Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #24

WORD COUNT: 46,000


Recruiting into a top secret U.S. government agency that specializes in "dream work" was not a decision 18 year old Christine Davies imagined she'd ever face. Of course, until a few weeks ago, she wasn't even aware there was a Dream Agency. Nor did she realize that dreams are more than the subconscious sorting of the days events. Much more.

She didn't even know Gabriel Gray and Leo Bonaventure. Gabriel, a mysterious and cute new co-worker, inadvertently introduced her to this realm of dreams. Now, he needs her to save him from his own demons. Leo, a calm and intelligent dream agent, might be Christine's only chance to stay sane.

But recruiting means leaving everyone behind. Her best friend. Her job. Her impending new beginning at college. She might even lose Gabriel and Leo, the only other people she knows with access to the truth.

If she doesn't join, her memories of all this, and them, must be erased. Like the hazy nothingness of a forgotten dream.

And it all started on a regular old Monday.
First 150 Words:

     Everything can change in one summer. One day, it stretches out before you like a lazy, yawning cat. The next day, the claws come out and tear away the veil that separates you from the lies you’ve grown up believing. And that’s the hard part. You can’t un-see the truth. The only thing you can do is embrace it or limp along in a fractured excuse for life. It looks like a no-brainer on paper. Not so much when it’s your own life. 
    But summer isn’t the only pretty face with something to hide. Every single day has the potential for earth shattering discovery. For me, that day was a Monday. 
     When I finally hurried through the employee entrance at the public library, a full fifteen minutes late, I scurried past the row of supervisor offices on my right. Escaping detection in supervisor alley, I made it to the staff copy room, where our mailboxes resided.  


Jenna and Ashley said...

-I can see your attempt at voice in here, but it could be stronger! A lot of this is extra information that doesn't enhance the flow. For example: "She didn't even know Gabriel Gray and Leo Bonaventure."
Is it necessary to mention their last names? I feel like the sentence could be woven into others.
-Delete "Much more." from par. 1.
-Start second par. with "Gabriel..." go on to "Then there's Leo..." You need a transition between the two boys.
-"Her impending beginning at college." Impending has a negative connotation, like she's doomed to live out her days at boring old college. She shouldn't feel like it's a negative experience if she's talking about leaving it behind. What about: "A brand new beginning at college." ?
-Erase "And it all started on a regular old Monday." Seems misplaced. Doesn't add to plot or character development.

First 150:
-In third sentence, take out "day" so it says, "The next, the..." Avoid repetition when possible.
-Life repeated twice in first par.
-Is "And it all started on a regular old Monday" part of the query or novel?
-A little bit of overwriting going on in the first two paragraphs. The first sentence of par. 2, for example. You don't have to stick figurative language everywhere to make the flow smooth.
-Is the second par. really necessary?
What about: "The day that changed my life was a Monday." I even think this would be a good opening line.
-I don't know what teen would think of mailboxes as residing somewhere. Maybe..."I made it to the staff copy room where all our mailboxes were crammed."

I hope you find my comments helpful! I like your premise...I haven't seen any YA out there like this recently.

Also, 46,000 is too short for most agents looking to pick up a YA piece. Somewhere between 70,000-90,000 is ideal.

Pitch Polish #28

Jodie Andrefski said...

I think your premise is intriguing, from what I could make of it...the thing was, it also confused me. For whatever reason, I just had a *really* difficult time trying to follow your query and what you were trying to get across telling us your book was about. I went back and re-read it three times and still wasn't positive.

That said, I really liked your voice in your 150, however, I think it would be even stronger to change your open from "Everything can change in one summer" to making it how it can change in just that specific Monday. Maybe somehow work up the part where you say about the Monday up closer to the open. Especially since it's a Monday...who expects excitement on a Monday? You go on to describe what sounds like a single day to me..comparing it to a cat. I think of that more like a comparison to a day than to a season for some reason. But that may be just me.

I'm also not sure how much I'm loving the "the only thing you can do is embrace it...." line. It seems kind of overused and cliche. Embracing the truth. And would a teen really say something like this? Or would they be much more blunt about finding out something they didn't like and say "the only thing you can do is suck it up and move on."

I think you have a strong voice...and I would like to see where you go with this! Hope I helped some!


Katharina Gerlach said...

I love the last line of the query, but you need to go through the rest with a fine comb and delete everything that's not absolutely necessary. The stakes are clear which is good, but you could use the (freed) words to add more plot. as far as the query goes, nothing much happens to your MC beside being recruited.

The sample is great. I love the voice.

Anonymous said...

The query doesn’t tell us what the Dream Agency does, or what the dream work entails. Is it dangerous? You wrote “the only other people she knows with access to the truth.” What is the truth? Tell us. You need to amp up the conflict in this query.

As for the first 150, I think you should consider opening the book with this instead:

Every single day has the potential for earth shattering discovery. For me, that day was a Monday.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comment on the opening line of "Every single day". The other comment I would like to offer is to integrate time and place into your query. What time period and what country or planet, etc.

Stephsco said...

Hello! I like this idea of a secret government agency. I think your first line work (although 18-year-old needs those hyphens). The rest of paragraph one kind of wanders. This is prime query space so move on to specifics and don't dwell too much on what she wasn't aware of or not realizing dreams were more than dreams. Maybe instead say what she did expect (going to university?) then instead, she meets... and intro the guys. We want to meet the main characters and then move on to what the central conflict is.

When you say "inadvertently introduced her to this realm of dreams," if they work together in a Dream Agency, wouldn't the intro have been purposeful, to teach her the job? Or do you mean HIS secret dreams? Why does she need to save him and what are his demons? You should say what these things are so we get a clear idea of the conflict. Also show why Leo is Christine's chance to stay sane, (and why is she in danger of going crazy?)

In the last paragraph, try to show what the main obstacle is that Christine needs to overcome. Right now, adjusting to a job doesn't read as high enough stakes. Is she choosing between a secret life and a "normal" life if she goes to college instead, or is she doing both? (I'm unclear on that). I get a hint of stakes at the end about memories being erased. What if they are, does this affect anyone else other than Christine? Is anyone she cares about at risk? You know your story, so you probably have answers to all these questions. Make sure you get all those big questions answered :)

I purposely haven't read the other comments so I don't cloud my impression, but I imagine others have noted to start with that last paragraph instead. I don't feel like the narrative adds much. I like some of the concepts and I like the idea behind them, but it falls a bit flat. If you kept your first line, then connected it with something that changed the MC specifically, I think I'd feel more invested. Additionally, who is the "you" the MC is talking to? It's kind of like a monologue, and I don't think it works.

For the last paragraph where the action gets going, I think those two sentences can be condensed to one. I like "supervisor alley" so you could sub that in for "Supervisor offices" to rid the redundancy. Just one quick line to establish setting, then show us why she's there, why Monday is significant.

Best of luck to you. I hope you get some worthwhile feedback. If you get a lot of conflicting advice, take a step back and consider what changes work best for you.

Tamara said...

I think the concept you have here is great, but--like the other posters--I think you need to cut out some of the excess words. Since you've gotten a lot of suggestions on that, I'm sure you know what I mean.

I also agree that, although the whole part about summer is beautifully written, you have stronger beginning with just opening on the Monday that everything changes.

Once you do get out some of the excess words in the query, you'll have some space to amp up the tension. I think telling us more about the dream agency and what their purpose is would accomplish that.

Also, is this a love triangle? If one of these guys is a romantic interest, I'd definitely fit that into the query--romance is a big seller in YA.

I read someone else's comment that this is short for YA. I know Lisa McMann's Wake series was only about 33,000 for each book. Oddly, that's one about dreams too. Have you read it? If not, you should check it out. It seems like it would be a good example to use in a query.

IE: "I believe the my dream agency would appeal to fans of Lisa McMann's Wake trilogy."

Or you know, something along those lines. I think Lisa McMann's agent is Michael Bourett, so he might be one to put on your query list. Don't quote me on that though--cause I have no clue why that info. is floating around my brain. haha.

One of the things that drew me to it was your title. I don't need help with my query, but I'm actually struggling with a title. I have three choices up on my blog. I'd love it if you could shoot over there and tell me which one you like?

Good luck with this!!

Cynthia said...

This sounds like it could be an intriguing story. I like the query--to tighten it up a bit, I'd take out the last line. I'd also give a little more info on what the function of the Dream Agency is. For the first 150 words, I'd change the first sentence to "Everything can change in one day" being that something big happens on that Monday. Thanks for sharing, and good luck!