Monday, October 17, 2011

QUERY CRITIQUE #6: ALL SHE NEEDS IS LOVE

Dear Ms. Agent,


The little girl?s purpose was to increase her college options. Not take them all away.

This opening line is confusing. I suggest re-wording, since on my first read-through I thought the girl was Emma. It's also problematic that you start in simple past tense and then switch to present tense.

Becoming part of the little girl's life was supposed to increase Emma's college options, not take them all away.

Emma Francis plods down the street, garbage bag in hand. She?s not taking things to Goodwill because she bought a new wardrobe for senior year. It was not a task she was asked to do before she hung out with her best friend Courtney.

The garbage bag holds all her possessions in the world. Every. Last. One.

But Emma is one of the lucky ones. Most foster kids, when the state washes their hands of them at eighteen, have nothing to take to the streets with. Emma has a small apartment above the diner, Shepherd?s Pie, where rent is cheap thanks to her boss, Ms. Shepherd. A friend who?s far more wonderful than she deserves. And a plan: graduate high school, go to college, get a job in marketing.

On her eighteenth birthday, Emma Francis leaves her final foster home, carrying a garbage bag holding all her possessions in the world. But Emma has a plan: graduate high school, go to college, and get a job in marketing.

One little problem. Due to the foster-care-shuffle, Emma hasn?t stayed in one place long enough to put anything on her college applications other than decent grades. Cue community service.

This is too wordy for a query letter, and it's full of clich├ęs ("washes their hands of them," etc.). Also, a lot of it is tangential to the heart of the story. Emma has aged out of the foster care system and is working hard to make a future for herself. As a high school senior, she finds out that good grades aren't enough to get into a good college, so she does some community service as a Big Sister. She thought it would just be a time commitment; she didn't expect to get emotionally involved.

Courtney suggests she volunteer at her church and it is there she meets Gigi, a blonde hair, blue eyed, opinionated little girl, who is more than willing to be Emma?s charity case. What?s supposed to be an ice cream every couple weeks, turns into an unexplained desire to make sure Gigi?s happy.

We don't need to know about Ms. Shepherd, Courtney, etc. Stick to Emma, Gigi, and Sam for the query.

One little problem: due to the foster-care-shuffle, Emma hasn't stayed in one place long enough to put anything on her college applications other than decent grades. Cue community service.

Volunteering at her church, she meets Gigi, an opinionated little girl who is more than willing to be Emma's charity case. What's supposed to be an ice cream every couple weeks turns into an unexplained desire to make sure Gigi's happy.

As Gigi wiggles her way under Emma?s hard shell, someone else pokes at the cracks. Sam saves Emma from an assault behind the diner. He morphs from friend, to special friend to boyfriend so slowly Emma doesn?t realize her guard is down. And he?s by her side as they go through Homecoming, football season and college planning.

Emma discovers there is a soft, chocolaty center under her hard candy coating and though it terrifies her, she?s willing to give Sam a shot. Everything in her life is going great, she even knows the college she?s going to attend, four states away.

I love the chocolatey center image. This is where I started loving this query.

As Gigi wiggles her way under Emma's hard shell, someone else pokes at the cracks. Sam saves Emma from an assault, and he morphs from friend, to special friend, to boyfriend so slowly Emma doesn't realize her guard is down. Emma discovers there is a soft, chocolatey center under her hard candy coating and though it terrifies her, she's willing to give Sam a shot. Everything in her life is going great; she even knows the college she's going to attend.

Then Gigi?s sorry excuse for a father kills himself in a drunk driving accident, leaving the little girl without family. Gigi is headed for the foster system unless someone steps in and saves her.

Is Emma willing to change everything, at the age of eighteen, to save Gigi from the life she led?

Avoid rhetorical questions in queries; agents tend to loathe them.

All She Needs is Love is Contemporary YA and closes at ???62,000 words. A complete manuscript is available upon request.

Then Gigi's sorry excuse for a father kills himself in a drunk driving accident, leaving the little girl without family. Gigi is headed for the foster system unless someone steps in and saves her. Emma must decide if she's willing to change everything she's got planned to save Gigi from the life she led.

ALL SHE NEEDS IS LOVE is Contemporary YA and is complete at 62,000 words.

The first half of this query didn't really move me, but by the end I was excited to read this book. However, many agents and editors don't read the entire query unless they're hooked from the start. 

I am a twenty five year old, Chemical Engineer by degree who has found a stronger calling as a fiction writer and singer in a classic rock band. The inspiration for All She Needs is Love comes from my experience as a Big Sister in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program.

This last bit is an excellent example of a good piece of personal info to include in a query.

I am a Chemical Engineer by degree who's found a stronger calling as a fiction writer and classic rock singer. The inspiration for ALL SHE NEEDS IS LOVE comes from my experience as a Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. 

2 comments:

Deniz Bevan said...

I like it a lot as rewritten. It reminds me of a Jean Little-type story. Neat!

Keisha Azzalea said...


I say many thanks to Mr. admin website I read this, because in this website I know a lot of information information that I did not know before his

Obat Benjolan Di Lobia Mayora
Pengobatan Radang Sendi Herbal
Cara Menghilangkan Pendarahan Rahim Herbal
Tips Menghilangkan Kanker Tulang
Cara Menghilangkan Pendarahan Pasca Persalinan
Obat TBC Diseminata
Obat Wasir Atau Ambeien Berdarah Untuk Ibu Hamil
Obat Diabetes Kering Alami