Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #2

Dear Ms. Martindale,

In the multiple interviews you’ve given (Krista’s included, thank you Krista!) and your agent bio, you’ve stressed that you are looking for characters, and my manuscript is all about the characters!

THE ADVENTURES OF BIC AND BILL is the story of Bill, Daddy, an ornery goat named Del Ray, the return of Bill’s massive Momma, and a boxing rat. It is told from the POV of a miss-educated chicken named Bic.

When Momma, escapes her indentured service as a prize fighter to the circus, and busts back to the farm, Bill’s happier than a hound dog to have his Momma back. But soon enough Bill, Daddy, and all the animals on the farm are glum as can be, and terrified of Momma’s terrible wrath, and enormous apatite. If Bill’s twice as big as three water buffalo and just as strong, Momma’s bigger and stronger. So when Momma sees how the farms been running since she left for the circus back when Bill was just a giant baby she’s as angry as an exploded hornets nest.

But when the four tiny brothers of the Terral, Ferral, Derral, and Merral Brothers Circus, come calling to collect Momma, and Momma refuses, Daddy proposes a deal that involves Momma, the circus brothers, himself, Bill, and the farm all in one go.

The brothers will host a boxing match that pits Momma against a champion of Daddy’s choosing. If Momma wins she takes the winnings from the fight and pays off her debt to the circus brothers. If Daddy’s champion wins, Momma must return to the circus.

Now, Bic, Bill, and Daddy must capture and train the only living creature that stands a chance in the ring against, Momma Kill Punch Janice. Mr Rat. a six foot tall boxing rat who Daddy tried to sell to Butcher Pete after Bill knocked him unconscious with his gardening club for raiding the chicken coop.

THE ADVENTURES OF BIC AND BILL is a MG boy's adventure novel complete at 35,000 words.

I am a co-founder of the writing and comedy community which receives 6,000 to 8,000 page views a month, and at four months old, is still growing in readership.

Thank you for your time,


“Lift her higher so I can get at them rats Bill!” shouts Daddy from the porch, pointing his long stocked double barreled shotgun fiendishly under the chicken coop.

Lifting the coop a little higher is easy cause Bill’s stronger than a Mississippi tugboat. Gripping that hen house at the base an raising his elbow, Bill pulls it up enough that he can peek at what’s underneath. Tha Rat’s, glaring back at Bill, growling big as a Cincinnati steam train an meaner than a honey badger in a bee’s nest. Bill’s got his gardening club in one hand an wants to hit that big barracuda toothed rodent right in the skull so he can’t eat no more chickens.

“That’s it Bill, lift it higher! WOOO WEEE I can see that big varmint now!” Hollers Daddy, hopping back an forth on the porch, “Just like you’re do’n Bill, keep go’n higher so I can get a shot at him! Real high Bill!”

Daddy’s got Bill excited now. All exuberant like, Bill goes on an gives that coop a heave. He done sends the chicken house flipping through the air to land ten feet away, smack upside down on its roof.

There’s that rat, exposed big as a python in a playpen. Daddy takes one look at the monster an straight away faints of shock at the size of the thing. He collapses on the porch firing off both barrels as he goes down. One slug goes skipping off towards the sun an the other flies directly at that giant rodent.


Robin Weeks said...

The voice is fun and engaging, and the premise is interesting. Seems like Daddy isn't so happy to have Momma home. :)

My main problem with the query blurb and sample is that I have no idea if the characters are human. There seem to be an awful lot of personified animals--are Bill, Daddy, and Momma also personified animals? Which animals are they? If they're human, it would help to have that more clearly stated.

There are also a LOT of names crammed into the blurb, and I got very lost. I'd suggest cutting them out. Also, go over it for punctuation and spelling (appetite, not apatite; farm's, not farms; etc).

In the sample, though I enjoyed the voice, I got lost in the constant similes and metaphors. They have some great imagery that helps solidify the setting, but four in the first 250 words seems like a little much. Probably just a personal thing, though. Also, though most of the spelling and punctuation anomalies seem to be voice-related, there were several that likely weren't (The rats, not Tha Rat's; back and forth, not back an forth)--writing with a dialect is hard, since you have to balance voice with clarity, but I suggest you err on the side of clarity.

Fun overall, but I'm not sure I'd read more.

Melinda said...

I agree with everything Robin said. All the names, plus the typos/punctuation errors, made it hard to follow both the query and the story.

LMT said...

This is fun and imaginative. Boxing Rat - cute. In the query, there are a lot of characters to keep track and it's a little hard to follow. I agree with the other comments about reducing the number of smilies and metaphors.

Having the POV of a chicken is an interesting idea, but I didn't feel like the narrator was a chicken in the sample. Is BIC introduced soon?

Krista V. said...

While I like the tone quite a bit, I'm having a hard time getting past some of the mechanical issues. First off, I'd keep an eye on your commas. In the third paragraph: "When Momma [delete comma] escapes her indentured service as a prize fighter to the circus [delete comma] and busts back to the farm, Bill's happier than a hound dog to have his Momma back. But soon enough Bill, Daddy, and all the animals on the farm as glum as can be [delete comma] and terrified of Momma's terrible wrath [delete comma] and enormous apatite..."

In the fourth: "But when the four tiny brothers of Terral, Ferral, Derral, and Merral Brothers Circus [delete comma] come calling to collect Momma [delete comma] and Momma refuses, Daddy proposes..." And so on. I'm sure you can find the rest.

In the first 250, it took me a while to figure out that "an" is "and." You might add an apostrophe at the end of "an" so we get the idea that the narrator's leaving off that last D. (That is going to get old throughout an entire manuscript, though, so maybe you could just make it "and" and leave it to us to hear the accent in our heads.)

Also, I couldn't tell who our narrator was. You mentioned in the query that our POV character is Bic the chicken, but I don't see any sign of him. It's a little strange to start off with a disembodied voice narrating things. You can do it, of course, but it's harder to do well than just narrating the scene through one of the characters in it.

Good luck with this. Like I said, I really like the hillbilly voice and the idea of a boxing rat. I'm sure you can clean it up.

P.S. One last grammatical thing. In the excerpt, make sure to set the names off with a comma in the dialogue (i.e., "Lift her higher so I can get at them rats, Bill!" and "That's it, Bill, lift it higher!" and "Real high, Bill!"). But once again, a quick fix.

Mel said...

I think this premise is interesting and there is a lot of voice and energy to the samples. But I think the query needs a little more focus--who's story is it and what is the main plot point/conflict? I would leave out all of the extraneous characters from the query as it becomes confusing.

As for the sample, again the voice is strong, but I don't have a good sense of the character and don't feel grounded in the world.

Taylor Martindale said...

This is a very interesting premise, but I found myself a little lost in the query. I'd recommend informing your reader that it's a MG adventure story, because I wasn't quite sure how to position it. One other obstacle I had was that the query leaves some loose ends that raise different questions that the ones you're trying to set up. For example, I was wondering why Momma is angry at how the farm has been running? If there is a deal that involves the whole farm, why does the outcome of the fight only affect Momma? Is this an all animal story, or are Bill, Momma, and Daddy humans? I'm assuming they're humans, but Momma's opponent is a boxing rat. Also, the POV is Bic's voice, but we don't even know he's involved until the last paragraph. The first page also held a few problems for me -- mainly that the POV wasn't clear from the get-go, and there was a little too much narrative summary. Unfortunately, I didn't connect with this submission.
Thank you for participating in this Agent’s Inbox!
Taylor Martindale
Full Circle Literary