Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Query 96

Marielle's Wish

When Marielle Iris was five, she thought her grandfather was the most awesome storyteller ever. At seventeen, she thinks he’s full of bull. But what does he expect? What with the loss of her parents and the awful way in which she lost her innocence (her ex slipped her a roofie at a party), life hasn’t been exactly kind to her. If she doesn’t believe that her inheritance is a Jinn in a bottle, can Grandpa really blame her? She’s a skeptic and her trust in all matters is, at best, scant.

Besides it’s morbid! What sensible girl wants to think that her grandfather has to die in other to get three wishes? It’s not worth it, not when grandpa’s all she’s got. But whether she wants to think about her unusual inheritance or not, life forces her.

Grandpa dies unexpectedly. With him gone, she gets her three wishes. Oh, and, by the way, a handsome jinn with a curse that only true love can break. This should take care of Little Miss Jaded.

Comments

I see a lot of potential here, but it's not *quite* there for me just yet. I think the voice attracts me most, but it isn't quite as consistent as it could be. The premise doesn't quite gel here, either. But with a little cleanup, I think the author can bring it home. Assuming word count and genre aren't off considerably since we don't have that bit to look at.

Because of where the emphasis falls in this query, my assumption is that the story is YA paranormal with romantic elements. However, if it's YA romance with paranormal elements, then really, the first two paragraphs become backstory that can be boiled down to two sentences with the rest of the query focusing on the romantic conventions.

When Marielle Iris was five, she thought her grandfather was the most awesome storyteller ever. At seventeen, she thinks he’s full of bull. But what does he expect? What with the loss of her parents and the awful way in which she lost her innocence (her ex slipped her a roofie at a party), life hasn’t been exactly kind to her. If she doesn’t believe that her inheritance is a Jinn in a bottle, can Grandpa really blame her? She’s a skeptic and her trust in all matters is, at best, scant.

This paragraph head hops from Marielle to Grandpa and it's a bit jarring for the reader. Since Gramps dies, I'd stick with Marielle's POV here. Instead of "But what does he expect," maybe give us a lead-in as to why she's changed her opinion of his storytelling skill.

Besides it’s morbid! What sensible girl wants to think that her grandfather has to die in other to get three wishes? It’s not worth it, not when grandpa’s all she’s got. But whether she wants to think about her unusual inheritance or not, life forces her.

I think this can be tightened, mainly by losing the last sentence. It's an unneeded bit of transition as it can be inferred through what comes immediately before and after.

I also think the middle two sentences can be combined.

Grandpa dies unexpectedly. With him gone, she gets her three wishes. Oh, and, by the way, a handsome jinn with a curse that only true love can break. This should take care of Little Miss Jaded.

This last bit moves very quickly -- for me, too quickly. By tightening the second paragraph, there's room to expand this final paragraph and drop a couple of more hints about some obstacles for Marielle.

The repetition of getting her three wishes would work only if that thought was expanded upon or illuminated in some way. Does her skepticism pan out about the wishes? Are her 5-yr-old dreams realized? Even if you allude to the convention of djinns being deceitful about how wishes are granted, you'll be ahead here.

"Oh, and, by the way" doesn't work for me voice-wise. It's a little too much, IMO.

I think we also need just a little better hint as to where the story's headed.

My Version

When Marielle Iris was five, she thought her grandfather was the most awesome storyteller ever. At seventeen, she thinks -- no, she knows -- he’s full of bull. Life isn't all magic and fairy tale endings. Losing her parents was the first clue. And losing her innocence when her ex slipped her a roofie at a party was the second. So that story about her inheritance being a Jinn in a bottle? Yeah, right. Next, the old man will want her to believe all that nonsense about true love conquering all.

Besides it’s morbid! What sensible girl wants to think about the person who's all she's got in the world dying in order to get three lame wishes that'll probably backfire anyway? But life screws Marielle over yet a third time when Grandpa has a sudden, fatal heart attack.

She gets her three wishes all right -- and, yeah, pretty much as expected -- along with a handsome djinn who comes with a curse that only true love can break. Of course. There's hope for her yet, though. Because even Little Miss Jaded can still learn a thing or two from fairy tales.

7 comments:

Wilkins MacQueen said...

All back story/set up. I'm guessing the story starts where your query ended.

Phoenix kept the voice strong and even.

What does Marielle want? Restored belief in happy ever? To go back to 15 months of age and change events? Revenge for the rape? To use the wishes wisely?

Telling me the jin and Marielle will spark doesn't give me a burning yearning to read the ms. I saw that coming at handsome.

Wish you well.

AA said...

Calling her "little miss jaded" seems wrong to me, in a really bad way. Certainly any cynicism this girl has about life has been hard won, after having been orphaned and raped. Even worse having lost her virginity to a rapist. Sounding flippant about that in any way is just wrong.

AA said...

I definitely need more about the direction this story goes, because the three wishes that I see her making are:
Get her parents back
Get Grandpa back
Make the rape never have happened.

This seems obvious to me, so it doesn't make me interested in what happens.
This type of story is only interesting if there are certain things the jinn can't do. For instance, if he can't change anything that's already happened. Then I realize I don't know what she'd wish for. It goes from generic- what a girl in her position would wish for- to personal- what would Marielle wish for? In order to know that, I have to get to know Marielle.

Jo-Ann said...

I think that by trying to keep the word count low, the author has made the MC sound flat. Author, you've told us about her misfortunes without giving us much of a sense about her personality other than being a skeptic. What does she want?

As Phoenix pointed out, the ending was very abrupt.

The part about true love breaking the Jinn's curse screams "Marielle and Jinn will live happily ever after", which is a deal-breaker for YA. URST rules (hey, think of the Twilight series!)

I think that AA made a great point regarding Marielle's most likely three wishes and the Jinn being unlikely to grant those. Anything else seems trivial in comparison (unless she goes for an end to world hunger. And I doubt that the Jinn could carry that off). So a little hint about how M uses those wishes might give the query some zing.

It could work as a revenge novel (ie, making the rapist bastard pay - getting back at the drunken driver who took her parents' lives so horribly) but there's nothing to suggest that in the query.

As it's written the query is not enticing.

Anonymous said...

Hi All: I am the author and appreciate everyone's comments. Funny you should mention AA, but the Jinn does have limitations as to what he can do and although the ones you mention are the logical 3 wishes, she ends up making totally different one (unselfish one to help others) You bring a great point and maybe I should include some of that in there.

Phoenix, you are really good at this. Obviously, I suck, LOL. The story is not shallow and all about romance, so I surely miss the mark here. And Marielle learns to trust and love again. I was trying to go for that YA voice, maybe a bit too hard.

I will take your input and hope to make it better.

I know you said you'll be switching gears. Any chance for a Redux? If not, you should not I so, so grateful for your help!

Phoenix Sullivan said...

@Author: Absolutely I'm up for a redux crit when you have it ready. No rush. I'm not stopping cold; just easing out :o)

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hey Author, nothing sucks here. Hard to get it right first time out.

I think you're right, tried for the YA voice with a little too much enthusiasm.

I suggest starting farther in. One line of backstory is enough. She's had a tough life, she's overloaded with grief, rape and now she's got this bottle with what every kid needs, three wishes (read choices each with consequences).

What she wants is a normal life,impossible) but gets a hot but limited jin (doesn't go well with a rape victim). So she settles for (her unselfish choices) which likely won't include bringing anyone back from beyond.

I think you've got the thread, it's a little frayed. Get out the knitting needles and show us your stuff.

I think you can deliver the one two punch wow factor.

Look forward to seeing you here again. I like the writing, shift the priorities.