What Makes An Old Story Shiny and New?

Three months ago I would’ve said my first completed young adult manuscript was a junker. All the air had leaked from the tires and it stood abandoned by the roadside. My former agent didn’t want it, and thirty more agents probably hadn’t even bothered to read it before rejecting. That baby had seen ten revisions, three conference critique groups, and four radically different opening chapters. Yet no new interest. Time to move on and focus on an even better young adult work-in-progress, or so I thought.

Suddenly that old story is shiny and new again, and I’m eagerly prepping it for the Baker’s Dozen contest. What changed?

Time passed.

Perspective was gained.

I slogged past all that rejection and re-read my manuscript, rediscovering my love for the characters and their adventure.

A log line critique was won. Special thanks to Tara for her awesome comments and suggestions.

And my very brave critique partner told me my query letter stunk. Double special thanks to Karin for saying what needed to be said.

Finally, I got it. Log lines and synopsis paragraphs are even more important than the manuscript itself during an agent search. I’d toiled away for years on my precious manuscript, soliciting critiques and advice anywhere I could get them. But I threw together those other “stupid” submission requirements in a few hours, sending them out without so much as a second opinion.


If your log line doesn’t catch an agent’s eye, and your query doesn’t showcase your writing voice, no one will even look at that opening chapter you’ve been slaving over.

Today I left my manuscript at home when I headed to the writing cave. Time to give the logline and query letter some much overdue attention

About Jennifer Kay

Jennifer Kay is a KidLit author and Structural Engineer. She has a VCFA MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, is an SCBWI Rockford Network Rep, edits the SCBWI IL Prairie Wind, and belongs to Mystery Writers of America. Jennifer works as a writer, freelance editor, literary agency reader, and creative writing teacher.
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