Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Query 43: Redux

Super G

What’s playing on your iPod? For slacker Grayson Grainger, it’s his father’s voice from beyond the grave, guiding his son to avenge his death.

When Grayson finds his dad’s iPod, months after his death, his purpose is renewed. Acting on the song lyrics brought forth by shuffle mode, he transforms into Super G and stops a petty crime, outsmarts a pushy jock and wins the affection of altar girl Evelyn. His mom also takes comfort in the clergy, in the arms of Father Billings, a priest with a thirst for whiskey and a penchant for exploiting grieving widows.

When the promiscuous pastor violates Super G’s mom, he vows to take him down. With the help of a loyal sidekick and a saucy senior citizen, he discovers that bringing Father Billings to justice and avenging his father’s death could be one and the same. In the end, an unexpected hero steps forth and points the way to new beginnings.

Complete at 50,000 words, SUPER G is a young adult novel challenging contemporary definitions of heroes and villains. I hold a degree in Creative Writing from MCLA. Thank you for considering my submission.

Comments

Give me a soapbox for just a sec: Agents request all the time off of imperfect queries. Sometimes it's like buying a house. The saying in real estate is that most buyers make up their minds about whether to short-list a house in the first 30 seconds. A little makeover can turn a good presentation that gets nods into a great one that makes the heart pound. And that's what I'm after when I do a critique: the pounding heart.

That said, I think the first paragraph in this query is killer enough that the author will get requests from this.

But I also think this could be a better query by being a bit more specific. The author is at Stage 2 -- maybe 3 -- of my patented 5 Stages of Query Writing. This version is basically the same query tweaked to answer the initial issues. Only it's introduced a few more issues. It's still a bit repetitive and it's still vague at the end with the hero stepping forth and pointing the way to new beginnings, which is a "huh?" moment for me. Strengthening it can only help sway a decision for a request.

My Revision

What’s playing on your iPod? For slacker Grayson Grainger, it’s his father’s voice from beyond the grave, guiding his son to avenge his death.

Shuffling through his dad's old songs convinces Grayson his father is speaking to him directly through the lyrics. Acting on the "advice," he transforms into Super G, an uber-cool hipster who stops a petty crime, outsmarts a pushy jock and wins the affection of altar girl Evelyn.

There's more going on at church than just a bit of flirting, though, when his mom takes comfort in the arms of Father Billings, a priest with a thirst for whiskey and a penchant for exploiting grieving widows. The promiscuous pastor soon has Mom singing hallellujah -- and Super G vowing to take him down.

With the help of a loyal sidekick and a saucy senior citizen, Super G discovers that bringing Father Billings to justice and avenging his father’s death could be one and the same.

[I think your wrap-up sentence here needs to at least hint at conflict (which I'm guessing is more internal) and consequences, and to somehow tie to your claim in the next paragraph about "definitions of heroes and villains" or the previous version's "characters marginalized by society." The conclusion I jump to is that Mom is perfectly happy with the good Father, Dad suicided so there's nothing to avenge, and Grayson just has to let it all go so Mom can be happy. None of which may be right. My sentence is vague, but you'll be able to supply the detail.]

But first, Grayson will need to own up to some hard truths about his parents, his feelings, and what it means to be an adult.

Complete at 50,000 words, SUPER G is a young adult novel challenging contemporary definitions of heroes and villains. I hold a degree in Creative Writing from MCLA. Thank you for considering my submission.

5 comments:

Laurel Wanrow said...

I also love the opening of this query - what could be better for a YA than messages via an ipod. Great hook.

Kudos on sharpening the Father Billings paragraph - got a giggle out of me.

Lauren K said...

I hope this book gets published because I'd love to read it. It sounds great. The query sounds a lot better than the earlier version. I think Phoenix's revisions nailed it. Good luck

Tom Endyke said...

Thank you once again for the feedback. I do believe I need to strengthen the crescendo with more conflict, which is largely internal, but also external in that the priest is violent towards Grayson as well. In fact, he is violent towards Grayson before he is violent towards his mom. G's mom also over-medicates to cope with the loss of her husband. So, there is much more conflict to tap into, but I do want to keep it simple all the while. Therein lies the challenge I suppose. I'll keep at it. Thanks!!!

Phoenix said...

If the priest is violent toward G's mom and by "violating" her you mean he rapes her, I'd call it rape so there's no question as to what is happening. Being specific and concrete will always work in your favor.

AA said...

I like this. Keep working on it and I'm sure you'll be there in no time.