Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #15

Dear Mystery Agent from ‘An Agent’s Inbox’,

Thank you for participating in Krista’s, ‘An Agent’s Inbox’. I very much enjoy her blog and am grateful for the opportunity to introduce you to my work.

I am seeking representation for my realistic young adult/crossover series, The Children of Inaos. The protagonist, Ava Shore, leads her country in an uprising against its suppressive government, with the help of eight other misplaced souls. Think modern day Egypt and Lybia, cloaked in a riveting fictional tale whose characters remind you of your best friends, siblings and children. They are in the throws of normal adolescent angst and the leaders of a revolution.

In the first book, Sacrifice, Ava is thrown into servitude after watching her own government murder her mother. She spends three years in captivity, and then reemerges into civilization only to have the King’s murder placed on her head.

Ava flees to the most dangerous part of the country and receives protection from the most feared gang in the land. She falls in love with a member of the gang and is content with hiding. But the government’s relentless pursuit forces Ava to make a stand. She loses what she loves the most, and gains the fervor to hide no longer.

The Children of Inaos: Sacrifice, the first in a four part series, closes at 120,000 words. It is my first non-technical piece, as currently I am an Engineer by trade. I enjoy releasing my creativity through writing, acting in theatrical productions and singing in the local music scene.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration. The first 250 words are found below. A complete manuscript of the first book is available upon request.



The man without a name walked silently down the damp, dark hallway. He didn’t need light. He had been here many times before.

If he was any other man, he would think about things, meaningful or insignificant, as he walked along by himself, answering the summons from his boss. But he wasn’t any other man. He was a man without his own name, his own thoughts, his own feelings. An outer shell that encased nothing, because there was nothing inside.

Time didn’t have meaning. He waited till he was summoned, performed the task asked of him, and went back to waiting. If he cared, he might have thought about what he was like before he was nothing, but he didn’t care. He was a tool, a weapon, no more.

At the end of the dark hallway, he grabbed for the handle that couldn’t be seen but was there. With ease he placed the key in the lock and turned it. The earth shattering screams hit him as soon as the door was open a crack.

He didn’t even flinch.

He had the fleeting realization that he wasn’t being summoned for the task that was already underway. He didn’t think to question what he was needed for. What did it matter? He was asked to come, so he came.

The click of the door behind him sealed in the bloodcurdling screams. The man followed the sounds of terror and the pleas of innocence.

When he reached the cell at the end of the hall he stopped in the shadows and waited, watching.


amber said...

In the first sentence, there are two grammar mistakes: 'Thank you for participating in Krista’s ‘An Agent’s Inbox.' '

Other thoughts: You use WAY too many commas in your writing. Commas aren't pauses and shouldn't be sprinkled in as such.

In the query, graph 2, it's all TELL, no SHOW. You're asking us to take you word for it ... Don't. SHOW us why it's awesome. And, use this graph moving forward as your base -- it's the best one in the query.

In the actual description, you don't give us nearly enough. It's very vague -- no names, places or descriptions.

I love that you're creative, but you can kinda tell (through the grammar issues) that this is your first creative writing. I wouldn't revisit in that 5th graph. Talk instead about the things you HAVE written , be they technical or not. Talk about why YOU'RE the best person to write this story.

I the story, you mention that he doesn't have a name twice in four sentences. Cut the first one out. ... Actually, there are a fe other redundancies that you need to revisit. 'The handle that couldn't be seen' -- yeah, you already told us that it was dark.

Last comment: You're being SLIGHTLY melodramatic about the Earth-shattering, bloodcurdling screams. If the stakes are already that high, where are you going to go from here?

Mark Fenger said...

Your query isn't really on target IMO.

Much of the first paragraph is spent telling me how good the book is. That is a strict no-no for queries. You also misused 'throws' it should be 'throes'. "in the throws of normal adolescent angst"

The rest of the query has too much telling, not enough showing. "most dangerous part" "most feared gang" Why is it dangerous? Why are they feared (also you used 'most' twice in one sentence).

The first page of the story works nicely. It could use some tightening though. You repeat yourself for effect a little too often for my preference and one verb seemed out of place. With the description of this man as a near automaton 'grabbed' seems too active.

Tracy said...

I agree that your query has too much telling. Start with a nice hook. Something interesting and unique about your story. Make sure it includes your MC. And switch to a closer POV for her. Like:

After three years in slavery, Ava Shore joins a gang, but only because its that or be condemned for assassinating the King.

Maybe not that. But something interesting that leaves the reader going, wow! I have to read more. Then go into the details of the story. Don't do any to be verbs. Or say in this book or the protagonist does this. Tell it like a short story. Finish up with a question of what will happen.

Then put the business of word count, genre, and whatnot. I've heard some agents says not to say crossover or series stuff. Because they want to discuss that with you. Also the stuff about you at the end will bug some agents, but not all. They want to stick to relevant information.

Your first page is interesting, but YA books tend to start with the MC's POV because then they can immediately relate to the character and get into it better. Start with action. But its not a bad scene at all. I'm just wondering if its the right first scene. (It may well be. I don't know your full story.)

erica and christy said...

I think you could definitely improve the query by starting with Ava and what the stakes are for her.

Your first paragraph isn't really needed and by the end I wonder how exactly anything in this book could remind me of my best friend, sibling, or children. I'd start with action - you have a good idea here, you just need to show it!

The writing I think could use some "tightening up." I personally don't mind the scene starting without the mc, but the simple act of a man walking down a dark hallway isn't quite enough to get me to keep reading. You can condense that down to one or two short sentences and still fit some action into the page. Thanks for sharing and good luck!

Melanie Stanford said...

I agree with everyone else. The second paragraph could be completely cut. Start right off about Ava. And I wondered, why would she be blamed for the King's murder when she was a servant in captivity for three years? She's a nobody. Also you can cut the info of yourself. Agents won't want to know you're an Engineer, actor and singer. They want to know about writing. If you have no qualifications, leave it out completely. The writing was good but seemed more adult to me than YA.

Krista V. said...

Your query was a little too rambling and not focused enough on the plot and characters to draw me in, and like several others, I noticed a few small grammatical issues, too. Amber pointed out the punctuation in the first paragraph, and I believe "throws" at the end of the second paragraph should be "throes" (although somebody feel free to correct me if I'm wrong).

Also, I'm still not quite sure I buy the genre description. The story might be based on current events happening in other countries, but if you're creating another world in which to tell the story, that sounds like high fantasy to me. Why not just place the characters in one of those countries (especially since I think several editors are looking for non-Western-centric manuscripts)? I'll be interested to hear what The Agent thinks...

As for the excerpt, I wondered who this man without a name is. You didn't mention him in the query, so I don't have any way to place him. And opening with an adult character in a YA manuscript might not be the most effective way to start, anyway.

I hope that helps, K.G., and I wish you the best of luck with this manuscript. And even if this one doesn't work out, there's always the next one, right? :) (I have to remind myself of this often.)

The Agent said...

K.G. - Even if you have a series in mind, you still want to query the first book as if it is a standalone. So, in this case, you wouldn't say "in the first book..." but you would simply say at the end of your query "I have a planned sequel" or "this has series potential." Also, right away I notice you mislabeled your project. This isn't realistic and does not take place in a contemporary world. You also wouldn't say in your query that it's a crossover. You don't know if it is yet :) I'd pass on this simply because it isn't in keeping with my tastes, but for future queries, remember to focus on the plot with only a few interesting details about Ava herself. Good luck!