Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Query Revision 6

Face-Lift 752: 11:11

Here we go again. ;-)

We have all made wishes and have subsequently been disappointed when they didn’t come true. Dannie-Lynn was disappointed because hers did.

Dannie-Lynn Grady has spent the last three years living at the bottom of the high school food chain staring up at Jeff Rogers, the gorgeous captain of the football team. She learns of an old superstition--the 1,111 Spirit Guardians will grant you a wish at 11:11 to help you with your destiny--and decides to give it a try. She wishes she was Jeff’s girlfriend.

Not only does it work, she is now the most popular cheerleader in school who has changed her entire persona and appearance to be with Jeff. Like an idiot, she buys into the “I love you’s” and “I need you’s” from the egotistical jerk, who is only using Dannie-Lynn to make one of the other cheerleaders jealous.

She tries again, thinking her past wish has led her to Aiden Walker, the sweet, sensitive new student from England. Sure she has found the one for her as she doesn’t change when her wish is granted, she discovers his constant blubbering, poems and public serenading are enough to have her check into a psych ward.

Not understanding why her wishes are being granted as they are doing nothing to help her with her destiny, Dannie-Lynn realizes this wishing comes with a price; it not only affects her destiny, but everyone else’s as well. Her selfishness may have just cost her the person she’s really meant to be with.

11:11 is a 70,000 word young adult novel. I am a freelance writer and have a short story that won the 2001 Brampton Library Short Story Award, which led to library publication. I thank you for considering my submission and look forward to hearing from you.

Comments

Hi Stina: You've done a good job in fleshing out the plot; now let's see if there are ways to refine the letter to make it clearer. No agent will read as critically as your critique teams do, but you (meaning everyone) do want to remove any poor construction, questionable word choices and plot confusion so as to make your query as crystal clear and brimming with bubbly personality as a glass of sparkling water. You don't want to give an agent any reason to stop reading.

We have all made wishes and have subsequently been disappointed when they didn’t come true. Dannie-Lynn was disappointed because hers did.

I wouldn't generalize and break the 4th wall with "We have all." Maybe something more like: Seventeen-year-old Dannie-Lynn isn't disappointed that her wishes don't come true; she's disappointed that they do.

The tense change also feels awkward -- I'd keep the hook in present tense.

Dannie-Lynn Grady has spent the last three years living at the bottom of the high school food chain staring up at Jeff Rogers, the gorgeous captain of the football team. She learns of an old superstition--the 1,111 Spirit Guardians will grant you a wish at 11:11 to help you with your destiny--and decides to give it a try. She wishes she was Jeff’s girlfriend.

Is there a way you can segue from the first sentence of the paragraph into the next? Also, a little more about the Spirit Guardians and the superstition might be nice. How does she learn about the superstition? Who are the Guardians? Which definition of "spirit" are we talking about? If it's a play on ghost spirits/school spirits, maybe make it a bit more tongue-in-cheek obvious. Will the Guardians grant anybody a wish (I would change the second person references)? And is this 11:11 twice a day, every day that she can make a wish? That's a lot of wishes and a lot of chances to make things right/better so seems to dilute the stakes.

Not only does it work, she is now the most popular cheerleader in school who has changed her entire persona and appearance to be with Jeff. Like an idiot, she buys into the “I love you’s” and “I need you’s” from the egotistical jerk, who is only using Dannie-Lynn to make one of the other cheerleaders jealous.

That first sentence throws me. I'm a little lost as to what exactly it means that she's "changed her entire persona and appearance". Did she do this voluntarily? Are the changes part of the fulfillment of the wish? In other words, how much control does she have over the changes? If the wish changes her into the type of person who buys into the "I love you's", what's the plot point that brings her back to her senses? Maybe: Like an idiot, she buys into the “I love you’s” and “I need you’s” from the egotistical jerk, until she discovers he's only using her to make one of the other cheerleaders jealous.

She tries again, thinking her past wish has led her to Aiden Walker, the sweet, sensitive new student from England.

Again, a segue from one thought to the next would be good. Once she realizes her mistake, she tries again ... . However, I have no idea why she would think her past wish led her to Aiden. I don't see a connection.

Sure she has found the one for her as she doesn’t change when her wish is granted,

If she doesn't change this time, does this mean she doesn't change from the persona she took on after her last wish? Or did she revert back to her wallflower persona?

she discovers his constant blubbering, poems and public serenading are enough to have her check into a psych ward.

Does she literally check into a psych ward? I'm betting not, but for me this sounds too literal and the funny falls a bit flat. Also, I had to reread a couple of times to "get" that it's Aiden who changes this time around. Since you introduced him as "sensitive", I just assumed the poems and serenading were part of his regular personality.

Not understanding why her wishes are being granted as they are doing nothing to help her with her destiny,

How does she know what her destiny is to know whether they're helping or not? Does the plot play off a misunderstanding of whether a person can influence their destiny through wish fulfillment vs the wish fulfillment being a part of a predetermined destiny? I'm afraid I'm a little lost on this point, and it seems to be the crux.

Dannie-Lynn realizes this wishing comes with a price; it not only affects her destiny, but everyone else’s as well.

I'm not quite clear on how it's affecting "everyone" else's destiny, too. Jeff's still a jerk, so it doesn't seem as though he was affected. Can you drop a hint in the query that demonstrates why Dannie-Lynn comes to this generalized conclusion?

Her selfishness may have just cost her the person she’s really meant to be with.

Her selfishness in trying to snag a boyfriend through wishing?

What I don't see reflected in the query is why she thinks Aiden could be "the one". I also think we need an inkling as to what she'll do next. Leave the situation as is (no) or try to resolve it through another wish (she's been burned twice) or her own devices. I think you also have an opportunity here for a wrapup line that ends the situation on an active rather than a passive note.

11:11 is a 70,000 word young adult novel. I am a freelance writer and have a short story that won the 2001 Brampton Library Short Story Award, which led to library publication. I thank you for considering my submission and look forward to hearing from you.

Nice close :o).

8 comments:

Sarah Laurenson said...

I played with it a bit. Here are my thoughts.


Unearthing an old superstition about destiny, wishes and 11:11, seventeen-year-old Danni-Lynn Grady believes her destiny is to be the girlfriend of Jeff Rogers, the gorgeous captain of the football team. Her wish comes true, but at the price of changing her persona and appearance. She is now the most popular cheerleader in school. Like an idiot, she buys into the “I love you’s” and “I need you’s” from the egotistical jerk, but he is only using Dannie-Lynn to make his real girlfriend jealous.

Sure that the alterations to who she is means she wished for the wrong man, Danni-Lynn tries again. This time, her target is Aiden Walker, the sweet, sensitive new student from England. She doesn’t change when her wish is granted, but she discovers his constant blubbering, poems and public serenading are enough to have her check into a psych ward.

Dannie-Lynn realizes this wishing comes with a price; it not only affects her destiny, but everyone else’s as well. And her destiny hunt may have cost her the person she’s really meant to be with.

Matthew said...

There's a lot of disconnect here. By the end I'm completely lost.

"Seventeen-year-old Dannie-Lynn isn't disappointed that her wishes don't come true; she's disappointed that they do."

Killer line. Good job, 'nix.

Stina Kanaris said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone!
I really liked what you did, Sarah. Back to the writing board I go!

Joe G said...

I gotta disagree with Matthew. I don't understand how someone can be disappointed with a wish coming true... think about it. She's literally disappointed that the wish came true. Why would she wish in the first place? And generally, we don't expect our wishes to come true, because they are wishes.

She's disappointed with the CONSEQUENCES of the wish.

Matthew said...

A slight rewrite...

Seventeen year old Dannie-Lynn Grady has spent the last three years living at the bottom of the high school food chain while staring up at Jeff Rogers, the gorgeous, muscular, seemingly unattainable captain of the Woodlawn High football team. When Dannie-Lynn learns of an old superstition--wishes made at 11:11 always come true--she decides to give it a try. She goes to school the the next morning, ecstatic to learn that her wish came true...only to find that Jeff is a self-centered jerk. Good thing 11:11 comes twice a day.

Dannie-Lynn's desperation of finding the perfect boyfriend overcomes her. She wishes for guys she barely knows but thinks life would be perfect with.

But when her suitors become crazed and stop at nothing to posses her, she realizes her wishes not only affect her, but the lives of everyone else. And her wishing may have cost her the one person she was destined to be with.

Does Danni-Lynn use 11:11 to undo her wrongdoing and find her true love, a path that seems to get darker with each wish? Or does she swear off wishing, forever saying goodbye to her true love?


***
I added an ending because I thought it was the only thing missing from the original. Ending at "destined to be with" works as well.

As I understand it, you've been getting requests for partials without our help. Trust your instincts. Don't be afraid. Get out there and submit.

If your partials are getting rejected, then maybe that's what you really need to work on. Have you submitted your opening to EE?

Becca C. said...

"Not only does it work, she is now the most popular cheerleader in school who has changed her entire persona and appearance to be with Jeff."

This sentence threw me, too. I would revise it as "It works. Overnight, she has become the most popular cheerleader, and Jeff's girlfriend. But she had to change her entire personality and appearance to be with Jeff." Or something. I think the impact of the wish coming true is really emphasized in the "It works" bit.

Anonymous said...

Writer: Was Aiden the one? I wanted another another character to emerge to be the one. So, I played around as well and put in Stone Wilks.

Dannie-Lynn Grady spent the last three years at the bottom of the high school food chain wanting to be Jeff Roger's girlfriend. She wishes to become his girlfriend at 11:11 trying an old superstition. Dannie-Lynn's life is turned inside out when Jeff, football team captain, decides Dannie-Lynn is the girlfriend for him.

She reinvents herself and becomes the most popular cheerleader on the squad. She believes Jeff's declarations of his love and need for her but in fact, he is using Dannie-Lynn to make another girl jealous.

Aiden Walker, the sweet, sensitive new student from England is perfect for her. Dannie-Lynn wishes again. His bad poetry and public serenading make her want to check into a psych ward.

Every wish has its price. Stone Wilks, a guy watching from the sidelines, comes to D-L's attention. Her foolshness may have cost her the person she’s meant to be with. D-L tries again, without the 1.11 wish.


A question: this doesn't end with her wishing at 1.11 that all goes back to way it was does it?

Good luck,
Bibi

Stina Kanaris said...

Thanks for more suggestions!

No, it doesn't end with that ;-).