Thursday, October 21, 2010

Query Critique #21

#21 is Jess

Dear Ms. Agent:


A young girl strives selflessly (okay, it’s for a class project) and truthfully (okay, so she may tell a whopper or two) to rid her town of big fat liars in REGINA BRINKWELL & THE TRUTH BRIGADE, a 35,000-word middle grade novel. 
I think the parentheticals actually work here, except for the word "whopper," which I don't think modern 12-year-olds use.
A young girl strives selflessly (okay, it’s for a class project) and truthfully (okay, so she sometimes gets "creative" with the truth) to rid her town of big fat liars in REGINA BRINKWELL & THE TRUTH BRIGADE, a 35,000-word middle grade novel. 


Twelve-year-old Regina is sick of adults telling fibs. When a flexible community service requirement comes along in school, she jumps at the chance to form a Truth Brigade, exposing all dishonest grown-ups in Fredalia. The list of offenders includes soccer referees that make bad calls, dentists/doctors who lie about pain, and shoe stores with inconsistent sneaker prices. With best friend Skippy reluctantly by her side, Regina approaches the creepy town librarian for help—he’s been around forever and has the goods on everyone in town. Thanks to the old man’s diary of observations and a few aggressive picket lines and flyers, things get a little sticky and she may have said a couple of things that weren’t exactly, well, true. Regina vows to redeem herself.
I think this could be a bit tighter.
Twelve-year-old Regina is sick of adults telling fibs. She forms a Truth Brigade to expose all the dishonest grown-ups in Fredalia--and to fulfill a school community service requirement. The list of offenders includes soccer referees who make bad calls, dentists/doctors who lie about pain, and shoe stores with inconsistent sneaker prices. Regina even approaches the creepy town librarian for help—he’s been around forever and has the goods on everyone in town. Thanks to the old man’s diary of observations and a few aggressive picket lines and flyers, things get a little sticky and she may have said a couple of things that weren’t exactly, well, true. Regina vows to redeem herself.


Shady behavior of the Mayor, the Principal, and a teacher catches her attention and she orders a secret Brigade investigation; the other busts have been small potatoes, but this could be big. Making an teensy-weensy exception to their mission of honesty, she and Skippy break into the school to gather evidence. What they find isn’t pretty: one person is a blackmailer, one is a cheat, and one is covering up a heartbreaking secret. Disillusioned by the findings, Regina strives to turn her project into something positive before Fredalia has an honest-to-goodness breakdown.
You mention that Regina may have lied in the previous paragraph, but here you say she's making an exception to her mission of honesty.  I also think you have a few too many examples in these two paragraphs, and that they could be tightened.  Watch the clichés, too: "small potatoes,""things get sticky," "honest-to-goodness," etc.
Shady behavior by the Mayor, the Principal, and a teacher catch her attention and she orders a secret Brigade investigation. Making an teensy-weensy exception to their mission of honesty, she and her friend break into the school to gather evidence. What they find isn’t pretty: one person is a blackmailer, one is a cheat, and one is covering up a heartbreaking secret. Disillusioned by the findings, Regina strives to turn her project into something positive before the whole town has a breakdown.


I am a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Thank you for your time.


Sincerely,


Jess


I think this sounds like a fun MG read, Jess.  I recommend that you screen your MS for clichés, though.