The Reception - Revised

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skinguk
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The Reception - Revised

Post by skinguk » July 12th, 2011, 10:21 am

Okay. This is my first attempt at a query (never done one for this or anything else before; I am new to the game). All advice is REALLY appreciated.

Thank you!

*******
Dear [AGENT],

Autumn was supposed to be smart enough not to get herself stuck in the wall of a vacant house, but at twelve years old you are not always as smart as you, and perhaps everyone else, thinks you are.

She didn’t know what caused her to end up at the vacant house on that day. Whether it was to escape her family falling apart or because she was suddenly reminded for the first time in a while of the disappearance of her best friend Kayla or because she just wanted to be by herself for a while didn’t, in the end, really matter. What did matter was she was stuck. If Autumn only knew then that being stuck in the wall was just the beginning of her problems.

A sudden and irrational fear of something in the wall sends Autumn reeling through it into the living room of a house that isn’t so vacant and a town that looks as if it comes straight from old television shows. Though Autumn has no idea what is going on, the people in the town seem almost to be expecting Autumn and, unlike the people in those TV shows, aren’t so hospitable.

Autumn soon learns being alone is not as peaceful as it seems and the boundaries between reality and fiction are not always so clear. And sometimes, to get home, you need to be wary of the fairy godmother.

THE RECEPTION, a Young Adult novel complete at 78,000 words, is my first novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Last edited by skinguk on January 5th, 2012, 6:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: The Reception - First Attempt

Post by oldhousejunkie » July 12th, 2011, 4:02 pm

This is a very interesting concept and has a lot of potential. But... The plot seems to be obscured by the voice in this instance. Perhaps you should scale back and focus on coverying the plot first, and then add in the voice.
Autumn was supposed to be smart enough not to get herself stuck in the wall of a vacant house, but at twelve years old, you are not always as smart as you, and perhaps everyone else, thinks you are.

She didn’t know what caused her to end up at the vacant house on that day. Whether it was to escape her family falling apart or because she was suddenly reminded for the first time in a while of the disappearance of her friend Kayla or because she just wanted to be by herself for a while didn’t, in the end, really matter. This is the world's longest run-on sentence. :-) In fact, that's the problem with this whole paragraph--it's wandering around with no center. What did matter was she was stuck. If Autumn only knew then that being stuck in the wall was just the beginning of her problems.

A sudden and irrational fear of something with her in the wall sends Autumn reeling through it into the living room of a house that isn’t so vacant and a town that looks as if it comes straight from old television shows. Though Autumn has no idea what is going on, the people in the town seem almost to be expecting Autumn and, unlike the people in those TV shows, aren’t so hospitable. This seems to be the meat of your story. It should be mentioned sooner.

Autumn soon learns being alone is not as peaceful as it seems and the boundaries between reality and fiction are not always so clear. And sometimes, to get home, you need to be wary of the fairy godmother. I like this ending.

skinguk
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Re: The Reception - First Attempt

Post by skinguk » July 12th, 2011, 6:36 pm

Thanks. I know...that paragraph, and especially that sentence, have caused a headache. Probably a sign that they don't work! Your advice is really helpful.

gilesth
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Re: The Reception - First Attempt

Post by gilesth » July 13th, 2011, 9:05 am

I agree with oldhousejunkie. I also think the first paragraph is missing something. I think you should definitely open with Autumn being stuck in a wall, but the rest of it (how smart she is) doesn't really tell me anything. How does that relate to the rest of the query, the story itself, and why do I need to read about it? Something else to consider: in my experience, it seems that most agents expect queries to be written in present tense. I'm not sure why, but that seems to be the norm. Some people have insisted that it's a rule (Query Shark maybe?) I'd recommend looking around the web to see if that's something you need to change for your query.

Good luck! :D

Joel Q
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Re: The Reception - First Attempt

Post by Joel Q » July 15th, 2011, 6:35 pm

skinguk wrote:
Autumn was supposed to be smart enough not to get herself stuck in the wall of a vacant house, but at twelve years old you are not always as smart as you, and perhaps everyone else, thinks you are.

She didn’t know what caused her to end up at the vacant house on that day. Whether it was to escape her family falling apart or because she was suddenly reminded for the first time in a while of the disappearance of her best friend Kayla or because she just wanted to be by herself for a while didn’t, in the end, really matter. I'd like to see that sentence reworked before I comment on what is or is not needed in the query. What did matter was she was stuck. If Autumn only knew then that being stuck in the wall was just the beginning of her problems.

A sudden and irrational fear of something (alive, a creature, a force? give us a hint) in the wall sends Autumn reeling through it into the living room of a house that isn’t so vacant and a town that looks as if it comes straight from old television shows (old tv shows depends on your age, be a bit more specific or old black and white TV or maybe give us a decade, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s,). Though Autumn has no idea what is going on, the people in the town seem almost to be expecting Autumn and, unlike the people in those TV shows, aren’t so hospitable.

Autumn soon learns being alone is not as peaceful as it seems and the boundaries between reality and fiction are not always so clear. And sometimes, to get home, you need to be wary of the fairy godmother.

THE RECEPTION, a Young Adult novel complete at 78,000 words, is my first novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Beside YA, is this fantasy? You need to be specific on your genre because the query has elements that seem like fantasy.)

TomLysander
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Re: The Reception - First Attempt

Post by TomLysander » July 18th, 2011, 7:19 pm

*******
Dear [AGENT],

Autumn was supposed to be smart enough not to get herself stuck in the wall of a vacant house, but at twelve years old you are not always as smart as you,and perhaps everyone else, thinks you are.

She didn’t know what caused her to end up at the vacant house on that day. Whether it was to escape her family falling apart or because she was suddenly reminded for the first time in a while of the disappearance of her best friend Kayla or because she just wanted to be by herself for a while didn’t, in the end, really matter. What did matter was she was stuck. If Autumn only knew then that being stuck in the wall was just the beginning of her problems.

Really, your query doesn't need the two paragraphs above. Say that Autumn finds emotional refuge in an abandoned house, but that this abandoned house pulls her into another world. Any more than that, and you're burning word count on backstory.

A sudden and irrational fear of something in the wall sends Autumn reeling through it into the living room of a house that isn’t so vacant and a town that looks as if it comes straight from old television shows. Though Autumn has no idea what is going on, the people in the town seem almost to be expecting Autumn and, unlike the people in those TV shows, aren’t so hospitable. Here's where your conflict is. Is the world a parallel universe? A carnivorous world that seduces those foolish enough to stray into its path? In a nutshell: is the problem that she needs to find her way back? Or is the problem that she doesn't want to leave? (and why is that seduction dangerous?)

Autumn soon learns being alone is not as peaceful as it seems and the boundaries between reality and fiction are not always so clear. say more here: what's the link between this new world and the old one? is this the mystery she needs to solve? what's at stake? (here's a place maybe to mention the lost friend, the falling apart family, etc.) And sometimes, to get home, you need to be wary of the fairy godmother. Right now, the only real character is Autumn herself -- is there a seductive figure on the other side of this wall? Who is he/she? Describe him or her.

THE RECEPTION, a Young Adult novel complete at 78,000 words, is my first novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.[/quote]

Overall, this query shows some promise -- but you're frontloading too much. I'd jump into the middle of this query, and condense the first two paragraphs to a single sentence, if possible. Good luck! Kudos, Tom

skinguk
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Re: The Reception - Second Attempt

Post by skinguk » January 4th, 2012, 11:02 am

Okay...It has been a while (my day job went a bit crazy), but I have now revised a bit. Any suggestions are welcome. Thank you again!

****

Dear ___,

Autumn is supposed to be smart enough not to get herself stuck in the wall of a vacant house. She is smart enough, however, to realize that something is there with her and it means her harm.

Forcing her way out, Autumn ultimately finds herself in a strange town, where she must rely on the assistance of Mr. Hulle, a man who runs the local bar, whose son, Albert, tries to make Autumn’s life as miserable as possible. One of the bar patrons, the Shaky Man, scares her as much as whatever was in the wall. Autumn soon realizes Mr. Hulle and Albert are conspiring with the Shaky Man. What they are conspiring to do she cannot figure out, but she is fairly sure she isn’t the first to be in this position.

In order to escape, Autumn must flee further into the unknown seeking someone who will help her. She soon learns being alone is not as peaceful as it seems and the boundaries between reality and imagination are not always so clear. And sometimes, despite what the stories tell you, you need to be wary of the fairy godmother.

The Reception, a Young Adult novel complete at 83,000 words, is a classic fairy tale told in a modern style. Though I have published a number of legal articles in journals and magazines, this is my first novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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