Query - A Scorpion's Nature

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Thermocline
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Query - A Scorpion's Nature

Post by Thermocline » August 6th, 2010, 12:45 pm

Thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate your time!

Dear Agent,

Ryan Laraway rose for the youth court’s verdict, ashamed of his black eye. It sucked to lose every fight, but he refused to run like his dad, the coward who deserted his fellow soldiers.

The judge announced she will dismiss Ryan’s charges if he spends a week at a respected summer camp to learn some restraint. Ryan figures the whole Kumbaya lovefest will be lame, but the goofy songs and oddball games with his cabinmates turn out to be kinda fun.

A midnight abduction staged by his Junior Counselor humiliates Ryan and a tyrant in his sailing class torments him for being such a pansy. Ryan risks getting booted from camp if he retaliates against them to prove he isn’t a coward.

Failure to complete his sentence means eighth grade in juvie, a criminal record, and leaving Eleanor, a beautiful girl who seems lonely too, just like him.

My upper middle grade novel, A SCORPION’S NATURE, is complete at 38,000 words. Thank you for considering my work.

Sincerely,

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Re: Query - A Scorpion's Nature

Post by J. T. SHEA » August 6th, 2010, 2:12 pm

Succinct and straightforward, Thermocline. You don't waste words, so I won't either. You might change the first paragraph and the first sentence of paragraph two to present tense, to match the rest.

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Quill
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Re: Query - A Scorpion's Nature

Post by Quill » August 6th, 2010, 2:44 pm

Thermocline wrote:
Ryan Laraway rose for the youth court’s verdict, ashamed of his black eye. It sucked to lose every fight, but he refused to run like his dad, the coward who deserted his fellow soldiers.
Not bad. Lots of info in a small space.

Best to go with present tense all the way, though, I think.
The judge announced she will dismiss Ryan’s charges if he spends a week at a respected summer camp to learn some restraint.
"Respected" sticks out as an odd choice. How about "designated" or some such?
Ryan figures the whole Kumbaya lovefest will be lame,
Great line.
but the goofy songs and oddball games with his cabinmates turn out to be kinda fun.
This seems abrupt; one minute we are anticipating, the next (within the same sentence) it's a done deal. Maybe if the previous sentence got attached to the first paragraph and this one begins a new paragraph it could work.
A midnight abduction staged by his Junior Counselor humiliates Ryan
Omit "Junior" as unneeded, and slowing the flow.
and a tyrant in his sailing class torments him for being such a pansy.
Okay but a bit awkward. It's almost like it works if either "in his sailing class" or "for being such a pansy" is omitted. All of it together doesn't quite work. Like what does sailing class have to do with pansy is in the back of my mind.
Ryan risks getting booted from camp if he retaliates against them to prove he isn’t a coward.
Omit "against them" as redundant to "retaliates" and unneeded.
Failure to complete his sentence means eighth grade in juvie, a criminal record,
Well, if those two incidents are enough to madden him enough to risk blowing his week of good behavior, then it seems Ryan is an overly sensitive short-fused little boy. A week isn't much time, and those incidents alone don't seem enough to bring us to a peak crux. Are there any other incidents you can bring in to heighten the tension, or other underlying emotions behind his problematic temper? You alluded to his dad, which was good. A bit more would be good.
and leaving Eleanor, a beautiful girl who seems lonely too, just like him.
This is in the right direction of what we need to end this query on a tense want-to-see-more note.
My upper middle grade novel, A SCORPION’S NATURE, is complete at 38,000 words. Thank you for considering my work.

Sincerely,
Good.

longknife

Re: Query - A Scorpion's Nature

Post by longknife » August 6th, 2010, 3:41 pm

Thermocline wrote:Thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate your time!

Dear Agent,

Ryan Laraway rose for the youth court’s verdict, ashamed of his black eye. It sucked to lose every fight, but he refused to run like his dad, the coward who deserted his fellow soldiers.I don't know if this is necessary at this point. suggest - Ryan Laraway rises to hear the youth court's verdict of dismissing the charges if he spends a week at camp to learn restraint. Ryan figures the Kumbaya lovefest will be boring and a waste of time. But, the goofy songs and oddball games turn out to be kind of fun.

The judge announced she will dismiss Ryan’s charges if he spends a week at a respected summer camp to learn some restraint. Ryan figures the whole Kumbaya lovefest will be lame, but the goofy songs and oddball games with his cabinmates turn out to be kinda fun.

A midnight abduction staged by his Junior Counselor humiliates Ryan and a tyrant in his sailing class torments him for being such a pansy. Ryan risks getting booted from camp if he retaliates against them to prove he isn’t a coward. Then, I would go here - A midnight abduction by a counselor humiliates Ryan and a member of his sailing class torments him for being a pansy. Ryan is not going to run like his father who cowardly deserted his fellow soldiers and ponders retaliation, risking being booted from camp and finding himself back in front of the judge.

Failure to complete his sentence means eighth grade in juvie and a criminal record. and leaving Eleanor, a beautiful girl who seems lonely too, just like him.Need to explain where and how she comes into this

My upper middle grade novel, A SCORPION’S NATURE, is complete at 38,000 words. Thank you for considering my work. make certain you check the agent's website and include any and all items they ask for.

Sincerely,
While this is not my genre, it appears you have an interesting story if you can show us a character we can empathize with.

Good luck.

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Re: Query - A Scorpion's Nature

Post by thewhipslip » August 6th, 2010, 8:35 pm

Thermocline wrote:Thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate your time!

Dear Agent,

Ryan Laraway rose for the youth court’s verdict, ashamed of his black eye. It sucked to lose every fight, but he refused to run like his dad, the coward who deserted his fellow soldiers.

The judge announced she will dismiss Ryan’s charges if he spends a week at a respected summer camp to learn some restraint. Ryan figures the whole Kumbaya lovefest will be lame, but the goofy songs and oddball games with his cabinmates turn out to be kinda fun.
While I like how personal this is, I'm not feeling the "narrative" tone to this. I want something more direct, something to grab me. This feels sort of plotted, as if I'm reading the book - and the point of the query is to entice me to read the book. I've found that query letters are best when direct. Here's a rough draft of what might work better...

I like the first paragraph, but the second might read better as:

The judge will dismiss Ryan's charges on one condition: that he spend a week at a Kumbaya lovefest summer camp in the hopes that it will teach him restraint. The real surprise is that Ryan likes it there, especially after he meets Eleanor. But a midnight abduction staged by his Junior Counselor humiliates him, bringing on the taunts of a fellow camper. Ryan's used to retaliation, but if he acts this time he'll face eighth-grade juvie, a criminal record, and losing Eleanor.

Okay, so that's a very rough draft, but gives this more focus. Hope it helps! Sounds like a good book.



A midnight abduction staged by his Junior Counselor humiliates Ryan and a tyrant in his sailing class torments him for being such a pansy. Ryan risks getting booted from camp if he retaliates against them to prove he isn’t a coward.

Failure to complete his sentence means eighth grade in juvie, a criminal record, and leaving Eleanor, a beautiful girl who seems lonely too, just like him.

My upper middle grade novel, A SCORPION’S NATURE, is complete at 38,000 words. Thank you for considering my work.

Sincerely,
http://elenasolodow.blogspot.com/ - Submit your 250-500 word excerpt to be read out loud in a vlog post!

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Re: Query - A Scorpion's Nature

Post by writingmaniacally » August 6th, 2010, 8:47 pm

The judge will dismiss Ryan's charges on one condition: that he spend a week at a Kumbaya lovefest summer camp in the hopes that it will teach him restraint. The real surprise is that Ryan likes it there, especially after he meets Eleanor. But a midnight abduction staged by his Junior Counselor humiliates him, bringing on the taunts of a fellow camper. Ryan's used to retaliation, but if he acts this time he'll face eighth-grade juvie, a criminal record, and losing Eleanor.
I love the way whipslip rewrote this.

I enjoyed your query. As other posters have said, it's succinct, to the point, and the story sounds very interesting.

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Thermocline
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Re: Query - A Scorpion's Nature

Post by Thermocline » August 6th, 2010, 10:02 pm

You've given me some great suggestions. Here is an updated version. Let me know what you think.

Ryan Laraway rises for the youth court’s verdict, ashamed of his black eye. It sucks to lose every fight, but he refuses to run like his dad, the coward who deserted his fellow soldiers.

The judge will dismiss Ryan’s charges on the condition he attends a summer camp to learn some restraint. The whole Kumbaya lovefest sounds lame, but it turns out the goofy songs and oddball games are kinda fun. One week becomes too short for Ryan after he meets Eleanor, a beautiful girl who seems lonely too, just like him.

A midnight abduction staged by his counselor humiliates Ryan and a scuffle with one of his cabinmates isolates him from the other guys. His restraint frays when Carlton, a tyrant camper, attacks him after an accidental collision. Carlton harasses Ryan when the staff aren’t looking and torments him for being such a pansy.

Ryan risks getting booted from camp if he retaliates to prove he isn’t a coward. Failure to complete his sentence means eighth grade in juvie, a criminal record, and losing Eleanor.

A SCORPION’S NATURE is an upper middle grade novel complete at 38,000 words. Thank you for considering my work.

longknife

Re: Query - A Scorpion's Nature

Post by longknife » August 7th, 2010, 1:41 pm

Much better!

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Re: Query - A Scorpion's Nature

Post by burnburn » August 7th, 2010, 11:06 pm

Thermocline wrote:You've given me some great suggestions. Here is an updated version. Let me know what you think.

Ryan Laraway rises for the youth court’s verdict, ashamed of his black eye. The "rises for the youth court's verdict" doesn't work for me. It might just be me, of course, but I think it might be better to start off with a sentence that also details the charges he faces. From this sentence, it seems like it was just a fight - in which case I'm not sure why he's in court. And if he's facing a full year in juvie if he doesn't do the Boot Camp, then it must have been more serious than a fight. I think we need to know what he's in court for in the first place. Regardless, the "rises for ... " part of the sentence is awkward for me. Also, generally it's referred to as either juvenile or family court rather than youth court - at least in my neck of the woods. Could be different in yours, of course.It sucks to lose every fight, but he refuses to run like his dad, the coward who deserted his fellow soldiers.

The judge will dismiss Ryan’s charges on the condition he attends a summer camp to learn some restraint. Summer camp sounds like vacation. If it's camp or juvie, it seems it would be more of a boot camp. But then again, goofy songs and oddball games don't sound like boot camp. I guess what I'm getting at is I'm confused by this as to what kind of camp he's been sentenced to. It sounds more like a normal sleepaway camp than a camp for troubled youth? And one week of camp v. one year of juvie doesn't seem to equate. Is there a significance to one week? If not, the time frame could be left out of the synopsis.The whole Kumbaya lovefest sounds lame, but it turns out the goofy songs and oddball games are kinda fun. One week becomes too short for Ryan after he meets Eleanor, a beautiful girl who seems lonely too, just like him.z
"seems" seems kind of passive - maybe Eleanor, a beautiful but lonely girl ...


A midnight abduction staged by his counselor humiliates Ryan and a scuffle with one of his cabinmates isolates him from the other guys. In the previous sentence, you mention a scuffle with one of his cabinmates (bunkmates??) but in the next sentence you talk about him needing to not fight. It seems a little contradictory. If he's had a scuffle, hasn't his restraint already frayed?His restraint frays when Carlton, a tyrant camper, I'm not sure I like tyrant but that might just be me.attacks him after an accidental collision. Carlton harasses Ryan when the staff aren’t looking and torments him for being such a pansy.I think you can leave out "when the staff aren't looking" - it seems obvious this would happen when the staff isn't looking.

Ryan risks getting booted from camp if he retaliates to prove he isn’t a coward. Failure to complete his sentence means eighth grade in juvie, a criminal record, and losing Eleanor.Somehow, the ending seems abrupt. I'm not sure if it would be better to combine into one sentence with a but ... that would make a long sentence, but I think you can safely take out "to prove he isn't a coward."

A SCORPION’S NATURE is an upper middle grade novel complete at 38,000 words. Thank you for considering my work.
Just some thoughts. Use what you like, disregard the rest. :) Overall, I do like your plot and I think this could be a great middle grade novel.

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Re: Query - A Scorpion's Nature

Post by cheekychook » August 8th, 2010, 1:25 am

Interesting premise and good conflict. I like the idea of cramming so many life-lessons into a week---because when you're that age a week can seem like a lifetime. Comments and questions are noted in blue. Hope they're helpful.
Thermocline wrote:

Ryan Laraway rises for the youth court’s verdict, ashamed of his black eye. It sucks to lose every fight, but he refuses to run like his dad, the coward who deserted his fellow soldiers. (I know you say "youth court" but I think it might be helpful to clarify Ryan's age in this opening--- Thirteen year old Ryan Laraway... or Seventh grader Ryan Laraway...)

The judge will dismiss Ryan’s charges on the condition he attends a summer camp to learn some restraint.(You might consider specifying the type of camp---my assumption is that it's some sort of "special needs" camp, not just a run-of-the-mill summer camp---Anger Management Camp...Behavior Modification Camp---something that drives home the point that this is a last-stop-before-juvie type camp, geared toward kids with emotional/legal issues.) The whole Kumbaya lovefest sounds lame, but it turns out the goofy songs and oddball games are kinda fun. (Good description and voice.) One week becomes (Becomes? or suddenly seems?)too short for Ryan after he meets Eleanor (might consider switching this so it reads "After he meets Eleanor..." to explain why camp all of sudden seems "too short"), a beautiful girl who seems lonely too, just like him. (I was thinking this was an all boys camp---not sure why---obviously it's co-ed if he meets Eleanor there---what's she in for? Is there some commonality beyond "loneliness" that draws them together? If there is, tell us, it will up the stakes for him risking "losing her", which you mention at the end.)

A midnight abduction staged by his counselor humiliates Ryan (A counselor at a camp geared toward helping kids with social issues stages an abduction? This really raises some red flags for me---maybe that's the social worker in me talking, but it seems like a counselor might know better than to do something provocative to kids with a track record of anger issues and/or poor impulse control.) and a scuffle with one of his cabinmates isolates (do you mean "isolates", as in leaves him alone? or more "alienates" as in creates distance? or "ostracizes" as in makes him an outcast? )him from the other guys (consider using the word "boys" or even "campers" to illustrate the youth of these kids.) His restraint frays when Carlton, a tyrant camper, attacks him after an accidental collision (I know you clarify that Carlton harasses him when the staff isn't looking, but if he actually ATTACKS Ryan I would hope someone would have noticed, either during the attack or the bruises/cuts/whatever that result.) Carlton harasses Ryan when the staff aren’t looking and torments him for being such a pansy. (Is this story set in the present? I spend a bit of time around upper middle grade kids and I haven't heard the term "pansy" used by them. Could be a regional issue, but this seems like an outdated term. "Wuss" and "Wimp" are much more commonly used---just verified this with a survey of several kids aged 10-14. )

Ryan risks getting booted from camp if he retaliates, (to prove he isn’t a coward.) but failure to complete his sentence means eighth grade in juvie, a criminal record, and losing Eleanor.

A SCORPION’S NATURE is an upper middle grade novel complete at 38,000 words. Thank you for considering my work.
Overall this is much stronger than your earlier version---good luck with the revisions!
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Re: Query - A Scorpion's Nature

Post by gsfields2004 » August 8th, 2010, 9:28 am

Very good job at conveying the story in a clear and concise way. The second sentence in the opening paragraph was the only one that felt like you were adding something in a way that seemed forced. My suggestion would be to flip it around, so instead of:
Thermocline wrote:It sucked to lose every fight, but he refused to run like his dad, the coward who deserted his fellow soldiers.
flip the sentence to something like:

"Living under the shadow of a father's desertion from combat, he was hell bent on proving that he was no coward."

Just a suggesion.



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