Friday, June 1, 2018

Query Kombat Round 1: #SexEd vs Fate Doesn't Care About Your Plans

Title: Deafinitely

Entry Nickname: #SexEd

Word count: 79K

Genre: YA Contemporary (#own #dis #rehabilitated #WOC)

Query:

Seventeen-year-old Lia Rossi plans on making the most of her junior year. Hello, people? She’s the new official Social Coordinator, and her first order of business is advocating a Sex Ed program—for the Special Ed class.

This sounds sketchy coming from the town it-girl (read: party girl), but she really thinks anyone who wants safe, satisfying sex should be able to learn about it. Just as people start taking her seriously, disaster strikes. The new girl in town flat-out ignores Lia’s warm welcome into the student body. So Lia deals with her accordingly, like any sensible person at the top of the social ladder would. The only problem is, Fallyn’s Deaf.

Now, half the school, including the disabled students, are questioning if Lia’s too shallow and ignorant to be anyone’s advocate. To say she’s pissed would be an understatement. Not that her feelings should take precedence over theirs, but she just hates the fact that they’re doubting her depth. Especially when she really believes in the empowerment of the Sex Ed program.

But if she truly wants to be taken seriously—and if she truly wants to help fight a battle that’s not her own—Lia must do more than cross social divides. She must let the Special Ed students lead the way towards a sex and self revelation. No, scratch that. A revolution.

First 250:


I’m in the center of the Student Council office. Like literally standing in the middle of the famous round table. Before me, two pairs of eyes watch my every move. One gray (President Brooke), the other dark, nearly black pools (Secretary Emilio).

They look me over as if picking me apart, searching for every flaw they can and will find. Especially Brooke. “Let’s cut the crap, shall we?” she says. “You want on the Council and you’re using the Special Ed class to get there. That’s new, I’ll give you that, but…”

She narrows her eyes. “You’re a silver-spoon slacker. Anyone who’s ever been forced into a group project with you knows that for a fact. You’ll get bored when the hype dies down, and then everyone else will be stuck getting the job done. Another good idea by Lia, but no real execution or commitment when it counts.”

I gasp, feeling like that one blinking gif guy. I mean, damn, using the Special Ed class? Good ideas but no real commitment? That’s no way to talk to her future Social Coordinator. An angry blush prickles over my cheeks, and unlike Emilio, my skin’s not warm enough to cover it.

But I can’t snap on them.

Under no circumstances can I blow this interview. Not only do I need the Council’s resources for my Sex Ed campaign (#prioritiesONpoint), but I can’t go home with bad news. I haven’t mastered the art of crying beautifully yet, so no way is that an option.



VERSUS

Title: Before I Leave You

Entry Nickname: Fate Doesn't Care About Your Plans

Word Count: 75K

Genre: YA Contemporary

Query:

Eighteen-year-old Sophie has spent the last few years struggling to breathe, going in and out of the hospital more times than she can count. But all that changed when she finally received the lung transplant she’d been praying for. After a painful recovery, her worst fear is that someday she'll reject the transplant, so she’s eager to take her new lungs out for a test drive and enjoy life while she still can. Sophie spends the summer before she goes to college speeding around on her motorbike and whipping up irresistible goodies at her family's bakery. She never expected Jason, the brother of her organ donor, to walk through the door.

After Jason’s sister dies in a car accident that he caused, he blames himself and can't move past the grief. Desperate to end the pain, he plans to kill himself, but first he wants to meet all of the people his sister’s organs saved. Sophie is the last one, and meeting her means he’s ready to end his suffering. But when Sophie finds a bucket list on his sister’s blog, she convinces him they should complete it for her, and he puts his plan on hold.

Together, Sophie and Jason travel the world and complete the items on the list. They dance in Time Square, see the Northern Lights, and kiss on top of the Eiffel Tower. The more time they spend together, the more they both start to heal. Completing the list gives Sophie a way to repay her organ donor and Jason a reason to live, but the closer they get to the end, the more Sophie is convinced she's rejecting the lungs. Both must decide if they’re willing to fight for love, even if it has an expiration date.

BEFORE I LEAVE YOU, complete at 75,000 words, is a dual point of view YA Contemporary that’s SEVEN POUNDS meets THE BUCKET LIST.


First 250:

After months of searching, I finally had a name.

Sophie Meyer.

I found her. The last person on my list. The last recipient I hadn’t met. The last piece of my sister.

The darkness that had built a home in the hollow part of my chest where my heart should be swirled at the implication of this discovery. This girl was the end of the pain. Of the constant, constricting guilt that choked me every day for the past year.

My cousin, Chris, nudged me in the ribs. “Earth to Jason.”

I looked up from the piece of paper in my hand, a printout of a small town news article titled Local Girl Gets Life Saving Transplant. “Sorry, what?”

“I asked you what you’re going to do now.” He shifted his weight to the edge of the couch in my living room.

“I’m going to go to this town and find her.” The conversation we needed to have could only be done in person.

“Isn’t that like, a six-hour drive?”

Dread twisted my gut. I hadn’t been in a car that long since the accident. I wasn’t sure I could handle driving that far, but it wasn’t like I could just message her online. What would I say? Hi there. My name’s Jason, and I cyber stalked you because you have my little sister’s lungs.

“I’ll deal with it,” I told him.

“I could come with?”

I shook my head. “No, I need to do this alone.”

19 comments:

  1. JUDGES ONLY: Please reply to this comment with your feedback and match decision. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Both of these sound delightful

      #SexEd

      QUERY:

      The voice of the character comes out with aplomb and I’m a fan of people who want to do the right thing, but are sort of inept at it, which is what Lia sounds like. It gives us someone to root for. My only real question with the query is about the stakes. What exactly will happen to Lia, or Fallyn, or the other kids if the program fails? If the story is only about Lia’s sense of integrity, it might come as too shallow for some people.

      Or if that is the main stakes, make sure we understand that it’s a BIG deal. Stakes don’t have to be world ending, but it helps when they have some sense of immediacy.

      FIRST 250:

      Your sample carries the strengths of your query. We're right there in the characters head, what she’s trying to do, the skepticism we see her face (which sound like it may be warranted, heh). But we don’t yet know, what truly drives her. It might be too early to get into that level of development, but I do want to know more about Lia and why she’s doing this. Something in the query could help.

      Also, a quick example of what makes the roundtable famous could be a good chance for some early worldbuilding.

      Nice work. I’d deafinitely keep reading.

      FATE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOUR PLANS

      QUERY:

      This query is really solid and I don’t really know how to critique it. There are stakes, great specific details. It does sound a little familiar – there are similar books out there – so if you have something to make it stand out in the genre, I’d try to make it stand out. Whether it be some medical detail about lung transplants or perhaps a character quirk. We know exactly what the characters want, but we don’t necessarily know who they are personality wise. It sounds like their trauma makes up most of their identity right now. I'd like to know more about them outside of that.

      This isn’t my genre, though, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about.

      Really nice job.

      FIRST 250:

      In the past I’ve seen people get get tripped up when the opening is from a different perspective than the MC in the query, but since the character is in the query, this isn't an issue here (for me at least). It’s clear and I like how you ease into what’s going on and the exposition comes out very naturally. It’s a tiny bit more tell than show, however, and I think there could be a way to convey his apprehension by using the space he’s in. But it’s clear what’s going on and if I picked up the book I’d be interested to see where it goes.

      Great work both of you.

      WINNER:

      FATE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOUR PLANS

      Delete
    2. The Red CardiganJune 2, 2018 at 12:25 PM

      SexEd: Oh, wow what a great premise! This query is tight and clear, and I love that the voice of the book is shining through the query! Well done! I am a little unclear of Lia’s motivations… why does the school party girl become so passionate about sex ed for the special ed class? Does she have a reason behind this obsession? Also, this is listed as ownvoices, but I am not sure if you share the same marginalization as the deaf character. If so, great. If not, I highly recommend you have the manuscript read by a deaf or hard of hearing sensitivity reader. Either way, I love the idea of a YA book that features several characters with disabilities. First page: love the voice here. Completely on-point for YA contemp. I am curious about why Brook discounts everything Lia is trying to do, though. Does Lia have a history of getting excited about things and not following though? Specifics here would help. And again, I’m curious as to why this sex ed project is important to her (not that it’s not an admirable endeavour, I just need a better feel as to why Lia cares about it.) Well done though. I’d read this.

      Fate Doesn't Care About Your Plans: Ooh this sounds like a tear-jerker! I like the premise here, but I didn’t get a feel in the query about how heart-wrenching the story is. We’ve got a lung-transplant, a death, and a suicidal teen, but the emotions don’t come through in the query. I know that’s super hard to do in a query. Also, most of the back story can be cut in the query. Since the first page starts with Jason’s POV, I think the query should start there. And the long paragraph about Sophie’s illness can be shortened, since that happed before the book started. First Page: Ah! I found the emotion! I had a great feel for how devastated Jason is. How scared he is to drive again. Well done. No complaints about this page. It’s well done.

      These are both so great, and picking one is super hard, but I’m awarding victory to SexEd for the unique premise and the much-needed diverse disability rep in YA.

      Delete
    3. #SexEd

      The "Hello, people?" line is voicey, but it threw me. I reread your first paragraph three times and I'm still not sure what that line's trying to convey. Maybe move it to the end of the paragraph and tack a few more words onto it?

      In general, I'm having a little difficulty connecting with Lia's character, and one line in particular sums up why: "Not that her feelings should take precedence over theirs, but she just hates the fact that they’re doubting her depth." The way the query is presented, it reads--at least to me--as if Lia's feelings taking precedence over those she's wronged is exactly what's happening. If there's a redemptive arc for Lia wanting to do better and make amends (and not just to reclaim her place atop the social hierarchy), which the stakes seem to hint at, I'm not quite seeing it yet.

      I don't have a lot to add to your 250. The voice is fantastic and comes through loud and clear. Only minor stumbling point was the paragraph divide between two and three. It made me think someone new was speaking, but the tag implies it's Brooke continuing to do so. Tripped me up a little as I read, and, assuming it is Brooke, you could safely combine them into one paragraph to clear that up.


      FATE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT YOUR PLANS

      Your query is incredibly solid. Made me care about Sophie right out the gate. Good job! I've got nothing really to add. My only real suggestions here are that I'm not getting a firm grasp of Jason's personlity outside of his trauma, and that the stakes feel a hair vague (but this last bit's very minor).

      Okay, now I just feel bad because I have literally nothing helpful to say about your 250 other than a big thumbs up. I wish I could be more help, but this isn't my genre so I'm not terribly familiar with trends/tropes/etc. That, and it all looks rock-solid to me.


      These both sound like intriguing stories, but there can be only one winner.

      Victory to FATE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT YOUR PLANS!

      Delete

    4. ------------------------------------------------
      #SexEd
      ------------------------------------------------

      Query: Good start here, but could use some trimming. Also, I think we need to know what Lia does to Fallyn. Also you should introduce Fallyn as the new girl, not name her only after the fact. I like the story it’s telling though. You just need to cut our query down a bit, and make each word count. Also aside from just generally advocating for everyone to have a good and safe time, is there a reason Lia chooses this as her project/cause? I wish we understood her motivation a bit more.

      First 250 Words: This is a great start. I’m a bit uncertain a school president would be quite this blunt, but I’m willing to go with you on it. The use of # is very charming. I feel like any teen would be very into this story. You are speaking with them, not at them :)


      ------------------------------------------------
      Fate Doesn't Care About Your Plans
      ------------------------------------------------


      Query: This sounds like a charming movie. Part “Fault in Our Stars/A walk to Remember” and part “Return to me” Honestly, I love this, my only real question is….where do they get the money to do this? And whose parents are cool with their recovering daughter jet setting around the world with some boy who they barely know? The query is strong enough that I assume these questions are answered, so I don’t think that needs to really be addressed. I do think you might benefit from naming Jason’s sister just so it’s clear which young woman is being discussed.

      First 250 Words: wow...this is elegant writing. I’m very impressed.This feels like it’ll require very little editing.
      ------------------------------------------------
      Victory to: #SexEd. I know Fate Doesn't Care About Your Plans is elegantly written, and honestly making a choice her is terrible (I wish you’d both been paired differently for a first round!) For me #SexEd got my vote because it’s a bit more out there and daring. It’s a tiny bit rougher than Fate Doesn't Care About Your Plans (which again, I can’t state how well written that is!) but I just think it’s going somewhere I’ve not been, and I’m interested in going there with them.

      Delete
    5. #SexEd


      Query:
      Wow. Talk about a deep, complex, and relevant plot
      First 250:

      The voice and character development of this are fantastic. I don’t have much to say.


      Fate Doesn't Care About Your Plans

      Query:

      [This sounds very sweet!]


      First 250:

      I didn’t have anything to say here, either. Good writing.

      I would read both of these, but one was a bigger gut-punch for me than the other, and had excellent voice.

      VICTORY TO #SEXED

      Delete
    6. #SexEd
      This is interesting and given the title, it almost feels like Lia and Fallyn will be teaming up at some point; however the query doesn't reflect this. If that is where you're going, I would suggest you find a way to work Fallyn into the query.

      Otherwise, Lia simply pops off the page, both in the query and in the first 250, so I'd definitely give this one a read.

      Fate Doesn't Care About Your Plans

      First of all, both the query and the first 250 are elegantly written. I have two problems here: 1. As a disabled person, I'm just a tad burned out on dying disabled person in love with healthy person and will their love survive?

      This is a grand case of it's not you, it's me. It sounds like a beautiful story that you are attempting to treat it with respect.

      The second thing is that you begin your query with Sophie and start the novel with Jason, so I was a little conflicted about whose story this actually is--Sophie's or Jason's? It's not a bad thing, but for some reason it threw me, because I was expecting to see Sophie first based on how you presented the stories in the query.

      This will be a great story for someone, it's just not for me.

      Victory to #SexEd

      Delete
    7. #SexEd

      Query:
      I’m still a little confused on a few points. Just some things that struck me as reading.
      • Is Lia in the special ed class herself? If not, what is her connection to it? Where does her interest in it begin?
      • Are special ed students generally not included in the sex ed that other students receive? (I went to catholic school so all sex ed was required for everyone and I am sure different than in this case) If not, why not? Did they have no sex ed classes before Lia intervenes? Why?
      • When you mention that Fallyn ignores Lia’s warm welcome, but then you say Fallyn is deaf, do you mean that Lia misinterpreted her deafness as her ignoring her? If so, just say that so it is clear.
      • How does Lia deal with Fallyn? You do not explain the specifics, which I think would be important here.
      • “wants to help fight a battle that’s not her own” – this phrase makes me wonder why the story is Lia’s in the first place and not the story of one of the students in the class.
      I think that if you clarify these points, the query will be much stronger.

      First 250:
      At first I pictured her standing on top of a round table, but then I get that it must be a ring with the center removed.

      Something about the break between paragraphs 2 and 3 is hard, as it is the same speaker. Could you do 2 different speakers there? Just to make it easier to read.

      I want to know more about Lia and her motivations here, not just what people think of her. So maybe whittle that part down more and give us more interiority.

      VS

      Fate Doesn't Care About Your Plans
      Query:
      Organ-donor-relative falls in love with organ-recipient. I know that other books have touched on similar topics, so I would really try to get across what makes this story unique and different than what has been seen before, especially as the bucket list items you mention seem to be pretty expected. What are the items on the bucket list that are fresh? (or what parts of that checking-off-the-list globetrotting experience are fresh?) Also, how do these teens have money to travel the world? Are they doing it in luxury or on a shoestring?

      Just a note to be sure to get sensitivity readers (if you have not already) in several different areas on this piece. Even if one or more of these areas are your own rep, I think since you are touching on such sensitive topics, the more eyes the better!

      First 250:
      As an exercise, strip this down to just the dialogue and see if it can be made any more unique, voicey, etc. Right now the dialogue seems somewhat generic, whereas the writing around it has some really lovely touches. Try to give us more about each character—and something about their relationship-- in how they speak. What are they not saying? What do they start to say and then hold back on? How does what our POV character says vs. what he thinks tell us more about him and his relationship with who he is speaking with? Etc. I think it will help you a lot to draw readers in.


      -----------------
      VICTORY to #SexEd

      Delete
  2. #SexEd: In your query, I would like to know what "So Lia deals with her accordingly, like any sensible person at the top of the social ladder would" means. Deals with her how? Because I don't know how she deals with her, I'm left a little in the dark for the rest of the query.
    First 250: I found the parentheses a little awkward to introduce the character names. The third paragraph feels a bit too much like exposition for so early on in the story.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fate Doesn't Care About Your Plans: In the query, excellent way to use dual POV. In the last bit about Sophie becoming convinced she's rejecting her lungs, is there a way to show this instead of tell? Like, symptoms she might be having so as a reader I can feel for her. The last line made me tear up.
    For the first 250, I loved the line "The darkness that had built a home in the hollow part of my chest where my heart should be swirled at the implication of this discovery." I got a good sense of Jason's character and a bit of his backstory just in those 250 words alone. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, both of these sound great! #SexEd, I really like the humor in your character’s voice. I love the last paragraph of your query. I do think the "deals with her accordingly” is too vague. I assume this means she offers some sort of social rejection or public humiliation. I’d keep reading for sure—I hope you are able to keep Lia likable enough for us to stick with her as the POV character. The vibe feels kind of like Clueless, which walks that line well. The last sentence about not yet mastering the art of crying beautifully is really funny and character-revealing. And your title is very clever.
    Before I Leave You—what a poignant, powerful premise! And the 250 is beautifully done, weaving in the history we need to know in a seamless manner. The only critique I can really find is that I think you could condense the query a bit to be tighter, but you did a fantastic job!
    Best wishes to you both!

    ReplyDelete
  5. DEAFINITELY

    Unique story angle and great voice in the Q & 250.

    For the Q: I have to wonder if there’s more to “disaster strikes” than the new girl ignoring Lia’s warm welcome. In what way does Lia deal with the situation that would cause it to backfire because Fallyn’s deaf. If it’s that Lia calls her out for a friendly sit down chat, then yeah, I can see how that’s a problem. And saying half the school is questioning Lia’s position to be anyone’s advocate makes me want to at least see a hint of some big, embarrassing foible she committed.

    I feel like the grammar police, but I’ll point this out like I’ve done for others – watch your use of adverbs (words ending in ly).

    First 250 – I like that Lia’s painted as a character that may not be all that likable at first. There’s room for her personal growth journey, something I’m a big fan of.

    This is a solid start to what sounds like a fun, snappy, and snarky story.

    As another critique pointed out, I too would like to know more about what the roundtable is to get my bearings of who these people are that she’s dealing with.

    … and don’t shoot me for it but … adverbs. Damn, I don’t know why those jump out at me. Sorry.



    BEFORE I LEAVE YOU

    I got chills on that last sentence of the first query paragraph! And then again a couple of times by the end of it. This sounds like a great story, and I love the comps.

    Query
    *seems a bit lengthy – it’s about 310 words with the comps sentence which leaves little room in an actual query letter if you’re going for the standard 350 words total and still need to fit in your bio and perhaps a line of personalization to the agent. Suggestion for cutting words: After years of struggling to breathe and too many hospital stays to count, eighteen-year-old Sophie has finally received a life-changing lung transplant. (22 words instead of 39, but JUST a suggestion). Then, to keep the second sentence from starting with “After” as well, how about: Her worst post-recovery fear is that someday she’ll reject …

    I see your 2nd paragraph also starts with “After” so to avoid repetition, consider restructuring that sentence too and in a way that maintains the present. For example: Jason carries the blame for his sister’s death in a car accident and, desperate to move past the grief, he plans to kill himself. But first, he wants to …

    *check your tenses - seems like there’s some some switching back & forth between past & present confusion

    *Times Square (not Time Square)

    First 250 – more chills - may be an odd reaction since this isn’t a thriller or horror, but this is the kind of thing that gets to me. In a good way. Bravo.

    If Sophie is the last person on Jason’s list, that means he’s found and presumably spoken to the others, so wouldn’t Chris know Jason’s plan would be to go talk to Sophie? Would Chris really need to ask what Jason’s going to do now?

    Otherwise a great start to a book I hope will take you places.

    ReplyDelete
  6. DEAFINITELY

    I think you did a good job of establishing Lia's intentions and the stakes without getting too bogged down in plot summary. My main concern with your query letter is that the writing doesn't feel sharp: it's sloppy in some places and vague in others. You gotta make every word in a good query count: we don't need to be told Lia's age AND school year in the first line because one implies the other. But then you have a line like "deals with her accordingly, like any sensible person at the top of the social ladder would" which I didn't understand at all. Keep your query clean, purposeful, and simple.
    Regarding the sample, I like that you got right into the thick of things when it comes to the plot. Maybe it's just my own sensibilities, but I found the sense of humor to be... dated. Hashtags have become so ubiquitous that I don't even really associate them with youth culture anymore, and things like the "blinking gif guy" provoked an eyeroll from me- although that's obviously very subjective.

    BEFORE I LEAVE YOU
    I like your query letter overall. It could use tightening up in places (the "Sophie spends the summer" line doesn't feel like it adds much) and I would love a better understanding of WHAT drew Sophie to Jason, who I didn't get a good read on as a character. Overall though, it's a solid query letter that hits all the notes it should hit.
    Your 250 is peak melodrama, and I think it has a great flow to it. Again, just a few things that I think could elevate a strong sample: the line that begins "The darkness that had built a home" feels a bit too much (although again, YA isn't my area of expertise so maybe this is fine by the genre's standards.) I also would have loved a bit more physical detail, because right now there's almost none. It makes the story feel floaty when I can't picture the scene in my head. Even just a few striking details would help.

    ReplyDelete
  7. SexED
    Query: I think the only hiccup I ran across was wondering exactly what "dealing with" Fallyn was ("So Lia deals with her accordingly, like any sensible person at the top of the social ladder would.") - I got a general idea from the mentioning of the top of the social ladder, but I wanted a little more certainty.
    First 250: Ooo, I don't actually have much on this one! The bit about the gif might be something to watch out for since it's possible you'll run into people who don't know what this is (I'm always getting into misunderstandings for using internet slang) but your audience is in the age group that should get this. The final sentence literally made me snort, so great job there.

    Fate:
    Query: Wow. Now that's a query. I mean. I don't have a lot. In the realm of personal taste, that last sentence might be great as a question.
    First 250: It's almost perfect and I would absolutely read more, but I do agree with another commenter that it could use one sentence of place. Are they in someone's messy teenaged boy room? A living room? Someone's back porch? That's about all.

    ReplyDelete
  8. #SexEd
    I’m SOOOOO hooked!! Lia sounds like a spectacular character. And this is an incredibly interesting premise.
    The Query: Love the first paragraph. The second paragraph confused me in the middle. I had to read the entire paragraph a couple of times to understand what you meant. Perhaps putting Fallyn’s name next to new girl in town (New girl in town, Fallyn) would help. I think that I’m having trouble connecting the first and second sentences in my mind, although you do have a good transition there. I’m not sure how to help more!
    But I’m back with you in the third paragraph and I’m particularly glad to know that Lia isn’t going to do something good for the sped students, but that the students will have their own revolution. LOVE THAT. And super important.
    First page: It says so much about Lia that we meet her standing in the middle of the table!! And the last sentence of your page is #ToDieFor. I couldn’t love this more. Great job!

    Before I Leave You
    The Query: Oh, my heart! This sounds beautiful and sad and so so good. I love the query. I got sucked right in. I’ve not heard of your comp titles, which surprises me because I read a lot of YA. You want to make sure your titles are recognizable, otherwise they do nothing to help. Maybe I’m out of the loop, so pay attention to what your judges say.
    The first page: I’m impressed. You got so much information in such a tiny space. Anyone reading this first page would know what they’re getting into and would most likely be hooked. The paragraph that starts “The darkness that had built a home . . . “ is a little too flowery for my taste and maybe for a teenage boy. I’d suggest thinking carefully about every word in that paragraph. But otherwise, I’m hooked. Job well done.

    ReplyDelete
  9. #SexEd
    I’m SOOOOO hooked!! Lia sounds like a spectacular character. And this is an incredibly interesting premise.
    The Query: Love the first paragraph. The second paragraph confused me in the middle. I had to read the entire paragraph a couple of times to understand what you meant. Perhaps putting Fallyn’s name next to new girl in town (New girl in town, Fallyn) would help. I think that I’m having trouble connecting the first and second sentences in my mind, although you do have a good transition there. I’m not sure how to help more!
    But I’m back with you in the third paragraph and I’m particularly glad to know that Lia isn’t going to do something good for the sped students, but that the students will have their own revolution. LOVE THAT. And super important.
    First page: It says so much about Lia that we meet her standing in the middle of the table!! And the last sentence of your page is #ToDieFor. I couldn’t love this more. Great job!

    Before I Leave You
    The Query: Oh, my heart! This sounds beautiful and sad and so so good. I love the query. I got sucked right in. I’ve not heard of your comp titles, which surprises me because I read a lot of YA. You want to make sure your titles are recognizable, otherwise they do nothing to help. Maybe I’m out of the loop, so pay attention to what your judges say.
    The first page: I’m impressed. You got so much information in such a tiny space. Anyone reading this first page would know what they’re getting into and would most likely be hooked. The paragraph that starts “The darkness that had built a home . . . “ is a little too flowery for my taste and maybe for a teenage boy. I’d suggest thinking carefully about every word in that paragraph. But otherwise, I’m hooked. Job well done.

    ReplyDelete
  10. #SexEd

    Query: I definitely think this is an interesting premise and you’ve worded it clearly. I do feel that the first two paragraphs could be abbreviated, as they’re both backstory for the beginning of the Conflict: Lia accidentally shaming Fallyn and bring the wrath of the school upon her. And while I like that Lia seems to be changing along the way—at first it feels like she’s doing it just to Make a Mark, and afterwards she begins to genuinely care—this could be spelled out a little more clearly. And, finally, perhaps you could emphasize a little more on what Lia stands to lose if this doesn’t work out. Would it simply be a failure of her pet project and a dip in her social standing? Or something more deep and emotional?

    First 250: You have a lot of voice and it’s immediately clear that the Student Council is pretty iffy on Lia’s idea and probably Lia as a person. I like how Brooke calls Lia out, but am not sure if this is realistic considering Lia is a at the top-tier of the social ladder in her school.

    FATE

    Query: I am definitely hooked by this story and would want to read it! It has a Fault in Our Stars vibe—is that a comp you’re considering as well? I do feel that the first paragraph is quite long, and could be abbreviated, just to be more punchy. It ends on a great note, with Jason walking in through the door. However, I’m not sure whether the dual POV in the query works well—I would prefer it stick to Sophie, and feel the query would flow a bit better. Finally, how is Sophie “convinced” she’s rejecting the lungs? There are specific parameters for that, and I’m sure you’ve used them in your book—perhaps use a more definite wording.

    First 250: Ah, so it starts with Jason, which is a bit of a bother, especially if the query focuses on Sophie. I feel that with whichever MC you choose to go with in the query (should you pick just one), it’d be best to start with them in the pages. As for the 250 as they are now, I feel the conversation could be punchier, the pace quickened somewhat.

    ReplyDelete
  11. #SexEd

    Your query sounds quite interesting! I would suggest removing the "hello, people" part because it doesn't seem relevant. Maybe add some background as to why people weren't taking her seriously before, especially because she's a social co-ordinator and that requires a responsible person in charge? Perhaps add details on why it bothers Lia so much or how she 'deals' with the situation? Why is Fallyn being deaf a problem? The line "Not that her feelings" doesn't seem quite relevant. Maybe focus on the most important information and make sure every sentence packs a punch. In the last para, I'm confused on the 'battle that's not her own'? And perhaps explain more on the social divide? I'm not quite sure how a revolution plays into this though... perhaps I'm just confused on some bits. But, overall, your story does seem really, really interesting!

    As for your first 250 words, your writing is quite engaging! I would suggest removing the 'Like literally' because incorrect sentence structure. Maybe start off your first 250 words by expressing how she feels observed under the microscope. To describe the characters, I would suggest adding more than the eye color - something that the readers can remember as they move on. Also, every dialogue starts on a new paragraph. You don't need to add the ellipses and you can just continue on. (I'll give you that." She narrows her eyes. "But, you're a....) since its the same speaker, you can connect the paras. I do like how you brought out her personality from the dialogue but it can also come off as telling so maybe cut back on that. I would suggest removing the gif part, mainly because teens don't really think like that in such a situation. (i'm young) And I'm not too sure on the hashtag part either. Also, reduce the italicized words - only use it sparingly and when necessary. Show more of her emotional aspects, on how she feels about those words flung at her. Don't repeat it but show us how the bitterness is spreading. I do like the ending line because it shows more of her manipulative personality. Overall, your story sounds really interesting and with a touch more of edits, your 250 words can be stronger!

    Fate Doesn't Care About Your Plans

    Your story sounds really, really interesting! But the query seems too long (altho this might just be the formatting of it). Perhaps try removing some unnecessary details (irrestible goodies part) or paraphrase it shorter. However there are some questions raised - does Sophie know that Jason wants to kill himself? Where do they get the money to travel the world etc? It's the dream life but I hope it takes into account everything else - school life, parents, money etc. It sounds like quite an interesting book, and I would love to read it!

    For your 250 words,

    I love the start, especially because you open with Jason's perspective! I would suggest cutting down on the emphasis placed on him having found the name - we understand that from the first couple of lines. But try to express more about his relief or the time he spent searching for that name. The 'swirled at the implication' line seemed off - maybe paraphrase? I don't think you need to add the "He shifted his weight" line because it doesn't seem necessary. Every line needs to pack a punch for the first 250 words. Apart from that, if you could build-up more on the intensity of the situation, it'd be stronger - how he's re-reading the article, the heaviness in his tone, how he's trying to hide his emotions from his cousin. Overall though, your writing is quite solid and well-written!

    ReplyDelete
  12. #SEXED
    I was really confused by the “Hello, people?” thing. Just throwing that out there. Had a hard time imagining how it was meant to be said. I think the second paragraph could use some modifications. I’m having a hard time believing a party girl would want to help like this, so if we could get some hints at her motivations, it would really go a long way. Also, when you say “disaster strikes” and then talk about the new girl ignoring her, it seems at first like the girl ignoring her is the disaster, which struck me as odd. After rereading through the query, I see that you mean that what happens afterwards is the disaster, so maybe reworking that would be a good idea. I like your last paragraph a lot. I feel like it has a lot of voice and really sounds respectful to those with disabilities, so good job on that!

    First 250:
    The stuff about their eyes didn’t really work for me. I think instead of describing what color their eyes are, you could say something like “President Brooke and Secretary Emilio regarded me with mirrored expressions of skepticism. As if they knew anything about me.” Or something like that.

    Having Brooke talk twice in a row but having a paragraph break in between threw me. I was confused who was speaking at “You’re a silver-spoon slacker.” I love the # stuff and the last line about not having mastered the art of crying beautifully. Those really give me a sense of this character and make me want to know more about her!


    BEFORE I LEAVE YOU

    Hmmm so I really love this story concept and would totally read it in a second. My only issue is that suicide is a really touchy issue, and the query here makes it sound like just a plot device. I think if you focused more on Jason and his depression and showed that you really mean to treat the subject well, it would go a bit better, I think. Other than amping up the characterization of Jason, I don’t have any other complaints about this query.

    First 250:
    I love this. Instantly I understand Jason’s feelings and already can feel his turmoil. If you could infuse some of the stuff you’ve got here into the query, it would really be awesome.

    As an aside, I was expecting the story to start with Sophie since your query did, so it threw me off for a second that we were in Jason’s head. Not sure if that’s something you need to correct, but I just thought I’d let you know so you were aware.

    Great job!

    ReplyDelete