An unselfish wish made on the horn of a unicorn will come true. Our wish? To support the writing community by giving constructive tips and criticism through submissions. Check out the submissions tab for more information. We can survive the crucible of fire together.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Query Critique - THE SIMPLE TRUTH

Original -

Seventeen-year-old Jesse thought getting beaten and branded out of gang life was the worst thing imaginable. He was wrong.

When a couple of thugs chase him away from the shelter he currently calls home and into a different neighborhood, a woman helps him escape and then offers him a place to stay. Motivated by food, clean clothes, and a shower he accepts, vowing to make a break for it at the first sign of trouble.

Seventeen-year-old Elana has kept quiet about a lot of the changes her mom made after her brother died—a new neighborhood, new school, and new dreams. But when her mom saves a thug from the streets she draws the line. She’s been avoiding scum like Jesse her whole life. But her mom is on a mission and fails to listen, which means war. Jesse’s gotta go. 

But as Jesse and Elana begin to trust each other, they realize they have more in common than avoiding scum: guilt.  Jesse’s guilt over his girlfriend’s death doesn’t allow him to trust his feelings, and Elana’s guilt of surviving her brother has left her ignoring her dream to dance.

When trust begins to turn into something more, Elana’s mom makes it perfectly clear she won’t tolerate a relationship between the two, leaving Jesse with a choice: give in to his feelings for Elana and end up back on the streets, or bury his feelings like he’s buried those he loves.

THE SIMPLE TRUTH, a YA contemporary romance manuscript complete at 60,000 words, is a story about finding truth in dreams, hope, and love.


Query Critique -


Seventeen-year-old Jesse thought getting In my opinion, the word ‘getting’ is a blah verb. Suggestion: Seventeen-year-old Jesse thought gang life, the beatings and branding, was the worst thing imaginable. He was wrong. beaten and branded out of gang life was the worst thing imaginable. He was wrong.

When a couple of thugs chase him away from the shelter that he currently calls home and into a different neighborhood, a the woman that helps him to escape and then offers him a place to stay. Suggestion: When thugs chase him from the shelter that he calls home and into a different neighborhood, the woman that helps him to escape offers him a place to stay.  Motivated by food, clean clothes, and a shower he accepts, vowing to make a break for it at the first sign of trouble.

Seventeen-year-old Elana has kept quiet about a lot of the changes her mom made after her brother died—a new neighborhood, new school, and new dreams. But when her mom saves a thug since you used “thugs” in the previous paragraph, maybe find a different word? from the streets, she draws the line. She’s been avoiding avoided scum like Jesse her whole life. But her mom is on a mission and fails to listen, which means war. Jesse’s gotta go.

But as Jesse and Elana begin to trust each other, they realize they have more in common than avoiding scum: guilt.  Jesse’s guilt over his girlfriend’s death doesn’t allow him to trust his feelings, and Elana’s guilt of surviving her brother has left her ignoring her dream to dance. IMHO, this sentence needs a total re-write. The structure feels forced and there isn’t enough of an inciting element or goal to make the reader want to know more. Suggestion (and this is only an example since I don’t know the storyline): Jesse blames himself for the death of his girlfriend and has trust issues with any new entanglements. Elana has problems of her own. Before her brother’s death, Elana danced, her heart and soul in perfect harmony. Now, why bother?

When trust begins to turns into something more, Elana’s mom makes it perfectly clear she won’t tolerate a relationship between the two, leaving Jesse with a choice: give in to his feelings for Elana and end up back on the streets, or bury his feelings like he’s buried those he loves.


THE SIMPLE TRUTH, a YA contemporary romance manuscript complete at 60,000 words, is a story about finding truth in dreams, hope, and love. 

Followers? Any suggestions?

3 comments:

Amy Butcher said...

My feeling is that it's odd at the beginning of the query to say that the worst thing for Jesse was getting beaten up by and kicked out of his gang, and then suddenly it's the fact that his girlfriend died...? Same thing with Elana: the main conflict seems to be with her mother, but then the shift to the feelings of guilt introduces a new source of conflict that seems to come out of left field.

Obviously, there are a lot of details to mention and probably various types of conflict described in the story, but maybe sticking to the main conflicts throughout would make the description tighter.

E. Arroyo said...

Awesome! I'm so excited. Thanks for the input. I'm going to be pitching this manuscript to an agent face to face soon using a revised query. That's if I don't chicken out. =) Thanks again.

Sarit Yahalomi said...

hmmm here are my suggestion. I treid to keep it simple:

1.Also Take out the 'The' from this sentence - Seventeen-year-old Jesse thought gang life, beatings and branding, was the worst thing imaginable. He was wrong.

2. I think it sound better like that - When thugs chase him out his home , the shelter, into a different neighborhood, a woman that helps him to escape, offers him a place to stay.

3.Seventeen-year-old Elana has kept quiet about many of the changes her mom made after her brother died — new neighborhood, new school, and new dreams. But when her mom saves this guy from the streets, she had to draw a line. She used to avoid scums like Jesse whole her life. But her mom is on a mission and fails to listen, which means war.Jesse’s gotta go.

5.Yes it need total revision, Maybe something like:
But as Jesse and Elana begin to know each other, they realize that they share something in common: guilt. Jesse over his girlfriend’s death, which didn't allow him to trust his feelings, and Elana's surviving her brother death, had made her ignoring her dream to dance.

6.When this trust bloom into something more, Elana’s mom made if clear - zero tolerance for the relationship between the two. Jesse had only two choices: forgetting about his feelings for Elana and return to the streets, or burying his feelings same way like those he buried to those he loved.