BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Take #3*

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Krista G.
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BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by Krista G. » June 30th, 2010, 6:17 pm

CURRENT DRAFT MIDWAY DOWN THE THIRD PAGE!

Hello, all. I've just started drafting the query for my latest WIP and would appreciate your thoughts.

First, a quick question: Can the word dystopian function as a noun? That is, can I refer to my manuscript as a YA dystopian, or should I call it a YA dystopian novel?

Thanks!

Dear [Agent]:

Seth Tucker is an old-fashioned kid. He prefers cameras to Camera and wall screens to feed-planted pictures in his head. He doesn’t prefer his Wingtooth, the tooth-shaped implant that links his brainwaves to the feed, and he’s not a huge fan of Hermes United, the company that makes them. Which is a little awkward, because that company’s just selected him to represent his high school at its annual International Biomedia Conference.

The conference doesn’t start well. He trips down the bus steps before Music Player’s made it through the first verse of “[Bob],” and then he slips and dumps his breakfast all over a Toothless redhead, who also happens to be the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen (in real life or on the feed). The conference doesn’t end well, either. At the Last Banquet, the company’s Toothless workers launch a hostile corporate takeover, emphasis on the hostile—and the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen turns out to be their assassin.

With the feed out of commission and the other Wingtoothers reduced to barely living robots, Seth has to choose between the life he’s always wanted and the life he’s always lived. Between the lives of a few and the lives of the many.

[BOB] is a 63,000-word YA dystopian. [Agent-specific comments]

On a biographical note, I am a BYU graduate, a blogger, a stay-at-home mom, and one of the Toothless. [BOB] will be my first publication.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully,
Name
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Last edited by Krista G. on August 14th, 2010, 11:33 am, edited 4 times in total.
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian

Post by LSimon » June 30th, 2010, 9:29 pm

Dear [Agent]:

Seth Tucker is an old-fashioned kid. He prefers cameras to Camera<<This Part isn't very clear....but this is>>>> and wall screens to feed-planted pictures in his head. He doesn’t prefer his Wingtooth,<<The use of "Prefer" here is a little awkward the tooth-shaped implant that links his brainwaves to the feed,This sentence is really long I have a suggestion for a replacement in green at the bottom and he’s not a huge fan of Hermes United, the company that makes them. Which is a little awkward, because that company’s just selected him to represent his high school at its annual International Biomedia Conference.

The conference doesn’t start well. He trips down the bus steps before Music Player’s made it through the first verse of “[Bob],” and then he slips and dumps his breakfast all over a ToothlessWhile a lot of detail here is going to bog you down, a little would help- suggestion in blue below redhead, who also happens to be the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen (in real life or on the feed). The conference doesn’t end well, either. At the Last Banquet, the company’s Toothless workers launch a hostile corporate takeover, emphasis on the hostile—and the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen turns out to be their assassin.

With the feed out of commission and the other Wingtoothers reduced to barely living robots, Seth has to choose between the life he’s always wanted and the life he’s always lived. Between the lives of a few and the lives of the many.

[BOB] is a 63,000-word YA dystopian. [Agent-specific comments]Maybe YA dystopian science fiction?

On a biographical note, I am a BYU graduate, a blogger, a stay-at-home mom, and one of the Toothless. [BOB] will be my first publication.Usually, unless it is publishing credits, I don't think this is useful

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully,
Name
Contact Info

He doesn't care for his Wingtooth, the tooth-shaped implant that links his brainwaves to the feed. He also doesn't have much love for Hermes United, the company that makes them.

He trips down the bus steps before Music Player’s made it through the first verse of “[Bob],” and then he slips and dumps his breakfast all over the most beautiful girl he's ever seen- she just happens to be the leader of the Toothless, a group of kids that remain unplugged.

Just some suggestions! Feel free to ignore :)

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian

Post by fivecats » June 30th, 2010, 10:04 pm

Krista G. wrote:Hello, all. I've just started drafting the query for my latest WIP and would appreciate your thoughts.

First, a quick question: Can the word dystopian function as a noun? That is, can I refer to my manuscript as a YA dystopian, or should I call it a YA dystopian novel?
fwiw, Apple's Dictionary states that "dystopian" is both an adjective and a noun.


Krista G. wrote:Dear [Agent]:

Seth Tucker is an old-fashioned kid. He prefers cameras to Camera and wall screens to feed-planted pictures in his head. He doesn’t prefer his Wingtooth, the tooth-shaped implant that links his brainwaves to the feed, and he’s not a huge fan of Hermes United, the company that makes them. Which is a little awkward, because that company’s just selected him to represent his high school at its annual International Biomedia Conference.

The conference doesn’t start well. He trips down the bus steps before Music Player’s made it through the first verse of “[Bob],” and then he slips and dumps his breakfast all over a Toothless redhead, who also happens to be the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen (in real life or on the feed). The conference doesn’t end well, either. At the Last Banquet, the company’s Toothless workers launch a hostile corporate takeover, emphasis on the hostile—and the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen turns out to be their assassin.

With the feed out of commission and the other Wingtoothers reduced to barely living robots, Seth has to choose between the life he’s always wanted and the life he’s always lived. Between the lives of a few and the lives of the many.
Here's the thing: I don't have a clue what your story is about.

The only thing I know about your MC is that he's a klutz. I don't get a clear sense of what his conflict is, what his choices are and what's getting in the way of him obtaining whatever it is he wants.

Your query has a "Clockwork Orange" feel to it -- the writing is so immersed in its own terminology that, to an 'outsider' it's just confusing.

If you have only a few seconds of time to capture the attention of a prospective agent, you want to do so with clear writing that captures the essence of your MC and the struggle he is undertaking. I'm afraid there isn't enough of a grounding in anything tangible for -- well, for me, at least -- to stitch all of this together into something coherent.
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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian

Post by jkmcdonnell » June 30th, 2010, 11:40 pm

Krista G. wrote: Seth Tucker is an old-fashioned kid [could be stronger to say more about the kid and highlight your voice]. He prefers cameras to Camera [unclear and confusing] and wall screens to feed-planted pictures in his head. He doesn’t prefer his Wingtooth [to what?], the tooth-shaped implant that links his brainwaves to the feed, and he’s not a huge fan of Hermes United, the company that makes them. Which is a little awkward, because that company’s just selected him to represent his high school at its annual International Biomedia Conference. [why? how was he selected? what sort of things will he be expected to do there -- talk up the company, even though he hates it?]

The conference doesn’t start well. He trips down the bus steps before Music Player’s made it through the first verse of “[Bob],” [again, confusing, although I'm assuming the missing word would help illuminate this further] and then he slips and dumps his breakfast all over a Toothless redhead, who also happens to be the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen (in real life or on the feed) [brackets in a query make whatever's inside them seem unimportant, an afterthought; use a hyphen instead]. The conference doesn’t end well, either. At the Last Banquet, the company’s Toothless workers launch a hostile corporate takeover, emphasis on the hostile—and the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen turns out to be their assassin [whose assassin? the company's or the workers? who is she there to kill? does 'Toothless' refer to those without a feed?].

With the feed out of commission and the other Wingtoothers reduced to barely living robots, Seth has to choose between the life he’s always wanted and the life he’s always lived. Between the lives of a few and the lives of the many. [where does this death threat come from? is this now a war, or are they dependent on the feed/the company to survive? now that he is no longer living with the feed, do his thought patterns change? does he think in a different way? again, we need to know more about how the feed actually works and what it does.]

[BOB] is a 63,000-word YA dystopian. [Agent-specific comments] On a biographical note, I am a BYU graduate, a blogger, a stay-at-home mom, and one of the Toothless [love this]. [BOB] will be my first publication is my first novel.
This is a good start, pretty tight, and your voice shines through. Just a few points:

Interesting premise, although it strongly recalls M.T. Anderson's FEED. Consider renaming the feed itself to something that operates as a pronoun, for more originality. (Or is that what 'Bob' is?)

At times it seems you are assuming the reader's knowledge of some of the terms you've used, making the query confusing in many places. Specificity is good, but not at the expense of clarity.

In regards to Seth -- how can he have such a strong view against this company if he has this feed in his head -- is it not manipulating his thoughts and point of view? Or do the feeds simply report the individual's thoughts and ideas back to the company? Be more specific about what the feed does.

The biggest issue for me is that this query comes off very Middle Grade. I would have had no inkling it was YA until those last few paragraphs. This comes down to the voice -- which is fun and playful, and I like it -- and the focus on Seth falling down the stairs as a horror start to his day (which, to be fair, would suck, but this being his biggest worry makes the character seem innocent, largely untroubled and even shallow). I agree with fivecats -- we know nothing about Seth's inner turmoil, and the true stakes of this external conflict are vague and therefore confusing. 'Old-fashioned kid' isn't overly descriptive of who he really is -- is he awkward, an outcast from the other kids?

There's definite potential here. Hope this helped.

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian

Post by Krista G. » July 1st, 2010, 9:28 am

Thanks, LSimon, for the suggestions, especially your new sentence ideas. They definitely helped me start thinking in another direction.

Fivecats, thanks for that clarification on dystopian. And I think you're right - I sacrificed too much clarity for brevity. (Jkmcdonnell, thanks for pointing out the same thing.)

Also, jkmcdonnell, that's an interesting point you made about the tone sounding more MG. Definitely something to think about as I revise. And I'm glad you liked the biographical information:) I do think it's important to include something about yourself in a query, even if you don't have any publishing credits, but to keep it short and sweet.

Well, back to the Word document...
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian

Post by wilderness » July 1st, 2010, 1:07 pm

Hi Krista,

I think the premise about invasive technologies is very interesting. The other commenters did a great job on line-by-line edits, so I'll be brief.

I see 2 main areas of improvement:
1. Motivation : Why is he not like other kids and uncomfortable about these technologies?
2. Clarity : Like you explained "Wingtooth", you should explain any technologies you introduce, like "Camera" and "Music Player". How are those different from regular cameras and iPods? What is [Bob]?

I think you can make the query sound more YA by making the invasive technologies sound more sinister. That would also help explain why your MC doesn't like the technologies. Just a thought.

Also, I would go with "dystopian science fiction".

Good luck! I'm curious to see what you come up with.

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian

Post by Emily J » July 1st, 2010, 4:06 pm

Krista G. wrote:Hello, all. I've just started drafting the query for my latest WIP and would appreciate your thoughts.

First, a quick question: Can the word dystopian function as a noun? That is, can I refer to my manuscript as a YA dystopian, or should I call it a YA dystopian novel?

Thanks!

Dear [Agent]:

Seth Tucker is an old-fashioned kid. He prefers cameras to Camera agree with others, without more explanation this is just plain contradiction and wall screens to feed-planted pictures in his head. He doesn’t prefer prefer implies something else is mentioned or offered, it isnt, doesn't like or doesn't enjoy perhapshis Wingtooth, the tooth-shaped implant that links his brainwaves to the feed, explanation gets caught up by the unexplained word "feed" granted I can guess but it could be clearer and he’s not a huge fan of Hermes United, the company that makes them. Which is a little awkward, because that company’s just selected him to represent his high school at its annual International Biomedia this is a fascinating word... Conference.

The conference doesn’t start well. He trips down the bus steps before Music Player’s made it through the first verse of “[Bob],” and then he slips and dumps his breakfast is he carrying his breakfast off the bus? a bit of context or setting here would help, i would suggest another sentence "Then at breakfast ..." all over a Toothless redhead, okay, stop, this had me giggling, I know "Toothless" is part of your techno jargon, but you just described the most beautiful woman as toothless, I mean, its kinda hilarious who also happens to be the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen (in real life or on the feed). dont think the parathetical adds much The conference doesn’t end well, either. At the Last Banquet, is there a reason this is capitalized? the company’s Toothless workers launch a hostile corporate takeover, emphasis on the hostile—and the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen turns out to be their assassin. you really need some brief explanation of Toothless, I get it, I do, but for agents may not...

With the feed out of commission and the other Wingtoothers reduced to barely living robots, feels a bit awkward Seth has to choose between the life he’s always wanted and the life he’s always lived. Between the lives of a few and the lives of the many.

[BOB] is a 63,000-word YA dystopian. [Agent-specific comments]

On a biographical note, I am a BYU graduate, a blogger, a stay-at-home mom, and one of the Toothless. [BOB] will be my first publication. nto sure the bio para works for me, esp confused as to calling yourself one of the Toothless

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully,
Name
Contact Info
This really sounds interesting! I love the idea of biomedia, and I do enjoy me some dystopian sci-fi (1984, Logan's Run etc.). Mostly I am just chiming in with the others in that you really need to add a bit more explanation.

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian

Post by Krista G. » July 1st, 2010, 7:46 pm

Thanks, wilderness. I'm not sure how quickly I'm going to be able to put together my next draft, but I'm glad you're interested in seeing it. And I will definitely take your ideas into account.

EmilyJ, thanks for your thoughts. And yeah, Toothless and beautiful were supposed to be comically contradictory:)
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian

Post by Krista G. » July 2nd, 2010, 1:56 pm

All right, here's my next crack at it. Note that BOB is just a placeholder for the title, which I haven't decided on yet. Thanks again!

Dear [Agent]:

The 2046 International Biomedia Conference is, according to the pamphlet, the most prestigious event for high school students on the planet. But when Seth receives an invitation to attend, the last thing on his mind is the prestige.

Seth hates biomedia. He hates Hermes United, the company that pioneered the industry, and he especially hates his Wingtooth, the tooth-shaped implant that links his brainwaves to the feed. The too-smooth voices give him headaches, and he’s never found much use for a Camera that takes pictures with his eyes, or a Music Player that blasts its words and sounds straight into his brain. The truth is, he rarely clicks his Wingtooth in, even though ripping out Wingteeth is about as socially acceptable as ripping out real ones.

But his objections fall on feed-deafened ears. Monday morning finds him at the conference, which gets off to a less-than-hopeful start when he slips and dumps his breakfast on the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. And that’s the high point of his week. The low point hits the night of the Last Banquet, when Hermes United’s Toothless workers launch a hostile corporate takeover—literally—and disable the feed.

The Toothless rebels meant to humble their Wingtoother colleagues, but they end up crippling them instead. Because the feed’s smooth-talking voices have rendered all the Wingtoothers incapable of independent thought—all except for Seth. As the last Wingtoother standing, he’s the only one who can save thousands of witless Wingtoothers and biomedia as a whole.

But is biomedia worth saving?

[BOB] is a 63,000-word YA dystopian. [Agent-specific comments]

I am a BYU graduate, a stay-at-home mom, a blogger, and one of the Toothless. [BOB] will be my first publication.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully,
Name
Contact Info
Last edited by Krista G. on August 14th, 2010, 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Try #2*

Post by dios4vida » July 2nd, 2010, 2:04 pm

Hi Krista G.

I have to say that I was very impressed with your query (I didn't bother reading the first one, only the newer version at the end). You pulled me straight into the story and I'm very interested in Seth and the Toothless. This is a book I'd want to read!

My only thing is wondering if you really want to say you're a BYU graduate and stay-at-home mom. Not that those are bad things, just that I keep hearing that you don't want to list credentials that don't relate to publishing. I've also heard that you don't want to point out that you're unpublished. Like I said, I'm not saying you should absolutely take those out, that's just my little opinion.

Anyways, good luck with the Toothless!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Try #2*

Post by wilderness » July 2nd, 2010, 2:46 pm

Wow. Your new version is awesome. I was definitely pulled into the story. I understand the conflict so much better now -- and that's a good one! I love that the kid who hates biomedia is the only one who can save it. Go forth and conquer! :)

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Try #2*

Post by Krista G. » July 3rd, 2010, 12:19 am

Thanks so much, dios4vida and wilderness. I'm glad this newer one flows better.

And dios4vida, I think I'm going to keep those two blips in my bio, although I appreciate your thoughts. I don't have any publishing credits, but I do think agents want to know a little about the writer even so. Plus, I have to let them know somehow that I'm part of that vast Mormon-mommy-writer conspiracy that's produced such heavy hitters as Stephenie Meyer and Allyson Condie:)
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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Try #2*

Post by heyimkt » July 3rd, 2010, 1:41 am

Only read your second try...um, I love the concept! I'm not an expert on queries, so maybe this comment will just make ya feel happy, but you honestly have an awesome story!! The last part gave me chills. I love the kid's name, the idea, the wording you used in the query. And I love wilderness's comment about Seth, the one kid who hates it, having to be the one kid who saves it. Overall, bravo. Can't wait to see where it takes you!

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Try #2*

Post by Ellie G » July 3rd, 2010, 8:47 am

The query doesn't work for me yet. There's so much setup--172 words before we get to the takeover--and yet, even when the core conflict is revealed, I still don't understand what's going on. Is this a conference of high schoolers, or are the workers there too? What, exactly, does Seth have to do? Reboot the feed? Fight his way out? Stop an assassin? You lose punch when you end by asking "is biomedia worth saving" -- most readers aren't going to be interested in an imaginary technology qua technology; they'll want to know what hard decisions the characters are going to have to make. (I really liked your line about Seth having to choose between the life he's always wanted and the life he's always lived, even if I wasn't sure exactly what either of those choices actually mean.)

When you write your next draft, it might help to write the conflict first: When armed workers disable the Wingtooth feed and kill all the whosits, Seth is in X situation. He has to A if he wants to B and C or else D will happen. Then go back and put in before that whatever information is needed for the conflict to make sense to the reader: 17-year-old Seth hates his Wingtooth so he almost never uses it and A Wingtooth does blah blah blah for a wearer and Seth is forced to attend the biomedia conference along with People and Other People.

I don't think it hurts to mention that you're a BYU graduate and a stay-at-home mom; you're keeping it short and sweet, and you're not acting as though either of these things are qualifications rather than information. I don't love the line about you being one of the Toothless, though. I get that you're trying to be funny, but I can't help but think, "She is aware the Wingtooth is not an actual real-world product, right?"

Sounds like a really interesting book idea!

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Try #2*

Post by Krista G. » July 3rd, 2010, 11:54 pm

Thanks for the note, heyimkt. It made me very happy indeed:) Good luck with your own writing.

Ellie G, thank you for the thoughtful critique - it really made me think. I ended up reworking the end of the summary, because agents do want to know what hard decisions the characters are going to have to make. Great point.
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

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