Sunday, June 1, 2014

QK Round 1: Waltz #2 vs. Reality Star

Entry Nickname: Waltz #2
Title: XO
Word Count: 84,000
Genre: Women's Fiction

Query:

XO intertwines two timelines.

Forty-one-year-old Juliet stares at a blinking cursor, finger poised over the Enter key. Send or not send – what’s she got to lose? It’s not like she’s hoping to rekindle their old romance. She hasn’t laid eyes on Nick since she was sixteen. Hell, she even told her estranged husband about her plan to contact an old friend and Ethan’s ultra-sensitive jealousy meter didn’t so much as budge.

Of course, Ethan has no clue Nick was her high school sweetheart. Not yet anyway.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet thinks her dreams have come true the day senior Nick finally casts his green eyes her way. She gets crazy butterflies just holding his hand. And when he kisses her – holy shit! But if she’s being honest, she finds the intensity a little scary – especially when her new boyfriend has an abusive dad, a psycho ex and an escape plan. What’s worse, that black cloud hanging over him is starting to cast a long shadow between her and the fireworks she used to feel.

Of course, Juliet has no clue love is more than cheap pyrotechnics. Not yet anyway.

Twenty-five years later, when Nick’s email pops up, so do her old butterflies – though tinged with a dull ache of regret. Juliet gets a delicious thrill remembering the good times with Nick until he wants to rehash the bad. If Ethan was unhappy with Juliet before, wait til he finds out she’s resolving issues with her old boyfriend instead of him.

Juliet can’t fix one relationship without jeopardizing the other. She’ll have to decide if she’s willing to sacrifice her last chance at saving her marriage to risk it all on a second chance with a virtual stranger.

First 250 words:

The cursor flashed in the message box, blinking on/off as if it were telegraphing her internal debate: Send. Don’t send.

Juliet bit her lip as she typed, “Nicholas.” A tingle crept up the nape of her neck, the caress of an invisible finger. She couldn’t believe she found him.

Message written, she hesitated. What if he didn’t want to hear from her?

The cursor blinked. Send. Don’t Send.

Hannah dropped into a chair next to her. “Whatcha doin’, Mom?”

“Trying to decide if I should send this.” Juliet spun the laptop around.

Hannah leaned forward to read the screen. “Who’s Nicholas?” Curiosity competed with teenage indifference.

“Someone I knew when I was about your age.”

“Like, a boyfriend?”

“Something like that.”

Hannah scowled. “Does dad know about him?”

Juliet’s gut reaction was: “It’s none of his damn business.”

“Yeah,” she half-lied. She had told Ethan she was looking up an “old friend,” nothing more. If Ethan were half as inquisitive as a disinterested teen, he would have had a shit fit.

“And?”

“He told me to prepare for disappointment.” Everything Ethan said lately felt like a veiled critique of her own failures.

“You should send it.”

“I doubt he’ll even find my message on this money-grubbing site.”

“So what’s there to lose?”

That was the million dollar question.

After twenty-five years, Nick would have moved on. And she had her own collapsing marriage to worry about.

Send. Don’t Send.

But Nicholas was right there.

The cursor blinked.

She hit send.



VS





Entry Nickname:
Reality Star
Title: I Was a Summer Reality Star
Word Count: 79,000
Genre: Women's fiction

Query:

Life after college isn’t as advertised: Jen’s low-paying job is uninspiring, her apartment is tiny, and she’s suffocating under hospital bills she can’t pay. When she finds an ad seeking intelligent, adventurous 21-25 year-olds for a new competition-based reality show with a cash prize, Jen thinks it might be the solution to her problems.

Things go quickly downhill when Jen’s apartment building converts to condominiums, she meets the wife she didn’t know her boyfriend had, and her employer lays off her department. With little to keep her home, Jen leaps into the competition, solving puzzles, exploring mazes, and having the time of her life. Things change when Jen finds herself embroiled in a love triangle, battling another woman for the attention of fellow contestant Justin. As the show progresses, she struggles to win viewer votes while trying to tell what’s real and what’s part of the show. It’s a tricky balancing act, and one that’s hard to manage without lying, cheating, or backstabbing. When Jen discovers that she’s on the verge of elimination, she must decide whether to sacrifice the money, her chance at love, or herself.

First 250 Words:

"Do you want to win $250,000? Are you outgoing, vivacious, engaging? Do you always have to be right? Do you love puzzles and trivia? Do you usually find yourself surrounded by less intelligent people? We’re looking for smart, spunky 21- to 25-year-olds for an exciting new reality competition! Email Stephanie with your name, age, 2-4 pics, and a little about yourself for more information."

*

I huddled at my desk, wrapping a blanket over my hoodie. Maybe one day management would allow employees to turn the heat above sixty degrees. I held my caffeine molecule mug close to my body, trying to gain warmth by osmosis. The coffee was awful; drinking it wasn’t an option.

With my right hand, I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, scanning the jokes, cartoons, and political statements. I know: it’s not allowed. But everyone does it. Besides, I had nothing to do while my boss reviewed my project. Being a marketing assistant often meant waiting. After working insanely long days all week to include last minute changes, I’d earned the break. While waiting for something more productive to do, I turned up the volume on my computer, blasting my music over the howling November storm while I read.

What’s this?

An ad posted by my former Beginner’s Drama professor caught my eye.

A reality show for smart people?

Before I could explore further, a pop-up informed me that new email awaited. I hit control-tab to switch programs.

It was Seattle General Hospital’s billing department.

24 comments:

  1. Judges - reply to this comment to cast your votes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. XO has a clear protagonist and conflict. I think I'd have preferred the query to start with 16-year-old Juliet and go from there, working in the details about her failed marriage in the "25 years later" paragraph. That would help cut the word count down and avoid the confusing back-and-forth format.

      I WAS A SUMMER REALITY STAR is a fun idea with a clear, concise query. I'm not sure how many other reality-show novels are out there, but I know it's not an idea that's entirely unique and feel like you might need more than disillusioned 20-something and a love triangle in the query to make yours stand out. Perhaps emphasizing the fact that this is a show for smart people might not only show more about your main character, but also set yours apart.


      Victory to Reality Star!

      Delete
    2. WALTZ: The query needs tightening, it feels too long as-is. I think you can condense a lot of it down into just two or three paragraphs. It was also confusing to bounce between the present, then the past, then the present again. I would cut everything before "Sixteen-year-old Juliet thinks her dreams have come true the day senior" and rework that first sentence so it's looking backward, i.e., "Twenty-five years ago, Juliet's teen dreams came true when senior Nick finally cast his green eyes on her. She can still remember the crazy butterflies..." --- and I would leave the sentences about it being two timelines for either your introduction in your query or the end, wherever you normally mention genre and word count. You might also consider mentioning why she and Nick broke up and why she regrets it now beyond the troubles she's having with Ethan.
      The pages, and even the teen part of the query, have a great YA voice. I only wonder if it's too young for the opening pages when she is 41-year-old Juliet.

      REALITY STAR: I really like this concept. I'm left curious about the hospital bills she can't pay - her own? Because it seems like the competition might require her to be in good health. I'd also like to know more about Justin and why she's battling another woman for him.
      The pages are good and you ground us right away (I can also relate to freezing office space and terrible coffee), but I think you'll want to cut the entire first paragraph and move it down in the chapter so we're reading it for the first time when she's reading it. Else it feels like a dollop of info dump before the real story starts.

      I give VICTORY to REALITY STAR.

      Delete
    3. MRS N, the Query QueenJune 3, 2014 at 10:08 AM

      Waltz #2:
      Query- Your query is wonderful and it gives me everything I need to know about your book. The only thing that is unclear is the first sentence. I would cut that out and just go with what you have below. Reading it through, it’s clear about the two timelines. 
      250- Your first 250 is so awesome! I am immediately in the mind of the MC and I want to read more!!! Excellent! Conflict is right away and I loved the teenage daughter dolling out wisdom in only the way a teenager can. Well done!

      Reality Star:
      Query-Your query is great! Everything I needed to know about your book is laid out. I loved the conflict and your writing voice is clear. The only I would change is to separate your second paragraph at this point: Things change when Jen finds herself embroiled... 
      250- I loved your first 250 and I could totally relate to your MC. My favorite line was, “A reality show for smart people?” LOL! The only thing I might consider changing is switching your first paragraph and the second one. Lead in with, “I huddled at my desk, wrapping a blanket over my hoodie.” It’s much more powerful and you have the reader wondering why she huddling and want to read more. 

      This was a very hard decision for me to make. Both were terrific queries and I personally want to own both of these books. However, one has to be the winner. So, the VICTORY goes to WALTZ #2! Congrats and good luck to you both!!!

      Delete
    4. Allusion AssassinJune 4, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      WALTZ
      It's not clear right away in your query that your MC has any interest in rekindling things with Ethan. When I read estranged, I thought "out of the picture" so I was really confused as the query went on when not keeping Ethan became an issue. I think you need to make the juxtaposition clear from the start. As is, it's not.

      Although I really like the voice in your opening, but I think it needs to be tightened. The whole query felt long to me. Standard query length is 250 words. While this doesn't push that by much I'd guess, it felt slow. For me the time line jumping didn't quite work. Maybe if the setup between Ethan and Nick, it would work better. Hard to say without seeing it.

      Also from the opening, I'm not quite sure why she would be letting herself off the hook if she hadn't actually given Ethan the meat of the problem - that Nick is her long lost ex.

      You carry the great voice of your query into your opening. I think we really need a description and age of Hannah to understand the context of the advice she's giving her mom. Also, I think you could link in a bit more back story on the husband without compromising the pace or seeming info dumpy.

      REALITY STAR
      I don't think you need the "Life after college" line and actually these days, I think that's exactly what life after college is advertised as. I also don't think you need the opening of second paragraph. It's redundant. You've already told us her life sucks. You don't need to further justify why she goes for the contest.

      Cutting all of that would allow for two things - more MC voice and more showing instead of telling about the contest. Find a way to show us a puzzle or a maze or something specific instead of telling us about them. If Justin and the love affair are key to the stakes, we need to be shown why - show us her connection to Justin.

      I think you need to split out the stakes into a third paragraph. The second paragraph reads heavy and needs room to breathe.

      Finally, perhaps consider targeting this at New Adult (NA) instead of women's fiction. This is perfect for it and I think will be an easier sell into the market. PLEASE, PLEASE consider this. I think this will be a harder sell as women's fiction.

      I agree with the other judges that your opening needs to be shuffled. I don't think you're starting in the right spot either.

      On the basis of premise victory to - REALITY STAR

      Delete
    5. Book Boyfriend ConnoisseurJune 4, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      Waltz #2

      I love the idea you've got going, but the query itself is very confusing. Some how, you need to state Nick's name in there before you mention rehashing a relationship. Also, there needs to be a comma after the word friend. Punctuation is key, remember that. I'd take out the line, "not yet anyway" It doesn't build the tension like you think you might think it does. If anything, it takes away from that line. In the think back portion of the query, you need to replace "her new boyfriend" with Nick. That way there's no confusion who her new boyfriend is. You mention Nick, but you don't say they are together. Take out the few words "to risk it all" it's already implied that she's making a choice. Your first 250 is much more clear. Between on/off put an and instead of a slash mark. It sounds better when you read it aloud. I don't think you need the comma before Nicholas or the quotes either. She's not copying anything, nor is she saying anything aloud. Otherwise, I like the tension of her sitting there, debating internally on what to do. I feel it. Nicely done.

      Reality Star:

      I don't think there needs to be a colon after advertised. Just a period. At least, to me. I think you should start a new paragraph at "As the show progresses..." I'm confused as to why she's sacrificing herself. I get love and money, but maybe instead of saying herself say her own heart, or her sanity... I can't figure out exactly what word I'm trying to recommend there. Your 250 is well written, but that first paragraph is confusing. Who is speaking? Is it entirely necessary to add that info yet? After I Know you need a coma instead of colons. The voice is there, along with the premise too. I just am not drawn in enough yet. I'd read on, of course, just to see how the entire reality show plays out.

      Based on only the 250 alone (even though the query isn't up to par yet) Victory: Waltz #2

      Delete
    6. So I'm running out of time so my feedback with be brief. I'm so sorry! There's just too many great entries and not enough time in a day. So!
      Waltz #2
      I don't think you need to say "XO intertwines two timelines." You can show this in the query.
      You open like I'm reading the story. I had to double check I wasn't actually. I'd simplify and keep to the expected format. Something like... When Juliet has the opportunity to contact her high school sweetheart, she isn't sure if she's ready to take the plunge... or something like that, except better.
      Then you can show the second timeline by saying something like, going back to her high school days...
      But I think you have a great concept here. With some work, this query will be on fire!
      250:
      Fantastic! Completely sets up the conflict, and I love that it finishes on She hit send.

      Reality Star
      Pretty good query, although, I'd like to see more about the romance and character development during the show.
      250:
      I think you should start of with Jen and have her read the ad herself. All I'm getting from this is that she works in a cold office and is bored. I need more motivation to read this.

      Victory to Waltz #2

      Delete
  2. Waltz #2
    Query: A little hard to follow, but the character motivations were very clear. It's also too long. Aim for 2 paragraph summary, one for each timeline.

    250: Opens with clear conflict & high emotional stakes. I'd like to actually read the email she's sending. Too much dialogue too soon. I'd also like to see more interiority *before* the daughter comes in. Finally, I wasn't sure why the mother would tell her daughter what she was doing, in particular *who* she was emailing.

    Reality Star

    Query: Solid query, though one line seemed misplaced ("Things go quickly downhill when Jen’s apartment building converts to condominiums, she meets the wife she didn’t know her boyfriend had, and her employer lays off her department"). I'd move it up so that it's right before "When she finds an ad seeking intelligent..." Finally, I'd like to see the romance story developed a bit more beyond the "love triangle" line--who is he? How does she feel about him? Just a bit more detail to flesh that storyline out.

    250: It's good that you launch into the main conflict quickly, but I'd like to see a bit more set up before the contest. In fact, I think it's more about what the set up *is*-- I'm not sure what the office setting tells us about this girl. Seems like it would be more poignant to see her freezing to death in her tiny apartment, since that would play directly into how she feels about entering a contest. I'd also delete the advert at the beginning and save it for when she actually comes across it on the beginning. I'd also un-italicize those lines. You're already writing in first person, so work them into the story as interiority. Finally, I found the "I know: it's not allowed" 4th wall break a little surprising. If you do it often, you can keep it, but if this is the only time (or if you only do it once in a while), I'd skip it.
    .
    .
    .
    VICTORY TO REALITY STAR

    ReplyDelete
  3. Princess PrimroseJune 1, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    Dear Waltz #2,

    Your entry had me thinking about my own high school sweetheart (who is now my husband), and how things could have conspired to drive us apart. I wondered how it would've been if I'd been in Juliet's place. Which is to say, Juliet is instantly relatable, as many women will likely identify with her ideation of "what might have been." What ultimately lost me was the dialogue in the first 250. It felt wooden and insincere in some places (especially when Hannah's speaking). Some of Juliet's internal monologue, too, felt stilted or over-simplified. Perhaps a bit of a rework is in order? I'd suggest reading some of this out loud to see how it sounds in your own voice.

    Dear Reality Star,

    I'm not going to lie: I love your premise. It's engaging, it has built-in nail-bitery (yes, that's a word--I dare ya to disagree), and your first 250 did a great job capturing all of that for me. I immediately saw that the MC was a smart one (caffeine molecule mug? Genius and subtle), and I liked that she was plugged into social media first thing--representative of that age group. The one thing I'd lose? The statement about political positions on Facebook. It doesn't seem to add anything to what's going on, and distracted me. Otherwise, great job!

    VICTORY TO REALITY STAR.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi. Another Kombatant here, so not a judge.

    Waltz #2: I found the first line of the query to be a bit jarring--I wonder if there's a better way to incorporate that information because it does seem important. I liked that the voice in the query matched the voice in the first page, and this line was great: "Curiosity competed with teenage indifference."

    Reality Star: Absolutely love the premise. It took me a second to grasp that the MC hasn't yet read the ad (I thought its presence at the top of the page meant she was reading it right then), but I get it now--it helps that there's an asterisk to separate it from the rest of the page.

    Nice job to both.



    ReplyDelete
  5. P.S. I didn't hit reply, but it seems like my comment was added that way. Sorry about that, SC.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Waltz #2

    I really like this premise. I think the format of the query could be a little smoother though, particularly starting by stating the story follows two timelines. I'd rather gather that from the content of the query, or have it stated at the end. There was a lot if tension in the first 250, but I was thrown by the MC telling her daughter she was emailing an old boyfriend, this didn't seem plausible to me, especially since she lied to her husband about it. I thought the writing had great rhythm though, especially with the "send/don't send" instances throughout.

    Reality Star

    I also really like this premise. It's intriguing and your MC's voice relatable. I think flushing out the "love triangle" in the query will make this aspect more unique and intriguing. In the 250, I'd delay the ad posting until she actually reads it, it was confusing to me as it stands.

    Honestly, I think the judges have a tough one here because I would read both of these. Best of luck to you both!

    ReplyDelete
  7. For these one, I most liked the query for REALITY STAR and the 250 for XO. I thought the query for XO was a little confusing (although with two timelines that's perhaps understandable!) and the 250 for REALITY STAR didn't quite grab me.

    XO
    For the query, I really liked the parallel structure for the two timelines in the first 4 paras, but still found things a little confusing. And After reading it all, I knew the set-up but not really where the story was going. But reading the 250 was much better. It flowed well, and I got a feel for the characters quickly. One minor typo - "She couldn't believe she found him" needs a "had" - didn't distract me too much, and I wanted to read more. Perhaps more of a hint as to why Nick might not want to hear from her would help, but otherwise, good stuff!

    I WAS A SUMMER REALITY STAR
    I preferred the query for this one - it sets up the pot nicely and you get a good idea for the journey that the MC will go on. However I'm not sure the stakes are fully laid out at the end - "sacrifice herself" is vague enough to pop some strange images into my head! While I enjoyed the 25, a few things jarred. First, as a UK reader use of the word "spunky" is forever amusing (one not to google on a work PC). Then, as a science geek, transmitting heat by osmosis doesn't really work for me. Finally, switching applications with Control-Tab doesn't work - it's Alt-Tab on a PC (Control-Tab is windows within an application) or Command-Tab on a Mac. Sorry, that sounds really nit-picky now I've written it down! Don't worry, it doesn't stop me wanting to read the rest of the book :)

    Good luck to both of you!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Both entries are great and both fit into the women's fiction categories, one light and one serious. It's too bad the two of you are pitted against each other because you both deserve to advance. Okay, fangirling aside, let's get to the critiquing.

    Waltz #2:

    I like that this is told in two different timelines. There have been some successful upmarket fiction that have pulled this off well--WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET comes immediately to mind. While your query is well written, I think it could be stronger if the focus is on the present because one page just isn't enough to do both timelines justice. The first 25 is good and everything is laid out very well. We have a hint of the character and the story problem right up front. Another thing I love about this is that it's such a relatable premise. Many people have looked back and wondered what if, and sadly many have been in neglectful marriages. So this speaks to women.

    Reality Star:

    You already know I love your premise. Confession time: I despise reality TV, but maybe that's why I want to read about the zany things that go on in the background. The query is well written, and I get a clear sense of the story. The stakes aren't as clear, so it'll be better if you make that part stronger. I'm not a fan of starting the story off with an ad that the MC reads. I prefer getting straight to the MC and then introduce the catalyst for the story. I think it would be better to start where she's huddling at her desk.

    I can't wait to read both of your books. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Waltz-

    You have a premise that will be easily relatable to anyone in a relationship who's ever had a bump. There's always that temptation to think about what might have been. That said, the topic has been written about before, and you should do what you can to make clear how your story is different. Your query is evocative and well written, but a little long. Your 250 starts the story in exactly the right place, but is a little staccato for me. I'd like a little more narrative. Absolutely I would read this book, though.

    Reality Star:

    Full disclosure - I've read this query and the full MS before and I think they are both awesome. That said, maybe in the query you could segue better if in the sentence that begins, "Things go downhill" by saying something about Jen not seriously considering the show until things go down hill, or something. That might answer some of the earlier comments.

    Both of these are amazing, and I hope I get to see them both in print in the very near future!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Waltz: I love this idea! The voice in both the query and the 250 are really strong, and they match each other well, so you know this is how the rest of the novel will read. I think you've shown how the two timelines interweave quite well in the query, and you've laid out all the stakes without giving too much information. The only critique is that in the 250, I'd like a little more narrative weaved in with the dialogue, just to get a stronger image of the two of them sitting at the computer. But overall, love it!

    Reality Star: This is a really fun idea. The voice in the first 250 is strong, and I got a great image of her sitting there huddled in front of her computer. The query lays out the story really well, but it reads a little bit like a mini-synopsis, so a little added voice could really help make it pop a bit more. I also might actually open the 250 with, "I huddled at my desk.." instead of the advertisement, and then weave the ad in when she reads it a little bit further down.

    Both of these entries have done an awesome job. Good luck to both!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Waltz #2
    It says something about my typical reading genres when the first thing I thought of when I saw “XO intertwines two timelines” was “cool, this story involves parallel universes!” :D

    Anyway, I thought the 250 was very well written. It pulled me through, and I could feel the tension as her daughter questioned who she was emailing.

    While I thought there was also lots to like about the query, I had two main comments: 1) it’s probably a bit long, as it’s pushing 300 words and feels a bit wordy at the moment (i.e., it could benefit from some trimming); and 2) I was thrown a bit by flipping from present to past and then back to present again. While I see what it’s trying to do, and I assume the book does something of the same thing, I think simply starting with the past first and then moving to 25 years later would work better for the purposes of the query.

    Reality Star
    I like this query and the overall premise. I would say that the first sentence of the second paragraph feels redundant (i.e., the paragraph which begins “Things go quickly downhill…”). Although it ups the stakes somewhat, it’s more or less resetting the stage that’s already been set by describing the state of Jen’s life. I’d suggest dropping it altogether (or perhaps incorporating some of these details into the first paragraph where appropriate) and heading straight in with “With little to keep her home…”

    I was lukewarm on the 250. I think it’s decently written, but would suggest moving the ad down and incorporating it into the story at the appropriate point and also looking for a stronger opening line. Something that really grabs the reader.

    Good luck to both entries!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Waltz #2
    "XO intertwines two timelines," had me thinking sci-fi and how I struggle with parallel universes. I think you could probably do the query without it, and it may be adding unnecessary confusion. Consider ditching the first paragraph, too. I understand why you might want to begin with the current timeline, but this particular paragraph reads more like a scene, and I think it would be much stronger starting with the 16yo paragraph. The query sounds interesting, and I'd definitely read this. I liked the 250. I think I'd like less dialogue on the first page and more of who Juliet is, beyond a mother torn between two men. I definitely wanted to know what she actually wrote in the email. I mean, she showed the daughter, so I was thinking, HEY I want to see, too! :)

    Reality Star
    The query is solid. Sounds like a fun story with lots of twists and turns and her goal and the stakes are clear. Good job. The first page sounds great, too. I can already see a setback for her with the hospital email. My one suggestion would be to move the ad paragraph down after she actually sees the ad. Sounds like a fun story!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Waltz #2

    While I like the intersecting timelines, the query really starts when Juliet was 16. I would definitely start from there instead. You also may want to inform an agent of the two timelines in the portion of the query where you provide the title, genre, and word count. The 250 is very strong emotionally. I like the anticipation and anxiety. The dialogue is also very relatable.


    Reality Star

    I like the premise, but the query begins to become more of a summary in the second paragraph. Be careful of that. Your 250 is also very relatable, and I think it will draw people in similar situations. It's a great look into Jen's life and precursor to how it's all about to change.

    Good luck you two!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Waltz #2

    Love the concept and the query is tight. The 250 is well-written and the conversation flows well. I would suggest making Hannah's dialogue even more clipped and insolent, particularly with "So what's there to lose?" I'm not sure a teenager would say that, but it's your call :) Really fantastic job, though! I would love to read it!


    Reality Star

    You had me at reality competition! Fantastic premise and I love Jen's voice. I already feel like I know her. The subplot with the hospital bills really grounds the whole thing. It makes the stakes higher when someone so young has to deal with such a stressful debt load. Can't wait to read it!! Kudos!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Waltz #2: I've read a previous version of this query and 1st 250 and this has improved - although, I really enjoyed it the first time around. It's identifiable, I'd say, to a lot of women. The idea of "the one that got away" is pretty universal. Although, I will echo what others have said, that the query is a bit long and starting from 16-year-old Juliet and working up to 41-year-old Juliet might work better. I'd still also love to see a snippet of something really unique to this story that makes it stand out from others. The 1st 250 sets up your character well and gets to her dilemma and story point right away. I liked her dialogue with her daughter, although I thought it could sound more natural in places. "Money-grubbing" in particular, stood out to me. But, this is a story I (probably too closely) identify with and I would TOTALLY read on!!! Best of luck with this ~ :)

    Reality Star: You've got a concise query - I know who your character is, a little bit about her life, and what's likely to happen in the story and the stakes. Well done! As others have mentioned, however, I would like to see a more unique angle to this particular story. I don't really watch reality shows that would be something like this (Survivor-ish?), so maybe pointing out something spectacularly unique about this particular reality show in the query could help out? Maybe one of the trials? Your first 250 is well written and gives me a sense of your character and her voice. I like her ~ Nice job!

    Best of luck to both of you!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Waltz #2 Your story sounds interesting but your query is a bit long. Get to the conflict sooner, preferably in three paragraphs. I think your first 250 would be stronger if you stayed in your MC's head a bit longer. I feel like Hannah enters the scene abruptly when I'm still trying to get a grasp on who the MC is. The dialogue also seems a bit contrived. I think you can explain who Ethan is to the MC through inner dialogue.

    Reality Star: I like your query a lot, you get to the meat of the story right away. I like that the MC's life is far from perfect. The first 250 fell a bit flat more me. Rather than start with the MC feeling bored why not start at a point of her life when something bad has happened or when something exciting is going on. Perhaps that's about to happen with the General Hospital pop-up, maybe get to that sooner?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you so much everyone for the feedback. I've tweaked the query and made some changes to the beginning, and it's much stronger. I appreciate all your help.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Congratulations L.H.!

    Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read our entries. Your feedback is invaluable.

    ReplyDelete