Monday, May 23, 2011

Bob's New Query

With Bob's revision winding down, I find myself in need of a new query. It's still a little rough, but here's what I have so far:

Sixteen-year-old Adair’s life isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. She lives in Mandalay Bay, sure, but the Bay hasn’t seen a high roller since the Last Recession, just an army of luckless squatters. She goes to school at Wynn, but it’s more of a prison camp than an actual high school. And while she doesn’t have a lot of parental supervision, that’s only because her mom is dead and her dad has to work long hours for the man who ruined their lives.

Old Man Hermes did a lot more than revolutionize the biomedia industry when he invented Wingteeth, oral implants that link people’s brainwaves to the Stream. He also created a class system based on technological orientation, with the sharks and their Wingteeth on top, the Toothless grannies on the bottom. Oh, and he also sacrificed her mother’s life to save his precious company. Adair wants to return the favor--by taking his company away from him.

With the help of her secret society, Adair plans to carry out her hostile corporate takeover in five easy steps: First, rustle up an invitation to Old Man Hermes’s annual symposium. Second, assassinate him at the banquet. Third, shut down the Stream. Fourth, make the whole thing look like an accident. Fifth, install one of the grannies as chairman of the board.

What she doesn’t plan is to fall in love with one of the sharks at the symposium or to turn them into zombies when she shuts down the Stream. And she certainly doesn’t expect not to have the guts to murder Old Man Hermes when she gets the perfect chance.

All right, tear it apart. What doesn't make sense? What needs more explanation?

14 comments:

Shallee said...

Hey Krista! Sounds like you made quite the revision. :) I love the premise behind this.

I like the sense of action I get in the query-- Adair seems like one gutsy chic, planning this revolution. Her voice comes through fairly strong as well.

I think the first paragraph is unnecessary; it's primarily backstory. The second paragraph feels a lot like a backstory infodump as well. I think you could trim them both down and combine them-- the basic character info you need is that Adair blames Old Man Hermes for her mom's death. In the second paragraph, that first sentence is perfect, and you can mention the class system, but I don't think you need to go into any further than that.

I also think the third paragraph could be trimmed a lot shorter-- maybe even to a single sentence. The forth paragraph was where I really felt the conflict came in, but I wasn't entirely clear what the conflict was. Is it about her having this plan that goes awry? Or is it about her fixing what has gone awry?

One thing I've found that helps is to write the logline first, focused on four things: character, conflict, choice, and consequences. Once I've got it down to one sentence, it's a lot easier to expand into a query.

I think you've got a lot of nuggets in this one, and you just need to trim it down and clarify the conflict and consequences. I hope this helps! Good luck!

Darke Conteur said...

This needs to be shorter and more focused. The query blurb should be no longer than three paragraphs or 250 words. This is just my suggestions, take out everything in (**)

~~~~~~~~~~

Sixteen-year-old Adair’s [put in a last name] (**life isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. She**) lives in Mandalay Bay, (**sure, but the Bay*)) [a place that] hasn’t seen a high roller since the Last Recession, (**just an army of luckless squatters.*))

(**She goes to school at Wynn, but it’s more of a prison camp than an actual high school. And while she doesn’t have a lot of parental supervision, that’s only because her mom is dead and her dad has to work long hours for the man who ruined their lives.*))

Old Man Hermes did a lot more than revolutionize the biomedia industry when he invented Wingteeth, oral implants that link people’s brainwaves to the Stream. He also created a class system based on technological orientation, with the sharks and their Wingteeth on top, the Toothless grannies on the bottom. Oh, and he also sacrificed her mother’s life to save his precious company. Adair wants to return the favor--by taking his company away from him.

[This comes right out of left field, and throws the voice of the query. The last two sentences should be the focal of this paragraph.]

With the help of her secret society, Adair plans to carry out her hostile corporate takeover in five easy steps: (**First, rustle up an invitation to Old Man Hermes’s annual symposium. Second, assassinate him at the banquet. Third, shut down the Stream. Fourth, make the whole thing look like an accident. Fifth, install one of the grannies as chairman of the board.*))

What she doesn’t plan is to fall in love with one of the sharks [What sharkes? Lost] (**at the symposium*)) or to turn them into zombies when she shuts down the Stream. And she certainly (**doesn’t**) [didn’t] expect (**not*)) to have the guts to murder Old Man Hermes when she gets the (**perfect**) chance.

Ben Spendlove said...

It's perfect! Don't change a thing!

Just kidding. Thought I'd say the least helpful thing I could, seeing as I know too much to be helpful.

I like it, but I don't think the last sentence is necessary.

And I really like your advice from two posts ago. ;)

Krista V. said...

Shallee, thanks for you thoughts. I was trying to build the world with those first and second paragraphs, but I can probably condense some of the details. I'll tinker with it.

Darke Conteur, you've given me some food for thought. I'm not too concerned about the length, since the whole query, with agent personalization and contact info and everything, fits easily on one page. But I can definitely still trim some things, and you've pointed out some extraneous bits. Thanks for your help.

Yeah, Ben, you do know too much to be helpful:) And thanks for reminding me about that post I wrote not too long ago. I tend to forget that...

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Krista, I love it! I'd only change one part: I think you're giving too much information in that last paragraph. Maybe just the line about... what she doesn't expect is to fall in love with one of the sharks. And leave it at that.

But that's just my two cents. You know I'm not a query genius, so feel free to ignore me. :)

This is exciting! Getting closer every day....

Amy

Jeanmarie Anaya said...

Krista, this book sounds hilarious. I was able to pick up on little bits of humor here and there, which is nice because it's all part of the voice. I agree almost word for word with Shallee's suggestions. I understood what you were aiming for in paragraph 2 but I think it can be condensed or at least picked over until just the essentials are left.

If you're still looking for more help, check out Susan Dennard's blog link on her main website www.susandennard.com. She's YA author replied by Sara Kendall of Nancy Coffey Literary. She runs a free query critique contest every month. First 10 people to submit their queries get a crit from Susan and she also posts a few of the queries submitted on the blog for public feedback. My own query was featured this month. It was a great experience.

Jeanmarie Anaya said...

OMG with the typos above. I hate blog-hopping on my phone. Grrrrrrr........

Myrna Foster said...

Hmm. I'm throwing my lot in with the unhelpfuls. I like it. I'd change some things in the last paragraph, but those might be stylistic differences.

Agents want details and voice, and you know what those are better than anyone. Trust yourself.

Krista V. said...

Jeanmarie, I'm glad you picked up on the, shall we say, subtle humor:) I tend to write about pretty serious stuff, but I like to alleviate some of the seriousness with wryness. And thanks for the heads-up about Susan Dennard's site. Sounds like she's doing great things over there.

Myrna, thank you. Interesting that both you and Amy think I should pare down that last paragraph, because that's the one I was feeling gave too much away. I know some people have suggested expanding on that paragraph, but that's the turning point of the manuscript, the point at which the direction of the story veers dramatically off-course, and I usually end my queries right there. Too hard to summarize the whole book.

Monica B.W. said...

You've got some great advice here! And I love the premise. I wish you luck with it! :D
I would try to shorten the pitch to 200 words or so...

Esther Vanderlaan said...

OK, yes, (that is, if you don't mind,) this is kinda long..... also, this part ' Oh, and he also sacrificed her mother’s life to save his precious company' was a little confusing around the 'her mother’s life'. Who's mother's life? I understood, naturally, but still..... But, boy, do I wanna read this book. That's for sure. It sounds like "The Matrix", only in a book. Espeacially this line: Old Man Hermes did a lot more than revolutionize the biomedia industry when he invented Wingteeth, oral implants that link people’s brainwaves to the Stream. Whoa! That grabs my attention.

GREAT JOB!!!!! Wish I was that far along. :)

Esther Vanderlaan said...

Ooh, one more thing.

LOVE this part!

With the help of her secret society, Adair plans to carry out her hostile corporate takeover in five easy steps: First, rustle up an invitation to Old Man Hermes’s annual symposium. Second, assassinate him at the banquet. Third, shut down the Stream. Fourth, make the whole thing look like an accident. Fifth, install one of the grannies as chairman of the board.

Yeah... perfectly easy!

Karen Denise said...

I too agree with Shallee. I think I remember seeing an older version of this on Kt Literary, Daphne's blog. I've always found this interesting and can't wait until I can read it!

As I was reading this query, I found it hard to get through the first paragraph. I wanted to know what the book was about, not the background of the character, just at that point. Maybe just a sentence to lead into her situation.

The second paragraph almost felt like a query for a differnent
story. But that is where the story begins to take off.

I think the best place to start is with Adair's desire to bring down Old Man Hermes and why, then go into the how she plans to do it. And then follow with the monkey wrench in the plan...her falling in love and losing the nerve to kill Old Man Hermes.

As always, just my opinion, but I hope it helps! Good luck with it. :-)

Krista V. said...

Monica, thanks for your advice. As I've been tweaking it, the query has been getting shorter, so that's probably good.

Thanks for your thoughts, Esther. I'm glad it sounds like something you'd like to read.

You're right, Karen - that first paragraph probably goes on too long. I've been trying so hard to build the world in the manuscript that I'm not surprised I put so many of those details into the query. The world is just so different from the way it is now, and the world contributes a lot to why Adair does what she does. You can't have a revolution unless things are REALLY bad, you know? Back to tweaking...