Query: CLASS (Literary fiction, maybe?)

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enyouse
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Query: CLASS (Literary fiction, maybe?)

Post by enyouse » January 5th, 2011, 4:47 pm

Dear (AGENT)

This is Garcia: if he dropped a pizza on the floor, and the piece that landed closest to him also landed cheese side down, Garcia would eat that slice. First.

CLASS is the story of Garcia, a chronically static young man who stumbles into careers in education and interstate drug trafficking. It's also the story of his cousin, Danny, a small time drug dealer whose favorite topics of conversation are feminism, politics, and the coming zombie apocalypse.

Garcia teaches rhetoric to the children of some of America's wealthiest families. Insofar as putting on C-Span or telling them to read newspapers quietly while he nurses a hangover is "teaching rhetoric." He also chaperons school trips, advises the junior class, and sells narcotics at a 300% mark-up. When the Academy's porn-addicted IT guy threatens to expose the drug ring, Garcia and Danny must decide to act and risk Federal prison, or do nothing and allow one of Garcia's students to submit to the greasy blackmailer's lecherous demands.

CLASS, 90,000 words, is my first novel. It straddles the line between literary and commercial fiction. Like Ruth Ozeki's MY YEAR OF MEATS, or Tom Perrotta's LITTLE CHILDREN, it addresses serious issues with dark humor and, at times, compassion.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

All the best,

N.A. Hughes

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sbs_mjc1
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Re: Query: CLASS (Literary fiction, maybe?)

Post by sbs_mjc1 » January 5th, 2011, 6:07 pm

enyouse wrote: This is Garcia: if he dropped a pizza on the floor, and the piece that landed closest to him also landed cheese side down, Garcia would eat that slice. First. Good characterization, but irrelevant to the query.
CLASS is the story of Garcia, a chronically static young man who stumbles into careers in education and interstate drug trafficking. It's also the story of his cousin, Danny, a small time drug dealer whose favorite topics of conversation are feminism, politics, and the coming zombie apocalypse.
This paragraph is clunky. Also, the phrase "is the story of" acts like agent repellent. You might want to try something like this: "Garcia is a chronic underachiever who stumbled into his career in education. But he really makes his living trafficking drugs across state lines, with the help of his quirky cousin Danny."
(Obviously you can write that better, since it's your novel, and you know more about it).

Garcia teaches rhetoric to the children of some of America's wealthiest families. Insofar as putting on C-Span or telling them to read newspapers quietly while he nurses a hangover is "teaching rhetoric." This is more detail-- we need to get to the plot.
He sleepwalks through his days as he also chaperons school trips, advises the junior class, and sells narcotics at a 300% mark-up. But When the Academy's porn-addicted IT guy threatens to expose the drug ring, Garcia and Danny must decide to act and risk Federal prison, or do nothing and allow one of Garcia's students to submit to the greasy blackmailer's lecherous demands.
We need to know what the stakes are here. Why should we care about the student? What do Garcia and Danny plan to do?
CLASS, 90,000 words, is my first novel. It straddles the line between literary and commercial fiction. Like Ruth Ozeki's MY YEAR OF MEATS, or Tom Perrotta's LITTLE CHILDREN, it addresses serious issues with dark humor and, at times, compassion.
http://sb-writingtheother.blogspot.com/
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allegedauthor
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Re: Query: CLASS (Literary fiction, maybe?)

Post by allegedauthor » January 5th, 2011, 8:35 pm

I think you should focus mainly on one character. It sounds like Garcia is the your focal point and Danny is the vehicle that helps drive the story. Once you choose one character to talk about then it will flow better, IMO. I think you don't need the mention of Danny in the first paragraph after the hook. But I really like the idea of this and wish you much luck! Queries are harder to write than stories in my experience!

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Re: Query: CLASS (Literary fiction, maybe?)

Post by AContos » January 6th, 2011, 11:06 am

Hello!
I struggling with my own query, so the usual caveats apply.
You've gotten some really good critiques above that said everything I would have, so I won't go into detail. I just wanted to point out one thing: Your MC sounds like a horrible person. LOL Now, that can be ok (think 'American Psycho'), but I think it might be beneficial to show us some chance of redemption, if there is one. Or, at least give us a hint as to something compelling behind his actions. If I'm an agent, I would probably read this and wonder how I might be able to sell a book about a drug-dealer who's hung over when he should be teaching. Not exactly a character most readers want to spend 300 pages with. Maybe if you explain a little more about how his student comes into play with the blackmailing scheme? Then you have a chance to show us how Garcia is torn about his own future vs. concern for his student? Just a thought.
Hope that helps!
enyouse wrote:Dear (AGENT)

This is Garcia: if he dropped a pizza on the floor, and the piece that landed closest to him also landed cheese side down, Garcia would eat that slice. First.

CLASS is the story of Garcia, a chronically static young man who stumbles into careers in education and interstate drug trafficking. It's also the story of his cousin, Danny, a small time drug dealer whose favorite topics of conversation are feminism, politics, and the coming zombie apocalypse.

Garcia teaches rhetoric to the children of some of America's wealthiest families. Insofar as putting on C-Span or telling them to read newspapers quietly while he nurses a hangover is "teaching rhetoric." He also chaperons school trips, advises the junior class, and sells narcotics at a 300% mark-up. When the Academy's porn-addicted IT guy threatens to expose the drug ring, Garcia and Danny must decide to act and risk Federal prison, or do nothing and allow one of Garcia's students to submit to the greasy blackmailer's lecherous demands.

CLASS, 90,000 words, is my first novel. It straddles the line between literary and commercial fiction. Like Ruth Ozeki's MY YEAR OF MEATS, or Tom Perrotta's LITTLE CHILDREN, it addresses serious issues with dark humor and, at times, compassion.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

All the best,

N.A. Hughes

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Sanwrites
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Re: Query: CLASS (Literary fiction, maybe?)

Post by Sanwrites » January 10th, 2011, 11:06 am

As others have given good comments, I'll keep mine brief.
First, I love the plot. It sounds interesting and offbeat enough to get an agent's attention.
Then, for some reason, I like 'THIS IS GARCIA' for the title. Just my opinion.
One thing that could be made clearer is the Academy. Give us more info about it. Is it the school where he teaches? Also, Markup is one word.

Nice, fresh style.
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Nora Charles: "I read where you were shot 5 times in the tabloids."
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oldhousejunkie
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Re: Query: CLASS (Literary fiction, maybe?)

Post by oldhousejunkie » January 14th, 2011, 11:36 pm

Hmmm...

You've got voice. A lot of voice. In fact, for some reason, I was reading this in a New York accent. I have no idea why.

But despite this, I have no sense of the plot. It was basically one line in the midst of character development. You need to find an effective way to merge both of these.

Also, like another poster commented, Garcia doesn't appear to have any redeeming qualities. It's perfectly ok for the MC to be bad, but there's got to be some humanity lurking in Garcia (unless he's a sociopath). Maybe Google "queries featuring a bad MC" or something to that effect to get an idea of how to spin a story that features a character with no redeeming qualities.

This definitely has some potential. It's fresh and interesting...and what's more...it doesn't have fantasy or paranormal elements! :-)

Good luck to you!

rosepetal720
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Re: Query: CLASS (Literary fiction, maybe?)

Post by rosepetal720 » January 18th, 2011, 11:57 am

Plot is the ONLY thing a query should talk about. Don't say what your characters are like, don't say it's a story about serious issues and compassion, and don't say what other books yours is like.

When writing a query, you should focus on answering three questions:
1. What does the main character want?
2. What is he willing to do to get it?
3. What happens if he fails?

Your third paragraph is great, but you should nix the rest.
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Inglory
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Re: Query: CLASS (Literary fiction, maybe?)

Post by Inglory » January 22nd, 2011, 2:41 pm

This is Garcia: if he dropped a pizza on the floor, and the piece that landed closest to him also landed cheese side down, Garcia would eat that slice. First. I don't object to this line, but be aware that it reads: 'Garcia is lazy'. Which means I assume this to be the trait that motivates him - and am looking for evidence of this to run through your query.

CLASS is the story of Garcia, a chronically static young man who stumbles into careers in education and interstate drug trafficking. It's also the story of his cousin, Danny, a small time drug dealer whose favorite topics of conversation are feminism, politics, and the coming zombie apocalypse. I agree with the others that Danny should probably be left out. What's missing is some idea of how Garcia's static, lazy nature gets him into the plot. I'm confused by the time frame. At what point does your story start? I think this paragraph needs to end with the fact he gets into drug trafficking.

Garcia teaches rhetoric to the children of some of America's wealthiest families. Insofar as putting on C-Span or telling them to read newspapers quietly while he nurses a hangover is "teaching rhetoric." You should mention this is the previous paragraph, probably then moving onto the drugs revelation. He also chaperons school trips, advises the junior class, and sells narcotics at a 300% mark-up. When the Academy's porn-addicted IT guy threatens to expose the drug ring, Garcia and Danny must decide to act and risk Federal prison, or do nothing and allow one of Garcia's students to submit to the greasy blackmailer's lecherous demands. I agree that this student should be mentioned before now, so he doesn't sound like an afterthought. Much more important to get a sense of him than Danny.

I would arrange it like this:

P1: Line about Garcia's character.

P2: Bring in that he teaches rhetoric (his laziness in telling them to read the newspaper quietly etc. is a nice continuation of the theme). Mention the student here in some capacity. And then say that G deals drugs on the side.

P3: The crisis - he's threatened with exposure (therefore stands to lose x and y). Why he thinks about betraying the student - and, more importantly, what's to stop him doing it (e.g. the student's father is the richest man in the city, and marrying his sister would be a really nice choice for a lazy guy). You have to highlight Garcia's difficult choices. It doesn't matter how foul the MC is. We will root for him if he's stuck between a rock and hard place!

Good luck!

enyouse
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Re: Query: CLASS (Literary fiction, maybe?)

Post by enyouse » January 31st, 2011, 11:57 am

Hey, thanks everybody. If you believe it, your query critiques inspired a major revision of the novel (and here, I thought it was finished!). So, that's why I haven't been around to say thank you earlier.

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