Tabitha’s a smart cookie, but
you don't have to repeat the subject (she) in every clause. It's actually better if you don't. When I keep chewing on writers to pare out every unneeded word, this is what I mean.
Back in New Jersey, Tabitha was a talented literature student, but now she’s struggling to compete. When not facing thinly veiled scorn from her classmates or being publicly humiliated for her ignorance of the vernacular, Tabitha soothes her loneliness with tea, chips, and pints of hard cider.
So far all you've done here is tell us about Tabitha. And frankly, she sounds like a sad-sack full of self-pity.
Tabitha eventually settles in with a motley assortment of British students, including a vivacious extrovert who involves her in schemes to finagle free drinks, a morose snooker aficionado who indoctrinates her into his favorite pastime, and an enigmatic aristocrat who invites her into a secret society that convenes on nights of the full moon.
This is all set up and description. What does Tabitha want? What's keeping her from it?
Then Tabitha’s precarious new serenity shatters.
Will sleeps with his best female friend back home, and Tabitha is desolate. Tabitha’s American friends Katy and Ezra find her plunged in despair, and they pull her into their European spring break travels.
This is all backstory, and you'd be lucky if I kept reading to find out where the actual story starts.
story actually begins here------>As the three friends eat and drink their way across Ireland and France, Tabitha wrestles with her conflicted emotions. She’s furious with herself for still loving Will despite his transgression. And yet she finds herself increasingly drawn to the handsome and sympathetic Ezra, who has made his interest in Tabitha evident. Torn by her dueling attractions, Tabitha makes a choice that even she doesn’t expect…
I'm sorry but this is just plain not interesting, let alone enticing. An American girl abroad with a group of students finds herself attracted to one of her merry band. This isn't a plot. It's a set up.
ABROAD is a 76,000-word new adult novel.
This is my first novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Let's get some plot on the page here. What does Tabitha want? When you say she'd be having the time of her life, what did she think she'd be doing? Why isn't she doing it? What's keeping her from doing it?
Everything up to the first place Tabitha has to make a choice is prelude to the story. Most likely that choice is "When Tabitha hears her idiot boyfriend has taken advantage of her year away in England to sleep with all the members of Chi Omega in alphabetical order, Tabitha must decide whether to hire a hit man for revenge, or go to France with her merry band of misfit friends and drown her sorrows in good wine and cheese."
Start over. Focus on what happens, not description.
Dear Query Shark:
Tabitha Macaulay is supposed to be having the time of her life studying abroad in England on a prestigious scholarship. But she feels out-of-place at her British university, and is a continent away from her musician boyfriend Will.
Just as Tabitha settles in with a motley assortment of British and American students, she is devastated to learn that Will has betrayed her. Fellow Americans Katy and Ezra pull Tabitha out of her dejection and into their European spring break travels.
As the three friends eat and drink their way across Ireland and France, Tabitha wrestles with her conflicted emotions: she still loves Will, but finds herself increasingly drawn to the handsome and sympathetic Ezra. Torn by her dueling attractions, Tabitha finally makes the choice that even she doesn’t expect…
She becomes a lesbian? She enters a convent? It better be something that dramatic cause the other options (she decides she doesn't need a boyfriend and/or she falls for Ezra) are pretty low-wattage resolutions.
ABROAD, a 76,000-word new adult
You're telling me the book is about those things. What you've shown me is the book is about a girl whose boyfriend cheats on her while she's away (I could have told her that would happen) and she embarks on a road trip to ease her pain. This is the most standard of plots right now. What you're telling and what you're showing don't match. I believe what you show me.
Just a word to the commenters tempted to leap on the designation new adult: it is a legitimate category and describes books about college age people. YA is generally for protagonists of high school age; New adult is for protagonists aged 18 to about 22.
I have degrees in English and Communication from Rutgers University, and I studied literature abroad at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England.
Aha! I suspect a thinly disguised memoir here. What you need to remember is that real life seldom is the stuff of good novels.
There isn't enough substance here. YA and NA has real heft to it now. I think of books like Courtney Summers' CRACKED UP TO BE; Amy Reed's BEAUTIFUL; Charles Benoit's YOU.
This is my first novel.
Thank you for your time and consideration.