Query SEVENTY-TWO HOURS

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robyn
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Query SEVENTY-TWO HOURS

Post by robyn » October 13th, 2010, 9:09 am

This is my first time posting my query, ANYWHERE. Please shred the thing until there is nothing left. I am READY to query agents. I have contributed to critting queries, paid my dues. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, and thanks so very, very much. :) May the shredding begin!


Dear Agent,
SEVENTY-TWO HOURS is a middle grade adventure story. It is complete at 35,000 words.
Thirteen-year-old best friends, Anna (a diabetic) and Claire have almost perfect lives, until their world is blown apart. They’re lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains―and nighttime is fast approaching.
A massive thunderstorm strikes and they have gotten off the security of their trail, ensuring they will be forced into life-threatening circumstances, including the fact that Anna’s insulin pump only has enough insulin to last a few hours. Without it, she will lapse into a diabetic coma. Time is their enemy.
The girls own insecurities and fears drive them apart. Anna lets her pride and independence overrule her common sense. Claire isn’t much better. They go their separate ways, not realizing – at first-- that they cannot survive on the mountain alone. They need each other.
Can they find their way back to each other, past their pride and petty arguments, and somehow make it back down the mountain before Anna lapses into a diabetic coma?
If you would like to consider SEVENTY-TWO HOURS, I’d be happy to send the complete manuscript to you. It is a multiple submission.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Robyn Campbell
Last edited by robyn on October 13th, 2010, 10:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

katbrauer
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Re: Query SEVENTY-TWO HOURS

Post by katbrauer » October 13th, 2010, 9:32 am

Hm... I think you're off to a good start. You've got stakes and a ticking-time bomb and solid potential for character growth, but for some reason the query is reading as forced. Part of it, I think, is the use of cliches. For example, "until their world is blown apart," "life-threatening circumstances," "Time is their enemy," "They need each other." All of these are phrases and idioms that I've heard many times before, and that's keeping this from being extra interesting. It's also stopping your voice from shining through, so I have no idea how this book is going to read.

Second, you're explaining the plot, yet I don't have any sympathy for the characters because I don't know who they are. Aside from Anna being diabetic. And Claire gets nary a word.

So I would suggest starting with Anna and Claire on the trail and a sentence of why they're there. Then how did they get forced off the trail (seems stupid if they know Anna's insulin pump is ticking). Then they argue and part ways.

Then I would drop the bomb about Anna's insulin pump. Throw in something about Claire so we can know she's got her own internal problems. Then give us a reason why they have to find each other in order to get back down. (One of them has a compass and the other has water? I dunno.)

And finally, don't forget to mention genre and word count!!!
robyn wrote:Thirteen-year-old best friends, Anna (a diabetic)and Claire have almost perfect lives, until their world is blown apart. They do this together, complain about insulin shots and overprotective parents, and giggle about boys. Before they go to high school, they want to have one last adventure: on the Blue Ridge Mountains. (Or something to that effect.)

They’re lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains―and nighttime is fast approaching. It's the adventure they dreamed of, until a massive thunderstorm strikes. and they have gotten off the Scared beyond belief, they flee the security of their trail, ensuring they will be forced into life-threatening circumstances, and get lost faster than they can blame each other for it. including the fact that Anna’s insulin pump only has enough insulin to last a few hours. Without it, she will lapse into a diabetic coma. Time is their enemy.

The girls own insecurities and fears drive them apart. Anna lets her pride and independence overrule her common sense. Claire isn’t much better. They go their separate ways, not realizing – at first-- that they cannot survive on the mountain alone. They need each other. Especially as Anna's insulin pump is only good for a few hours, and draining fast.

Can they find their way back to each other, past their pride and petty arguments, and somehow make it back down the mountain before Anna lapses into a diabetic coma?
Hope that helps!
:) Kat
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glj
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Re: Query SEVENTY-TWO HOURS

Post by glj » October 13th, 2010, 11:02 am

I agree that the cliches drag this down. Instead, like Katbrauer, I want to FEEL their friendship and sense the urgency.

As is, this hints that bad things will happen, but we get no sense of the how or why. I would suggest that the query should: 1) show their friendship, 2) show them splitting up (minor spat about something? A dare?), then 3) reveal the danger due to Anna's diabetes. There is no need to tell us that this could mean death for Anna, I think that's understood.

SEVENTY-TWO HOURS is a middle grade adventure story. It is complete at 35,000 words. Make this into one sentence

Suggestions
Thirteen-year-old best friends, Anna and Claire are lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains―and nighttime is fast approaching.
A massive thunderstorm strikes. And they have gotten off the security of the trail, as Anna and Claire __. Reason for them leaving the trail? Then Anna and Claire fight about __, splitting up to return to the _ (camp?). Reason why they split up? But Anna is diabetic, and her insulin pump is getting low. Claire knows this, too, and realizes she must find Anna and bring her back down or Anna could lapse into a diabetic coman. Both girls must overcome their _ in order to find each other and survive. This is just one way to do it. Hope it is helpful.
If you would like to consider SEVENTY-TWO HOURS, I’d be happy to send the complete manuscript to you. It is a multiple submission. Don't say this. Agents know you are likely to be querying other agents and don't expect exclusivity. Exclusivity arises if they request a full or partial, for example
Thank you for your time and consideration.

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androidblues
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Re: Query SEVENTY-TWO HOURS

Post by androidblues » October 13th, 2010, 11:57 am

I definitely agree with glj and katbrauer. Characterization is a must.
Dear Agent,

Thirteen-year-old best friends, Anna and Claire have almost perfect lives, until their world is blown apart.Perfect place to talk about their friendship. Also great for some characterization.

They’re lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains―and nighttime is fast approaching.Try wording this so that I feel the imminence of the threat. And tell me why or how they got lost.

A massive thunderstorm strikes and they have gotten off the security of their trail, ensuring they will be forced into life-threatening circumstances, including the fact that Anna’s insulin pump only has enough insulin to last a few hours. Without it, she will lapse into a diabetic coma. Time is their enemy. Like katbrauer said, save the insulin thing for last. Also spend less time explaining it. Then you can have more space for characterization.


The girls own insecurities and fears drive them apart. Anna lets her pride and independence overrule her common sense. Claire isn’t much better. They go their separate ways, not realizing – at first-- that they cannot survive on the mountain alone. They need each other. Why do they need each other? What splits them up?

Can they find their way back to each other, past their pride and petty arguments, and somehow make it back down the mountain before Anna lapses into a diabetic coma? Why are they arguing if they're lost? Aren't they supposed to be best friends? Isn't Anna close to dying? I wrote a story where the best friends always argued, but not in a life threatening situation, it was over stupid stuff. Your story would be stronger if maybe you made them enemies that had to unite to survive (good message for middle grade readers *cough*)

If you would like to consider SEVENTY-TWO HOURS, I’d be happy to send the complete manuscript to you. It is a multiple submission. SEVENTY-TWO HOURS is a 35,000 word middle grade adventure.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Robyn Campbell
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Thermocline
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Re: Query SEVENTY-TWO HOURS

Post by Thermocline » October 13th, 2010, 12:01 pm

As the others have said, removing the cliches will help your own voice shine in this query. I wonder whether Anna or Claire is the main character. Having your query focus on one of the girls will show us who is the MC. It will also help us feel what the character is feeling. Right now, your query tells us a lot about what happens rather than showing us your characters moving through the events you've created.
robyn wrote: SEVENTY-TWO HOURS is a middle grade adventure story. It is complete at 35,000 words. Move this to the end so you can launch right into your story.

Thirteen-year-old best friends, Anna (a diabetic) and Claire have almost perfect lives, until their world is blown apart.They’re Anna and her best friend Claire are lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains―and nighttime is with night fast approaching.

A massive thunderstorm strikes and they have gotten off the security of their trail, ensuring they will be forced into life-threatening circumstances, including the fact that Anna’s insulin pump only has enough insulin to last a few hours. Without it, she will lapse into a diabetic coma. Time is their enemy.

The girls own insecurities and fears drive them apart. Anna lets her pride and independence overrule her common sense. Claire isn’t much better. They go their separate ways, not realizing – at first-- that they cannot survive on the mountain alone. They need each other. These two paragraphs are all telling. Show us the inciting event that forces them apart. Something along the lines of, "Anna and Claire argue about the best way off the mountain during the massive thunderstorm. Claire wants to take the riskier route to climb down the steep cliff, but Anna believes following the river is the safer path." Then maybe mention that they split up."

Can they find their way back to each other, past their pride and petty arguments, and somehow make it back down the mountain before Anna lapses into a diabetic coma? The rhetorical question isn't as strong as a statement that nails the essential problem. This would be a good place to mention Anna's diabetes to really ratchet up the tension. "The wrong choice could be dangerous but with Anna's insulin pump running out, she doesn't have much time left to be cautious.

If you would like to consider SEVENTY-TWO HOURS, I’d be happy to send the complete manuscript to you. It's assumed you'd be happy to send it. Combine your first two sentences and place them here. It is a multiple submission.
Your premise is interesting. A little tightening up of your query will help your novel shine. Good luck!

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wilderness
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Re: Query SEVENTY-TWO HOURS

Post by wilderness » October 13th, 2010, 2:52 pm

robyn wrote:
Dear Agent,

SEVENTY-TWO HOURS is a middle grade adventure story. It is complete at 35,000 words. Query Shark recommends putting this housekeeping stuff after the pitch. And a formatting note: Put a blank line between each paragraph.

Thirteen-year-old best friends, Anna (a diabetic) and Claire have almost perfect lives, until their world is blown apart. They’reare lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains―and nighttime is fast approaching. The first sentence was too generic. Start with your hook. Also, "a diabetic" was just thrown in there. Put it in context later.

A massive thunderstorm strikes and they have gotten off the security of their trail, ensuring they will be forced into life-threatening circumstances, including the fact that Anna’s insulin pump only has enough insulin to last a few hours. Overstuffed sentence. Break it up and introduce that Anna is diabetic here. Without it, she will lapse into a diabetic coma. Time is their enemy.

The girls own insecurities and fears drive them apart. Anna lets her pride and independence overrule her common sense. Claire isn’t much better. It would be better if they had two different personalities that shined through in the query. They go their separate ways, not realizing – at first-- that they cannot survive on the mountain alone. They need each other. Give us a little more on this. What does Anna think they should do? What does Claire think? I agree with Thermocline that specific examples would be better than just telling us.

Can they find their way back to each other, past their pride and petty arguments, and somehow make it back down the mountain before Anna lapses into a diabetic coma?

If you would like to consider SEVENTY-TWO HOURS, I’d be happy to send the complete manuscript to you. It is a multiple submission.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Robyn Campbell
Exciting premise with high stakes. I think you can improve it by letting us get to know the characters better, and give us some motivation about why they think and act as they do. Right now they don't seem very likable -- I mean would Claire really leave her diabetic best friend alone? Hope that helps!

robyn
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Re: Query SEVENTY-TWO HOURS

Post by robyn » October 13th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Oh man, thank you all for such GREAT advice. I really appreciate it. Uh, er, back to the drawing board? :)

priya g.
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Re: Query SEVENTY-TWO HOURS

Post by priya g. » October 18th, 2010, 3:22 pm

robyn wrote:

Dear Agent,
SEVENTY-TWO HOURS is a middle grade adventure story. It is complete at 35,000 words.SHIFT TO END
Thirteen-year-old best friends, Anna (a diabetic) and Claire have almost perfect lives, until their world is blown apart THIS IS A CLICHE BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE EVERY STORY STARTS- SO COMBINE THE FIRST AND SECOND SENTENCE. They’re lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains―and nighttime is fast approaching.
A massive thunderstorm strikes and they have gotten off the security of their trail, ensuring they will be forced into life-threatening circumstances, including the fact that Anna’s insulin pump only has enough insulin to last a few hours. Without it, she will lapse into a diabetic coma. Time is their enemy IN THIS ENTIRE PARAGRAPH, THE LAST SENTENCE STANDS OUT, SO COMBINE THE IDEA OF ANNA'S INSULIN PUMP RUNNING OUT AND THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES IN ONE SENTENCE AND RETAIN 'TIME IS THEIR ENEMY'.
The girls own insecurities and fears drive them apart. Anna lets her pride and independence overrule her common sense. Claire isn’t much better. They go their separate ways, not realizing – at first-- that they cannot survive on the mountain alone. They need each other. THIS PARAGRAPH TELLS ME ABOUT THE CHARACTERS, BUT NOT THE STORY. SO INCLUDE THEIR TRAITS IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH, WHEN YOU INTRODUCE THEM AS FRIENDS BUT HOW DIFFERENT THEY ARE WHICH ENDS UP SPLITTING THEM
Can they find their way back to each other, past their pride and petty arguments, and somehow make it back down the mountain before Anna lapses into a diabetic coma?
If you would like to consider SEVENTY-TWO HOURS, I’d be happy to send the complete manuscript to you. It is a multiple submission.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Robyn Campbell


personally, I think the conflict isn't coming out too strong. try approaching the query with the view of explaining what happens at Blue Ridge Mountains.
Hope to read your next version soon!

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