Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #18

(Redacted)

19 comments:

Karen Akins said...

Query sounds great. I was a little confused when she was describing her mom's attempts to set her up. After you said her mom set her up with a chick, I assumed she was a lesbian and that Becks was a girl. Then Becks was a boy. Just a teeny bit confusing.

Also, the romantic tension seems a little stunted when you tell us that both she and Becks are secretly in love with each other. For querying purposes, I might feel a little more drawn in if I don't know whether he likes her back.

Your opening page gives us a good idea about who she is and her personality. I'd definitely keep reading.

Vicki Tremper said...

This really is adorkable. The query is quite long, however. I think you can cut out the mother's attempts to set her up, and just give us the bare essentials of Sally, her goal, the conflict and the stakes.

Also, at the top you say AKA Spitz, but then use the nickname Sal in the paragraph about Becks. Keep it consistent.

Lots of voice in the excerpt and the query!

Kathleen Basi said...

I love the query. And the title! If I was an agent I'd ask for pages on the strength of that alone. :) Yes, it was longer, but it didn't feel that way. It pulled me through.

I have a harder time judging the opening, because it's just too short for me to know.

Hope Roberson said...

You have great voice!
I liked your query, kept me interested. If anything, the sixth paragraph could be tightened up if length becomes an issue, but I would say leave it if you can.
Even though this idea has been done many times before, I wanted to keep reading and think you have a great story here! Good luck!

Elissa said...

I love your writing voice. It's quirky, flows well, and is easy to read. I thought the query was a little long, though and could stand to be condensed a bit. Possibly even take out the whole paragraph “When Sally asks him to be her F.B.F. (fake boyfriend), Becks is only too happy to be used. He would do anything for Sal--even if that means giving her PDA lessons in his bedroom, saying she's "more than pretty," and expertly kissing her at parties. Sal's his closest friend, his number one…and Becks isn't the only one who's clueless.”
Other than that, I’m intrigued and I’m interested in learning how being friends first can complicate things for Sally and Becks.

Anna said...

Love the voice. I did get a little bogged down in all the abbreviations in the query, but I am not of the texting-since-birth generation, so that's probably just me.

Melodie Wright said...

Agree w/ everyone on the query length. I loved it, tho. Great job!

Your excerpt, tho, wasn't as grabby. It was dense, no dialogue, and your voice (so evident in the query) seemed distant. My suggestion - assuming your scene is about the lesbian date - jump to the end. Maybe "Looking back, I should've seen the signs. Stella wore a mohawk, etc. etc. etc." This scene isn't part of your main plot, right? so make it short, snappy and fun.

Escape Artist said...

I enjoyed how you went for something different with this query, however, the definitions made it come across strongly as MG.
Word length aim is under 250. I'd tighten it up.

I couldn't get past the fact that for YA, would a mother really be setting up their daughter with dates? I don't know, maybe later in life she might have a go, but for around sixteen, seventeen, I didn't buy it. Sorry.

I too think you need to bring some of that cheekiness we immediately feel in the query, into this first page. It would be terrific if you carried that through. Sounds like a very fun read and I'll look forward to it!

PAT said...

Love the title, enjoyed the query and with only 250 words, I've already got a sense of the adorkable-ness of Sally! Based on the query alone I'd want to read more ('Bally' - too funny) and the 250 just add to my anticipation! Great start - great job!

CMSage said...

Loved your query letter....spirited and I knew right away that I would like Sally and root for her. Your excerpt really made me want to read more. Good luck,

Jessica Love said...

Great voice!

We get a little into Becks's head in the query in these lines:
"When Sally asks him to be her F.B.F. (fake boyfriend), Becks is only too happy to be used. He would do anything for Sal--even if that means giving her PDA lessons in his bedroom, saying she's "more than pretty," and expertly kissing her at parties. Sal's his closest friend, his number one…and Becks isn't the only one who's clueless."

Is this story also from his POV? Or just hers? Because if it is just hers, you should probably take his POV out of the query. If the story is also in his POV, make that clear somewhere so we know to expect it somewhere.

This sounds like a LOT of fun. Good luck!

Ninja Girl said...

Hey there,
I just wanted to thank everyone for all the comments. So, I'm thinking y'all are saying it's a bit too long?? Alright, I can definitely work on that. I came up with about six versions of this query before settling on this one, so most of the suggestions are in one version or the other ;) Also, thank you for your suggestions. The next sentence is where it starts getting into the dialogue (one of my favorite things to write), but I've already found a few places in the fifth and sixth paragraphs where I can tweak it so that comes within the first 250. I never expected to get such great responses, first time I've put Sally and Becks out there, so thank you all very much.
Ninja Girl

Jenn said...

I absolutely *loved* this beginning. It really drew me in and I was disappointed when it ended. If I were in a bookstore browsing I would absolutely keep reading. This sounds like totally the kind of story I love!

Maggie Hall said...

This is so cute! I would totally read this. I agree that the query was a little long, and I was thrown by this line: "thirteen was a chick, but nine is still the worst" (maybe I'm just being dumb, but I didn't understand what it meant).

I would definitely read on!

Karen lee Hallam said...

Just have to chime in and say, I love the voice too--pulled in by the rhythm and clearness. Sounds like it's going to be fun It did come across as maybe an upper middle grade (happens to be what I'm writing too)
Looking forward to reading more. Good luck!

Kate Schafer Testerman said...

This is another query that I previously received in my own inbox, albeit in a slightly different (shorter) form. I actually held onto it beyond my promised two-week timeframe to give it a closer look, but after sitting on it and reading a little bit more of a sample, I wasn't blown away by Sally as a compelling character. With contemporary YA still such a hard sell, not only does it need to have a strong hook (somewhat missing here), it just needs to be so exceptional, so amazing, that I'm afraid the bar is set even higher than usual.

While this hit a lot of high points for me, it didn't hit enough.

Ninja Girl said...

Thanks for the feedback! The hook is the same, but I thought I'd done considerable work to the query--added plot points, said how it was different etc. I thought it was my query that let me down...ah well. Thanks again.
Ninja Girl

Inky said...

Ninja Girl, can we be friends? From your writing I get the feeling that we would make great net-friends. :)

That's the greatest strength of both your query and your excerpt - you (and your MC) are just so easy to like!

The query did feel a little long for me, and the easiest fix for that is to cut the details that don't show voice or add to the stakes. I also noticed a trend toward rules-of-3 in both the query and excerpt (homework, a troll, and goobers; love, friendship, and a snuggie, etc). These are most effective when not overused, in my humble opinion - I'd keep the Yoda snuggie one, because it made me laugh out loud and keep reading!

The excerpt is funny and grabs you right away, though I'm a little confused as to why her mother would be setting Sally up with people at age 17...

Overall, though, it sounds really promising, and if it were physically possible I would give your title a huge hug.

Ninja Girl said...

@Inky Yes, we can most certainly be friends ;) Thank you so much for your comment, made me smile and a bit teary eyed actually (in the best way). Hope you have a great one, and if you've got subs or queries out there, I wish you all the best!
Ninja Girl