Sunday, March 22, 2015

Become an Agent 2015 Post #17

Title: Reece
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 50,000

Query:

Reece, a black foster-kid who’s never known a real home, isn't sure what to expect when he gets a scholarship to a predominantly white boarding school. He definitely doesn't see himself fitting in with all of the rich kids, but somewhere during the games of basketball with the guys, long confusing conversations with the girl and battling with the red ink on his Sophomore English papers, he finds a home and a family. When he witnesses a hate crime, he has to find a positive way forward or risk losing the roots and future he has just started to believe he deserves.

Reece is a contemporary Young Adult coming-of-age story complete at 50,000 words. I hope you will enjoy reading this work and am happy to provide any additional information per your request. I am a member of SCBWI and have several completed picture books as well as other YA works in progress.

First 250:

I found an elephant on the ceiling. It was hiding in the bumpy, white paint. I knew if I turned my head toward the pale yellow curtains, I’d see the crack in the ceiling that made up a cat’s tail. I loved that cat. I’d discovered him one day warming up in a puddle of sunshine. I wanted to enter his world. I’d float to the ceiling and disappear.

“Don’t move until you’re ready to give it back, you little brat.”

Disappearing sounded good. My entire body hurt.

Tears dripped down the sides of my face and into my hair, but I knew better than to wipe them away.

“You idiot! She’s gonna be here any minute and you do this?” Tina’s voice sounded concerned, but I knew better than to believe it was for me.

“Don’t question me. That boy had it comin’ and you know it. You know he took it!”

“I don’t know what happened to your money, Roy, but I know we’re gonna be in a world of trouble when she shows up and that boy’s turning colors.”

“Dammit to hell!”

I flinched as Roy kicked over the coffee table. I smelled cigarette ash as the dust settled onto my face.

I tracked Roy with my ears, too scared to move my eyes. His breath came in huffy pants. Then like a cobra, he struck again. Bolts of pain ripped through my body as he threw me onto the couch.

“Sit up, you little maggot.”

My left arm was on fire and I struggled to breathe.

Query:

Fifteen-year-old Reece never thought for a second that his social worker’s plan to get him into Wickersley Academy would come to anything. After all, boarding schools aren’t the typical place to find a biracial foster-kid with an incarcerated mother and abusive grandparents. But he soon finds himself on an academic scholarship and way out of his comfort zone.

Now he is stuck going to school with a bunch of rich, pampered, white kids. They aren’t exactly the kind of people he is used to hanging out with and he highly doubts they are going to give him the time of day. His social worker, however, insists that he give it a try and Reece knows that he doesn’t have anywhere better to go.

To his surprise, between shooting hoops with his housemates, awkwardly romancing the girl from Sophomore English and cursing the devil who teaches it, Reece finds his place among the elite around him. He begins to feel that he has found something he has never had before: a home and a family.

When he witnesses a black upper-classman get shot by a white town official, rage and revenge pull at him. Reece has to choose to trust his new family to support him while standing up for justice or act on his impulses and risk losing the roots and future he has just started to believe he deserves.

Reece is a contemporary Young Adult coming-of-age story complete at 50,000 words. I am a member of SCBWI and have several other YA works in progress.

First 250:

Tears dripped down the sides of my face and into my hair. Roy was really mad this time. I knew to stay still and quiet when my grandfather got like this. My arm hurt so much that I didn’t want to move anyway.

I found an elephant hiding in the bumpy, white paint of the ceiling - that made animal number five. I slowly turned my head toward the pale yellow curtains, searching for the next creature. From my spot on the floor, I saw the tail of a cat formed from a large crack. I wanted to escape to his world - away from my grandparents who argued in the background.

Tina, my grandmother, stood in the doorway. “That social worker’s gonna be here any minute, Roy. Why’d you do this now?”

“The boy had it comin’ and you know it. You know he took it!”

“He's only five. If he stole your money, we’ll find it. It isn’t worth the world of trouble we’re gonna be in when she shows up and that boy’s turning colors.”

“Dammit to hell!” Roy flipped over the coffee table.

I flinched and scrunched up my face as cigarette ash rained down. I tried not to cough, but my throat felt tight and I couldn’t help it.

Like a cobra, Roy struck again. Bolts of pain ripped through my body as he threw me onto the couch.

“Sit up, you little maggot.”

My left arm was on fire and I struggled to breathe.

37 comments:

  1. Wow. Yes, I'd request more pages - based on the strength of the first 250. I love the way you place us in his head immediately. I will say though that I had to read it a few times to realize the "little brat" was the MC -- I think you need to clarify that very simply so we don't have to wonder.
    The query, unfortunately, is not as strong. Like I said, I'd request because of the first 250 but you'd get a pass from agents who don't ask for pages in submission or who stop reading when the query loses them.
    Your hook is good, but then you gloss over what the story is really about.Who is his family? What is the hate crime? What is the "positive way forward"? Do you have comps?
    Also, I'd delete this sentence: "I hope you will enjoy reading this work and am happy to provide any additional information per your request."
    Are your PBs published? say so. If not, maybe skip. Young Adult is usually referred to simply as YA. Good to say you're a member of SCBWI tho!
    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  2. No.

    I think the premise is very interesting, but the query lacks voice and the writing in the first 250 just isn't there yet. Very subjective.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is a no for me.

    Though I thought the query gave a clear set-up and stakes, I didn't get a strong feeling for the voice of the piece. I know 250 words isn't a lot, but I think it was a bit too abstract for me. I liked the description of seeing shapes in the ceiling, but didn't know where the character was. Until he's thrown onto the sofa, I wondered if he was hiding in a different room, up in a bunk bed or...? After he's put on the sofa, I figured he'd been on the floor, but adding in a few sensory details would help clarify and ground the scene. This didn't play into my vote, but I thought 50,000 words might be a bit short for a YA ms.

    #1

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes.

    The query was a bit too short to really get into some specifics of the story. I would have loved to hear more because it felt generic, but it became a "maybe."

    When I moved onto the first 250, I was hooked. This starts with deep angst. It was brutal and heart-wrenching, and that's what I want in a book--something that's going to make me feel. I'd gathered that was what the book would be like from the query, but you really delivered in the writing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. #3 commenting…
    Yes! If I really were an agent my manuscript wish list would have foster stories on it. Also, I like the plot-premise of a witnessing a hate crime and not knowing how to act. This is a situation that might be difficult for adults much less a teen with so much more to lose.

    But there's still room for improvement in this query. After the 1st sentence I want to know if he's in a new family that got him this scholarship (I'm picturing a bit of a The Blide Side scenario but I'm mostly just guessing). Also, who are "the guys" (new teammates might be a better word choice and "the girl" (his crush? his foster sister?). You have room for more details - so be clear!

    And then I want to know HOW witnessing the crime/coming forward puts him at risk. Is one of the kids from his new foster family involved somehow so he thinks no way will new parents would side with him?

    Don't think you need to mention the picture books.

    As for the 250: The first paragraph and the rest feel disjointed. Also, I had to read twice to fully get.
    What about starting with: "My entire body hurt. Tears dripped down the sides of my face and into my hair, but I knew better than to wipe them away." And then tell us where he is when he's looking up at the ceiling. Living room floor where Roy left him? Have him thinking about trying not to move, wishing he could disappear, and listening… Then jump into the conversation he's hearing. I think that would clear it all up.

    Good luck with revisions!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is a no for me.

    While I was initially drawn in because of the query, I was not as sucked in by the first 250. I wasn't that drawn into the scene and also some of the wording was a little strange to me. For instance, I'm not quite liking the phrase 'huffy pants'. Obviously, I haven't seen the rest of the story, but if I were an agent, I wouldn't request more from this based off the first 250 words.

    #18

    ReplyDelete
  8. The query is much too short for me. You have about 250 words to set up the main character, the conflict and the stakes. Tell us more about what Reece experiences at his boarding school. Is there a specific antagonist? Maybe mention that person to help us see what's happening? Also, in a YA or MG query, the main character's age is important. Agents need to know if the plot/voice is appropriate for the age.

    Don't tell the agent that you're happy to provide more -that's assumed from the fact that you're sending a query letter. It's also not necessary to mention that you have other works in progress. It's OK to say that this is your YA debut novel, if you haven't published anything.

    Every single sentence in your first paragraph starts with the letter I. All but one start with the word "I." Trying varying the sentence structure a bit to help with flow and pacing. I'd cut the first paragraph entirely, start with the dialogue, and add a bit more about why Reece is hiding and how he feels. From just what's on the page, I have no idea if he did something wrong or not, so how do I know whether to feel sorry for him? Your first page should grab me even if I didn't read the back of the book. Also, you used "I knew better" twice close together. "I knew" is filter language that distances the reader from the action, so it should be used sparingly.

    I'm afraid this is a no for me, even though I love the premise. I just don't have what I'd need to say yes.

    ReplyDelete
  9. There's so much here going for you, so much that I love, but you didn't give me enough to say yes.

    While the query gives the basic details of the story, it's much too short and lacking in all the gritty details. Did he apply for the scholarship, or did someone apply for him? Who are 'the guys'? Tell us more about the girl. Give us more details about the hate crime--what happened? Did he know the person? I'd also throw in the protagonist's age too.

    I really loved your descriptions in the 250, but I was also confused. The first paragraph was really rosy, and looking back I get now that finding animals in the shapes on the ceiling is likely a defense mechanism for Reece, but there was a disconnect between the opening and the dialogue. We need a little more information about what's going on, what Reece did or didn't do.

    Although this was a No for me, it's very close to a yes.

    ReplyDelete
  10. No.

    This is a very reluctant “no” that reflects the need for much more work on the query because this is otherwise a very marketable book.

    The query can definitely be longer and stronger. I think it needs more explanation and details about Reece that show his motivations and emotional evolution over the course of the book. You also appear to be assuming that readers will think foster care=bad, without explaining specifically why it’s so bad for Reece. While the first 250 explain some of that, Reece is still a child (technically) and foster care is all he’s known. Even with the bullying he might find it emotionally difficult to go elsewhere. (Personal bias admission – I’ve been in both foster care and a boarding-school situation. Foster care, in my specific and short-lived case, was kinder and gentler.)

    There’s a definitely a great arc to this story. Reece is in a dangerous situation, he gets a way out, he has to adjust to a challenging new situation which he learns to love, then it comes under serious threat and he has to make a personal choice that could threaten his hard-won happy ending. This wonderful progression, which includes a transition from being a passive player to choosing to be an active one, cost what it may, and this progression should be more explicit in the query.

    Three minor quibbles.

    Roy is very loquacious for someone who’s beating someone else up. He’s straining himself, yet he gets a lot of words out. I don’t know what the rules on swearing are in YA these days, but I suspect real teens would be much swearier.

    The crack on the ceiling reminded me of Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline so that I was muttering “and a crack on the ceiling that had the habit of sometimes looking like a rabbit…” before the end of the first paragraph, which is not fair, yet it happened and distracted me from an otherwise bravura beginning.

    I have trouble getting past the sentence “I tracked Roy with my ears, too scared to move my eyes.” Something about “tracking with ears” bugs me. I keep wanting to re-write it as, “Too scared to move my eyes, I tracked Roy by sound.” That at least leads into the description of Roy’s panting.

    I do think this will get published, and soon.

    #2

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am not "assigned" to your query, but liked it enough to want to share some thoughts, even though I would say no.

    I love the foster child story line and the possibilities of exploring race by sending him to a nearly all white school. I would like to know how he got this opportunity. Did someone see something special in him? Does he have an exceptional talent? He finds a family at this school, is it really that easy for him? With a minority son in a predominantly white school, we have not always found it that easy. One thing that comes to mind is that girls often want to be friends, but not want to date because of family acceptance issues. And although most kids are culturally accepting, the teachers are often the ones who are drawing upon stereotypes. I would hope the transition is too seamless, because between class, race, and family background, I wouldn't believe it.

    What is the hate crime he witnesses? Is that the scene we are seeing in the first 250? It seems he is a victim here? I read it several times, and while I was drawn in, I couldn't figure out what was going on.

    I would scrap the last paragraph in your query, and just give some more detail all around.

    #12

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. not too seamless is what I meant to say.

      Delete
  12. The concept is amazing but I'd probably pass with a comment to resubmit after work. The query's a bit short (would want a second part), but mostly what threw me were the first 250-words. The first paragraph intrigues me, but some of the slang in the arguing foster couple's vernacular didn't feel as authentic. I'd also have loved to feel a little bit of anger (and a lot more fear) from the protagonist.

    That said, I seriously bet you'll get some interest in this with work. Reminds me of Walter Dean Myers.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you all for the input so far. I will definitely add some more details to the query. The comments about the 250 have really helped me hear the story through other ears and that is IMMENSELY helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's a No from me. I agree with the others that the query needs to provide a little more detail. It breaks down for me here: "When he witnesses a hate crime, he has to find a positive way forward or risk losing the roots and future he has just started to believe he deserves." This is so very vague, and the urgency doesn't come across as it's just a single sentence. You've spent several sentences laying the background with very good specifics--basketball, conversations with boys, "the girl" (okay, I think you can do something more to describe the "girl"), but the point is that I'd spend the same amount of time describing the hate crime, the roots, and what he feels his conflict is. Spell it out--he doesn't want to risk losing his new friends and new life by making a big deal about the crime, but he can't let it go either because . . . etc. Be specific! And "positive way forward" is too vague as well. Basically, I think you need to flesh out those details in the query.

    The 250 was good, but I also got lost with him being "the little brat" until I re-read. But I had no problem with anything else. I got that he was laying somewhere and looking at the walls/ceiling and wanted to disappear, etc. The only thing that threw me was Roy's part of the convo. I'm not sure what convo tags would work, but it might be something to consider.

    Overall, this sounds like a great story--just needs a little work. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  15. No from me. I really like the premise, but your query is too short. I didn't get a sense of the story or the stakes. I did like your 250 though. I was immediately drawn into the scene and felt sympathy for Reece. Stories of foster kids really strike a cord with me since I worked in the system (on the court side) for a few years. Your writing sample had a few instances of passive language, but I didn't get a good enough feel for the language to make a determination about whether or not it would require a lot of editing.

    Overall, I think you have a great idea, but you need to do more with your query. Give us some insight into Reece's head, give us some stakes, some antagonists. Then go into how the hate crime throws everything out of whack.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi. #20 Here!

    YES!

    I waffled back and forth between two entries for my final yes and settled on this one because the 250 drew me in more. But I do wholeheartedly agree with everyone's comments on the query needing more meat. It did it's job in that it made me want to read more, but we need a better sense of the story's overall conflict. You have 250 words to play with in a query. Don't shortchange yourself!

    The 250 pulled me immediately into the MC's head and world. That's what sold me. Though Roy's line of dialogue did confuse me. I think we need a little hint that there are two people quibbling in the background and that Reese wants to disappear away from that. Otherwise, great premise. I really felt for Reese and hope I get to read this some day :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. No
    I want it to be a yes though, so here is play by play of my thoughts.
    -Is the scholarship based on the basketball mentioned later? Why couldn't he find a real home through foster care? (overcrowding, his race, his attitude?)
    -All boarding schools are predominately white.
    -If he doesn't fit in how does he find home/family? Is everyone not rich? Are the teachers more welcoming? i just need a little more info to believe the premise.
    - witnessing the hate crime seems to be the real crux of the story, it should be the focus of the query too. Especially the way it impacts him. Is it that he no longer feels safe because he could be the next victim? or it the real issue that he is a witness and has to potentially out the criminals?both? No matter what this part needs to be expanded upon.
    -Unless your PB's are published there is no need to mention any other works, this query is for this work alone, and future works are superfluous. (good for you though!)

    -I liked the 250 with one big glaring problem. I have no idea how it plays into the story pitched. Is this him as a child? older? it is at the boarding school. It was distracting to try and piece that together while reading. Even just a chap title with the date, or his age, or something would clear that up.

    Tobias Eaton (4)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi, I'm #19.

    Query:

    I want more! That's not usually how it goes. :) You can stand to add more of the story in the query. The last bit there starts to break down into vague events that would be so much more powerful spelled out. Why is this girl different? What hate-crime? To him, or to others? More specificity would really help flesh out the bits you already have.

    I do agree with the other commenter that mentions the foster care=bad part. There are many foster care situations that are very happy, so being specific about Reece's bad experiences will help with clearing that up. The other bit that I noticed was the black=poor, white=rich idea, which is tough to do with sensitivity.

    250:

    This is where your entry shines. I get a better idea of Reece here, though it is unclear if this is him in the 'here and now' or if he's remembering a time when he was younger. The voice seems young and the 'little brat' comment seems to suggest Reece is young here, younger than I expected based on the query.

    BUT I do like your MC finding pictures in the popcorn ceiling. That was well done and was interesting enough to draw me into his perspective right away. As I read on, I did wonder why or what Reece had done to make Roy so angry. I want to feel more sympathy for Reece on the first page, so knowing what he did may help amp that up.

    For me this was a no, but there's tons to like. Some edits and you'll be well on your way. :) Good luck!

    Jen #19

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm a visitor. Your entry was a close maybe for me and I'd like to give you feedback because it was so close. You have some good advice above. The writing itself is good, so you should be able to change a few things and move forward. Be very careful with offensive stereotypes; I'm not saying there are any but this story will need to guard against that because of the nature of the premise. My biggest problem with the 250 was lack of grounding to the setting. I suspect you were avoiding an info dump, which is good, but I was left being unable to picture the MC at all in any setting. I wonder if you could condense the adults a little and ground us a little more to the MC and the setting in this very important real estate of the 250. I think you're almost there!

    ReplyDelete
  20. All of your comments have been so helpful everyone! I feel really good about all of the yes and no votes because I am learning a lot. Your feedback has been really important to me.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi, a late crit here from #5 - I am going to say no, but I was very torn.

    The main reason I'm saying no is the brevity of the query. I'm not going to reiterate what other have already said, but yes, expand the specifics of the character, conflict, stakes, and consequences. They're all here but you can make this so much more compelling!!

    The 250 is just plain terrific. I loved the description of the ceiling. In such a short span of words you really do a great job of grounding us in this character's world, provoking emotion, and letting us connect with your protag. Very well done.

    Lots of luck with this! You have a tremendously engaging and compelling novel here.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi! Revision Critique from #16 :D

    I honestly have nothing to say, because (confession time), I was going to say yes to yours first time around, and then realized I had used up my yes options, so sadly left my comment on here blank. Now that I can say yes, YES! :D The voice is fantastic and the premise is good. And your revisions made it even better!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Revision critique from #8:

    I would have said no initially because the query was just too little and gave very little information about the story. Now, it's a YES YES YES.

    THIS IS SUCH A GOOD IMPROVEMENT!!!! You utilized those extra words in the query SO WELL and look how great it turned out - we readers know so much more about your story and the uniqueness of it. We know what to expect.

    I think the query can be pared down. Cut this sentence: "They aren’t exactly the kind of people he is used to hanging out with and he highly doubts they are going to give him the time of day." and combine a few paragraphs. I'm a sucker for coming-of-age stories and race stories, and this is both of them. Maybe this is just subjectivity, but I like this a lot. It's a yes from me!

    For the 250, "dammit to hell" made me pause and almost laugh, a little. It's such an odd phrase. I'm from around Chicago, so maybe it's a phrase commonly used elsewhere?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi, #9 here. This is most definitely a yes from me. I love the query, but I agree with the comment above, to cut the sentence -They aren’t exactly the kind of people he is used to hanging out with and he highly doubts they are going to give him the time of day.
    The 250 really pulls me in. I can feel the MC's need to escape. Nice job

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi #5 here!

    Very nicely done! I really like how you've brought in a lot more details about Reece. Even though I like the expanded details, I have to be honest, I miss your original opening sentence. I thought it had a lot of pop and set up both the conflict and character really well. Even though I know a lot more know and the query is more clear, it's not quite as voice-y as it was. That's okay, because I think you can bring that back in again really easily.

    Your 250 is still really great! Again, though, I loved the pop of the original first sentence and being caught up in Reece's fantasy world. Knowing he's five, now, it's even sweeter. I do really like everything that is in your 250 now, though, and think you should keep it all.

    I wanted to say yes the first time, and after I said no I kept wondering if I'd chosen right. So many tough choices last time around. But now I can just straight up say YES!

    Good luck!!

    ReplyDelete
  26. #19, revision crit:

    Query:

    Much better. A little streamlining and you're well on your way. I really like the specific details. They flesh the story out and help me see what to expect. Awesome work.

    250:

    So, so, so much clearer! It ramps up sympathy, shows us the ignorance of his grandfather and the innocence of a five year-old. It hit me harder and felt more ominous. Great revision. And while I'd still be a bit wary about the 'rich white kids', you've shown enough care that I'd request pages.

    I'd change my no to a yes. :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. WOW! Great revisions. Your opening paragraph oozes character and hooks me right away. Like I said before, character is why I read so it’s the most important aspect to me. The last sentence also has just amazing stakes. I said yes before and now I’m saying yes with conviction!

    There are a few places in the query I think you could simplify though, just to smooth things over. For the sake of clarity, I’m going to revise it how I would. By no means you have to listen to me. I just find it easier to tinker with other people’s queries than write my own.

    First paragraph is perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing. Second and third paragraph I’d look to combine. Also the “stuck going to school with” comes across as a touch whiney IMO, especially when this school sounds like a great opportunity (it’s also a bit redundant after the end of paragraph 1. With that in mind, I end up with something like...

    “The pampered white kids of the academy aren’t the crowd Reece is used to hanging out with. He doubts they are going to give him the time of day, but he stays upon his social worker’s insistence. Plus, it’s not like he has anywhere better to go. But between shooting hoops with his housemates and romancing the girl from sophomore English, he begins to find his place amongst he prep-school’s elite.

    When he witnesses a white town official shoot one of his black classmates, rage and revenge pull at him. Reece has to trust his new friends and family to support him while standing up for justice. Act on impulse, and he could lose the future he has just started to believe he deserves.”

    Good luck! And I hope to see this in print soon :)

    #20

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi, I'm #6. I really like this and it would be a yes for me. The one thing that really stood out for me though is the presence of filler words. I think if you took out a few of those your sentences would be stronger and have more impact. For example here : . But he soon finds himself on an academic scholarship and way out of his comfort zone. You could ditch 'soon' and the sentence might read stronger. So it might be good to edit with an eye toward filler words and structure. Best of luck with this, I really like it!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hello from #15! I didn't read this in the first round, but as I look at it now, I know an agent would request pages! That said, and I am sorry to admit this, the writing is so emotionally charged in the beginning with pain, I don't think I would continue to read it. (It's hard for me to stomach child abuse). However, the writing is very solid, and as I mentioned, filled with emotion, that I am absolutely convinced that you would have requests!

    Yes from me!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hello from #13 (and thanks for the helpful feedback!). I think this story has real potential and is an incredibly timely topic given what's going on in the news. That said, I think it needs a little revision before it's a yes.

    Query: I would cut " for a second" from the first sentence to make it tighter. I stumbled on the sentence on first read. In the paragraph that begins "Reece has to choose..." I would consider cutting this: "to trust his new family to support him while" and just focus in on Reece risking his new family to stand up for justice. I'm assuming in the end he finds out they'll support him even when he rocks the boat, but I think mentioning it here weakens the choice before him, which he's got to consider life or death to propel the story forward.

    First 250: You've got some vivid, if heartbreaking, description in this first 250, but I wonder if you're starting your story in the right place? If the school is the point of major action, I think you should start with 15 year old Reece. This scene from when he was 5 could be a flashback, but I think starting with a 5yo narrator isn't going to draw in the YA crowd. Also, a nitpick, but I got hung up on tears going down his cheek and ending up in his hair--I'd make it clear up front that he's on his back so that this makes sense...You don't want readers puzzling something out in the first line.

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Revision Yes, based on the first page. The premise is good. The query is improved with the expansion on your pitch--especially good job on the first paragraph!Those details unique to your story make me want to read on. In the paragraphs following the first, it's almost subtle, but you have repeated information already stated in your query intro. One example: "They aren't exactly the kind of people he is used to hanging out with . . ." -- that's clear from your first paragraph and doesn't need to be restated. First Page: Love how he is counting the animals shapes. Wonderful emotion, imagery, conflict and all that good stuff. This second version, grounded the reader a bit more at the start, and gave the dialogue a more natural and powerful feel. (#10)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Revision notes from #1 here: Yes! This is a great revision. From the opening paragraph of the query, we know where Reece comes from, what his expectations were and what his new reality is. You did a great gob setting up clear conflict and stakes. My picky points are '...give him the time of day' didn't feel very 15-year-old-ish and I suggest trimming at least one of the 'thats' in the last line of paragraph 2.

    The first 250 is so tight now. The opening is grounded -- I know where Reece is and I'm with him in that moment. I did wonder if 50,000 is a bit short for YA, but I'd keep on reading!

    ReplyDelete
  33. This may be overly nitpicky, but I think I’d cut “for a second” in your first sentence. You first paragraph has longish sentences and shorter, easier sentences to start a query with. You’re introducing your concept to an agent and you want it to be easy to understand. I’m going to pick on “come to anything” to. I’d love something voicier here. How would your mc put this?
    Your characters’ voice comes through better in your second paragraph, and in some of the third paragraph. But I was thrown out by “the elite around him.” It doesn’t sound like your mc thinks of them as elite. How would he say this.
    Your 4th paragraph throws me too. You’re setting it up as he has to choose a or b. A is he tells the truth even if it might make his new friends not like him anymore. B is the same. The choice is he needs tell the truth, or live with himself knowing he let someone get away with a crime.

    I like your 250. Best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, I'm #11, and I think this is very close to a yes now.

      Delete
  34. #17 writer here - Thank you all for your comments and feedback! I really appreciate the time you took to help me make thing better. The writing community is awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  35. #2 on the revision. The comments above have already hit on the changes I would suggest for the query revision, and those are really just cleaning up some of the wording. On my first read I hadn't processed that the person beating Reece was his grandfather, I assumed it was another teenage kids in a foster home (great revision!).

    ReplyDelete