1. neuropsychopharm
    Offline

    neuropsychopharm Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    28

    Query Help

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by neuropsychopharm, Oct 28, 2015.

    Hey all! I'm working on a query for a mentorship application (they hook you up with an author or editor who helps polish for publication and whatnot), and would love to get some thoughts on what I've got. A friend of mine who won one of those query contests (and got an agent) said the hook and closer were fine but the plot details in the middle were a bit muddled.


    Mica is a dangerously bored fifteen-year-old girl who thinks she’s got the world figured out. But pursuing an ill-fated fling with her best friend’s older brother teaches her she’s not as grown and worldly as she’d originally believed.

    Mica’s a smart girl underperforming in school in favor of having fun. She deals with slut shaming boys and concerned adults by insisting none of it is a big deal to her. What is important to her is trying to convince college sophomore Jonah, her best friend’s older brother, they belong together. Mica is elated when she succeeds at this, and even more despondent when he ultimately breaks things off. Cracks in her “I-don’t-care” façade spread as she navigates a crazy summer reunion with her troublemaking ex-boyfriend Liam, who encourages her heightened interest in only having fun. She loses the trust of her best friend when the truth about her relationship with Jonah is revealed, and her future is jeopardized when her worried parents don’t believe she’s mature enough to go away to her dream creative arts boarding school. When she finally wakes up and realizes the party life isn’t as grand as she thought it’d be, and just how much growing up she has left to do, it may be too late to fix things.

    Nice Girls is a contemporary YA novel at 65,000 words. My writing has appeared in various literary publications including Quaint Magazine and The Butter, and my YA short fiction piece “You’re Too Wonderful to Die” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I have also published a chapbook, Manic Depressive Dream Girl, (Maudlin House, October 2015) focused on the early relationship of Mica’s parents.
     
  2. Tim3232
    Offline

    Tim3232 Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Messages:
    223
    Likes Received:
    101
    Location:
    UK
    Your final para is excellent – and impressive.


    Good luck with this.

    Well, 3 weeks with no help, so I tried and I wrote repetitive. Gathered it wasn't appreciated / understood. Clearly I didn't explain myself as well as Bay. I'm crap at this. Won't do it again.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
  3. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,669
    Likes Received:
    5,163
    What's that called, when you summarize everything in one line - it's borrowed from screenwriting - the word escapes me right now.

    But, whatever, you seem to be using it as your opening. (Tagline? No, that's not it. Something-line).

    The problem with this approach, to me, is that it makes the second paragraph feel repetitive. I've read quite a few posts on this site advocating the importance of a whatever-line for a query, but honestly, I haven't seen it promoted many other places, and I got my agent without one, so... I'm against 'em! If you're deadset on using this approach, you'll probably get better feedback from someone else.

    So other than the general structure, I'd say you're a bit light on voice, which is really important for YA.

    Logline! Just came to me. Anyway...

    Voice. I feel like you're telling me about this book, but I think it would be more effective if your book's narrative voice came through more clearly. Like, instead of:

    Mica’s a smart girl underperforming in school in favor of having fun.​

    Maybe something like:

    Mica knows there's no point worrying about school, not when she could be partying. ​

    Or whatever. Obviously depends on what the narrative voice is like!

    Otherwise, I think, it starts to feel a bit didactic, especially with the "how much growing up she has left to do" closing line. Does that make sense?
     
  4. Tenderiser
    Offline

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    4,293
    Likes Received:
    5,164
    Location:
    London, UK
    Logline :)

    Not to self: read to end before replying.
     
  5. neuropsychopharm
    Offline

    neuropsychopharm Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    28
    Makes sense! Thanks for the feedback :D
     
  6. dreamersky1212
    Offline

    dreamersky1212 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2015
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    New York (State Not City)
    It may be just me, so 'grain of salt' and everything, but the second paragraph feels bulky. It feels more like a summary of the book than a general overview meant to intrigue. By the end of it I felt like, hmm that was interesting, now I know basically what happens, I won't need to read the story. Kind of like the spoilery Amazon reviews that some people do, yeah...that's what it feels like, a detailed review. But from what I have read about querys, they are meant to inform, but still hold back enough to intrigue. If you are also doing a synopsis (one of those long ones that are a few pages long) that is where the detail and divulging of all the major plot points comes in.

    I hope that helps.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
  7. Herro Raymond
    Offline

    Herro Raymond Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2016
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    1

    I think I know what you mean, the second paragraph is intimidating when you first see it. Still, you did a great job and good luck.
     
  8. neuropsychopharm
    Offline

    neuropsychopharm Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    28
    Thanks for the feedback again, guys! I've since revised and am itching to send it as soon as it's perfect (as it can get, anyway :D) Let me know your thoughts! I focused on making the voice come through a bit more, making it less didactic, and highlighting the conflicts more.


    Mica is a dangerously bored fifteen-year-old girl who cares about fun above all else. So obviously she’s not doing so hot at her academically challenging school, where she has few allies and plenty of enemies among the college-prep obsessed kids who don’t get her and the slut-shaming boys who live to torment her. No wonder she's dying to escape to a creative arts boarding school far, far away from it all.

    To be real, though, she’s got more important things on her mind. Like convincing her best friend Mo’s older brother Jonah that they belong together. Then hiding their relationship from Mo when she succeeds. And not falling apart when Jonah breaks her heart. And not freaking out when she has to deal with a pregnancy scare.

    Reeling from the aftermath of her ill-fated fling, Mica pushes her pursuit of pleasure into overdrive while reuniting with her wild first boyfriend Liam, who’s back just in time for a strange summer complete with bad trips and police sirens. By the time the fun has turned not-so-fun, she's jeopardized friendships, her parents trust, and her chance at her dream school—leaving her questioning just what's most important to her after all. When she's finally got it figured out, she may have already screwed it all up beyond repair.

    NICE GIRLS is a contemporary YA novel at 65,000 words. I am a winner of the We Need Diverse Books Walter Dean Myers Grant, and my writing has appeared in various literary publications. My YA short story “You’re Too Wonderful to Die” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I have also published a chapbook, Manic Depressive Dream Girl (Maudlin House, October 2015), focused on the early relationship of Mica’s parents.
     
  9. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,669
    Likes Received:
    5,163
    I like the voice much more, but I'm not sure I really know what the book is about. It feels kind of episodic the way it's described right now. Is there one central plot or theme that runs through it all?
     
  10. neuropsychopharm
    Offline

    neuropsychopharm Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    28
    Glad the voice works better! And again, I really appreciated your feedback about it being too didactic, I was worried about that given my subject matter (heavy partying and whatnot), since the work itself isn't preachy about it at all.

    On the central plot/theme, it's really more character than plot driven if I'm being honest. There's the coming of age theme, of course. I'd have to say it's ultimately about Mica changing both how she views herself (not feeling like one of the "nice girls", that is) and how she relates to the world around her.
     
  11. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,669
    Likes Received:
    5,163
    Maybe that could come out more in the query? I feel like right now I get a good idea of things that happen in the book, but maybe not as good an idea of why these thing are important.

    And is Mica a character of colour or otherwise "diverse"? (Just guessing, based on your grant) If she is, maybe you could elaborate on that, too - how does that play into her interaction with her world and her perspective on herself.
     

Share This Page