Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #3

Dear Agent,

Pete's life isn't great, but he gets along. It's not like he's the only person in the world to have an alcoholic for a mother and a dad who's AWOL. So what if he releases the pressure with a joint or a stolen car every now and then? He doesn't keep the cars. He's not hurting anyone.

Sonny's life isn't great, but it's better than most. There are worse things than moving away from your friends or being ignored by your workaholic mother. But knowing this doesn't make it easier when your mother interrupts your conversation to take a phone call. When that happens, the cute guy flirting from the expensive car is a welcomed distraction. At least until he loses control of the car and smashes it right into her.

Pete and Sonny may wake in different hospitals, but they wake with something in common. Both have received blood tainted with the power to manipulate space, to be wherever they want in an instant. The people with whom the power originated are being hunted through worlds, leaving more dead behind them every time they flee. Pete and Sonny could help. Or they could keep themselves to themselves and stay alive.

But the more time they spend exploring their newfound abilities, the more attention they draw and the more their options disappear. It isn't long before they realize that to keep from being prey, they must become the hunters.

ONE HUNDRED KNOWN WORLDS is a completed, 83,000 word young adult contemporary fantasy. I am a member of SCBWI, attend a weekly writers' group, and blog regularly. I'd be happy to send additional materials upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



The way Pete saw it, he was doing the guy a favor. You didn’t leave a Maserati Quattroporte parked on Patterson, with the doors unlocked no less, without wanting it gone. Simple as that. Parking a Maserati in this part of Southie was just another way of saying, “Hey man, I could really use the insurance money right now. Help a guy out.”

Pete was nothing if not helpful.

How to liberate a car was the only useful skill his father had seen fit to pass on before he'd become no more than a name on the bottom of sporadic child support checks. Pete had paid attention. It took a few minutes--he was rusty on his big game skills--but he worked it out. It didn’t hurt that the windows were tinted all to hell and back, either. He ducked below the dash to work, so no one was going to see him unless they opened the door.

When the engine purred to life, so did he, electric excitement coursing from the gas pedal right up through his body. He felt like a king as he eased into the midday traffic. King of what, he didn't know, but it didn't matter for now. For now all that mattered was how the pulse of the Maserati became his own, and how he didn't have to think about anything but the feel of the road beneath him. Time to celebrate.

He fished a smoke from his stash and lit up.


Kristy Shen said...

Love your 250 words! The voice is great and the writing is very punchy.

I would definitely read on because your MC is so interesting.

I have a couple of pointers for your query.

1) When you say "Or they could keep themselves to themselves and stay alive." Is that a typo?
Do you mean "Or they could keep to themselves and stay alive."

2) I think the first 2 paragraphs are not really necessary. The hook is actually in the 3rd paragraph.

3)I'm confused with this section "The people with whom the power originated are being hunted through worlds, leaving more dead behind them every time they flee."
I think you mean the people who donated the tainted blood. I would tighten up this sentence a bit since it's too long.

Deserae McGlothen said...

I agree that you have a really great start with your first 250. There were a few sentences there where the structure wasn't at it's best, but there's great characterization and voice in this narrative. I like the perspective for this piece, as well.

The query though threw me. I was really interested in this with the first two paragraphs thinking it was going to be like a contemporary romance or something and then WHAM! SO not what I'd expected.

I guess that could work in some instances, but I think in your query you need a lot more room to explore and hook us into the actual plot you're working with. As Kristy suggested, I'd try starting with that third paragraph-- the hook. I need more information about this power and "the people with whom the power originated..." I need more about the actual story as, unfortunately, the first two paragraphs are pure set-up. I would definitely use the space to delve more into the scifi-like elements and what kind of help Pete and Sonny could possibly be. To me, this sounds more science fiction than fantasy, but that could just be me. Overall, it wasn't for me, but I definitely have a few friends this kind of story could appeal to.

Best wishes, Author,

Aimee L. Salter said...

I love this. Love it, love it, love it. I loved it on WOC and I love it here.

Good luck!

Nazarea Andrews said...

I think the query is disjointed--I *think* your trying to convey two POV, but right now, it's confusing. Maybe try to focus on ONE POV?

I do LOVE you first 250. Great voice, awesome personality in Pete. I'd keep reading if this was the sample, even if I didn't like the query.

SStokes said...

Hi D.M.! I remember this from WoC. I still love the line in your first 250: Pete was nothing if not helpful. Ha! I love the sarcasm.

I do think your query could be pumped up a bit. Is this a multiple POV story? If so, I would add that nugget into the summary. If not, I would consider reworking this so that it's from the MC's POV. You might even consider starting it with the first line of the third paragraph: Pete and sonny may wake in different hospitals, but they wake with something in common. it would make for a pretty eye catching hook!

I love the concept and opening with the car theft. Best of luck with this!

Christine L. Arnold said...

Great 250! Love the voice and really well written. I'd keep reading, just seeing those. But, I do think your query needs work. First of all, too much backstory. Start telling us about the tainted blood. Honestly, I almost stopped reading completely when we got to the second paragraph about the hard life. We don't need to know how the kids ended up in the hospital just yet, just that they did. The powers are the interesting bit, what they do with them, the stakes. Not the backstory. That's something for you to sprinkle into your story. Or, if it's REALLY important that you know these kids are from imperfect homes in the query, say it in a few words, and not all at once or at the beginning. To me, that's not the interesting part here.

But yeah, just tighten this up so that agents will read on to your awesome 250! :-)

The Agent said...

I'll be honest--I got frustrated with this query in the third paragraph. The first two paragraphs set up some interesting characters, and led me to expect some kind of contemporary or thriller, and then the "magic" twist seemed to come out of the blue. Usually, if a query has an awkward transition like that it will be awkward in the book as well, so I would stop reading there.

I did keep reading here, though, and would have liked to see the magic tie back to the character descriptions somehow. Do they try to use their powers to commit crimes or pull off a heist? The second half of the query feels vaguer and less unique than the beginning. I don't want to say you should start in the third paragraph, because that was where I thought the query became weaker. I think you could tie the magic and the hook in earlier, but also tie the unique character details in to the resolution of the story later.

That said, I loved the first page. I really want to read more about Pete and the crimes he gets away with. The voice just jumps off the page. But when I'm reading through my inbox, if I'm not caught by the premise in the query, I won't even look at the pages--not all agents feel that way, but it's my practice.

This book might be fantastic--but I think the query could use smoothing to express what's exciting about the book more clearly.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I just wanted to say that I LOVED your first page. This was one of the few entries I remembered once I finished formatting everything, and it was all because of the pitch-perfect voice in the first 250.

Which is why I think it's a real shame that the query kind of drops off. This is a classic example of the old bait-and-switch. As several others have mentioned, the first few paragraphs draw us in and make us think we're getting one kind of story, but then the last few paragraphs reveal that it's something else entirely.

I think The Agent had some great ideas for revision, so I'll just say ditto. You may be wondering why I didn't just say ditto to the whole thing, but that was because I had to tell you how much I loved that first page:) If I were an agent, I wouldn't have been able to NOT request more, but that would only be if I'd made it to the first page in the first place.

Good luck with this! I'd love to be able to read this one someday.

Delia said...

Thanks so much, everyone! I'm workshopping the heck out of this query and have rewritten it completely (again) with your input (as well as WOC input). And many, many thanks to Krista. These Agent's Inbox days are invaluable.