Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Query Revision 26

Face-Lift 827: Spy

Author here, and very grateful for your criticism, EE and minions. Hopefully draft two isn't quite as horrible as the first... I pretty much rewrote the entire thing. Have fun shredding. :)

Dear Evil Editor,

Sarhya considers the SSS (Spies Serving Society) her first stroke of good luck in a long time. A spy ring run by orphans, who look out for themselves and the other street kids living in their part of town? Definitely up her alley, or so she thought two years ago, when she first joined as their stealth master.

Now she's not so sure, because, for the first time since the SSS formed, an adult has joined their ranks, and he is none other than the infamous Black Dragon. A stealth master like herself, Dragon seems amused and somewhat surprised by his new ring, showing no resentment at being ranked lower than a thirteen-year-old girl. Unfortunately, Sarhya is none too pleased to have someone encroaching on her position, lower status or not.

However, the SSS as a whole has larger issues to deal with than a little friction among their members. Black Dragon's former employer took offense when he walked out and is determined to get him back by any means possible, including blackmail involving an unsuspecting Sarhya, who is about to find out just how harsh reality can be when it comes to learning the truth about the family she has always imagined.

At 60,000 words, Spy is a futuristic adventure novel geared toward middle grade readers.

Thank you for considering my work.

Comments

Concentrating the query on Sarhya is definitely the right way to go. And the beat of the query -- the way it's structured -- is just fine. But I think there are still some things a casual reader is going to want to understand to make this enticing enough to request pages from.

Sarhya considers the SSS (Spies Serving Society) her first stroke of good luck in a long time. A spy ring run by orphans, who look out for themselves and the other street kids living in their part of town? Definitely up her alley, or so she thought two years ago, when she first joined as their stealth master.

I'm getting a little time whiplash here. It's her first stroke of good luck but she's been there two years? Also, it sort of sounds like the SSS has only one stealth master position, so it's a surprise when they take another on. A little world-building would be nice, too, especially since you call this futuristic. Something like:

As a stealth master in the SSS (Spies Serving Society), Sarhya looks out for her friends and the other street kids displaced by [the ion strafings of WWIII; the global meltdown; whatever]. [A second sentence that reveals something about her character and maybe further explains why these kids can have an organized spy ring that is something more than a clubhouse.] With so many adults missing or dead and those that remain struggling to rebuild, it's left to 13-year-old Sarhya and her fellow orphaned spies to make sure the forgotten children stay safe and fed.

Now she's not so sure, because, for the first time since the SSS formed, an adult has joined their ranks, and he is none other than the infamous Black Dragon. A stealth master like herself, Dragon seems amused and somewhat surprised by his new ring, showing no resentment at being ranked lower than a thirteen-year-old girl. Unfortunately, Sarhya is none too pleased to have someone encroaching on her position, lower status or not.

This bit is still sketchy as to the Black Dragon's induction. Did the kids allow him to join? Why would he want to? Why would someone with more than two years experience be ranked so low? You've got a good start and a strong finish, but if the plot hinges on the Dragon joining up with a bunch of street urchins as a low-ranking member, then it sends up red flags that this is potentially a huge plot hole. Telling us he seems amused and surprised isn't motivation enough for why he joins or, more importantly, why the kids let him.

However, the SSS as a whole has larger issues to deal with than a little friction among their its members. Black Dragon's former employer took offense when he walked out and is determined to get him back by any means possible, including blackmail involving an unsuspecting Sarhya, who is about to find out just how harsh reality can be when it comes to learning the truth about the family she has always imagined.

The wrap-up is great. You've brought the plot back squarely onto Sarhya and what the stakes are for her in this grown-up game of cat-and-mouse.

At 60,000 words, Spy SPY is a futuristic adventure novel geared toward for middle grade readers.

Thank you for considering my work.

5 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

It's looking fairly tight but I couldn't quite see why an adult would join a kids' spy ring. It seemed a bit like an adult joining the Famous Five, so obviously I've missed something.

Oh, and I think you could go a bit easier on the commas.

Anonymous said...

I like the content a lot, especially the explanation of how Dragon ended up there and why it's a problem for Sarhya. Do you think you could provide a clue or two more about who Sarhya is at the beginning of the first paragraph, though? I didn't put all the pieces together until the end of the first paragraph, and her identity seems too important to leave until the end of it.

vkw said...

This is better . . . but I'm not sure how blackmailing Sarhya gets the Black Dragon to return. I would expand there. The last sentence is looooong. Cut that in two or three.

It's not a bad idea . . . but i don't read a lot of kids books.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I like the voice. And the query is almost there.

I got a little lost in why this group of kids are together in the first place. Got an Oliver Twist feel to it. Then when you added the Dragon, I was expecting Fagin, but got a lower caste member of the group instead. And yes, that's a bit confusing. What's so great about these kids that an adult would want to join them?

What left me confused in the last paragraph is the part about what Sarhya is looking for. Are we talking about her dreaming of her perfect family? Or something else? Not clear for me.

Good job! Just a little bit more.

batgirl said...

Much better. One point about the ending, though. If Sarhya and the others are orphaned street kids, they probably already have a darned good idea about the harshness of reality (hunger, cold, dirt, predatory adults, disease). Maybe shift it a little to discovering that life can be even harder than the streets had taught her, or something like that?
I'm really not sure about using the word 'reality' as if Sarhya has up to now been living a sheltered and pampered existence.