing why is staying a member of the elite the right thing?and staying part of the family she’s always wanted
This is the problem I'm having with this last paragraph. I can't seem to explain it quite right. I'll work on it!


Krista--
Thanks so much for liking the idea of the book! :)
I made that third version of the query to try to give some more explanation about things people were finding confusing, but I'm afraid that I just sound like I'm trying too hard, so thanks for your opinion on that.
The subject of the introductory clause is Avery, but the subject of the whole sentence is "the last thing Avery should be doing," so there's a disconnect. If you change "the last thing Avery should be doing" to "Avery knows the last thing she should be doing" (or something), that should take care of it.
Oh gosh! I can't believe I missed that. I'm usually such a grammar nazi. Query letters are making me soft in the head. :)

Question: Do you like the more coy "...choosing between them is not just a matter of broken hearts. It could change the course of the world." from the first versions or the more straightforward, "...between the boy who might help her save the world and the one she’s falling in love with." from the last version?

Thank you, thank you again!

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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by Krista G. » December 9th, 2010, 11:30 am

Maggie, thanks for checking out the blog! As for your question, I think both endings work, but the one from the third version was the part that really stuck out to me about that draft. It's more specific, and it matches the tone of the first two versions, so if it were me, I'd try to find a way to work that line in.
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

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Re: THE ELITE (YA)

Post by Joel Q » December 14th, 2010, 6:23 pm

maggie wrote:
A love triangle is not supposed to have life or death consequences, but 16-year-old Avery Hunter is about to discover that the stakes are higher when you’re the missing heir to the most powerful family in the world. (I'd take it out.)


Just as Avery discovers her real place in the Elite, to fulfill a prophecy that might (could it also bring world piece? If not, I'd take it out to up the tension.) plunge the world into World War 3, she also learns that both Jack and Stellan have secrets of their own. Suddenly, Avery has to choose not only between doing the right thing and staying part of the family she’s always wanted, but also between the boy who might help her save the world and the one she’s falling in love with.
(I'm, glad you redid this last paragraph. I kept wanting more when the I read the other versions. I would tell us what "the right thing" is. Is she going to fight the Elite, expose them? Is she in danger is she doesn't fulfill the prophecy?)


***
Is it too long now? Am I explaining too much? (Just a bit too long, and I think the others were written better. -- JQ)

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