Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #13

Dear Ms. Martindale:

Five years ago a scientist injected Owen with an invisibility serum. Four years ago he ran away.

When Owen discovered the goal wasn’t scientific advancement, but creating undetectable criminals, he had to get out. A cure wasn’t an option, and returning to his old life too dangerous, so he went into hiding.

Now he lives in a high school--where he has food and shelter, plus it’s the closest to a “normal” life he can get. Owen’s lonely, but at least he’s safe.

Until a stupid little decision steamrolls into a series of major mistakes, and he gets on the radar of both a girl at the high school and a gang of unvisibles. The organization doesn’t want loose ends. If they find Owen, there’re only two options: they’ll force him back in or they’ll kill him. Owen doesn’t know if these unvisibles are working for the organization or have their own agenda, but he isn’t about to stick around and ask. The smart thing is to get out of town, fast. Except for the girl.

Thanks to Owen’s screw-up, the unvisibles think she has a connection to him, which means she’s in danger too. He has to decide: save himself or protect her.

But not hiding anymore could mean risking more than he realized--like his chance to ever be cured.

UNVISIBLE, a YA paranormal, is complete at 60,000 words. I look forward to hearing from you.



I hated this part.

The bell rang exactly four minutes and forty-eight seconds ago. Which meant I had twelve seconds to get through the next door. I was a hundred yards away, the hall was too crowded for me to run like a normal person, and with AP calculus, I had little hope someone would show up later than me to slip in behind.

Perfect attendance record, gone. Not that they’d give the boy they couldn’t see a certificate.

I skidded toward the door. Closed, of course. Mrs. Harper always closed the door, like she worried someone would want to spy on her lesson. Not likely. Except, well, for me.

Eighteen days without a missed class. Not bad, but nowhere near last spring’s forty-seven-day stretch--lots of art classes and two P.E.s. That’s what I got for challenging myself this semester…and drinking two cokes at lunch. I knew better than that.

I couldn’t pick up Mrs. Harper’s monotone through the thick walls, but stuck around anyway, hoping for a straggler. No luck.

Of course it was this hour I got stuck. The worst hour. The last hour before the seventeen I had to spend alone. Maybe I’d go out tonight. I peeked out the nearest window. It didn’t look like rain. Probably safe.

Probably wasn’t good enough. Getting caught in the rain meant bigger problems than my discomfort level. Like the body-shaped hole I created when I stood in it.

I checked my watch. Still time to make it to the library.


Suzi R said...

Query comments:
I’d get rid of the 2nd sentence (1st paragraph) and add the 1st sentence onto the 2nd paragraph.

On your 4th paragraph, 1st sentence, it’s not a sentence. Start with “when” instead of “until.”

4th paragraph should be re-written. I’m getting confused by the invisibles versus the organization. Can you define them better. Are the invisibles bounty hunters? Does the organization have a name? Or should organization be capitalized? If it has a name, refer to it in that first paragraph. (Five years ago a scientist with the Organization…)

6th paragraph: you mention that he has a chance to be cured but in the 2nd paragraph, you say a cure wasn’t an option.

I think that queries should be written in present tense, even if the story is not. Maybe someone else can comment on this.

I like your story premise, it sounds interesting.

Alex said...

I really like the concept and the way the first 250 unfolds. You get a good idea of routine and how long he's been there while still keeping me interested.

There are some bits though that give pause to the reading.

The hall being too crowded to run "like a normal person" I would change that to " to crowded to risk running" We know he's not normal but saying that makes him sound like he has a disability.

I don't get the two cokes at lunch, makes me stop and wonder what it has to do with.

"Of course it was this hour I got stuck." I don't understand that when he is not stuck.

I like it though and would like to see how things progress.

Ninja Girl said...

I love it!! This premise definitely hooked me, and I enjoyed the excerpt. I like how you started it with the MC running late and actually being upset about not making it to class. That already sets your character apart. Most kids wouldn't care if they skip, but a kid who's invisible and has to be alone for the next however many hours? I really enjoyed the jumping off point.

The query itself worked for me, too. The hook, I thought, was terrific. Strong, succinct, interesting enough that I had to read on.

Toward the end there is where it needs a bit of work. I don't think it finished as strong as it could have. This phrase--"Until a stupid little decision steamrolls into a series of major mistakes"--is a bit vague. If you could be more specific, tell us what the decision/action is, I think it'd be stronger. Either way, I'd shorten it by taking out the word "little." Also, this--"they’ll force him back in or they’ll kill him"--I think could be snappier. I think you could even make it more urgent by saying, "If they find Owen, he's a dead man." Then I think the next sentence in the para could be shortened to, "With the organization and unvisibles breathing down his neck, the smart thing would be to get out of town, fast--except for the girl." Okay, so I think what I'm saying is that paragraph could use a little work.

Otherwise, I'm all in. I love the idea, and Owen's voice. The idea of a team of "unvisibles" trying to track down this invisible MC is terrific. I'd definitely read on!

Ninja Girl

Katrina S. Forest said...

I like the concept of this story a lot, and all the problems you explore that an invisible kid would have trying not to get caught. (You'd think it would be easy, wouldn't you?)

But there's some contradictory statements in the query.

For example, you say that the organization doesn't want loose ends, so they'll try to force Owen back or kill him. Then you state that Owen doesn't know if these people are from the organization or not. But if they're trying to force him back, they have to be, right?

Then at the very end of the query you imply that Owen might give up his chance to be cured if he helps the girl. But you said right in the beginning of the query that a cure is not an option. It's almost like I'm missing a piece of information. Did the organization reveal that a cure might be possible after all midway through the novel?

I got a similar feeling in your sample. In the first paragraph, I really needed the information that Mrs. Harper closes the door exactly when the bell rings first. Otherwise, I'm left scratching my head as to what the big deal was about being a few seconds late.

Like I said, I enjoy the idea behind the character, I just got caught up a few times while I was reading.

Elizabeth Briggs said...

One thing I wasn't clear about, is Owen stuck invisible forever (like, he can't reappear whenever he wants right)? Because that would be a pretty big deal, and something you could use as a "hook" line.

I like the premise and the 250 words a lot though. Although how does he get on this girl's radar - and could we get a teeny bit more info about her? Just a descriptive word or two would help a lot.

Cortney said...

This reminds me of a Buffy the Vampire slayer episode where the girl gets ignored so much she turns invisible, and she lives above the band room in the school. But I still love the premise!

Your query was good, but I felt it could use a little bit of tightening; it just seemed a little long. Do you need the second paragraph in the query? There has to be a way to condense it so it's not quite so long because I found myself losing interest. And I think you could end it at: "He has to decide: save himself or protect her." That's an awesome cliffhanger, I'd just cut that last part about being cured, especially since it contradicts with the second paragraph.

I LOVE your opening line in the excerpt, it immediately grabbed me. I would want to read more!

Escape Artist said...

Just a quickie. Attach an age to your MC. : )

Taylor Martindale said...

This is a unique concept, and I was interested in the query. I think it needs to have a little more information though, with a few more specifics. For example, I’d like to know why Owen was connected to the scientist in the first place and what this organization is/ what their goal is. It would also be stronger if the girl were not a vague someone, but a specific character – give her a name and a quick detail of what his mistake was. I really liked the first page, and the voice as well. I would definitely keep reading.
Thank you for participating in this Agent’s Inbox!
Taylor Martindale
Full Circle Literary