Friday, January 31, 2014

Become an Agent #8 - LIKE YESTERDAY

Title: Like Yesterday
Genre: Commercial Fiction
Word Count: 80,000

Dear Agent,

Dr. Vincent Douvrey yearns to see his dead wife. Eager to touch her just once more, the revolutionary scientist attempts to invent time travel by liquid ingestion. But when the juice traps him back in a past he doesn’t remember, he falls for a captivating co-ed, who is not his beloved wife.

When Vincent awakens in a dorm room at the University of South Florida, he learns that his time travel tonic has banished him to his junior year in 2005—one of the four college years he can’t recall. Down the street from the amnesic time traveler lives Carmen, an upperclassman who stalks social networking websites while studying for final exams. During one of her study breaks, Carmen meets Vincent online, unaware of his “future” status. Their instant Internet connection grows into a real-life love affair in a matter of days, and Vincent’s longing to be with his wife begins to fade.

Breezing into their final semester, Carmen makes preparations for her life post-graduation. But what she doesn’t plan is for her beau Vincent to spiral into startling panic and dumps her, twice. She seeks comfort in alcohol and other guys, but her heart won’t comply, her body can’t resist, and her mind just doesn’t understand why.

Oh, but Vincent does.

When he makes a shocking discovery as to Carmen’s true identity, he hastens to find a way to return to the year 2015—if time travel even exists.

First 250:

“Time travel is impossible!” The proclamation resounded in repetition around the globe. Many innovators believed it existed in the pit of a dreamer’s imagination but lived in the words of visionaries. But it was the ambition of one scientist who soared into an attempt to turn an idea into reality within the confines of his lab. Dr. Douvrey invested long hours in time travel research with the support of his incompetent assistant of five years, whom he watched from his chamber as she mixed and spilled chemicals onto his laminate lab table, incinerating it layer by layer. He turned his back towards the window and continued to shield himself within the room of glass, engulfed in toxic fumes, to escape her recurrent interferences and to maintain his state of being—alone.

A thunderous boom echoed throughout the room, sending Dr. Douvrey lunging to the floor.

“What in the hell was that!” he said in his native Grenadian accent, muffled by the dense glass.

“Oh no! Oh no! I am so sorry, Dr. Douvrey!” Vesta scrambled to collect debris from the explosion. “I – I don’t know what happened.”

His legs of muscle and rubber sprung him from the floor. “What do you mean I don’t know?” He sprinted to the steel door and pounded with iron fists. “Unlock the door and let me the hell out of here!”

“Y-Yes, sir!”

Vesta dumped the broken pieces of glass from her hands back onto the floor and dusted off her knees.


  1. No.

    The stakes are unclear. The ending was too vague. You had me until the middle of the second paragraph.

    The first paragraph of your 250 is a giant chunk. Break that up into smaller paragraphs. It's overwhelming.

  2. No.

    The first four sentences of the 250 are exposition. We don't need that just yet. I would suggest starting with the action to draw the reader in and tell us about who your main character is.

  3. (Entry #13)
    No, but only because I don't know where this is going. Your query needs to be clearer as to what is really at stake here. I understand that he could lose his future self, but that isn't a strong enough issue when it seems like his time travel could just allow him to redo his life. What is really at stake? Be more specific.

  4. No, but this was in my maybe pile. The query starts off strong, but by the end I found Vincent to be too wishy-washy to be sympathetic. It's possible that the problem is not in the manuscript but in how he's presented, but I don't know that. The first 250 is funny with the bumbling lab assistant, but the first paragraph could use a little tightening.

  5. I was saying "yes" in my head all the way until "to spiral into startling panic and dumps her, twice." I would cut the third and fourth paragraph from the query entirely unless the story is told in alternating POV - but then Carmen's paragraph needs to grab me every bit as much as Victor's.

    In the first 250, it's almost entirely compound and long sentences. Try to vary the length to avoid losing the reader's interest.

    (Side note: If Carmen is the incompetent assistant, then it's too predictable.) Almost, but ultimately, I'd say no.

  6. It took me a few reads to sort through this one, so I have to agree with everyone that it's just not doing the job you need it to do.

    The most interesting part, for me, was the last line. Who is Carmen to the future-Vincent? I think that's the hook you should focus on. And, while I like a bit of mystery, I think withholding that information from your query does your story a disservice. It could be a masterful hook.

    - Vincent's motivation is to see his dead wife, but how sympathetic is he if he falls into bed with another woman a few days into his adventure?
    - Carmen doesn't seem to have much substance, as you present her. She is a major player, but only gets a few lines about how she reacts to Vincent. Give us something about her so she doesn't seem like just a plot point.
    - It sounds like your story is dual-POV. If this is the case, why don't you rework your query from her POV only? I think you could have a great set up in how she meets/falls in love with Vincent, and then a big kapow with the reason for his erratic behaviour... and then tell us what the reason is. :)

    Hope this helps! I think others have touched on the exposition/predictability of the first 250, so I won't repeat them.

    As it is, I have to vote No on this one, but best of luck cleaning it up! I truly want to know who Carmen is to future-Vincent!

    Jeannette (#6)

  7. No, but almost. I completely agree with Disco above.

  8. No, but you're really close to a great query! What threw me is the sudden shift in POV - as others have said, you need to clarify whether this is a dual-POV story.
    Also, I know this is nitpicky, but grammar does matter -- you need to make this phrase parallel: "But what she doesn’t plan is for her beau Vincent to spiral into startling panic and dumps her, twice" - should be "to spiral....and to dump...."
    I think you can strip away the specifics of HOW the time travel is accomplished in favor of strengthening the hook - that Vincent meets someone who makes him forget the reason he traveled back in time in the first place, and jeopardizes his entire mission.
    The first 250 was a tough read, sorry to say. I think you could tighten it by cutting the expository "is time travel possible" first few lines -- begin with Vincent watching his assistant incinerate the table. When the BOOM happens, make that an active voice sentence.
    Good luck!!!

  9. I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to pass. I think this is an interesting concept, but the query seems to be all over the place. I was a little confused when I got through it. I will say that if you can find the right agent who believes in your work, they will sign you! So, don't give up! Good luck with your querying!!


  10. Query:
    The problem with having a book set in 2015 is that it will become dated pretty soon. In truth, even if you were to get an agent now, this probably wouldn’t be published until 2016 at the earliest. I suggest you ditch the years and just stick with “Hey, I’m in my junior year in college, XX years in the past.”

    Why can’t he remember his college years? Amnesia? Or too much booze?

    The first paragraph sounds like a logline. Don’t describe the main plot twice. Just start with the time travel and leave the ending up in college to the second paragraph.

    You switch to Carmen’s perspective randomly in the third paragraph. Stick with Vincent the entire way through.

    What do you mean “if time travel even exists”? It obviously does, unless Vincent is tripping out the entire time.

    Overall, this query needs more work. It’s too confusing.

    First 250:
    I’m confused by the first 250. You start with a huge paragraph discussing what we already know (time travel doesn’t exist) and then describe how Dr. Douvrey is being grumpy and standing in a…box?

    Then when something explodes, he decides to run away. What is happening?

    Verdict: No.

    I’m just confused.

    Good luck!
    -Tiff (#3)

  11. No. I have trouble believing that Vincent would love his wife so much that he'd invent time travel...but then forget about her in favor of someone else. Also, the first 250 words did not capture my attention.