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First Five Pages / Re: Tributary: YA Contemporary Fantasy
« Last post by rivergirl on Yesterday at 09:28:38 PM »
Do you ever have the feeling everyone is staring at you- like all the time? For instance, you're eating lunch and glance up to see a group of kids gawking at you, whispering, then quickly looking away, as if you didn't notice? I've read about a third of the way down and while the writing is good, I feel like the narrator or Mia is talking to me. This is a good way to to take the reader right out of the story when you really want to immerse them. My opinion only. Consider putting the reader in MC's head for a better connection to the reader (my opinion). For example purposes only: I shuffled a stack of papers off my desk and stuffed them into my backpack. People were staring again. Again! It happened a lot. (In this second version, I become Mia and am living what she is living)

This describes my life here in Minstola. It's not that I am popular. I'm not rich or have the hottest boyfriend in town. It's actually quite the opposite. I would have assumed she was a nerd for this reason. I'd say that she wasn't the nerd but the girl that went unnoticed or the girl who was pitied. You see, I'm the girl with no mom and a drunk for a dad. I live in the broken house on the corner, the house that no parents will let their children visit. The one that they pity as they pass by. Luckily, I don't spend much time at home. Instead, I spend my evenings waiting tables at the "local beach bar", which is code for a rundown diner that happens to be close to the beach. This is another mistake in my opinion: to load the front end of the story with a lot of back story that the reader must digest before they get to the good stuff below. Still include this stuff, but incorporate a little by little as the story goes on.

The locals consider our town outdated, but I think it has charm, an old-fashioned village with unbelievable stories. It's not a big city, but it's not too small. It's large enough to have your own life but small enough to know everyone's business- or at least mine. The surrounding coastal towns have been remodeled with developers storming through, tearing down its soul to build something new, something bigger, something profitable. (more backstory)

Tonight, I am waitressing at the beach bar, Mia is talking to me when I really just want to be Mia.Consider a revision when you get straight to the story. My fingers were turning numb from filling ketchup bottles when I felt the chill of a breeze and heard the door jingle... (The Crab Shab. It isn't much anymore. At one time, the boardwalk was the center of the quaint towns on the coast. But every year, business gets slower and slower while tourists flood to the newly remodeled surrounding towns, leaving our town to collect dust. The booths are dated with ripped cushions, and the shutters have been in need of replacement for years. The walls are coated with pictures of what the bar used to be as if it's a subtle reminder of it's past or it's potential. But at least the windows still open and give us a cool breeze on those hot summer days. Plus, we have the best crab sandwiches in town. lots of great descriptions in here, but I'd incorporate them little by little instead of a great block of descriptions. Also sneakily working them into dialogue is more fun to read. For example, Mia could tell her other customers before the girls come in that they have the best crab sandwiches in town. the reader is then watching a scene instead of reading backstory

The Crab Shab is generally not busy. Our primary customers are Jack and Elle, my two best friends. Elle and I joke that Jack keeps the diner in business. Even though he's one of the cooks, he usually invests his paychecks on our crab fries or macho nachos. Elle, on the other hand, doesn't have a job. She doesn't need to, but I'm not that lucky. I spend most of my paychecks to help with bills or save up for our next missed house payment. It's not like my dad can't pay the bills; it just gets complicated. He works as a boat technician at a shop near the pier, just a few blocks from The Crab Shab. MORe backstory dump

It's slow, so Chuck, the manager, sent Tina, the other waitress home. At least I will be able to make some extra tips. Jack is the last cook in the back, and as the last customer leaves, I begin to close for the night. I remove the cash out of my apron and sit cross-legged at a booth next to the window to count my earnings for the day.

"Hey big spender," Jack says, as he carries a basket of fish tacos and a plate of towering macho nachos. "I made your favorite." He pushes the basket towards me and sets down his plate in front of him. This is where the story really seems to begin. You wouldn't want to start with jack's line, but it's a direct dive into the story. The two could discuss how tiring it is that kids are always staring at Mia, although I would think that (staring at Mia) would get boring after a day or two
"Thanks," I reply. I don't look up but continue counting crumpled dollar bills. I need at least $20 to cover the rest of the electricity bill. Jack slides into the seat (great spot to point out the ripped vinyl seats) across from me. He flings his white stained cook jacket into my face and chuckles. I catch it and toss it onto the table next to us.  I glance to my right, and see a flock of girls walk by the wide window outside our booth. I know these girls, but not well. I've seen them at school, and although they act as if they don't, they recognize me too. Keep us in Mia's head. My attention is drawn to my right as a flock of girls walk by the window and my stomach tightens. "blah blah blah (here Mia says something to Jack about hte girls that gives the reader all they need to know, instead of Mia talking to the reader)Also as a rule of thumb, avoid using two back to back sentences that start with I. Unlike third person, with the name of the character, all the "I's" stand out like sore thumbs

The chime on the door rings as the girls giggle and parade inside. They stroll toward our booth. I want to tell them we are closed for the night, but I could use the tips.
"Oh, hey, Jack," Shyan says as she rustles Jack's curly hair, not acknowledging my presence. "Wanna slide over?" Most people would say Shyan is popular. She's skinny, like me, but her skinny is different. Her skinny is a type the boys like. She has curves in all the right places and wears mid-drift shirts to show off those assets, which I guess guys like.

I'm not like these girls- and I'm okay with that. My nails are not freshly painted; my morning routine consists of no more than brushing my hair and maybe applying a little mascara- if I feel like it. My hair was brown like Shyan's, but the sun has bleached it blonde over the years. I always have strands of hair fall out of my ponytail that I continually push behind my ears. I know I should care more, but I don't; I just have more important things to worry about. This is an info dump. Sneakily weave all this information into the story. For example: I stuff a wayward hair back into my ponytail. The reader can instantly see her with one word: ponytail. later you can add more details
The girls walk to the other side of the booth to squeeze in next to me. I take this as an opportunity to dodge an awkward conversation.

"Actually, I'll go ahead and take your drink order," I insist as I slide by the girls.
"We will just take three strawberry milkshakes- nonfat." is this actually a thing? It's vital every word is believable

I withdraw behind the counter to mix their desserts and watch the girls flirt with Jack. show don't tell. I withdraw behind the counter and watch Shyan fingering Jack's ear They are trying so hard to grab his attention, which makes me chuckle because these girls are not his type. What is his type?

Shyan caresses his chest and giggles at his corny jokes. She likes him, I can tell. But I'm not jealous, annoyed, yes, but not jealous. I am used to witnessing girls get giddy around Jack. He isn't the most popular kid in school, but girls think he's good looking, charming, and funny. I never quite understood why he gets so much attention. It's not like he is muscular or rich. He dresses in a plain white shirt almost all the time. It could be his dimples and long eyelashes. But the rest of him is pretty understated; blue eyes and brown hair, nothing much to faun over, but apparently, I'm the only one who thinks so. However, Jack and I are just friends. That's all we've ever been, and all we will be, ever since he moved here in junior high.
I deliver three pink shakes to the table- nonfat. "Will there be anything else?" The girls don't notice my presence, but Jack does, and he gives me a little wink and nods as if to say, "yup, look, I'm a stud." I roll my eyes.

On my notepad, I write the bill for the milkshakes. I glance through the smudged window to see a man stumble past. Immediately, there is the ever so familiar churning in my stomach. He slaps his hand against the windowpane. This startles the three girls who loudly slurp their milkshakes. He continues to seize the whole booth's attention as he shuffles by trying to steady his balance. I rip the girls' bill off the pad and unintentionally slam it on the table. I sprint out the door and hear it jingle as it slams shut behind me.
"Dad!" I screech, as I trail behind. :eek:
He sluggishly turns and bangs his hand on the maroon brick building next to him.
"Oh, hello, Mira," he mumbles as he struggles to hug me. I transform his embrace into an opportunity to stead his walk. I want to lead him home but need to close the bar first.
"Why don't you come inside? I'll get you a cup of coffee while I close," I instruct as I entangle the dead weight of his arm around my shoulder.
Jack meets me at the door, takes him under his arm, and accompanies him to a bar seat. I pour him a cup of leftover coffee from our morning brew. I'm sure it's cold and bitter by now, but he won't know the difference. "I'd rather have a beer," he asserts.

"Why don't you just stick with your coffee." My classmates are watching us, as this is the only entertainment in the diner.

"No, a beer,period" new sentence he points to a glass case full of beers.
"And your coffee is here. " type on the quote mark here I shove the coffee toward him, causing drops to overflow from the rim of the cup. He thrusts it back, acting like a spoiled child.

"Fine," there is absolutely nothing wrong with your dialogue except it is ordinary and expected. In order to set your story apart from others, have the characters say interesting things, unexpected things. I reply. I snatch his coffee and forcefully dump it into the sink, causing it to splatter,no comma (there has to be a subject here otherwise the and is the substitute for a comma( and pour him a glass of water. I slip the glass in front of him, knowing he won't drink it.

"How about we try to get you hydrated, Mr. J?" Jack persuades as he slaps his back. He plops next to him on a stool at the bar. I'm sure Shyan is irritated Jack has chosen to give his attention to my drunk dad instead of her. show don't tell

"Why don't you go back there and grab me a beer, son?" My dad struggles to point to the beer case, barely able to lift his finger. I shoot Jack a nervous look as I move to the back of the bar. I continue to wrap the silverware when I see a figure circle around the counter from the corner of my eye.

"You can't come back here, Dad," I command as I quickly strive to meet him at the opposite end of the bar. He attempts to navigate his way past me, but I catch him in time.

"Move," he says, clearly showing no concern as I stand in his way. I don't move, acting as a barrier between my father and the beer. I bring my hands to his shoulders to turn him as he leans into me. He continues to move forward like a freight train, clearly willing to plow through me. Jack leaps over the counter and stands behind me to try to block his path.

"Stop," I say as I clench my teeth. My ears turn red (this description pulls the reader out of Mia. She can't see the color of her ears. She feels them burn), as is my tell when I am embarrassed. I know everyone can see them flaming. "Sit down," I say with a stern whisper. My dad hesitates, pushes me aside, grasps a PBR from the glass cabinet, and stumbles back to his seat.
I clutch Jack's hand and squeeze it as a thank you. He always has my back. I glance at the girls who quickly look away and act as if they didn't have a front seat show to my family's dysfunction.

Jack helps me finish my closing duties. I wrap up the bag of trash and storm outside to the dumpster. I need a minute to collect my thoughts. I breathe deep and strive to keep the tears from welling up in my eyes. But it is no use. They stream down my face. I don't know why I'm crying. This isn't his first drunken spell, and it won't be his last. Maybe I'm embarrassed. Maybe I'm frustrated. I didn’t sign up for this dad. I didn’t sign up for this life. Through my clouded tears shine red and blue lights in the distance. I wipe my face, take another deep breath, and compose myself. I refused to let those girls see me cry. I slip to the back office. Thankfully, Chuck is distracted as he creates the schedule for next week.
"Is it okay if I lock up?" I ask, reaching for the keys dangling on a nail on the wall above him.
"Yup," he says, barely glancing up at me. I close the office door before he spots the red and blue lights as they strobe against the wall. I hurry back to the dining area, hoping he stays locked in his paperwork.

A police officer pulls into the parking lot, and I know exactly who called.

"You called the cops?" I exclaim as I glare straight through Jack.

"You can't do everything on your own, Mira. It's okay to get help," Jack defends, intercepting his father at the door. I admire Jack's dad. He’s larger framed with a bald head- the type of bald that is always shining in the light. My face turns red, matching my ears. I feel my face turning red I don't care what the girls think, but I care what Mr. Davis thinks.

"Hey, son. Hello, Mira," Officer Davis says as he walks in, his heavy boots clanking on the tile floor. He pats Jack on the back, indicating he did the right thing.

"Hi," I reply, as I stand in front of my drunk father, who doesn't seem to notice the cops have arrived. He barely glances away, continuing to stare straight ahead in his inebriated state. "He just got a little tipsy. It's not a big deal. I'm going to walk him home in a few minutes." We all know that's a lie, and he is more than just tipsy, but they at least act as they believe me.

"It's okay, Mira. He's not in trouble. We will just make sure he gets home safely. Let's wait until you finish your shift, and I'll take you both home."

"That's okay, Dad. I can wait and take Mira," Jack replies, as he cups his arm around my neck.
"Alright. Come on Mike, let's get you out of here." Officer Davis places his hand on my dad's shoulder, clutching it, alerting him to get up. This is a ride home he has had many times before. He swipes his beer from the counter and shuffles through the door to the police car.

"Seriously, Jack!?" My eyes tighten as I explode my hands against his chest.

"Mira, he's just going to take him home, it's not a big deal."

"Why do you think people call him the town drunk? Huh? Because of situations like this getting escalated for no reason."

"No, Mira. People call him the town drunk because he's the town drunk." His voice ascends. "He's been an alcoholic for years- and everyone knows it!" As soon as the words break his lips, his face instantly cringes. There is a long pause between us and his voice lowers. "Let's forget it. Finish up, and I'll take you home."

My eyes instantaneously flood with tears. One blink will make them fall. I don't blink until I turn from Jack. "No! I'm out of here. Take your new girlfriends, with their new gossip, home instead. I'm walking. Alone!" I burst out of the bar, realizing I left my tips on the counter,no comma but too angry to bother.

I storm to the beach rather than going home. I know what will be waiting for me, and I've had enough of everyone for the night. Once I get to the shoreline, I curl my toes in the white powder. The tide spills over my chipped cream nail polish as the thunder of the waves crashing against rocks brings me a sense of peace. The salty air travels through my lungs. I shut my eyes. I feel alone,no comma but not in a way that makes people sad. I feel alone in a good way; I'm not a drunk man's daughter or the girl with no mother. I'm not "that kid" in "that house." I'm just me. I freeze, not thinking, just breathing- just being. I'm not daydreaming about a life with a mother or the type of person I could have been. For this moment, I am...just…me.

Excellent job brining in the emotion and lots of beautiful descriptions above. The story sounds really cute. Some minor editing in my opinion. Take the suggestions you like and ignore the rest. Hope my comments were helpful.
Literary Agents / Re: Obsessing over QT data
« Last post by rodeoclown on Yesterday at 01:59:11 PM »
Fair enough. I tend to nudge in under a month because they'd still be able to find the former query in their spam. If you wait too long it'll get auto-deleted. But it's true that agents can also be a bit touchy about these things.
Literary Agents / Re: Obsessing over QT data
« Last post by littlewritings on Yesterday at 01:41:59 PM »
Even if an agent has fast response times on QT, it's customary to wait until the time stated by the agent has passed. Worst case scenario: The agent put you in their maybe pile, you nudge too early, they think you're impatient and ignored their response time and decides they don't want to work with you based on that. Granted, that won't always happen but I'd think, just in general, nobody wants to be "that person".

Queries do end up in spam folders (has happened to me) and queries are missed, but maybe piles exist and sometimes agents just want to take a second look. Publishing isn't a fast industry and Covid has made it even slower. Nudging is perfectly fine and acceptable if an agent hasn't replied after the time they stated on their website/the agency website, but I wouldn't recommend ignoring query guidelines.
Literary Agents / Re: Obsessing over QT data
« Last post by rodeoclown on Yesterday at 01:20:50 PM »
I thought we were talking about the specific instance where the agent has generally fast response times on QT. I will say that although I did once get a request after eight months (during which time I nudged the agent repeatedly), and another time after six weeks, almost all my manuscript requests have come within 30 days. In my experience agents miss or don't see about 20 percent of queries, and this percentage can be higher if you have a search term that kicks you automatically into the spam, and oftentimes you're left waiting for a response to something they never got
Literary Agents / Re: Obsessing over QT data
« Last post by littlewritings on Yesterday at 12:51:06 PM »
Please, please, please do not just re-query after a month! Some agents' response times are up to 3 (or even 4) months so make sure you don't re-query or nudge prematurely. When you query, make a note of an agents' response time and don't nudge them earlier than that. If an agent says "I reply to all queries within 8 weeks" it's in your best interest to wait for 8 weeks before nudging, because you do not want an agent to think that you didn't read their submission guidelines. You might end up hurting your chances.

(The exception to this is obviously when you got an offer or rep.)
Literary Agents / Re: Should you query with a good title?
« Last post by rodeoclown on Yesterday at 12:03:42 PM »
Doubt an agent would consciously re-use a title, but it's possible there could be a case of crypto-amnesia. However, If the agent uses that title for a book and that book gets published two or three years from now, then it means your book wasn't published anyway, so who cares? And if you're still working on the book in two or three years and there's another book with the same title you want to use, then just pick a new title. Titles almost always change after a book gets bought by a publisher anyway.
Literary Agents / Re: Obsessing over QT data
« Last post by rodeoclown on Yesterday at 11:47:52 AM »
They might not've seen it. After a month, re-query. This is generally only advisable for agents who have a high response rate (i.e. they even respond to their passes)
Literary Agents / Re: Query Out Of Order (Timeline peeking)
« Last post by rodeoclown on Yesterday at 11:45:43 AM »
If it's been a month or more, and if they usually respond to queries, there's also the (strong) possibility that they missed the query or it got trapped by spam or firewall.
I don't think most agents intend to be like this, but a lot of agents are really bad at managing their reading. In practice, if your reading times are long enough, then most of your reading will be done in response to competing offers. And because you're always scrambling to read things at the last minute, the other manuscripts get pushed back. You maybe start to develop a feeling that if this was good, someone would've offered already, which makes you feel not so good.

There's also an advantage to letting submissions simmer. If you're the first to offer, you start off the scramble that leads other people to offer. You gain an advantage from being first (because not everyone will be able to drop everything and read), but you also stand a chance of losing the manuscript and feeling used--like you did the work to read this when nobody else was, and you didn't even get the book! So there's a complex psychology that results in agents letting books simmer in their queue. Of course, ideally agents should be rigidly organized in their reading, should get through manuscripts in a timely fashion, and should be certain of their judgement, so that they're not influenced by whether or not other people want something. In practice, this is difficult.

So while I don't think any agent consciously intends to never respond to submissions w/o an offer, and while I do think most agents do get back to you eventually, even without a competing offer, there are some agents who, for all intents and purposes, you probably shouldn't expect a read (barring some extraordinary initial interest in your query) unless there's another offer. That's why it doesn't make sense to just wait forever for an agent to get back to you.

Oh and sometimes agents HAVE looked at the book and know it's not for them, but for whatever reason (whether because you have a personal connection or because it's the sort of book they really want to like, but just don't). they don't want to reject it outright. So they're waiting for you to get another offer so they can gracefully bow out.
Welcome New Users / Re: Hello
« Last post by eqb123 on October 24, 2020, 05:12:39 PM »
That's sad that you were banned. I know the forum you're talking about, and I've had so much good luck with getting feedback for my query letters and my opening chapters--I credit them with getting offers from agents and publishers. Maybe Lisa (the admin) was having a bad day? They do have thousands of members, and no one there gets paid.
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