Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.
Art by Lynn Phillips Nelson
And now for the next brave volunteer. For clarity, my comments are in this color. Because nobody liked the yellow 🙂
Ghosts don’t exist. At least, that’s what seventeen-year-old Emma Harris thought before one hurled her and mysterious classmate Daniel Wyatt back in time. Okay, it’s not a *bad* hook, but it’s kind of a mouthful to get to the goods. You start off with what I call “the contradiction hook” – statement + contradiction = action to prove it’s so. Granted, I totally made that up just now, but it’s kind of a formulaic thing that needs a name, and I’ve decided it should be called the “contradiction hook.” Find something hook-ier. The idea that not only is our MC thrown back in time, but with someone “mysterious” not of her choosing is what you want to highlight, but right now it’s a mouthful to get there. Now in 19th century America, the ghost is a living, breathing, flirting girl named Lucinda Sutton. The same Lucinda Sutton who disappeared on her wedding night, according to town legend. Oh now that’s interesting. Start here – this is your hook, rephrase to get it up there front and center.
Nice, but why do they want to help her? Only for themselves? Or do they actually want to save her, too? Earlier when you used the word “flirting” to describe her I was immediately imagining that either there was going to be a love-triangle here, or some kind of jealousy on Emma’s part in regards to Daniel. But that doesn’t go anywhere, and it would be a huge hook in YA. How does Emma feel about Lucinda? Does she want to save her life just to return to her own rightful place in time? How does Emma feel about Daniel as the novel progresses? Are her feelings changing? You say she stayed away from her before, now he’s her anchor. How does she feel about that? Repulsed? Scared? Angry? Confused? Attracted?
This is well-written but you need to get the character feelings in here to give it some blood.