Monday, June 1, 2015

QK Round 1: The Wonderette v. A Thousand Miles Astray

Entry Nickname: The Wonderette Versus the Real World
Title: Former Child Star
Word count: 80,000
Genre: Adult/Women's Fiction

Query:

FORMER CHILD STAR opens on the day thirty-five-year-old Suzy Doran is pulled out of her semi-reclusive lifestyle after hearing a tidbit about her Hollywood career on an entertainment gossip show. Suzy's heartbroken to learn today’s young actresses regard her short career as a cautionary tale—just another child star of the 1990's who couldn’t handle the sometimes cruel Hollywood machine.

Suzy's been shoved on a shelf with the countless other child stars who cracked under the pressure. She can stand back and allow these false assumptions to continue or come forward with her own truth. To Suzy a memoir seems the perfect way to set the record straight. With the invisible fourth wall lying shattered in pieces at her feet Suzy revisits a life she thought was behind her.

After living far from Hollywood's lights in a small town south of New York City, it won’t be easy for Suzy to reopen this door and take a closer look at her past. In order to share the truth she'll need to relive her happy Hollywood past, the friends and loves left behind, and the tragic, on set accident that changed it all. One moment she's playing a teenage superhero sidekick on television and the next she's waking up in a hospital bed. Suzy's not sure if anyone wants to read about her short career nineteen years after it ended. But she needs to come forward rather than let those young actresses malign her name.

First 250 words:


"I don’t want to be another Suzy Doran.”

I was half-heartedly watching an interview with a young starlet on one of those gossip programs - an Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood type show - when this phrase snapped me to attention. Who she was or what she was promoting fell to the wayside. I was too wrapped up in what she'd said. And, what she went on to say afterward.

“I don’t want to give up on Hollywood because I can’t take the pressure. I’ve always endeavored to be a strong person who can take whatever life hands me. Not give up just because I didn’t have it in me to headline a television show. She’s exactly what we all work not to be.”

This set off a cyclone of deranged flailing. My heart felt like it was going to thump out of my chest and a John Carpenter-type fog settled across my vision. I winced as I felt my knee connect with a folding table and upended my dinner. The water I'd been drinking sprayed out in front of me and my bowl of macaroni and cheese now lay upside down on the floor with the noodles mingling with the carpet. To lose one noodle was sad, but to lose a whole bowl, heartbreaking.

The truth lay in the program’s own archives and I didn’t understand why some fact-checker had let this slide. Yes, I'd been away from Hollywood for nineteen years and I couldn't expect people to remember every little thing.



VS



Entry Nickname:
A Thousand Miles Astray
Title: PERMANENTLY UNDECLARED
Word Count: 60,000
Genre: NA Contemporary

Query:

Sometimes you map out your life, only to discover you still don’t know where you’re going.

For eighteen-year-old Lotus Adams, college is a pit stop on her journey through life. A journey she should be taking with Flora, her dad’s vintage RV. Desperate to find the father who abandoned her, she’s willing to sacrifice almost anything for answers, including school. She’s only there under duress, part of her mom’s plan to get on the “right” path.

For eighteen-year-old Aaron Kim, college is the destination and has always been his goal. Still reeling from a broken heart, Aaron is determined to focus on studying and nothing but. Too bad he can’t stop thinking about the jaded girl he met at orientation.

Their friendship is the first step in finding a new direction. Despite his aching heart, Aaron wants more, but Lotus is hesitant to start a new relationship. She knows her time at school is limited, and if there’s one thing she’s learned from her parents, it’s that relationships always end poorly.

When Lotus must decide between finding her dad or hanging onto Aaron, she has to make the hardest decision of all—to choose the past or the future.

First 250 Words:

The grass brushed against my legs and I scratched as I scanned the crowd. Sweating my ass off surrounded by hundreds of lemmings was pretty much what I expected for my first day of college.

“Like cattle,” I muttered. If Dad was still around, I wouldn’t be here.

“What’s that?” asked the guy next to me.

“We’re cattle,” I replied, not even looking in his direction. “What’s the point of all this, anyway? Some form of torture?”

“I think they call it ‘freshman orientation,’ actually.” I glanced at him, curious. A smirk and dark sunglasses looked back at me. “I take it you aren’t afan of higher learning?”

“It was my mom’s idea.” I was still staring, trying not to wonder what color his eyes were under those dark glasses. His white hat, sporting the college’s logo, was turned backwards. Dumb. “You know, if that hat was on the right way, you wouldn’t need the sunglasses.”

The smirk broke into a full on grin, his shiny perfect teeth flashing at me. “I always need the sunglasses. This way, the hat stays out of my way.”

He was ridiculous, but I couldn’t manage to disengage. “Then why wear the hat at all?”

“Bad hair day,” he replied. Everything in me told me to turn away, to kill this conversation now.

“What, out of mousse before the first day?”

Dammit.

“Maybe I misplaced my flat iron,” he replied. He yanked off the hat, pulling his hand through his glossy black hair.

23 comments:

  1. Judges - hit 'reply' to this comment to cast your votes. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Wonderette - The way the query opens threw me. I like it when hooks engage and give a snappy opening to the story instead of just telling me what it's about. It takes away from the voice of the query. By saying it 'opens with' you're losing out on a great opportunity to let your story speak for itself. This way it feels like you are doing the speaking for it. I also wish the conflict and stakes were a bit more defined. I'm not getting a sense of why it's so important for her to change how everyone see's her. It's been nineteen years, and this is the first time someones mentioned her fall from grace? It seems like there's something missing.

      The first 250 are well written, and give a good glimpse into what's going on. There's quite a bit of passive writing though, and it almost seems the interview is used for info dump purposes. Instead of something happening now, it feels like the reader is learning about the protagonists past instead. The voice is great however. Strong, dynamic, and the internal dialogue gives a great sense of the characters voice. Great job on that.

      A Thousand Miles Astray - The beginning of the query threw me a little bit. When she talked about going to college with the RV, I didn't realize he'd abandoned her. I also think that sticking with one POV would be better for this, considering the stakes are only in Lotus's POV. It would make the build strong, because while state she has to choose between her past and future, I don't see what the conflict is that brings her to the point that she has to choose, and I feel like that's integral to the plot.

      The first 250 are well written, and you have a great sense of dialogue. The meeting is fun and vivacious. I think it should be fleshed out a little bit more with some internal dialogue to help ground the reader, give them more of a sense of what's going on, but I can definitely say that the banter is well done.

      Both have strength and weaknesses, and I think both need to work on clearly defining the conflict and stakes, but both also have wonderful potential and great voices.

      Victory to A THOUSAND MILES ASTRAY

      Delete
    2. The Wonderette Versus The Real World:

      The query sets up your story well, but I feel like there’s a lot of repetition. There’s more context than plot. All I can gather is that the MC is a former star who wants to tell her story. The query should give me a better idea what that story will be. And the 250 isn’t giving me any more to work with. It’s again doing a fine job of setting up the context, I’ve got no real sense of who your MC is. Why do I want to read about her life?

      A Thousand Miles Astray:

      First, the first line of your query needs to go, asap. An aphorism is not your plot. Focus on plot and stakes. (And voice if you’ve got the room.) I’ve got a sense of your plot – reluctant girl meets reluctant boy. Your stakes could use work though. Choosing between her past and future feels clichéd and isn’t really a choice anyway. What’s at stake if Lotus gives up on finding dad? What’s at stake if she leaves Aaron? Your first 250 is a bit clichéd (first day of school) but I’ll give it a pass considering it’s a likely place for this particular story to start. I get a good sense of your MFC Lotus. You might want to work on the staging – glancing, smirking, grinning, etc could probably be upgraded to something more interesting.

      Victory: A THOUSAND MILES ASTRAY

      Delete
    3. WONDERETTE: Your query feels rather repetitive (telling us that Suzy was a child star (I love that she was a star in the 90's! Awesome!) who failed and wants to set the record straight. You could do this with one or two sentences and then have plenty of space left over to map out the actual plot for us. What happens when Suzy starts to write this book? Be specific, and give stakes. Right now, I'm not sure what she has to lose except for people going on believing she failed at her acting career. Make me care by showing me the stakes for Suzy if she fails to write this memoir. I think too, I'm not understanding why it's so important that Suzy sets the record straight about her career; was there a really unique circumstance around her dropping out of acting? These are the kinds of things to include in your revised query!

      Your first 250 seem to start in just the right place, and your prose is lovely! So great job there. I enjoy Suzy's voice quite a bit!

      THOUSAND MILES: I'd suggest losing the semi-cliche first line of your query and jumping right in with, "For eighteen-year-old Lotus..." I was also thrown at the end when, in the stakes, you mention that Lotus has a choice to go find her dad. How long has he been missing? Did he walk out on his family? You've got to introduce the fact that dad's missing much earlier in the query for this to make sense! Also, what are the stakes for Aaron? You introduced us to his POV but then didn't give any stakes for him, so if you want to include both POVs here, that's something you'll need to address. Otherwise, removing Aaron's POV entirely is another option, which would give you more room to build up the stakes for Lotus anyway!

      The banter in your first 250 is so much fun! My only suggestion here is to ground the reader in the scene better by giving a few more details about the characters' surroundings!

      Victory to...A THOUSAND MILES ASTRAY!

      Delete
    4. Wonderette:

      I love the idea of a fake memoir from a fictitious celebrity. But I'm not really clear on the story itself. What happens? If this IS the fake memoir, then I need to know about the story within the story. You have to treat it the same way as a regular query - what's the conflict in Suzy's past? What's at stake for her? What choices does she face and what happens if she makes the wrong one?

      The word "was" appears four time in your first paragraph. There's nearly always a stronger verb to show the action. You're also missing commas in both of the sentences of the last paragraph. Otherwise, I feel like the POV could be deeper here. We see Suzy's actions, and we're in her head, but I don't really feel her emotions or any real connection with her.

      A Thousand Miles Astray:

      Initially, I'm a bit concerned by your word count. At the end of the day, NA is still an adult book and that means it needs to fall within accepted adult lengths. I've heard agents say that anything below 65k is too short for print. The query overall is pretty good, but I'd combine the last two paragraphs. I'd remove "you" from the hook and phrase it in terms of Lotus. What's she trying to accomplish? What stands in her way? Also, while it's got all the things a query needs to have, I feel like it's missing something. You've got some room to add a few details - why does Lotus have to choose between her father and Aaron? Give me a little more so I really want to root for these characters to be together.

      The voice in your first 250 is good. I like the way Lotus is into this guy in spite of herself.

      Sometimes it's harder to pick a winner with match-ups that are different genres. There are things I like about each entry. But VICTORY TO A THOUSAND MILES ASTRAY.

      Delete
    5. Note: For round 1 since there's so many entries, I'm judging based on the query only!


      THE WONDERETTE VERSUS THE REAL WORLD

      The first paragraph took me two read-throughs to really grasp; I think I overlooked the fact that "FORMER CHILD STAR" was your novel's title. After that point, though, the query is very clear and concise.

      Also, I'm curious -- is this written in memoir style from Suzy's POV? Or is this simply a novel about Suzy writing her memoir?


      -vs-


      A THOUSAND MILES ASTRAY

      I think this query could use some more specific details in order to really make it stand out from other NA "pick the guy or the life goal" premises. The part that piqued my interest most was about Flora, the vintage RV - it's the most specific hint we get about Lotus, besides that she's jaded and cynical about romance. Aaron, too, could use more fleshing out -- WHY is college his destination? I want to know more!



      Victory to... THE WONDERETTE!

      Delete
    6. THE WONDERETTE VERSUS THE REAL WORLD

      QUERY: I love the idea of this book. I mean, who isn’t interested in what happened to former child stars? There are ten articles a day posted with “Where are they now?” and “SHOCKING THEN AND NOW PICTURES!” headlines. However, I didn’t get any sense of voice or stakes in this query. Suzy walked away…is she happy with her life now? Does this news interrupt an otherwise happy existence? Or is it something she has suspected, that has always bothered her? And why does it matter to her to set the record straight? She’s been a recluse, so why now? Because of one show? Why THIS interview? And what does she stand to lose if she doesn’t follow through?

      FIRST 250: The first line is great. I’m not usually much for starting with dialogue, but this jumps right into the story, and if we know immediately that the character is who is being discussed, it’s a great hook. There’s definitely some good voice in this excerpt, but it’s buried beneath extraneous telling and filter words. I felt like I was watching this happen, rather than being with Suzy in the moment. Get rid of words like “felt.” The last paragraph was a bit confusing, though that could be because it was at the end of the excerpt, and more explanation would have happened further down.


      A THOUSAND MILES AWAY

      QUERY: I’m not a great fan of using “you” in queries, so I would probably nix the first line. The rest of the query is really solid. Good voice, clear stakes. Only two small nitpicks. First, “Their friendship is the first step in finding new direction.” Seems vague. What direction? For who? And then the last paragraph, I love the choice between past and future, but you might play around with it a bit since you use “decide” and “decision” in the same sentence.

      FIRST 250: I can tell I’m going to like these two characters. They definitely have great chemistry right off the bat, and I love their banter, though be careful not to go over the top with it. I’m going to get nitpicky here as well, because in general this was really solid as well. After he says it’s called freshman orientation, I’m not sure “curious” is the right word. Why is she curious? I would show some other reaction, and/or add why she is curious. “Surprised that he was continuing the conversation, despite my ‘back-off’ signals, I snuck a glance in his direction.” (That could use work, but you get the idea.) The second nitpick is directly after that. I can’t get over the smirk and dark sunglasses looking at her. “A boy sporting a smirk and dark sunglasses looked back at me.” Play with it a bit, see what you can come up with.

      Victory to A THOUSAND MILES AWAY.

      Delete
    7. The Wonderette,

      With a query you don't have to set the scene. Start right out with your story..."Suzy Doran is pulled out of her..." Also, I'm not sure what the plot is. Is it to set her story straight? What are the stakes? How will Suzy's life be changed by writing her memoir? What does she have to gain by telling the "real story"? I need to understand all these things in order to want to read on.

      First 250:
      You start in an interesting place, but I think you need to give a nod to the reader that the character watching the show is in fact Suzy Doran. By doing this you draw us immediately into the narrative and we want to know why this person on TV does not want to be like her. This may be as simple as adding, "when the sound of my name snapped me to attention."


      A Thousand Miles Astray,

      This is a good start for a NA query, but I think there needs to be more of a hint at what is at stake for both these characters. From the way this query is written it sounds like dual POV. If this is the case, then I need a bit more detail.

      Sure Aaron is reeling from a broken heart, but what other challenges does he face? Same holds true for Lotus. If she breaks away from Mom and looks for her Dad is she cut off? What are the risks and rewards here? I need to understand those clearly in order to want to read this book.

      First 250:

      Great NA voice going on here. Dialogue is snappy and I'm already interested in Lotus and Aaron. Good work!


      Victory to A THOUSAND MILES ASTRAY

      Delete
    8. Jackie Jormp-JompJune 4, 2015 at 2:41 AM

      THE WONDERETTE

      I feel like your query is a bit circuitous and could get to the heart of the matter a lot faster – say in two or three sentences (tops.) Then give us more about what happens to the MC as she’s writing this memoir, and what happens if she fails. Are there bigger stakes other than just being embarrassed or misunderstood? Are there specific obstacles, beyond the emotional turmoil of her journey down memory lane, that get in her way and threaten her success?

      I enjoyed some of the visceral moments (the knee slamming against the table) of the opening scene, but I wanted a bit more voice. I want to hear Suzy’s unique voice in the prose. Right now it feels descriptive, but not personal. I also think it could be a little clearer, earlier on, that the MC is the person that the starlet is talking about. Now, we don’t really understand that until the last paragraph, and it’s still a bit obtuse. I feel like you’ve got a great opportunity to end the section with an emotional zinger that will keep the reader turning the pages.

      A THOUSAND MILES ASTRAY

      I love the voice in your 250 and want that voice to be in the query too. There are lots of NA stories about college romance and mismatched couples. But what makes yours unique is the humor and the dialog. I also found myself a bit confused by Aaron’s story in the query – he’s heartbroken but he wants another relationship but he wants to focus on school? I think it his goals/issues could be clearer and the stakes higher. I get Lotus’ conflict between Aaron and finding her dad, but I want to know more about what the consequences of her choices are.

      I really enjoyed the first 250, and I wanted to keep reading! I agree with other commenters that the setting, dialog, and reactions could be more fleshed out. And I would take a look at the dialog tags – I was momentarily confused about who was talking in some instances – even just a paragraph break or an “I said” could help clarify in places. Finally, for NA I want more attraction/lust – what is it about this particular boy that is so enticing to her at first sight? I think you can go further and really suck us into their romance right at the top.

      Victory to A THOUSAND MILES ASTRAY

      Delete
    9. Hey Judge Sparrow! Thank you so SO SO much for judging 11 match-ups (11!) even though you weren't assigned this round. The query feedback will help tons. We won't be able to count your vote because of the lack of 250 consideration, but seriously, thank you thank you. The writers will appreciate it tons.

      Delete
  2. Child Star: I like your query. The first sentence did trip me up a bit, though. But if you start it from Thirty-five-year-old...it's all good. :) I'd love a couple of hints as to what her accident was, too. But overall, this is a solid query. I can feel her sadness through the page. And your 250 shines. The voice, the funny (the mac and cheese--totally heartbreaking!), everything. Awesome job.

    Undeclared: Love the first line of your query; the rest is also solid. Great concept, great voice and dialogue, but I'd love a bit more narrative in the beginning. Some grounding in place maybe, motivation, setting, thoughts peppered throughout for a touchstone before the conversation.

    Great entries guys. Good luck to you both!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Child Star: I like your query. The first sentence did trip me up a bit, though. But if you start it from Thirty-five-year-old...it's all good. :) I'd love a couple of hints as to what her accident was, too. But overall, this is a solid query. I can feel her sadness through the page. And your 250 shines. The voice, the funny (the mac and cheese--totally heartbreaking!), everything. Awesome job.

    Undeclared: Love the first line of your query; the rest is also solid. Great concept, great voice and dialogue, but I'd love a bit more narrative in the beginning. Some grounding in place maybe, motivation, setting, thoughts peppered throughout for a touchstone before the conversation.

    Great entries guys. Good luck to you both!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Child Star- I love this concept. I'd maybe fix the opening to just start off with the name and age of your mc not the title necessarily. I wasn't quite sure with the query about the stakes and what is was about her life and the past that was needing to be set straight and what the stakes were really. Why couldn't she just go on a talk show or rebutt the girls statement? Just left some questions as to why we should really care. I loved the image of her Mac and cheese flipping that is devastating but maybe a little less info on the past and more action to ground is in present day.

    Undeclared- I'd cut the first line of your query. Other than that I think it's strong but I do want to know more about the stakes if she doesn't find dear old dad. The opening pages have great dialog and I can see where we are and what's going on and I'm getting a sense of the mc but would like a little more of the mc pov and the setting etc in the first paragraph.

    ReplyDelete
  5. WONDERETTE:
    Query: Great premise! The tragic onset accident made me want to skip to the 250 and start reading, though I felt there was a bit too much backstory in the query. I think a bit of tightening and making the stakes a bit higher, and you’ve got a stellar query. 250: Great first line, but I didn’t realize at first this was your MC (though I recognized her name). I’d like to see her snap into a reaction faster and then set the stage of what she’s watching. Her reaction to the actress is hilarious. ☺

    THOUSAND MILES:
    Query: This is a solid query with very interesting MC names. 250: I’m confused why she wouldn’t be there if her dad was still there, but the dialogue between these two draws me right in and makes me want to keep reading.

    ReplyDelete
  6. (Yes, I'm stealing Karen's organization of comment. What? It's logical and good.)

    WONDERETTE:

    Query: Brilliant idea and one that hits home for me. Trying to dig your name out of the mud and defend yourself in the public eye is a tricky endeavor, and I'd snatch this book up straight away. There are passive sentences, which will undoubtedly ruffle some snob feathers, but to me, it reads correct in grammar and punctuation and piqued my interest, so BRAVO! (Also, I usually look at the first sentence then shoot straight into the sample, and for me, the first sentence did the job.)

    Audience: Definitely appeals to women more than men and to more mature readers than younger ones, so the genre/audience is spot-on.

    First 250: The writing is clean and the story comes through. For me, it's a "tell me more" page, and I'd definitely keep reading, which is the best compliment I can give.

    THOUSAND MILES:
    Query: This is just a personal pet peeve, but I get grumpy with assumptions, and 2nd person statements raise my blood pressure. I've never mapped my life out, so I'm already feeling left out. BUT! I get the technique, and I'm not a snob, so I'll pretend that I have and keep reading. I love the next sentence (pit stop...haha), so I'm back on board. I LOVE a love story, but I don't get why Lotus would have to choose between finding her father and having a relationship with Aaron. It seems like a false choice, but since I love romance and the "pit stop" I'm in a good mood going into the 250.

    Audience: NA Contemp seems to fit perfectly, and this story would probably appeal to mostly females in a wide age range.

    First 250: I do love the voice right away. But the grammarist in me notices a hypothetical "if" construction that should be subjunctive mood. "If I were" but so many writers ignore mood, I guess it's just accepted. "Full-on" needs a hyphen. I really like the banter--it's well balanced and easy to read. Just very well done. The one thing I wasn't sure of was in the first sentence: is she standing or sitting in the grass. At first I thought she was sitting, but then they're cattle, so standing. Must be really tall grass if it's brushing her leg? Or am I being too picky now? In any case, the first page has got the "tell me more" factor. And I'd snag this book too.

    Tough choice! Two vastly different entries. Both well done. One's a airplane/bathtub read, the other's a quick fun read. I don't envy the judges....

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wonderette:

    Love the premise! But the query read more as context or set-up - what are the stakes for her if no one knows why she left Hollywood? Just setting the record straight? (After nineteen years, why does she care?) Nitpick: "on-set"

    As for the 250, I'd keep reading. By the way, does she actually do a spit-take? The water spraying implies that for some readers. :-)

    Thousand Miles:
    I'm not a fan of the first sentence, either. I'd skip it and move on in to the heart of the query. I'd like to know more about the stakes here, for both characters.

    A good solid 250. I can imagine and relate to your characters right away (and I'm nowhere near your target audience ;-) ).

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wonderette -
    The query sets things up nicely. I think you could get rid of the repetitive aspect by deleting the first two sentences of the second paragraph. I would also rephrase the stakes at the end. We know what she wants to do, but what does she risk if she fails? Her own self-respect? Others? Just a thought.

    Very engaging first 250, but maybe you could reinforce the fact that it's the MC's name in the beginning quote. You could change the end of the second sentence to: "when the mention of my name snapped me to attention."

    Thousand Miles -
    Is it a dual POV? If so, should Aaron have his own stakes? If not, does he deserve his own paragraph? I love the comment about Lotus learning that relationships always end poorly from her parents.

    Great interaction for the first 250. Minor point - Lotus likens the students to both lemmings and cattle in quick succession. Maybe the first reference could be something like "clueless students" (Except better. Sorry, I don't know your MC well enough to suggest a good replacement.)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wonderette- I love the idea of former child star telling her story. This is just the type of thing I would want to read. The line "To lose one noodle was sad, but to lose a whole bowl, heartbreaking." was hilarious and sad at the same time. Well done.

    Thousand Miles- I liked the dialog in the 250. The idea of the RV was cool, but I couldn't tell from the query how it really fit into the larger picture of the story.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wonderette:
    Query:
    The first sentence is a bit of a doozy… I would consider shortening for clarity and punch. Although it is just the query, it might be useful to throw in a few catch-phrases about what she supposedly did that made her a cautionary tale (besides fading into obscurity, of course). You do get to this in the last paragraph, but by this point the stakes just don’t’ seem quite high enough. I am DEFINITELY intrigued by the fallen childhood star as a concept, so I would love it if you brought the import of her situation out more. Why does she care, if she’s been reclusive, if (presumably) chatter has happened about her before? Why now? Otherwise, unique and fascinating premise! I would definitely read this.
    250:
    I think the first half is great! However, when she gets to flailing around, spilling her dinner, I think this might be a tad overdone. I wonder if she wouldn’t freeze and put on a stoic face instead because (like I said above) whatever happened with her must have been commented on before. I would consider cutting the line about losing all of a bowl of noodles, too, because the tone seems off. If she is that upset about the report, she would be oblivious to something as trivial as mac & cheese. But, you definitely do a fantastic job of upping my interest in what happened with her. I am very intrigued to hear why she fell from grace. Nicely done!
    A Thousand Miles

    Query:
    I thought you did well with this. (Great characterization via names, too.) However, she comes off as so headstrong and driven towards a goal that the reason why she would actually be in school does get across. Is she trying to please her mom for some reason? If so, this may need to be highlighted in the query/250. Otherwise, it just seems as though she is old enough to make her own choices and those choices wouldn’t include freshman orientation.
    250: You write with an incredibly strong voice. It’s great, so I don’t have too much to give on the 250. Maybe consider cutting back on some of the telling “I couldn’t manage to disengage” because the dialogue implies her attention. Also, it might help to make the connection a little less immediate, which I know the snark is intended to imply, but the interiority suggests otherwise. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  11. THE WONDERETTE:

    QUERY:
    I found the opening confusing, I had to re-read a few times and conclude FORMER CHILD STAR was a television show…? I think the first sentence is confusing, but that the rest of the query is uncomplicated. Sounds like Suzy might have some interesting tales to tell, but we’re not really teased as to what, and so we don’t feel like we’re missing out on much if she never gets to tell it at all. And I can’t see any stakes – currently it seems it’s just Suzy’s peace of mind at stake here, and for me personally it’s just not enough to want to read on.
    ZIP:
    I love the opening, right in there. Not sure if I’d want to be inside this woman’s head for a whole novel… she already comes across to me as narcissistic and too woe-is-me, something I really don’t like, and currently I feel as if I’d be totally drained after reading only one chapter. I can’t see a real vulnerability in her that speaks to me and makes me already root for her – enough to read on. I think your writing is strong, and that you need to re-structure your query to reveal more of the juicy stuff that I’m guessing is gradually revealed throughout the story.


    THOUSAND MILES

    QUERY:
    Liked the tone of the query, didn’t like that first line though. Found the query uncomplicated and I think all it needs is more stakes, especially for Aaron.
    ZIP:
    Loved the dialogue between these two. Think it could do with a bit more atmosphere, those surroundings could really add to what’s going on. Sounds like a fun and interesting read, not too light-hearted but also not that heavy going.

    Thank you and good luck to both of you, may the best story go forward ☺

    London Skye

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  12. The Wonderette
    This will play well to a young audience in spite of the woman being years older and reflecting. There isn't a kid out there that doesn't entertain trying to break it into the golden gates of Hollywood. I think the only thing I'd tweak with the query is include the inciting event. One person questioned her waiting all those years. You explain her impetus (hearing new starlets use her career as a how not to). In real life it might happen that way but in fiction we need a stronger impetus. Perhaps a young girl who wrote her fan letters when she was a star went on to Hollywood at 18 and became a child start statistic - drugs, alcohol, and a massive downfall. Now, it's not just about her pity party but about her realization that her story might rescue someone else. I don't want to change your story. I like it. I just think the query could use that extra motivation. It sounds like a fun story to say nothing of a theme that is universal. Should play well to young people but also us in the older crowd. We all have if you don't want to call them regrets call them second thoughts about decisions we made in our youth. What would we change if we could? Can we help someone else not go where I went? You made it in the 64 our of nearly 300. You have what it takes. Mold it and send it out again.

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  13. Wonderette: Your story sounds quite interesting. However, to me, your query only seemed to skirt around the situation. In fact, the most interesting part of your query was the final paragraph. If I were you, I'd start there and give a little more info. Why won't dredging up the past be easy? What has she lost? What does she hope to gain? Make the reader want to know and want to cheer her on.

    A Thousand Miles: I think you did a good job with you query. I don't think I'd really change anything. I also liked the easy banter between characters in your first 250.

    Good luck Kombatants!

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  14. Hi everyone! A Thousand Miles Astray here.

    Thank you so much for all your votes and comments! I'm already working on updating my query (don't worry, that first line is long gone) based on your feedback. There were some great questions that I have to figure out how to answer in the query.

    I've loved Lotus and Aaron since they first popped into my head, and I'm so glad that they're being so well received. Thank you all for taking the time to read and give feedback, and thanks to Michelle for having faith in my words. <3

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