Query critique RYAN WRITES A BOOK

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Mountain Lion
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Query critique RYAN WRITES A BOOK

Post by Mountain Lion » January 4th, 2010, 11:34 pm

I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR COMMENTS:

At some point every boy has to face the question: has he outgrown monster stories? Must he put away his velociraptors, his transformers, his bug-eyed aliens with spidery legs for something even more scary?
School dances, body hair, girls?
I am looking for representation for RYAN WRITES A BOOK, an early middle reader of approximately 20,000 words. It’s a coming-of-age story about an eleven year old boy in the month before starting middle school.
Bored with a rainy summer, Ryan decides to write a book. His head is full of ideas, but getting them to form a straight line of words is like trying to go to the bathroom when you don’t need to. Nothing. Until Ryan discovers how to send his younger brother Devin into his book to live out the adventures. They face spitting dragons battling giant rats, hungry snakes eating fat Santa Clauses, even souvenir alligators coming back from the sewers. When Ryan gets bold and the adventures too rough, Devin refuses to act out the stories anymore. And Ryan starts to doubt he’s writing a real book anyway. He wonders what book Roberta would like, the girl from down the street who is no longer the curly-hair tomboy Ryan used to call mop-head.

My writing credentials include ...

THANKS EVERYONE
Mountain Lion

Yoshima
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Re: Query critique RYAN WRITES A BOOK

Post by Yoshima » January 5th, 2010, 2:44 am

Mountain Lion wrote:I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR COMMENTS:

At some point every boy has to face the question: has he outgrown monster stories? Must he put away his velociraptors, his transformers, his bug-eyed aliens with spidery legs for something even more scary?
School dances, body hair, girls?
I am looking for representation for RYAN WRITES A BOOK, an early middle reader (you mean Middle Grade Fiction, right?) of approximately 20,000 words. It’s a coming-of-age story about an eleven year old boy in the month before starting middle school. (Since you said he's eleven, you don't need to say he's going to middle school, too; it's kind of repetitive with both)
Bored with (I think "during" would sound better in the place of "with") a rainy summer, Ryan decides to write a book. His head is full of ideas, but getting them to form a straight line of words is like trying to go to the bathroom when you don’t need to. Nothing. Until Ryan discovers how to send his younger brother Devin into his book to live out the adventures. They face spitting dragons battling giant rats, hungry snakes eating fat Santa Clauses, even souvenir alligators coming back from the sewers. (Okay, I've got a few issues with this. I don't see how the boys are involved in the dragon/rat battle or the snakes eating Santa Clause thing. You don't really say if the boys are fighting the dragons or fighting the rats, or if they're trying to save Santa from the snakes or whatever the case may be. I mean, they're really great details, but show the conflict with the boys, too.) When Ryan gets bold and the adventures (get) too rough, Devin refuses to act out the stories anymore. And Ryan starts to doubt he’s writing a real book anyway. He wonders what book Roberta would like, the girl from down the street who is no longer the curly-hair tomboy Ryan used to call mop-head. (...These last few sentences confuse me. I was under the impression Ryan was writing a book because he was bored, not because he was trying to write a "real" book. Also, I'm kind of confused as to why he gives up all of these crazy cool adventures just because his *younger* brother said no. That doesn't sound like the mentality of an eleven-year-old to me. I can't see an eleven-year-old boy not exercising brute force or blackmail on his brother before giving up dragons and stuff (or at least I wouldn't if I was him). I'm thinking that something changes mentally for Ryan to allow this to happen, since you say this is coming-of-age, but it's unclear what that is or what happens to allow that change. If this is something important to the message of the novel, definitely shed some light on it in the query. As for the girl, she kind of pops in out of nowhere. If she's a pivotal character, and it sounds like she is, maybe mention how he isn't interested in her at the beginning of the query so that when you bring her up at the end it isn' t so much of a shock.)

My writing credentials include ...

THANKS EVERYONE
Mountain Lion

My main question here is how much of the story is writing the adventure book and how much is dealing with puberty. Right now it sounds like it's focused on the adventure thing, but in your hook at the top you make it sound like the inciting incident is him facing school dances and girls, not writing a book. Which aspect you want your query reader to focus on?

I think that Ryan and Devin's adventures sound like so much fun--perfect for the MG genre! Also, love the title. Good luck with your revisions! :)

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OneChoice1
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Re: Query critique RYAN WRITES A BOOK

Post by OneChoice1 » January 5th, 2010, 1:46 pm

Great title and wise choice of genre. Your book is not exactly like it, of course, but the Neverending Story came to my mind.

Mountain Lion wrote:I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR COMMENTS:

At some point every boy has to face the question: has he outgrown monster stories? Must he put away his velociraptors, his transformers, his bug-eyed aliens with spidery legs for something even more scary?
School dances, body hair, girls?

I am looking for representation for RYAN WRITES A BOOK (I don't think you need to say that you are looking for representation. It's like stating the obvious, you know?), an early middle reader (I agree with the middle grade fiction comment by Yoshima.) of approximately 20,000 words. It’s a coming-of-age story about an eleven year old boy in the month before starting middle school. (You don't really need this last sentence.)

Bored (during) a rainy summer, Ryan decides to write a book. His head is full of ideas, but getting them to form a straight line of words is like trying to go to the bathroom when you don’t need to. Nothing. Until (Do you think it sounds bad if you said "That is, until...") Ryan discovers how to send his younger brother(,) Devin(,) into his book to live out the adventures. They face spitting dragons battling giant rats, hungry snakes eating fat Santa Clauses, even souvenir alligators coming back from the sewers. (Souvenir alligators are usually just the heads of the alligators... Whose side are they on: the dragons or the rats? Snakes or Santa Clauses? Or are they just trying to not get in the middle of these battles?) When Ryan gets bold and the adventures (get) too rough, Devin refuses to act out the stories anymore. And (Is there another way you can start this sentence, without using "And"?) Ryan starts to doubt he’s writing a real book anyway (Wait, what? What do you mean by real?). He wonders what book Roberta would like, the girl from down the street who is no longer the curly-hair tomboy Ryan used to call mop-head. (Maybe you shouldn't include this last sentence, even if it does happen in your novel. The sentence clashes with the majority of the paragraph. If this sentence is a must, then maybe you can introduce it in a different way so it flows better.)


(After reading the previous paragraph, I forgot all about your first one. The first pp makes me think your book is about the awkwardness of growing up for a boy. The third pp makes me think it's an adventure/fantasy. Now I'm thinking it's both, but I'm still unsure of what you are trying to get across. Another thing is maybe the second and third paragraphs should switch places.)


My writing credentials include ...

THANKS EVERYONE
Mountain Lion
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askmonkey
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Joined: December 18th, 2009, 2:08 pm

Re: Query critique RYAN WRITES A BOOK

Post by askmonkey » January 5th, 2010, 1:54 pm

Mountain Lion wrote:
At some point every boy has to face the question: has he outgrown monster stories? Must he put away his velociraptors, his transformers, his bug-eyed aliens with spidery legs for something even more scary?
School dances, body hair, girls?

3 questions is a bit much, especially since you prefaced it by saying you would ask only "the" question.

I am looking for representation for RYAN WRITES A BOOK, an early middle reader of approximately 20,000 words. It’s a coming-of-age story about an eleven year old boy in the month before starting middle school.
don't need "I am looking for representation". just start with something straightforward like: " RYAN WRITES A BOOK is a 20,000 word MG novel about an 11-year-old boy named Ryan.
Bored with a rainy summer, Ryan decides to write a book. I feel like i need more than just "bored with a rainy summer". tie this into your question above about monsters. His head is full of ideas, but getting them to form a straight line of words is like trying to go to the bathroom when you don’t need to. Nothing.or try 'like going to the bathroom when you don't need to--nothing comes out." Until Ryan discovers how to send his younger brother Devin into his book to live out the adventures.through magic? or just through imagination? this sentence is a bit unclear They face spitting dragons battling giant rats, hungry snakes eating fat Santa Clauses, even souvenir alligators coming back "coming back" versus "emerging" from the smelly sewers (keep your comparisons consistent) When Ryan gets bold and the adventures too rough, Devin refuses to act out the stories anymore why? does someone get hurt? do they get in trouble? need more of a conflict here. And Ryan starts to doubt he’s writing a real book anyway. He wonders what book Roberta would like, the girl from down the street who is no longer the curly-hair tomboy Ryan used to call mop-head. seems strange to introduce a new character in the last line of your synopsis. can you introduce her earlier? also, what is the ultimate climax of hte book? i feel like I am missing some kind of driving force for Ryan other than "he was bored and he wrote a story". I like that your synopsis is nice and brief, but I think you may have lost something in the summarization.

My writing credentials include ...

THANKS EVERYONE
Mountain Lion
Anyway, good luck! It sounds your book is really fun and I think publishers are on the look out for good "boy books" these days!

c.ska
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Re: Query critique RYAN WRITES A BOOK

Post by c.ska » January 5th, 2010, 5:59 pm

Mountain Lion, there's something about this I really quite like, though I must agree with previous feedback - it did leave me confused. let's see if my comments make any sense to you...
Mountain Lion wrote:I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR COMMENTS:

At some point every boy has to face the question: has he outgrown monster stories? Must he put away his velociraptors, his transformers, his bug-eyed aliens with spidery legs for something even more scary? (well i actually like this, though it would probably read better as ONE sentence. it paints a nice picture somehow - try sticking with it)
School dances, body hair, girls? (oh, if this was supposed to be part of the above, i'd like a smoother transition. but i still like it) I am looking for representation for RYAN WRITES A BOOK, (i like that title!) an early middle reader of approximately 20,000 words. It’s a coming-of-age story about an eleven year old boy in the month before starting middle school. (i'd try something like: 'RYAN WRITES A BOOK is a coming-of-age story...genre...word count. something simple like that, you know)

(new paragraph? or maybe i'm just a paragraph freak; ) Bored with (agree with during) a rainy summer, Ryan decides to write a book. His head is full of ideas, but getting them to form a straight line of words is like trying to go to the bathroom when you don’t need to. Nothing. (suggestion - 'that is,') Until Ryan discovers how to send his younger brother Devin into his book to live out the adventures. (interesting) They face spitting dragons battling giant rats, hungry snakes eating fat Santa Clauses, even souvenir alligators coming back from the sewers. When Ryan gets bold and the adventures too rough, Devin refuses to act out the stories anymore. And Ryan starts to doubt he’s writing a real book anyway. He wonders what book Roberta would like, the girl from down the street who is no longer the curly-hair tomboy Ryan used to call mop-head. ( i agree that you really need to sort out the main conflict/s here...as mentioned by others in better detail!)

My writing credentials include ...

THANKS EVERYONE
Mountain Lion
I think this sounds like a good story that could be thoroughly enjoyed by its audience, just polish the query, and off you go! wishing you luck. c.ska

Mountain Lion
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Re: Query critique RYAN WRITES A BOOK

Post by Mountain Lion » January 5th, 2010, 6:58 pm

Thanks everyone. Your comments are very helpful.
ML

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