Wednesday, March 16, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #13

Dear Mr. Taylor,

Tristen’s dad is missing, her boyfriend is an alien, the cool kids want her dead…and she’s flunked her driver’s test. Who better to save the world from a psychotic extraterrestrial warlord? Different Constellations is a young adult science fiction novel, complete at 112,000 words.

In Creighton Lake, one of the most haunted places in Illinois, a teenage boy wakes up from an accident to find himself in an alien’s body; turns out it was his true form all along. With his human disguise now damaged, he must start his life over as “John.” The same night, in an affluent Chicago suburb three hours away, Tristen’s father disappears, and she and her mother are forced to move to Creighton Lake…where Tristen and John become an item.

But an alien that’s been hunting John’s family for decades has just stolen the body of a government agent, and using the agent’s files, he begins to close in on his marks. When John admits his secret to Tristen, she doesn’t believe him…until she meets the impostor, and realizes she’s the only thing standing between the boy she loves and the thing that wants him dead.

I am a children’s playwright, improvisational comedian and recovering fanfiction writer. Different Constellations is my first novel. I have a platform including a website, a small blog, and a Twitter account with more than 1400 followers. I have also begun publishing a serialized novel on, a subscription-based content service.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



He didn’t feel the restraints until he tried to sit up. He lay on his back on a hard table with straps across his head, torso, arms, and legs. Like Frankenstein, but with a little pillow under his head. How thoughtful.

He twisted, fighting against straps tight enough to immobilize him but not tight enough to hurt. The sight of his grandfather at the bedside filled him with dread. He couldn’t see his body because they’d strapped him to the bed with his chin pointed at the ceiling, leaving him mobility enough to swallow and move his eyes in a wide circle. All he could see was bright lights and smooth, white ceiling. His joints ached and his insides felt frozen. Something pinched the base of his head so tightly it made his eyes water.

“Don’t struggle,” Grandfather said, patting his forehead. His hand that burned against the boy’s icy skin. “We’ll let you up soon. First we have to talk.”

“Why..?” he managed before his throat tightened with panic. His eyes rolled to meet Grandfather’s impassive gaze.

“What’s wrong with my voice?” Had he been in a coma, long enough to miss puberty? What if he looked in the mirror and found a grown man looking back at him? Or worse--an old man?

As his peripheral vision cleared his mother and father came into focus: standing beside the bed, ashen and leaning on one another for support.



It sounds like you have an interesting story here, and I like the logline opening to your query. Where I stumbled though, is that your second paragraph shifts to a teenage boy (John). Is the story dual POV? I'm assuming so because your pages start from 'his' POV. You might want to mention this outright so it's not confusing, or consider approaching the query/pages from one POV only, or both! Best of luck with this one!

Lm Hersch said...

If a similar comment pops up later, I apologize - I wrote a comment that I thought posted but never showed up.

First of all, this first sentence is KILLER. KIIIIIIILLER. Let me say it one more time - KILLER!!!!!!!!!!! It's exciting, it's sassy, and it reveals a little bit about your voice.

And then.... I got terribly, terribly lost and confused.

You start with Tristen, so I assume the story is about her. Then the start of your novel starts with "John." Is this dual POV? Then I would break up that first paragraph to reflect that. "John wakes up from an accident in an alien's body, ect. Tristen (that first sentence)." That way the agent knows you're dealing with two POVs.

The query falls into a synopsis by mentioning plot point by plot point. The plot points themselves are not as important as getting across the conflict. What's at stake? You demonstrated some amazing stakes right in that first paragraph. Is it absolutely essential for me to know that Crighton Lake is the most haunted place in Illinois? If it is absolutely essential to the plot, then yes. If no, it's fluff. And you can't afford fluff in a query.

Why is Tristen and her mother forced to move to Creighton Lake? Does it matter that they are from an affluent suburb (please don't say Naperville). It may be necessary to the plot - but does the agent need to know this RIGHT NOW? And why do they go to Creighton Lake? Is there a job there? Family? Any reason to get pulled there? Does John's awareness of his "alien-ness" draw him to Tristen? Or does Tristen's status as a "new comer" in a small town draw her to John's unworldliness? (as a side note, does John choose "John" as a name because it's the most plain jane kind of name to distance him from his own supernatural self?)

Do they just "become an item?" This doesn't help build tension. John is an alien and Tristen's dad vanished... they are PULLED towards each other. I feel like this is a vital part of the conflict yet it's just dismissed as "an item."

Why are alien's hunting John's family? Does it matter whose body it steals to track him down? Or does it matter what he's being hunted.

Again, I feel like half of these two paragraphs (2 and 3) could be eliminated and streamlined. Just go with the stakes, front and center. Tristen moves to a new city and has issues with her dad vanishing. John is a alien for crying out loud, and is trying to remember what it is to be human. Their mutual pain draws them together, which is further complicated when a stranger shows up to hunt down John's family. John has to risk EVERYTHING to tell his girlfriend that's he's an alien... and then Tristen has to risk maybe abandoning her mom to try to fight to save him?

Anyways, don't get me wrong - this is an AMAZING premise. I'll be listening to Katy Perry's ET and hoping this gets picked up...

Amy Eversley said...

The opening line is awesome. Totally had my interest and could feel the bits of humour through out. I think the body of your query could use a little work but I'd be interested to read more!

Jan Fosse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brent Taylor said...

I actually disagree with a few of the comments above. I'm typically the first person to admit to being confused, and I just was not confused one bit here. I think you set up the stakes nicely and I enjoyed your narrative voice. If I'd come across this in my inbox, though, I might pass just because my scifi tastes tend to be more literary/upmarket than commercial. The one thing about the query I might tweak--is Tristen's dad's disappearance related to John's being an alien, or the person that's after him? It seemed like that plotline just dropped off.