YA Contempary Query

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klbritt
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YA Contempary Query

Post by klbritt » January 25th, 2013, 12:03 am

This is the query I've written (first draft) for my current WIP, which is unfinished (I'm estimating the wordcount). I'd love feedback/critiques :)

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Seventeen-year-old Natalie Miller is as good as dead. At least she thinks so. Her parents practically ignore her, her teachers at school don’t realize she’s there, and even the bus driver manages to leave without her every day.

When a flyer for a hip party somehow ends up in her backpack, she decides this is the one time she will do something that no one will ever forget: commit suicide. Natalie plans her perfect out and when the time comes to swallow the pills, something goes wrong. She doesn’t die.

Natalie is given a choice by the hospital psychologist and her parents who keep calling her suicide attempt an “accident,” to either spend six weeks in a psych hospital or a rehab horse camp. With the help of a horse named Penelope and a boy named Gabe, Natalie’s choice forges a love for herself she’s never known.

A Horse Named Penelope is complete at 75,000 words and is a stand-alone Young Adult Contemporary novel.
~Kristie

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SariBelle
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Re: YA Contempary Query

Post by SariBelle » January 31st, 2013, 11:40 pm

Since I'm a sucker for horses, I love this story already. I've put my thoughts in red. :)


Seventeen-year-old Natalie Miller is as good as dead. I found this first line a bit confusing. I thought she was already dying. Maybe rephrase to something like 'Natalie Miller might as well be dead.'? At least she thinks so. I'd cut this line. It doesn't add anything to this first para. Her parents practically ignore her, her teachers at school don’t realize she’s there, and even the bus driver manages to leave without her every day. Maybe some more concrete examples could be used here? I don't feel like I get enough of a sense of Natalie's unhappiness in this para to carry the suicide in the next. Does she have friends? Enemies? How do her parents ignore her (Do they never talk to her/look at her, etc)? I think build the picture of a depressed/unhappy teen as much as possible in this first para. I know it's tough in such a short space!

When a flyer for a hip The word 'hip' is a bit old school (at least it is in Australia), so it could jar readers of YA, unless it's a character building device to show Natalie's uncoolness? party somehow ends up in her backpack, she decides this is the one time she will do something that no one will ever forget: commit suicide. I think this needs more of a link. Why is the party the perfect opportunity to commit suicide? Is she going to do it at the party? Natalie plans her perfect out and when the time comes to swallow the pills, something goes wrong. She doesn’t die. I like how you've said not dying is something going wrong. It's a good insight into the character's mind.

Natalie is given a choice by the hospital psychologist and her parents, who keep calling her suicide attempt an “accident,” to either spend six weeks in a psych hospital or a rehab horse camp. With the help of a horse named Penelope and a boy named Gabe, Natalie’s choice forges a love for herself she’s never known. Does it just forge a love for herself? Does she also build friendships she hasn't experienced before? This wording feels a bit vague.

A Horse Named Penelope is complete at 75,000 words and is a stand-alone Young Adult Contemporary novel.

writerly_black_cat
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Re: YA Contempary Query

Post by writerly_black_cat » February 5th, 2013, 1:09 pm

Hello there! I thought I'd give this a read through and offer some comments. I'm a copywriter and proofreader by trade, so this practice helps both of us. Pink text has my changes and comments are in blue.

Seventeen-year-old Natalie Miller is as good as dead. At least she thinks so. Her parents ignore her, her teachers at school don’t realize she’s there, and even the bus driver manages to leave without her every day. For me, the word practically seems like a contradiction in regards to the rest of the sentence. "Her parents ignore her," is a much stronger start.

When a flyer for a party somehow ends up in her backpack, she decides to do something no one will ever forget: commit suicide. Natalie plans it perfectly, and when the time comes to swallow the pills, something goes wrong. She doesn’t die. I omitted "hip" because I think that the reader will understand that the party is cool or hip without saying it outright, since it is a party. I also thought that the rest was too wordy.

Natalie is given a choice by the hospital psychologist and her parents, who keep calling her suicide attempt an “accident,” to either spend six weeks in a psych hospital or a rehab horse camp. With the help of a horse named Penelope and a boy named Gabe, Natalie forges a love for herself she’s never known. Don't need to say choice here, it's implied that she made a choice in the beginning of the sentence.

Just one thing that I thought of while I was reading it, is why does everyone ignore her? Is she anti-social? Is her personality just really plain that she glides through life without being noticed? Is it because the other kids think she's lame? We are told everyone ignores her and no one ever notices her, but there's no reason why. I want to know why she is clearly, quietly suffering, and why people are ignoring her, because right now it seems a bit strange that she would kill herself for attention.

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