Face-Lift 867: Skip
Ten-year-old Brooke doesn’t like talking about her older sister Leah. It’s partly because Brooke's embarrassed by Leah’s screaming fits and crying jags. Part of it is because the last time Brooke wrote about Leah in her diary, Leah read it and ruined the journal in a fit of rage. But the biggest reason Brooke doesn’t talk or write about Leah anymore is just because she doesn’t want to. She likes pretending that Leah doesn’t exist.
Brooke thinks pretending will be easier once Leah is admitted to Cresthaven Children’s Psychiatric Center, but surprisingly it’s not. Brooke’s parents are even more distracted than they were before and everything makes Brooke think of her sister. Despite her parents requests for Brooke to visit Leah and their assurances that Leah’s Bipolar Disorder is finally being properly treated, Brooke continues to keep her distance from her sister both physically and emotionally. She isn't going to be disappointed by her sister again. But when Leah is allowed a visit home for Thanksgiving, Brooke is forced to see her sister again and decide whether to let Leah back into her life or just keep pretending.
SKIP is a middle grade novel. It is complete at 22000 words. Thank you for your time and attention.
I think this is one of those stories that will have agents requesting based on the premise alone to see if the author carries it off for the MG crowd. We've all seen the examples of imperfect queries that garner requests while the rest of us sit around and ask, "WTF?"
That said, you still have to strike the right note with the query, and I don't think the original attempt we saw on Evil Editor's site did that. This one, however, comes much closer. Stylistically, this version can still be much improved. And you, the author, will need to determine if the voice in THIS query (patient and wise beyond a 10-year-old's years) is truly representative or if the younger voice in the original query is better suited to get across what the book truly is. Or if a blend of the two might work best.
Since it's only 22,000 words and meant for early MG readers, an economy of language in the book is appropriate. That economy isn't coming across in this version of the query. There are a number of extranneous words and expressions here that can be deleted. You can use the extra space to expand on the story or just leave it a shorter, leaner letter.
In my version, I'm suggesting where some of the economies can take place and where you can maybe add a few more specifics to better help the reader see the story.
General Comment For Everyone
Changing generalities to specifics in your query does NOT have to result in an increased word count. My version below retains pretty much everything presented in the version above AND adds a couple of complications from the original on EE's site AND gives some concrete examples in place of some of the generalities. The version above is 207 words. The version below is 208. It really DOESN'T take more words on average to be specific than it does to be vague.
Ten-year-old Brooke doesn't talk much about her older sister Leah. She's embarrassed by Leah's screaming fits and crying jags. She hates being around a sister who flies into rages, rips up her books, and trashes her room "just because." She can't even have a pet because of Leah. So Brooke does her best to pretend Leah doesn't exist.
Once Leah goes to live at the Cresthaven Children’s Psychiatric Center, Brooke figures pretending will be easier. Surprisingly, it isn't. Her parents are even more distracted than before, her grades at school are tanking, and everything from the empty chair at the dining table to the closed bedroom door makes Brooke think of her sister. Still, she can't bring herself to visit Leah despite her parents' pleas and their assurances that Leah's bipolar disorder is under control -- this time. Brooke's been disappointed by her sister before, and keeping a distance both physically and emotionally is the only way she knows to be sure it doesn't happen again.
Then Leah comes home for Thanksgiving, and Brooke must make a very grown-up decision: to let her sister back into her life or just keep pretending.
SKIP is an early-MG novel, complete at 22,000 words. Thank you for your time and attention.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Query Revision 61
Face-Lift 867: Skip