Thursday, December 2, 2010

Query 43

Super G

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

Interpreting the lyrics as instructions, he transforms into Super G and thwarts a petty crime, outsmarts a bullish jock and wins the affection of altar girl Evelyn. His mom also takes comfort in the clergy, and in the arms of Father Billings, a priest with a thirst for whiskey and penchant for exploiting grieving widows.

When the promiscuous priest commits the ultimate sin, Super G vows to take him down. With the help of a contemplative sidekick and a saucy sexagenarian, he learns that bringing Father Billings to justice and avenging his father’s death could be one and the same.

Complete at 50,000 words, SUPER G is a young adult novel exploring contemporary morals of characters marginalized by society. I hold a degree in Creative Writing from MCLA. Thank you for considering my submission.

Comments

This sounds fun and has good voice. The YA angle threw me a bit, though. Maybe putting Grayson's age up front would help. It's short, so I think you could take a bit of room and expand on a couple of points.

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

Great opening hook!

Interpreting the lyrics as instructions,

I think this says the same thing as "guiding his son." Maybe "Acting on the lyrics, he..."?

he transforms into Super G and thwarts a petty crime, outsmarts a bullish jock and wins the affection of altar girl Evelyn.

I think this is a spot where you can exand a bit. Transforming into "Super G" of course sounds superhero-ish, but I think it means Grayson goes into uber-cool alter-ego mode where he starts to care and function in society. So tell us that, then show us that it plays out in his crime-thwarting and affection-winning.

His mom also takes comfort in the clergy, and in the arms of Father Billings,

I don't think the "and" works here. Maybe something like "...in the clergy -- in the arms of Father Billings to be precise --..."

a priest with a thirst for whiskey and penchant for exploiting grieving widows.

When the promiscuous priest commits the ultimate sin,

What's the ultimate sin? Taking advantage of G's mom? Cheating on G's mom? Murdering G's mom? It's a phrase that sounds good, but ultimately leaves the reader with not enough information.

Super G vows to take him down. With the help of a contemplative sidekick and a saucy sexagenarian,

"saucy sexagenarian" gives us a good idea of this person but "contemplative sidekick" not so much. I'm not getting any kind of an image in my head about gender, age, or whether this person is a great thinker or is morose and suicidal.

he learns that bringing Father Billings to justice and avenging his father’s death could be one and the same.

Bringing Billings to justice makes me think that the Father's committed not just a sin but a crime. The "one and the same" makes me think now that the ultimate sin must be murder. But I'm having to make some leaps in judgement that I'm not sure are right. Also, I'd change "father's death" to "father's murder" if that's what it was. Unless Dad died of natural causes and Grayson's after God and anyone connected to God. But I don't think that's your story.

Complete at 50,000 words, SUPER G is a young adult novel exploring contemporary morals of characters marginalized by society.

I'm not sure I'm getting the morals and marginalization. From the query I see two people whose morals might come into question: the priest and Grayson. A disaffected youth I could see as being marginalized, but I'm not convinced a priest is. Others' comments on this?

I hold a degree in Creative Writing from MCLA. Thank you for considering my submission.

Just a couple of tweaks to better ground the reader in what's happening and I bet this query gets requests!

8 comments:

Lauren K said...

This sounds like a cool story. Is this query intended for Kristin Nelson? I'm just asking because her blog always mentions what's on her ipod.
Anyway, I agree expanding on what exactly Super G is would help a lot.
Good luck

flibgibbet said...

Great premise and great voice. I agree with most of Phoenix's comments, particularly the advice to expand this a bit. Is there a reason you're keeping the "ultimate sin" a mystery?

I think your hook could be improved by the tweaking the second sentence, so it more logically flows to the third. "..it's his father's voice from beyond the grave, communicating through song lyrics."

As is, you state that the father is guiding his son to avenge his death, yet Super G responds by thwarting a petty crime, etc.----none of which seem to have anything to do with the task at hand. (Rather like Superman tasked with saving Gotham from the evil Joker, but he gives out parking tickets instead).

I'd nix "exploiting", unless you're prepared to divulge the "ultimate sin". Otherwise, it doesn't mean anything.

Most importantly, I think Super G's motives are being shortchanged for the sake of brevity. His father wants x, but Super G wants x, y, and z. Justice for Dad, justice for Mom, and happily-ever-after with Evelyn. Super G is our hero, and knowing what he wants as each plot point is revealed is imperative to story.

Love the line "....bringing F. Billings to justice and avenging his father's death could be one and the same."

Matt said...

I thought it was good as is. After reading PHX, Lauren's and flibgibbet's comments, I can see where it could use expanding, but I would be hesitant to change it unless it has a poor track record.

Spazmo JOnes said...

Thanks for the incredible feedback. I agree it does need more detail in some areas and will take these suggestions to heart. The "ultimate sin" needs revision in particular, as in the story it is more of a final straw than one large condemning act. I would also add that the style of the story is minimalist employing an economy of words (not like this response), so I feel the query should reflect this.

It isn't intended for Kristin Nelson, but I will let her represent me ;).

I'm truly grateful for all the help.

p.s. Flibbertigibbet is one of my favorite words of all time!

flibgibbet said...

@Spazmo

LOL. You're the first person I've encountered who knows what flibgibbet is short for, much less knows what a flibbertigibbet actually is. (Not that I resemble one in any way whatsoever).

Best of luck to you. Hope the book is every bit as good as I imagine.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to stick fingers in anyone;s eclair but here it is. I get warning bells when someone thinks they are getting instructions through lyrics from a dead person. That the mc thinks those lyrics are to instruct him makes me doubt his roots in reality.
Maybe finding lyrics to a song that was never recorded would remove the lunatic aspect for me. Inspiration from beyond sits better than instructions for me.
Nice writing,
Bibi

Tom Endyke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Endyke said...

Bibi - Sure, it's a stretch, but this is upper YA and kid's motivations are all over the map, especially after losing a parent. Huck Finn it ain't.

That said, I think I could be clearer about a connection between the iPod and the father, as you point out. In search of a connection with his dad, the protagonists finds the iPod in the garage amongst the items his mom has packed away.

Shuffle mode on the iPod does not play his father's voice, it plays songs his father was into and the lyrics in these songs speak to him and reestablish a bond he desperately needs as he tries to figure out how to steer a manipulative priest away from his mom.