Author Topic: Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut  (Read 18995 times)

Wolfe

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Re: Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut
« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2014, 12:52:09 PM »
Let me first say, I don't suggest it. I believe money should always flow toward the writer . . . not away. But, if you want to pay someone like an editor or former literary agent to look at your letter, here's the reality:

For a basic critique on your query letter, it'll cost you at least one-hundred dollars. For a detailed critique, it will cost you three-hundred dollars or more. This does not include rewrites. Just a critique of what does and doesn't work. And, even if your rewritten letter works, there's no guarantee the novel will entice agents should they ask for a partial or full. More often than not, the letter highlights issues in the novel. Issues you must address. Again, if you choose to go that route and spend money for half a page, know what you're getting and what you're not getting too.

I'll leave it at that.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 01:02:03 PM by Wolfe »

Offline augustiner

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REVISED Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut
« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2014, 12:21:05 PM »
This is the best that I can do. It's still long, but I feel as if I hit Character, Conflict and Choice. The character is a paragraph and I wanted it to be as detailed as possible, as all queries should be when introducing characters. Thanks for all your comments, and hope you can help me re-edit this query again. Best, Augustine

I've left off my bio and my intro to an agent,

In THINK OF THE CHILDREN, twelve-year-old Daniel Hoover has an unblemished academic record and is a division-level wrestling champ. He pukes about ten times a day to cut weight. He straightens all the towels on the bathroom rod and uses a tape measure to make sure the lengths and widths of each are even down to the last millimeter. In his mother’s absence, he runs the household, looks after his mentally-challenged younger brother and slips him over-the-counter sleeping pills—he tells him they are vitamins—to keep him in line. He wishes he has the chance to hang out at the Packard Mall like his classmates, wasting allowances at the arcade or at the movies. He’s never even been to a theater. If he saw how large the screen is, he’d be amazed.
 

Daniel’s goal is to win an athletic scholarship to the elite Fieldstone Place Academy to escape his family’s staggering poverty. But Sammy, the school bully, fights him during practice to ruin his shot. Daniel hits him by accident too hard that he ends up in a coma and Sammy’s family hires a personal injury lawyer. If Sammy doesn’t pull through, Daniel has to pay for the loss of life once he turns eighteen. With only a high-school degree, he’ll inherit his mother’s jobs, the world of retail clerks and servers that lead nowhere. But Daniel won’t give in, or up. He has concocted a plan that will make all his problems go away, even his expulsion from school. It’s shocking and crazy, but it just might work. It has to work—his life depends on it.

hillwalker3000

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Re: Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut
« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2014, 12:52:19 PM »
Quote
This is the best that I can do. It's still long, but I feel as if I hit Character, Conflict and Choice. The character is a paragraph and I wanted it to be as detailed as possible, as all queries should be when introducing characters.

Says who? I'm wondering how much of the advice given so far you have taken notice of. On the basis of this - none.

This is still ridiculously over-loaded with inconsequential ballast in my opinion. I think once any prospective agent reaches the words 'division-level wrestling champ' that's where they are likely to lose interest. The guy wrestles. Move on. And the bit about how his obsessive behaviour manifests itself - are you now summarizing the plot again because for the life of me I can't see how this is relevant in a query or even a blurb on the back of the book? And still the details pile up - drugging his brother with sleeping tablets that he pretends are vitamins, never visiting a theatre so not knowing what a big screen looks like. . . WHAT has any of this got to do with CHARACTER?

The second paragraph is just as long-winded. There's so much you can trim without even breaking sweat.
Daniel hits him by accident too hard that he ends up in a coma and Sammy’s family hires a personal injury lawyer.
You seriously stick stuff like this in your query?
Rather than then spend another 45 words surmising what might happen. . . hardly relevant. . . simply tell us he comes up with a crazy plan to solve all his problems.

Something like this should more than suffice:

In THINK OF THE CHILDREN 12 year-old DANIEL HOOVER juggles studies with his ambition to become a wrestling champ as well as helping raise his younger brother.
Little wonder he resorts to drugs to keep his weight under control - and to sedate his mentally-challenged sibling.
But when Daniel inflicts a serious injury on one of his wrestling opponents his only hope of gaining an athletics scholarship hinges on a crazy plan.


Far from perfect - but short and to the point?

I also notice that you don't include the word-count or genre. That's probably more relevant than 95% of the stuff you managed to cram in here.

H3K

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut
« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2014, 12:59:12 PM »
Do yourself a favor and read the advise you have been offered again.

If it were me, I would want to read reply #6 carefully.

One of the first things in the first line you failed to do is add the word count right behind your title.

MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
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Offline augustiner

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REVISED Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut
« Reply #19 on: May 12, 2014, 01:02:07 PM »

In THINK OF THE CHILDREN, twelve-year-old Daniel Hoover has an unblemished academic record and is a division-level wrestling champ. He pukes about ten times a day to cut weight. He straightens all the towels on the bathroom rod and uses a tape measure to make sure the lengths and widths of each are even down to the last millimeter. In his mother’s absence, he runs the household, looks after his mentally-challenged younger brother and slips him over-the-counter sleeping pills—he tells him they are vitamins—to keep him in line. He wishes he has the chance to hang out at the Packard Mall like his classmates, wasting allowances at the arcade or at the movies. He’s never even been to a theater. If he saw how large the screen is, he’d be amazed.
 

Daniel’s goal is to win an athletic scholarship to the elite Fieldstone Place Academy to escape his family’s staggering poverty. But Sammy, the school bully, fights him during practice to ruin his shot. Daniel hits him by accident too hard that he ends up in a coma and Sammy’s family hires a personal injury lawyer. If Sammy doesn’t pull through, Daniel has to pay for the loss of life once he turns eighteen. With only a high-school degree, he’ll inherit his mother’s jobs, the world of retail clerks and servers that lead nowhere. But Daniel won’t give in, or up. He has concocted a plan that will make all his problems go away, even his expulsion from school. It’s shocking and crazy, but it just might work. It has to work—his life depends on it.

hillwalker3000

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Re: Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut
« Reply #20 on: May 12, 2014, 01:11:30 PM »
At this rate you'll have a workable query by the end of the next millennium.

???

H

Offline Annmarie

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Re: Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut
« Reply #21 on: May 12, 2014, 01:23:49 PM »
Hill has got you covered, but I wanted to mention a trick to help you see why your query must be a lot shorter.

If you have a smartphone, email your query to yourself. See that neverending block of text on the small screen? Is it a smooth, quick read? Will an agent who gives your query 5 seconds of her or his time be too busy scrolling to be intrigued?

I think you should scrap this version, clear your head and start again. No shame in that. We've all done it.

Start fresh. Summarize your main plot in 3 short sentences. Begin with your main character, what he wants, what's in his way, and the consequences if he doesn't get his goal. If you're feeling brave, just do a one-line pitch. I did that in my successful query. I pitched a 100,000-word novel in one sentence. And it worked. I'm betting half the reason is because I didn't waste the agents' time.

The query's job is to intrigue so an agent asks for pages. That's it. An agent's interest will be piqued in a few sentences, or the query will be dumped. So distill your story to its essence and give no more than that. A few sentences. That's not so bad, right? ;)
« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 01:27:14 PM by Annmarie »
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Offline 510bhan

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Re: Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut
« Reply #22 on: May 12, 2014, 02:01:59 PM »
You need to be more succinct and find better word choices which encapsulate the essential elements of your character -- not a full-blown detailed description. :-\ A phrase should suffice, not a paragraph.

Offline augustiner

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In THINK OF THE CHILDREN, twelve-year-old latch-key kid Daniel Hoover is a straight-A student who’s never been in trouble. He wants nothing more than to win an athletic scholarship to the elite Fieldstone Place Academy to rise above his family’s staggering poverty. He struggles with his ambition to become a wrestling champ while keeping the household running and raising his rowdy mentally-challenged younger brother. Little wonder that he sedates him by giving him over-the-counter sleeping pills. But when the school bully, Sammy, fights him, Daniel hits him too hard by accident and he falls into a coma. It looks like he won’t pull through, and Sammy’s parents hire a personal injury attorney to seal Daniel’s fate. Daniel has fought too hard in his quest. In a desperate attempt to salvage what’s left of his life and make all his problems go away, even expulsion from school, Daniel concocts a plan so shocking and crazy that it just might work. It has to work—his life depends on it.


THINK OF THE CHILDREN, a 97,000 word adult-coming-of-age debut, captures those moments in the day of a life forever altered by the actions we do and do not take; and the story of a person turned away from his natural path, turned to a new way of being. It will appeal to fans of Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life and, more recently, Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation because those books are also about children who grow up in hardship, who seek a better life, and who ultimately achieve that goal through hard work and hard-won triumph.

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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<snip>

THINK OF THE CHILDREN, a 97,000 word adult-coming-of-age debut, captures those moments in the day of a life forever altered by the actions we do and do not take; and the story of a person turned away from his natural path, turned to a new way of being. It will appeal to fans of Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life and, more recently, Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation because those books are also about children who grow up in hardship, who seek a better life, and who ultimately achieve that goal through hard work and hard-won triumph.


this is better. But I have to ask, why are you still calling this an adult-coming-of-age debut"?  The word 'adult' tells me the MC is already an adult. 'coming of age' sounds like you're speaking on either someone in their early to mid teens. Which is it?

Plus, it seems the word 'debut' is there because you wish to tell them this is your first novel. If that is not the case, and I don't think you should by the way, take debut out.
 
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline augustiner

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Re: Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut
« Reply #25 on: May 12, 2014, 04:48:21 PM »
Thanks, Alice. What does MC mean?

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut
« Reply #26 on: May 12, 2014, 04:50:25 PM »
Main Character -- usually the protagonist. ;)

Offline augustiner

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5th TRY: Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut
« Reply #27 on: May 12, 2014, 05:24:17 PM »

In THINK OF THE CHILDREN, twelve-year-old, straight-A latch-key kid Daniel Hoover struggles to become a division-level wrestling champ while keeping the household running and raising his rowdy, mentally-challenged younger brother. Little wonder that he sedates him by giving him over-the-counter sleeping pills to keep him in line. Daniel wants nothing more than to win an athletic scholarship to the elite Fieldstone Place Academy to rise above his family’s staggering poverty. But when Daniel punches Sammy, the school bully, too hard in self-defense, Sammy falls into a coma and his parents hire a personal injury attorney that will end up sealing Daniel’s face. In a desperate attempt to salvage what’s left of his life and make all his problems go away, even getting into prep school, Daniel concocts a plan so shocking and crazy that it just might work. It has to work—his life depends on it.


THINK OF THE CHILDREN, a 97,000 word coming-of-age debut, captures those moments in the day of a life forever altered by the actions we do and do not take; and the story of a person turned away from his natural path, turned to a new way of being. It will appeal to fans of Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life and, more recently, Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation because those books are also about children who grow up in hardship, who seek a better life, and who ultimately achieve that goal through hard work and hard-won triumph.

Wolfe

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Re: Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut
« Reply #28 on: May 12, 2014, 06:01:08 PM »
Rather than repeat what I've already said, and the advice others gave, allow me to show you how your query looks to an agent.

http://hemingwayapp.com/ Copy and paste your query into the app.

Five of your eight sentences are in the red. One is yellow. The first, of the two remaining sentences, confuses. And the last one has two clichés linked.

Now, ask yourself: what does your letter say about your novel?

You ignored the advice given and didn't read the links provided. That's your call. But, if you want a career in this business, you must do the research. This includes studying what's needed to interest an agent.

Afraid there's no getting around that.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 06:36:38 PM by Wolfe »

hillwalker3000

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Re: Query For Think Of The Children-an adult coming-of-age debut
« Reply #29 on: May 12, 2014, 06:11:54 PM »
Deleted. At least the OP paid attention this time.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 04:14:16 AM by hillwalker3000 »