Angela's Query Crit Notes: Big Splash

Want to comment on the original query? You can find it here.

Overall 2 cents: Sounds like a great book! The query's a bit long, so my focus is tightening it up and sticking to the most important stuff.

Dear Dream Agent,

[I am seeking representation for my upper middle-grade novel, BIG SPLASH, written for 12-15 year-olds.] ANGELA: THIS CAN COME LATER. START WITH YOUR HOOK.

Jade would rather [crawl under a rock] ANGELA:I THINK YOU NEED SOMETHING A BIT PEPPIER HERE, THIS PHRASE FEELS A BIT OVERUSED than squeeze into one more bathing suit [in the ‘three-way-mirrored cone of truth’] at the local Jay-Mart. ANGELA: LOVE THE VOICE, BUT THIS SENDS ME A CONFLICTED IMAGE AS CHANGE ROOMS ARE SQUARE, SO I GET CAUGHT UP THINKING ABOUT HOW THIS CAN BE A CONE—SHAPE...MAKE SENSE? IN SHORT, LOVE THE IDEA OF THE 3 WAY CONE OF TRUTH (HAVEN’T WE ALL FELT THAT, LOL?) BUT IT PULLS ME OUT OF THE STORY TRYING TO PICTURE IT

[Ugh.] ANGELA: YOU COULD CUT THIS. IN THE BOOK, GO FOR IT, BUT IN THE QUERY, TIGHTEN WHEREVER YOU CAN.

[Besides, losing your mom in a drowning accident doesn’t inspire much confidence in the swimming department. Plus, who said big girls looked good in green metallic sequins, anyway? And worst of all, when Jade’s first period shows up (late bloomer = freak of nature), the reasons for skipping her BFF’s pool party pile up faster than the discarded tankinis on the dressing room floor. It’s times like these when a girl could really use her momma.] ANGELA: I THINK THIS CAN BE CONDENSED. THE PERIOD IS THE TRIGGER SO IT NEEDS TO BE MENTIONED, BUT THAT'S IT. TOO, I NOTICE YOU USE FREAK OF NATURE LATER ON AS WELL--I'D CUT THE ONE HERE AND LEAVE THE OTHER IN SO IT HAS A STRONGER IMPACT THERE

[But, her dad’s theory is right (he Googled it, after all)]. ANGELA: AGAIN, LIKE THE VOICE, BUT TIGHTEN A BIT relaxing soak in Epsom salts really does make her feel better. That is, until the salty soak reveals that puberty isn’t the only change brewing in Jade. Those raging hormones coupled with the bath salts seem to trip off another metamorphosis—complete with flippers and scales. Talk about freak of nature! [How’s Jade going to explain THIS at the pool party?] ANGELA: GREAT LINE, GREAT VOICE, GREAT PROBLEM! THIS IS QUERY CENTRAL HERE, THE MEAT OF THE STORY.

Finally, the truth about Jade’s mom comes to light. A mermaid? You’d think dear old dad could have mentioned that little factoid! Especially since the mermaid gene doesn’t seem to be recessive.

Which begs the question; [how does a mermaid drown, exactly?] ANGELA:THIS LINE IS BRILLIANT, BECAUSE OF COURSE RIGHT NOW WE’RE ALL FOCUSED ON THE FACT THAT SHE’S TURNED INTO A MERMAID, COMPLETELY FORGETTING HER MOM DROWNED AND THIS SHOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE. THIS LINE WILL GET YOU REQUESTS, GUARANTEED.

My debut middle-grade novel, ACADIAN STAR, was published this fall by Nimbus Publishing. My writing won an Honorable Mention in the 2008 Surrey International Writers' Conference literary competition and I was also recently awarded a juried literary grant from the Ontario Arts Council. [ A FULL list of my writing credits is attached.] ANGELA: BIT CONFUSED HERE—YOU ALREADY STATE 3 SIGNIFICANT WRITING CREDITS, BUT YOU HAVE A LIST IN ADDITION AS WELL?

[BIG SPLASH is complete at 40,000 words and is available at your request.] ANGELA: YOU’RE CURRENT OPENING LINE SHOULD BE MOVED DOWN HERE SOMEWHERE.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this project.

Hopeful Author

A possible tweaker rewrite:

Dear Dream Agent,

On the wrong side of size 9, Jade would rather eat fire ants than squeeze into a swimsuit and face the Jay-Mart's three-way-mirror of truth. Besides, losing a mom to an accidental drowning doesn't inspire confidence in the water department. Add a way overdue first visit from Aunt Flo and a sudden cramp marathon, and the reasons to skip her BFF’s pool party add up faster than the discarded tankinis on Jade’s dressing room floor.

Times like these, a girl could really use her momma, but Jade must rely on her dad and Google. Soon she's resting pain-free in a bath of Epsom salts, but the soak reveals puberty isn’t the only change brewing. Raging hormones coupled with the bath salts trip off another metamorphosis—complete with flippers and scales. Talk about a freak of nature! How’s Jade going to explain THIS at the pool party?

The truth about Jade’s mom comes to light. A mermaid? You’d think Dad could have shared that little factoid, not to mention how the mermaid gene is anything but recessive. Of course this begs the question…how does a mermaid drown, exactly?

I am seeking representation for my upper middle-grade novel, BIG SPLASH, complete at 40,000 words. My debut middle-grade novel, ACADIAN STAR, was published this fall by Nimbus Publishing. In addition to winning an Honorable Mention in the 2008 Surrey International Writers' Conference literary competition, I also recently became the recipient of a juried literary grant from the Ontario Arts Council. BIG SPLASH is available at your request. Thank you for taking the time to consider this project.

Hopeful Author

2 comments:

Becca said...

Great comments, Angela. I like your rewrite of the cone-of-truth sentence. That part sounded a little off to me, but I didn't mention it since I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

Hélène Boudreau said...

Yup, too long! :-)

The areas you pointed out were bumpy for me too, so it's nice to see your rewrite with possible solutions.

I'm happy you think I'll get requests (yay!) but time will tell. I'm working on finishing the MS, revising, then submitting--hopefully in the new year.

Will report back with my new sparkly rewrite.

Thanks so much!!

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