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Here is a really interesting tweet (copied in full because I can't get a link to work!) about constr…
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  •  · Ah for the ability to be concise!  Particularly like the bit about the opening clause
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I came across this link on another writers' site, and found it a helpful reminder of what to look ou…
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  •  · The only one I disagree with is number 19.
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Here's a link to an interesting 7 part Tweet by Literary agent Hannah Fergesen about critique partne…
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  •  · There's also www.scribophile.com but critiques there vary from priceless to totally useless. Best wa…
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I read a useful bit of advice from one of my favourite writers, Bernard Cornwell.'If you're bored by…
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  •  · I re-wrote the first 10+ chapters in a whole new POV because it didn't work and had to scrap the rem…
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Details of some themed submission calls that might be of interest to short story writers and poets.h…
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If anyone would like to read one of my short stories, my HWA longlisted story is now available in Su…
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  •  · Thanks, Graham. Delighted you enjoyed it.

A new husband needed! 🤣 Glad it was helpful and sorry I started calling Joe Ed halfway through! Slaps forehead.

Hi Adele - thanks for sharing this with us. It's very exciting that you've got agent 1-1s booked.

I think this has lots of potential. You've got a great mix of characters with seemingly shady pasts. There is plenty of mystery and tension surrounding Joe and Zoe's relationship. There's also the conflict between Tanya and Zoe. And then the interruption of Will sewing more disarray. You end with the problem of the only source of information available to Zoe is from someone she clearly doesn't get on with.

A potentially great set up.

The main problem, for me, is that you start with an information dump of backstory, which doesn't draw me into the mystery. I also think you are stealing your own thunder by telling us up front exactly what happened between Ed and Zoe.

Do you think it would be more effective if you were to string the reader along and allow them to work out for themselves what the connection is? Let them wonder why Zoe is hesitant about staying. Why her memories of Ed are so mixed and why she has lost contact with her friends. Drip feed the information.  That might present the reader with a mystery they want to know the answer to and will keep them reading, rather than telling them the details up front.

To achieve that you could cut the first paragraphs and start at  'On the slippery leaf strewn path...'? (I love the 'drift of crow black mourners' phrase btw). You can drop in a mention of Zoe's child to add to the intrigue through Zoe's thoughts at the funeral. Let the reader try to work out who the father might be.

A few small thing:

I felt you are overwriting slightly when Will interrupts. For example -

'Hit by a shockwave, a collective shudder ripped through us. We looked on aghast. '

I'd suggest cutting the second sentence. The first shows us beautifully without having to also tell us in the second.

I'd also suggest using the read back function on word. That will help you see the odd extra word that is in there, the places where you've got an 'ing' where it should have been an 'ed' word ending. I think there was also a wrong tense at one point. I always find that a useful way to polish the prose.

You should also use double line spacing when you send it to the agent.

Hope some of that is helpful and good luck with the 1-1s.


I think that's one of the best laid out I've seen. Thanks, Libby.

Hi Janice

You mention you intended to write this in first person, but actually, as Andrew mentioned, the majority of it is in third person with just the occasional slip into first.

For example, for the first paragraph to be in first person, it would read as:

' The day is not going well.  I was annoyed with myself at making a later start than usual on my homework.  Sitting at the large oak table the sun is streaming in the large bay windows spreading long yellow beams across the ruby red carpet.   Shading my eyes with my hand I look out into the garden.  A family of beautiful blue tits sparkled in the sun light as they fluttered onto the silver bid feeder. '

Your second paragraph is then in first person, but the third and subsequent are back in third.

While first person YA is very popular, I think it's a lot less than 90%. The figures I've seen quoted are 60 - 65%. Look at recent books like 'The Good Girl's Guide to Murder,' by Holly Jackson. That's third person. So if you find it easier to write in third, don't be put off using that for YA.

Hope that's helpful.

Good luck, Alan. Hope the fickle gods smile on you.

Mine arrived yesterday, Laure. Super excited to read it. I hope you're having a fabulous time basking in well deserved authorial success.

Added a forum 

Here is a really interesting tweet (copied in full because I can't get a link to work!) about constructing loglines from @baddestmamajama

1. Try Making It About The Core loglines get cluttered when there’s too much extraneous information and details. Start your process by cutting everything but the core plot/relationship. “A boy bonds with a stray dog.” “A group of casino workers team up to rob their boss.”

 In a lot of loglines, you’ll see details of side plots and specifics crammed in there. “A boy, from Nova Scotia, whose friend moved away, meets a stray dog in junkyard over the summer and sneaks him into the house”. All of that may happen, but it’s too much detail. 

A logline is an advertisement for your script the way a billboard is an advertisement for the movie. Get the side characters and extraneous details out. Just give me the boy and the dog so I know what I’m looking at. 

2. Adjectives Suggest Conflict A well-placed adjective is a trick to shorthand the theme or the emotion of the script. Consider: “A boy bonds with a stray dog” Vs. “A lonely boy bonds with an aggressive stray dog.” Ooh! Conflict!

3. Try to Make It One Sentence This is brutal! And subjective! Two is plausible, but I see a lot that are three or four or five, and that is RIGHT OUT. Even just as an exercise, try a one-sentence version. It’ll help you clarify the core of the story. Just trryyyyy. 

4. But An Opening Clause Is Your Friend What if when you break it down to the core plot or relationship, it still doesn’t make sense without an additional piece of info? This happens with period pieces and sci-fi a lot, and the opening clause is your best friend. For example:  

If the core story is “two shy people fall in love” and that doesn’t cover it, instead of going to two sentences, clause that motherfucker: “Amidst the bawdy early days of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, two shy courtiers break all the rude rules by falling in love.” 

An opening clause lets you get an extra piece of info across, and, to my eye, looks a bit dressier than a straightforward sentence. It’s also, IMO, the best place to introduce a ticking clock element- look at these two versions: 

“A rookie cop must lead a perilous rescue mission to save the mayor’s son from kidnappers planning to execute him in 24 hours.” Vs “With a ransom deadline  running out, a rookie cop must lead a perilous rescue mission to save the Mayor’s son from execution by brutal kidnappers.” 

For me, using an opening clause to immediately establish tension  is one of the best ways to energize a dull logline. 

5. Consider Begging For Help It can be hard to objectively parse your own story. There’s two good ways to get help. Have a friend who has read the script brainstorm with you, or pitch the logline you have to someone who hasn’t read the script. 

The second can be useful because a log that needs more work usually will raise logistical or tonal questions. If someone responds by saying “wait, so the SPACESHIP can talk?” Or “wait, so is it a comedy?” Suggests you have clarity issues to fix. Listen for what confuses them. 

Those would be my basic starting suggestions on how to craft a logline. I’m sure you can find many great logs that break my method, but this will hopefully at least get you started if you’re having trouble. 

As always, YMMV, no I am in no position to be giving anyone advice, yes I do know Quentin Tarantino probably does it differently, and I’m sure in your specific case, I am wrong.







The first draft of my current WIP was only 65k words. But like you I knew the plot needed going over and expanding. Some people overwrite, but I'm definitely an under writer. Now I'm at the finer edits stage and up to 80k words. So I think your plan is realistic. Good luck.

Added a comment to Feedback 

Yes. Go to Peer-to-peer critiques on Forums.

If your intending on going the traditional route and applying to agents, I've read that 90k words is a perfect length. Any longer and printing costs go up and that's prohibitive for publishers when they're taking a gamble with a debut author.

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