Here to do the next critique is my Sun versus Snow co-host Amy Trueblood! Amy runs an amazing blog of her own, full of writing tips and agent interviews.
Keep in mind that feedback is subjective by nature. What does and does not catch the eye is going to vary by person. Each writer must weigh the comments they get against their own judgement and make the changes that resonate with them.
The Holiday Query hop is still taking entries, see here for details.
The random number generator picks 3! Another great match as Amy writes YA!
Dear Blog Hop Critters,
Stealing painkillers is bad. Stealing painkillers from
your grandparents is worse. Stealing painkillers from your grandparents’
aquarium (when I first read this I thought it meant an
aquarium in a private home) while high out of your mind and then
vomiting into the sea lion pool is category five hurricane bad. For
sixteen-year-old Laura Angela Sweetling, it was called Tuesday night.
I love the voice here but
there is too much set-up. I'd recommend cutting the first line and starting
with "Stealing painkillers from your grandparents is bad." It is
still a shocking hook.
Four months later and fresh out of rehab, Laura knows
she has some amends to make. She just
didn’t imagine making them as a volunteer. Thankfully, her grandparents are
doing research on African cichlids so
Laura is granted a reprieve before she has the pleasure of from drowning in their disapproving glares. She
just wasn’t expecting to find her mom in the post of Volunteer Supervisor.
Nepotism, much? It’s practically a family reunion and Laura’s wishing she
drowned in the sea lion pool, instead.
The voice here is still strong,
but you're losing me in all the detail. I'd recommend being more
straightforward. Her punishment is to work as a volunteer, but grandparents are
busy so Mom is now her boss.
Making new fish-loving
friends (and some that are just there for something splashy to put on college
apps) is a side aeffect of her jail
sentence. So is a ridiculous crush on a boy that completely and totally
embodies the term fish-o-phile. Then there’s summer school since her wild
Tuesday night and therapy stint screwed the rest of her junior year.
But just as Laura is beginning to acclimate to new
waters, (an activist protest in the walrus exhibit) challenges
her ideas about captivity and the family business. Struggling to stay
clean and repair her damaged familial relationships, Laura’s newfound beliefs
might just sink everyone, including Laura herself.
The protest is your conflict
and creates the stakes. I'd get this up into the second paragraph. I'd
recommend looking at your sinker too. Identify what her change will cost not
only her but her family. Will they lose their livelihood? Could Laura be in
trouble again? Make it very clear what her change of heart could do to all of
them and how it will change her life.
SWIMMINGLY, a YA contemporary novel, is complete at
67,000 words. I was a volunteer at the New York Aquarium my junior year of high
school (this is helpful bio info). The
experience has greatly aided and influenced this manuscript. Thank you for your
time and consideration. (I think you could benefit from
adding some comp titles here.)
Overall I'd say you have a strong start. I
get a good sense of character and voice. Again, I'd recommend cutting out a lot
of your superfluous info and making your conflict and stakes very clear in the
A devotee of
reading and writing from a very young age, Amy Trueblood grew up surrounded by
books. After stints working in entertainment and advertising, she began writing
her first manuscript and never looked back. Her work
is part of The
Fall and Summer's Edge short
story collections. Her recent short story, "A Seat For
Every Soul" appears in Pen & Muses' Dark Carnival collection. She is represented by Roseanne Wells of The
Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. To learn more about Amy, check out her blog
or follow her on Twitter