Is my query query-ish enough?

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otherside89girl
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Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by otherside89girl » September 27th, 2010, 11:06 pm

Hi everyone. A lot of you have given me some great feedback on my past queries for RONNIE FOR REAL. I'm looking for help again because I think my queries have been too similar to my synopsis. Thank you!

*Edit* Newest version is down there in post 6!


RONNIE FOR REAL is an 85,000 word young adult novel told in two parts: Freshman Year and Senior Year.

Ronnie Gold wants her freshman year of high school to be exciting. Life-changing, even. After less-than-stellar grades in photography and a fight with her best friend, she doubts she’ll get her wish. And then, in the form of artistic senior Marco, she does. Her days become a thrilling blur of fast rides in Marco’s car, clandestine meetings in art museums, senior parties, and finally, her first kiss. But the romance comes to a screeching halt when Marco flees to Mexico because of his illegal immigrant status. Ronnie is left with Marco’s plea to forget him, knowing she never will.

At seventeen, Ronnie feels that high school is now just a constant source of tedium that cuts into time spent with her best friends. She is thrown off when forgotten feelings are awakened by Michael, a popular soccer player troubled by depression. Just as Ronnie enters into her first relationship in three years, Marco returns, sending her senior year careening into decidedly un-tedious territory.

Now she must wrestle with the promises she made to Michael and her instinct that Marco might be her true love. When Michael reveals his vengeful side and Marco his unresolved immigration problems, Ronnie finds her decision more complicated than ever.
Last edited by otherside89girl on October 3rd, 2010, 7:12 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Mark17
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Re: Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by Mark17 » September 27th, 2010, 11:26 pm

If you haven't already, definitely read all the posts on Queryshark.com, it will help immensely. The Shark recommends putting your title, genre and word count at the end of the query, that way if an agent is turned off by one of those things, they may already be hooked by the meat of the query.

RONNIE FOR REAL is an 85,000 word young adult novel told in two parts: Freshman Year and Senior Year.

Ronnie Gold wants her freshman year of high school to be exciting. Life-changing, even. But after a slow start peppered with reminders of her inexperience and shyness, she doubts she’ll get her wish. And then, in the form of a tall, dark, artistic senior – Marco – she does. Her days become a thrilling blur of fast rides in Marco’s car, clandestine meetings in art museums, senior parties, and finally, her first kiss. But the romance comes to a screeching halt when Marco flees to Mexico because of his illegal immigrant status. Ronnie is left with Marco’s plea to forget him, knowing she never will.

I might consider moving the part about Marco being an illegal immigrant up in this paragraph. At first I was like, ok this is your typical high school story, but then I'm like whoa this kid is an illegal immigrant, didn't see that coming. That's more interesting than him being tall, dark and artistic.

At seventeen, Ronnie’s barely had a romantic thought in years. High school is now just a constant source of tedium that cuts into time spent with her best friends. So she is thrown off when forgotten feelings are awakened by Michael, a popular soccer player troubled by depression. Just as Ronnie settles into her first relationship in three years, Marco returns, sending her senior year careening into decidedly un-tedious territory.

Now she must wrestle with the promises she made to Michael and her instinct that Marco might be her true love. When Michael reveals his vengeful side and Marco his immigration problems, Ronnie finds her decision more complicated than ever.

I really liked this, it wasn't what I was expecting when I started the query. One thing I would say, try to show a little bit more about who Ronnie is. Why should a reader care which boy she winds up with? The query is well-written and tight. Good luck as you move forward.

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HillaryJ
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Re: Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by HillaryJ » September 28th, 2010, 1:11 am

otherside89girl wrote:
RONNIE FOR REAL is an 85,000 word young adult novel told in two parts: Freshman Year and Senior Year.

Ronnie Gold wants her freshman year of high school to be exciting. Life-changing, even. But after a slow start peppered with reminders of her inexperience and shyness, she doubts she’ll get her wish. And then, in the form of a tall, dark, artistic senior – Marco – she does. Her days become a thrilling blur of fast rides in Marco’s car, clandestine meetings in art museums, senior parties, and finally, her first kiss. But the romance comes to a screeching halt when Marco flees to Mexico because of his illegal immigrant status. Ronnie is left with Marco’s plea to forget him, knowing she never will. *I don't think that Marco has to be described as tall and dark, even if he is. Artistic is appealing. He sounds adventurous and fun, the kind of older boy a shy girl wouldn't just think she was in love with, she would practically think he was a god. And he must be getting something from her. Maybe he has secret insecurities about being accepted, or is she also artistic? So far, I'm wondering what sets her apart from almost every other female protagonist in this age group...so, set her apart early. She's got competition.*

At seventeen, Ronnie’s barely had a romantic thought in years. High school is now just a constant source of tedium that cuts into time spent with her best friends. So she is thrown off when forgotten feelings are awakened by Michael, a popular soccer player troubled by depression. Just as Ronnie settles into her first relationship in three years, Marco returns, sending her senior year careening into decidedly un-tedious territory. *She sounds like a bitter divorcee entering menopause. Even if she's been moping, I think you could show it (she's throwing herself into art and imagining up elaborate pranks with her friends even through they never have the guts to implement them...anything other than the first sentence of this paragraph). Was she drawn to Marco because he was secretly troubled, too? Just curious.*

Now she must wrestle with the promises she made to Michael and her instinct that Marco might be her true love. When Michael reveals his vengeful side and Marco his immigration problems, Ronnie finds her decision more complicated than ever.
Marco's revealing of immigration problems seems anti-climactic, because immigration problems aren't unexpected in someone who has already fled the country due to immigration problems. That needs to be tweaked somehow.

I would suggest that you consider changing one of the boy's names. Two syllables, both starting with "M" just seems like it could be confusing to a scanner-reader.

You've got some unique twists in here that almost get lost in the typical. The core of this story appears to be Ronnie's emotional growth. The conflict is that she apparently has to choose between two boys (I say apparently because it's not really shown that way), and either choice will come loaded with regret. Make her more interesting and this story elevates in a good way.

Good luck.
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otherside89girl
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Re: Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by otherside89girl » September 28th, 2010, 2:28 pm

Thanks, Mark and Hillary! (Hillary, you made me crack up with the bitter divorcee comment... I definitely didn't think of it that way until you pointed it out! Thanks! haha)

I made a few changes to the query up there.

I am wondering, though... I have heard to put the title and word count at the end, but since my MS is (somewhat unconventionally) split into freshman year and senior year, I thought I should say that up front so the agent isn't confused when my MC is suddenly three years older. Anyone have any thoughts on that?

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HillaryJ
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Re: Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by HillaryJ » September 29th, 2010, 12:33 am

otherside89girl wrote:

RONNIE FOR REAL is an 85,000 word young adult novel told in two parts: Freshman Year and Senior Year.

Ronnie Gold wants her freshman year of high school to be exciting. Life-changing, even. After less-than-stellar grades in photography and a fight with her best friend, she doubts she’ll get her wish. And then, in the form of artistic senior Marco, she does. Her days become a thrilling blur of fast rides in Marco’s car, clandestine meetings in art museums, senior parties, and finally, her first kiss. But the romance comes to a screeching halt when Marco flees to Mexico because of his illegal immigrant status. Ronnie is left with Marco’s plea to forget him, knowing she never will. [I think that this is better, but it's choppier. Let it stew for a couple days then come back and work the pieces again.]

At seventeen, Ronnie feels that high school is now just a constant source of tedium that cuts into time spent with her best friends. She is thrown off when forgotten feelings are awakened by Michael, a popular soccer player troubled by depression. Just as Ronnie enters into her first relationship in three years, Marco returns, sending her senior year careening into decidedly un-tedious territory. [I still want to see how she and Michael come together, and a little about what makes him appealing. He's depressed and then vengeful...not really making the teenage heart flutter there.]

Now she must wrestle with the promises she made to Michael and her instinct that Marco might be her true love. When Michael reveals his vengeful side and Marco his unresolved immigration problems, Ronnie finds her decision more complicated than ever. [Vengeful seems strong. Jealous? Possessive? I like the unresolved immigration problems. That makes his time possibly short, so does she make the most of it or does she refuse to open up to him again because he could leave again, taking her battered heart with him.]
Different agents have different opinions on whether the title and word count should go at the beginning or end. I know, it's shocking that they don't unanimously agree. In past queries, I split it up. "I hope you fall madly and uncontrollably in love with my paranormal romance Dashing Dudes in the Dark - query text - DDD is complete at 500,000 words.". Do what feels right for your story. Because you have an unconventional timeline, it might be best to lay out the facts up front.

Take some time off from this and come back to it. You've obviously got your core conflicts and the path of the story in mind, but the wording doesn't flow and it feels choppy. You want to convey what happens and how your MC(s) change. I think that you have the plot down, but I'd still like to see more of Ronnie or her evolution. Three years is FOREVER to a teenager. Surely she's not the same girl she was when she fell head over heels for Marco. And, he should have grown up some, too. Is he the same guy that she first fell for? (Just me being curious...not suggesting a bunch of new things to add.)
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maggie
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Re: Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by maggie » September 29th, 2010, 1:01 am

Hi,

I'm not going to do a line edit because I think the writing itself is pretty strong. I do agree that it read a little like your "typical teen drama" until you mentioned the part about the illegal immigrant status and the depressed boyfriend, and that's where it would have set itself apart for me. In light of both of those things, my suggestion would be to maybe concentrate less on "typical" high school stuff (going to parties, bad grades, fights with best friend) and really punch it up with anything about your MS that is really out of the ordinary. The other stuff is almost assumed in a high school story, to me.

I'm not sure what I'd do about stating that the Freshman Year and Senior Year are two distinct parts of the book. My instinct is that listing them like this, as two separate paragraphs of the query about what happened in each, is what makes it read more like a synopsis and less like a query. Maybe you could, just for fun to see how it works, try something like, "In her senior year of high school, Ronnie Gold finds herself in a (whatever) relationship with Michael, a boy struggling with depression (or however you want to describe him) and she (feels however she feels about it). When Marco, the lost love of her life, returns after his immigrant family was deported to Mexico three years before, she must decide between..." and then... "RONNIE FOR REAL is an 85,000 word young adult novel told in two parts: Freshman Year and Senior Year."

Just read back over that and it seems like I'm raising more questions than answers since I don't know enough about your MS to fill in those blanks, but to me something like this seems to get to the heart of the conflict without the superfluous synopsis-style list of events.

Or I could be completely off on what your story is about! Either way, I thought your writing in this was quite good, but it could use a little more pizzazz to really catch an agent's eye. :)

otherside89girl
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Re: Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by otherside89girl » October 3rd, 2010, 7:11 pm

Thanks, everyone, you guys are super helpful.

Here is a new version -- I tried to do the hook, synopsis, details kind of format.


A suicidal almost-boyfriend and a potential true love who risked illegal immigration to see her again. That’s what Ronnie Gold, senior, has. If only Ronnie Gold, freshman, had had a crystal ball; maybe she would’ve held onto Marco the first time around. Heck, a crystal ball would’ve been helpful senior year, too – if she’d known Marco was coming back, she never would’ve kissed Michael.

Ronnie’s freshman year of high school revolves around Marco. She starts out too scared to talk to anyone, and a few months later she’s kissing Marco first – a senior boy! – because he chickens out. And then, with a hurried explanation of his illegal status, Marco disappears to Mexico, leaving Ronnie with a heart full of lava. Senior year, she finally lets another boy in – Michael, depression and all – when Marco reappears, making Ronnie feel like a breathless fourteen year-old again. Now Ronnie must wrestle with who she has become versus who she always wanted to be.

RONNIE FOR REAL is a young adult novel told in two parts: Freshman Year and Senior Year. A mix of friendship and true love, this coming-of-age romance will appeal to readers who enjoy Megan McCafferty and Jenny Han. The manuscript is complete at 85,000 words.

(personalization here)

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Quill
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Re: Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by Quill » October 3rd, 2010, 7:18 pm

If only she'd had a crystal ball back entering high school. She probably would have bowled it down the alley of her loser life and knocked both those pins out of her heart.

Sorry, had that as a flash while reading your latest version, and couldn't resist.

Are there any bowling scenes in your book? :)

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Re: Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by androidblues » October 3rd, 2010, 8:23 pm

Sorry but when reading books like this, such as Twilight(no offense), I often wonder why the girl doesn't simply make up her mind. Just pick Marco if she loves him or pick Michael if she has moved on. Why is this so difficult unless she likes stringing guys along, some sort of subconscious desire brought on by childhood trauma perhaps?(kidding). But really make me feel like both of them are great guys,(and not the Bella reason that she can't stand to break a heart, but that she is afraid to get invested in Marco again) or one is a complete jerk. Love triangles are difficult to handle, I know, but if done right they are awesome, watch Justice League and you'll see, or if done wrong they suck horribly and you have a really dumb protag or a huge jerk of a protag. And get rid of the heart full of lava line. It doesn't sit well with me.

And Quill, that was hilarious although kinda mean.
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Re: Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by androidblues » October 3rd, 2010, 8:30 pm

Btw, I liked the first version of your query better. Just go through with the changes that HillaryJ suggested and it would be really good. The second reads more Meg Cabot like, while I was getting a more mature vibe from the first.
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Re: Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by Quill » October 3rd, 2010, 8:45 pm

androidblues wrote: And Quill, that was hilarious although kinda mean.
Mean, how?

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Re: Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by androidblues » October 3rd, 2010, 8:57 pm

Look, from an outsiders point of view that comment looked pretty malicious. When you read a query that you think is an unpolished gem, remember back to when you first wrote a query. Wasn't that pretty bad? Try to nicely comment to others and use constructive criticism. If you didn't like that bit about the crystal ball, say so.
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Quill
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Re: Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by Quill » October 3rd, 2010, 9:22 pm

I liked the crystal ball part. I like the whole project that she's querying. I wasn't knocking the crystal ball idea or the project in any way, and I'm sorry if it comes off to anyone that way. I know that othersidegirl has worked hard on rewrites of the query and has been sending out queries, so the last thing I would do is make fun of it. My only intention was to inject a bit of humor into the proceedings. Again, sorry if it comes off as knocking.

I thought what I said was kinda how the main character might be thinking.

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Re: Is my query query-ish enough?

Post by otherside89girl » October 4th, 2010, 1:37 am

Quill: I saw the humor, nothing malicious. :)

android: Thanks for your comments. I thought the second query was less synopsis-like than the first one I posted, and I already sent it off to an agent I like, so we'll see... :/ But I do see your point. OH and one of the guys turns out to be kind of a jerk, so I think it works out. And thanks for defending me from Quill's potentially mean comment. :)

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