Jun 1, 2016

QK Round 1: Truth and Consequences vs. You Had Me at Salty Fries

Title: Much Ado About Homecoming
Entry Nickname: Truth and Consequences
Word Count: 62,000
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Query:

Thespian Beatrice wants a boyfriend-free senior year until she clashes with football star Ben, and sparks fly. This is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing set in the fictional town of Messina, Pennsylvania, where Friday night football is the only game in town. The novel’s format incorporates two stories; Ben and Beatrice’s budding romance during homecoming week, and Juan’s five-year journey of coming to terms with being a part of his father's secret family. By the end of the novel, the two stories merge and become one. This will appeal to fans who like non-linear storytelling and multiple POVs.

Seniors Beatrice Good and Ben Darcy can agree on one thing--relationships have expiration dates. As college application due dates loom, Beatrice intends to avoid the strangling ties of romance. However, it's homecoming week, and the whirlwind courtship of her cousin, Hero, and Ben’s teammate, Claudio, awakens a slumbering attraction between Beatrice and Ben. Meanwhile, everyone at Messina High knows that football star Juan is the other son of Carlos Donn. So when Juan moves in with his father and half-brother (and teammate), the football team’s social balance shifts and jealousies erupt. Juan ignores the pettiness until his nemesis, Claudio, asks Hero Good to the homecoming dance.

First 250:

Beatrice slipped into the auditorium. Shuffling feet and chattering voices rang out in the cavernous space. Finally, the seats stopped squeaking as the students of Messina High sat and waited.

Beatrice felt her cousin reach for her hand and squeeze. Beatrice returned the gesture. Little pins shimmied across her skin. She closed her eyes. Please, please, please.

A man of insignificant stature bounded onto the stage. The sound system crackled and students straightened in their seats. Assistant principal Dogberry’s booming voice echoed and screeched as he yelled into the microphone. “Hello, nice day to see everyone. May I have your attendance, please? I have the pleasurable distraction to announce this year’s homecoming court princes.”

Snickers and guffaws rippled through the student body. Somewhere deep in the heart of the crowd, a rumbling chant emerged. Dawg Barree. Dawg Barree. Dawg Barree. Teachers shushed and students giggled.

Beatrice leaned forward and strained to catch his words. Trust Dogberry to muck up the announcement. As the cacophony of good humor spread like a contagion, no one heard the names of the six senior girls.

Mr. Dogberry preened and straightened his spine as the chanting continued. A lithe figure joined the clueless administrator on the auditorium stage and a hush fell, quelling the mob’s mirth. The auditorium speakers sprang to life again. Senior class advisor, Ms. Kott pried the microphone from Mr. Dogberry’s sausage-like fingers and repeated the names of the homecoming court princesses.

Beatrice’s heartbeat synchronized with the drumroll of stamping feet.


VS.


Title: Degrees of Broken
Entry Nickname: You Had Me at Salty Fries
Word Count: 88K
Genre: YA Contemporary

Query:

17-year-old Tory Lawrence no longer bothers to unpack her suitcases and moving boxes. After nineteen of her mom’s “new beginnings,” this mid-year move certainly won’t be the last. Except with graduation looming, and no after-plan, Tory needs it to be. More and more, photography appears to be her calling, but Ethan—a guy with a wild past full of scars and stories he doesn’t want to talk about—just might be too.

Together, Tory and Ethan find sanctuary in one another. She becomes his confessional, and he provides diversion and safety from her mother’s alcoholic drama. For the first time, Tory matters to someone, and with her photography talent, she has a voice. A real future, free of her mother’s whims and abuse, seems possible. But Ethan’s secrets—especially the one about his part in his own mother’s death—may have broken him more than Tory can imagine, and when move #20 is announced, the scars from his past may destroy everything.

First 250:

I knew I’d regret looking down, but avoiding Brooke’s smooth, tan leg next to mine was like trying not to look directly at a solar eclipse. Sure enough, it only reminded me I was a mutt among the purebreds and didn’t belong next to her or breathing the same air she swung her ponytail around in. Even better, all the perfect things she said to her perfect friends combined with the stink of gym clothes and the fog of her sugary perfume and made a pre-barf feeling climb up my throat. So I pretended that watching people doing sit-ups was just my kind of awesome and told myself no one could tell that my face had gone all hot and sweaty.

Just for a second, I wondered if the real me would ever catch up with the online and in-my-head-version of myself who had easy-breezy, clever friend pickup lines. After nineteen moves and no sign of it happening yet, it seemed doubtful.

My mom, on the other hand, only got better at making besties out of the secretaries of every new school. Her whole wide-eyed confusion routine about the enrollment process always got sympathy. So did her stories about my dad constantly dragging us to new houses before she could unpack from the previous ones. Not one person ever grasped the contradictoriness of those two things, so to hell with the facts.

20 comments :

  1. Judges, please leave votes and comments as a REPLY to this comment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congratulations to these two Kombatants for making the cut!

      The author of TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES successfully made me feel like I was in high school again. The subtle undercurrent that everything is life or death for the pubescent teenager gives it a real authenticity for the readership. However, the first paragraph makes the mistake of telling us about the structure and format of the book, rather than hooking us on the story. I'd cut it entirely, and start with the second paragraph's wonderful opening line.

      It might also be helpful to reduce the number of characters presented here, focusing on AT MOST two (rather than five). That would make things a bit easier to follow, and avoid the necessity of introducing everyone with comma-heavy sentences.

      If the author wants to mention the Shakespearean influence, that might be done toward the end of the query. I'm not sure if I'd mention multiple POV, as that's not really a selling point.

      Now, let's talk YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES. What a great title! The word count might be a touch long, but the author does a wonderful job of presenting a sympathetic protagonist with real-world problems. The story setup is simple and effective. "Photography" as a burgeoning talent is a little ho-hum as described here -- I want to know what she photographs, and why -- but I love the line about how it gives her a voice.

      There's a bit of passive voice to address (e.g. "move #20 is announced"), and I want more specific stakes than "may destroy everything," but overall this was well done.

      Victory to YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES.

      Delete
    2. TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES:

      query -
      The whole first paragraph is unnecessary. A quick mention of the source material at the end would be great, but this is a summary of a summary. Get to the meat of the story or your lose the agent.

      I think you’ve named too many characters here and there a few missing details that would clarify. Are Ben and Beatrice together or not when the story opens? At first it seems yes and then when their attraction awake, no. Then you launch into a seemingly separate story arc. Show us the connection. Who is Carlos Donn? If everything centers around homecoming, use that to ground the query and show all the connections.

      250 -
      Not much actually happens in this 250. I could summarize and say kids are sitting in an auditorium and waiting for an announcement. We don’t actually learn the names here, so to me, this feels like wasted real estate. What if you start with the announcement and follow it up with the reactions?


      YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES:

      query -
      Generally I like this. It’s succinct and I know exactly what the story is about. I’d like some more voice or emotion though to make it really pop. Why do they move so much? Is it related to the alcoholism? You could include more details to really kick this up.

      250 -
      Excellent voice. This is a girl who has learned how to protect herself. I’d read more.


      Victory to YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES.

      Delete
    3. The query for TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES thoroughly confused my caveman brain. I had to read it 3 times, and I’m still not sure how everyone’s related. I confess I’m not a fan of non-linear stories, so this would be a tough sell for me at the bookstore. I DO however love me a good football romance. Something about this story feels a little cliché to me, though.

      YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES has an intriguing query. The first sentence tells me so much: MC’s age, attitude and history. I love how the synopsis unfolds and introduces Tory’s new roots in photography and Ethan. The only thing I didn’t like was the hook at the end. It was too big a jump for me to make for Ethan’s scars to destroy everything when Tory announces she’s moving. Why would his secrets destroy everything? I wanted something a little more specific. Maybe keeping secrets breeds mistrust that destroys the very foundation of a friendship Tory thought she could rebuild her life upon. Or maybe it’s: the secrets from his past finally catch up, and they’re carrying a set of handcuffs and an arrest warrant. I felt like I needed a little more there.

      First pages:
      TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES opens with a more distant POV than I gravitate toward in YA. I never did get a sense of Beatrice’s personality except maybe through one comment in paragraph 5: Trust Dogberry to muck up the announcement.  But in that moment, when Beatrice is straining to hear over the racket from the other students, I’d think she’d be more annoyed with all of them than she would be bemused by Dogberry’s slip-up.

      The second paragraph especially put me at a distance from Beatrice, because it filtered Beatrice’s experience through the eyes of the author:

      Beatrice felt her cousin reach for her hand and squeeze.

      I prefer a closer POV and automatically rewrite these kinds of sentences in my head as I read: Hero grasped her hand and squeezed.  But then I’d want an inner thought from Beatrice to tell me how close the two are. Something in Beatrice’s voice like, “Her trusty cousin always had her back.”

      At the end of this page, Ms. Kott repeats the names of the princesses and then there’s a drumroll of stamping feet. I felt like the stamping feet would happen first, then the hush, then the announcement of the names.

      Overall, I didn’t feel the tension I wanted in this opening scene of a big announcement because I really didn’t get a connection with Beatrice. I understood she was waiting for this announcement, but I had no idea if she wanted to be a princess and why or if she was waiting to hear someone else’s name. I feel bad, but this page fell a bit flat for me, and it’s simply because I don’t enjoy a distant POV.

      YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES opens with Tory in a perfectly teen-angsty situation in gym class with this awesome give-a-crap voice and descriptions that made me both chuckle and gag. I have no idea why, but this entry made me think of my favorite scene-stealing character of all time (Simon Pegg playing Scotty in the 2009 Star Trek) Tory seems like this super-force character that I’ll follow anywhere.

      I connected with Tory right away, and even though this first page doesn’t hint at the plot, I know there’s a conflict with Tory’s mom, and I know the mood will be some sort of dark, laced with sarcasm.
      FINAL JUDGEMENT:

      While TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES didn’t appeal to my personal tastes, it seems like it might be a fresh take on a high school romance tale. And who doesn’t like a Shakespearean retelling? However, the query confused me. Also, the voice and distant POV weren’t my favorite, and I didn’t like the way the first scene unfolded. The query for YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES won me over with the fantastic voice in the first page and the entertaining world that is Tory’s mind. Also, this entry had a much more understandable query. I like the intrigue of Ethan’s dark secret, though I have no idea how the heck that could possibly destroy Tory’s future--that hook seemed like a cop-out.

      Victory to YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES.

      Delete
    4. Truth and Consequences:

      Love the idea but the structure of the query is off. You want to start with the second paragraph and not focus on the format of the story. You’re also missing the stakes and character building. It’s also better for focus on just the main conflict in a query. We generally suggest no more than 3 named characters in a query and specific stakes. I.e. Beatrice must choose between X and Y or else Z will happen. I would suggest reading a bunch of successful queries to get the hang of it.

      In other words, there’s a little work to do. But I’m sure you can do it!

      In the 250, I almost wonder if it’s best to focus on one of the relationships in the first 250, i.e. have B & B spar off right away. Just a thought. I’d also look at your word count for the manuscript. It’s a tad on the short side, which would make me wonder if the characters are fleshed out enough.

      Salty fries:

      Really good query. It is clear and has the right tone for sure! I’d just suggest focusing the last line on Tory’s choice rather than Ethan’s scars. I.e. Now Tory must decide x or risk Y.

      250: I love the first line and the first paragraph. I really get a sense of who the main character is. I think then you get into a little info dumping though. Is there a way to show more action/dialogue and a little less internal monologue in the first 250? Maybe Tory can actually try to talk to Brooke instead of thinking about her mom. Those details can be woven in later.

      VICTORY TO SALTY FRIES

      Delete
    5. TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES
      Query: I find modern retellings fascination, and like the fact that you decided to base your story off of Much Ado About Nothing instead of Romeo and Juliet or another overused work. I do enjoy nonlinear stories, but I feel like not only is that line in the wrong place, but it also detracts from the query. You’ll want to move it to the bottom of the query. I’m also slightly concerned that your mention of nonlinear stories might do more harm than good. Another worry that I have is the large amount of characters you mention in the query. You should only focus on Beatrice and Darcy. I realize that Juan plays an important role in the story, but the less characters you mention, the better.
      First 250:
      Your first 250 words are superb. I feel like I’m back in high school again. By the time I finished Dogberry’s introduction speech, I was cracking up. You use dialogue and action to skillfully develop characters, and even though I have a feeling that Dogberry isn’t an important character, I have a good idea of what he is like.

      YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES
      Query: Your query grabbed me from the start. Right away, I was able to sympathize with Tory. It seems like she just can’t catch a break, and I’m right there along with her while she worries about the future. I also like that you bring in Ethan right away, also expertly weaving his own problems into his description.
      Since you already mention “scars” once, I would recommend changing the last line to something else. The “traumas from his past?” “Demons from his past?”
      First 250: Haha, I love the “pre-barf feeling.” That’s perfect. Her opinion of Brooke is also a great way for me to get a better idea of who Tory is, and you set the scene well without directly stating they’re in gym class.

      I wish I could choose both entries. Victory to YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES

      Delete
    6. Truth and Consequences

      Query:

      The goal of the query is to hook the agent and keep them reading. You want your query to outline what the story is about. I suggest cutting this part of the first paragraph and adding at the end of the query.

      “This is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing set in the fictional town of Messina, Pennsylvania, where Friday night football is the only game in town. The novel’s format incorporates two stories; Ben and Beatrice’s budding romance during homecoming week, and Juan’s five-year journey of coming to terms with being a part of his father's secret family. By the end of the novel, the two stories merge and become one. This will appeal to fans who like non-linear storytelling and multiple POVs.”

      Now you need to sell your story. The way it's written is confusing. I understand that this is two stories in one, but the query is hard to follow. Too many characters are mentioned. I suggest narrowing the focus of the query to Ben and Beatrice. Outline the stakes of their relationship and why it’s so important. I have no idea why the “whirlwind courtship of her cousin, Hero, and Ben’s teammate, Claudio, awakens a slumbering attraction between Beatrice and Ben” or why I should care. Show this in the query.

      You have such an intriguing concept. It know it’s difficult to narrow the focus when there are multiple plotlines. It’s hard to figure out what’s important enough to show in the query. But you have to do it, because your first 250 is amazing and the query doesn't do your pages justice.
      I’m hooked. I want to know why Beatrice is so interested in the Homecoming Queen announcement. I’m also a fan of non-linear storytelling and multiple POV’s so I want to know about the other characters.

      You Had Me at Salty Fries

      Query:

      Nice job. You laid out the character’s motivation. I understand what the story is about and I’m intrigued enough to want to learn more.

      First 250:

      Love the first 250. Tory has a great voice. I’m hooked.

      Victory to You Had Me at Salty Fries

      Delete
  2. The query for TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES thoroughly confused my caveman brain. I had to read it 3 times, and I’m still not sure how everyone’s related. I confess I’m not a fan of non-linear stories, so this would be a tough sell for me at the bookstore. I DO however love me a good football romance. Something about this story feels a little cliché to me, though.

    YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES has an intriguing query. The first sentence tells me so much: MC’s age, attitude and history. I love how the synopsis unfolds and introduces Tory’s new roots in photography and Ethan. The only thing I didn’t like was the hook at the end. It was too big a jump for me to make for Ethan’s scars to destroy everything when Tory announces she’s moving. Why would his secrets destroy everything? I wanted something a little more specific. Maybe keeping secrets breeds mistrust that destroys the very foundation of a friendship Tory thought she could rebuild her life upon. Or maybe it’s: the secrets from his past finally catch up, and they’re carrying a set of handcuffs and an arrest warrant. I felt like I needed a little more there.

    First pages:
    TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES opens with a more distant POV than I gravitate toward in YA. I never did get a sense of Beatrice’s personality except maybe through one comment in paragraph 5: Trust Dogberry to muck up the announcement.  But in that moment, when Beatrice is straining to hear over the racket from the other students, I’d think she’d be more annoyed with all of them than she would be bemused by Dogberry’s slip-up.

    The second paragraph especially put me at a distance from Beatrice, because it filtered Beatrice’s experience through the eyes of the author:

    Beatrice felt her cousin reach for her hand and squeeze.

    I prefer a closer POV and automatically rewrite these kinds of sentences in my head as I read: Hero grasped her hand and squeezed.  But then I’d want an inner thought from Beatrice to tell me how close the two are. Something in Beatrice’s voice like, “Her trusty cousin always had her back.”

    At the end of this page, Ms. Kott repeats the names of the princesses and then there’s a drumroll of stamping feet. I felt like the stamping feet would happen first, then the hush, then the announcement of the names.

    Overall, I didn’t feel the tension I wanted in this opening scene of a big announcement because I really didn’t get a connection with Beatrice. I understood she was waiting for this announcement, but I had no idea if she wanted to be a princess and why or if she was waiting to hear someone else’s name. I feel bad, but this page fell a bit flat for me, and it’s simply because I don’t enjoy a distant POV.

    YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES opens with Tory in a perfectly teen-angsty situation in gym class with this awesome give-a-crap voice and descriptions that made me both chuckle and gag. I have no idea why, but this entry made me think of my favorite scene-stealing character of all time (Simon Pegg playing Scotty in the 2009 Star Trek) Tory seems like this super-force character that I’ll follow anywhere.

    I connected with Tory right away, and even though this first page doesn’t hint at the plot, I know there’s a conflict with Tory’s mom, and I know the mood will be some sort of dark, laced with sarcasm.
    FINAL JUDGEMENT:

    While TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES didn’t appeal to my personal tastes, it seems like it might be a fresh take on a high school romance tale. And who doesn’t like a Shakespearean retelling? However, the query confused me. Also, the voice and distant POV weren’t my favorite, and I didn’t like the way the first scene unfolded. The query for YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES won me over with the fantastic voice in the first page and the entertaining world that is Tory’s mind. Also, this entry had a much more understandable query. I like the intrigue of Ethan’s dark secret, though I have no idea how the heck that could possibly destroy Tory’s future--that hook seemed like a cop-out.

    Victory to YOU HAD ME AT SALTY FRIES.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Truth and Consequences

    Query: I was very confused about the first mention of Juan. Who is he and why is he significant? The beginning of the query only talks about Beatrice, so the mention of Juan came out of left field. Also, why does Beatrice want a boyfriend-free senior year? And how does she clash with Ben? Or do you mean "collide"?

    The second paragraph became confusing very quickly. There are a lot of names to take in, and I'm not sure they're all necessary for a query. Also, now that I've read the whole thing, I'd remove the first sentence of the first paragraph because most of that is explained in the second paragraph in a better way. Finally, I'm not sure why Beatrice's and Ben's last names are mentioned in the second paragraph instead of the first paragraph.

    250: I have to admit I'm not connecting to the writing here. Here are some issues I immediately noticed that affected the flow of reading:
    --In the second paragraph, two sentences in a row start with "Beatrice"; I recommend changing that to avoid repetition.
    --Should "May I have your attendance" be "May I have your attention"?
    --The assistant principal says he's about to announce "princes", but then he announces 6 girls. This is confusing.
    --Add a comma after "Ms. Kott"


    You Had Me at Salty Fries

    Query: The writing here is great; it's obvious you're a very talented writer. I must admit I'm a little confused by the stakes, though. Tory is the focus of most of the query until the final sentence, when it seems as though everything is about Ethan instead of the MC.

    250: Great writing, and I like the intro to this character. However, I stumbled over the sentence beginning with "Even better"; could you break it up a little better?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Now that the real judges have commented, I'll add my two cents:

    Truth and Consequences: I think others made the point well. The first paragraph doesn't add a lot. I wouldn't lead with it. The second paragraph has a few too many characters. Maybe that paragraph could be broken up and better organized to make the flow better.

    I thought the first 250 had too much focus on Dogberry. Is he supposed to be mentally challenged? A principle acting that way seems very odd and a bit distracting.

    You had me at salty fries: Query reads well though maybe there could be a little something more upping the stakes. The first 250 outlined the main character's personality and situation nicely. I did stumble on this sentence and wondered if the second 'and' belonged there: "Even better, all the perfect things she said to her perfect friends combined with the stink of gym clothes and the fog of her sugary perfume and made a pre-barf feeling climb up my throat."

    Good luck to both of you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Truth and Consequences

    Thespian main character, yay! Cliched "sparks fly", not so much. The "Friday Night Lights" sort of vibe rekindled my interest. Telling what kind of story it is and what type of reader it may appeal to pulled me out of the narrative. My personal preference is to read the hook and the mini-synopis, *then* read what audience the author thinks it may be best suited for.

    Introduced to Beatrice and Ben again in the second paragraph when we already met them in the first. Some long and awkward sentences interrupted the narrative flow for me. Struggled through the end of the query trying to keep all the characters straight. Now know why so many sources recommend keeping named characters in a query to a minimum.

    The first 250 mentions Beatrice by name too many times for my liking. I also wonder if a seventeen-year old girl would describe anyone having "insignificant stature". The introduction of Ms. Kott appears awkwardly worded.


    You Had Me at Salty Fries

    Nicely composed and executed query except for a reliance on em dashes to set apart important points. Used in both paragraphs of the query in similar places, the em dashes drew unwanted attention to themselves. The last couple lines appear run-on. Concept intriguing nevertheless.

    Oh! So much voice in the first 250. I really got to know Tory by her circumstances, and, more importantly, how she felt about them. Loved it!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wonderful job to both of you!

    Truth and Consequences: I loved, loved the concept: of the two, I'd pick yours of the shelf any day! I agree that the query tries to pack in too many characters. Just cut Juan. I never care about him in the play, either. Otherwise, I was hooked. Your first 250 used too many words, and too many big words. I think you're still finding your voice a little. Read read read, and make SURE you read genres that are not YA! You'll get stuck in clichéd "bad YA" style then, and your book doesn't deserve that!

    You Had Me at Salty Fries

    Nice! If I was an agent though, I would have turned down your query. It was too vague. Every YA novel has secrets and angsty love interests and dark pasts. What's really going on? Why is this one different? Your 250 words as well were really good, but felt so clichéd. I didn't connect with your protagonist because I felt like you peeled her straight off the regular teen-ager angst I'm not pretty enough list. All that anger is real, but it felt clichéd. That said, it's strong and you've definitely got this, once you add a little more authenticity to your MC reactions.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wonderful job to both of you!

    Truth and Consequences: I loved, loved the concept: of the two, I'd pick yours of the shelf any day! I agree that the query tries to pack in too many characters. Just cut Juan. I never care about him in the play, either. Otherwise, I was hooked. Your first 250 used too many words, and too many big words. I think you're still finding your voice a little. Read read read, and make SURE you read genres that are not YA! You'll get stuck in clichéd "bad YA" style then, and your book doesn't deserve that!

    You Had Me at Salty Fries

    Nice! If I was an agent though, I would have turned down your query. It was too vague. Every YA novel has secrets and angsty love interests and dark pasts. What's really going on? Why is this one different? Your 250 words as well were really good, but felt so clichéd. I didn't connect with your protagonist because I felt like you peeled her straight off the regular teen-ager angst I'm not pretty enough list. All that anger is real, but it felt clichéd. That said, it's strong and you've definitely got this, once you add a little more authenticity to your MC reactions.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I thought both entries had great ideas!

    Truth and Consequences:

    Query: Yay a Shakespeare re-telling! As others have mentioned, I would start with the second paragraph. It brings you right into the action and the story. You can then explain the structure later on.

    250: The two things that stuck out the most were the over use of Beatrice's name and some bigger/extra words that weren't necessary and pulled me out of the story. Otherwise, I thought you did a nice job of setting the scene. I even felt myself leaning forward to hear the names.

    You Had Me at Salty Fries

    Query: I love the first line! I think a lot of teens (and adults) will relate. The last line in the first paragraph was a little confusing for me (It might just be my pre-caffeinated brain) and I would also like a little more detail about Ethan's mother ... just a smidge.

    250: The inner monologue was great! My only criticism is that some of the sentences were a little on the long side. True, my teens talk like that and I often can't get a word in, but still... I absolutely LOVE the line about wondering if the real me would ever catch up with the online and in-my-head version of myself. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Truth and Consequences:
    I love Shakespeare re-tellings! No seriously, mine is one too. Totally different of course. For your query I would get rid of he entire first paragraph, you don't need it. Instead, expand the second paragraph and give us more detail of the plot.
    Your 250 words were great. I felt like I was in High School.
    You Had Me at Salty Fries: This is an intriguing concept. I would like a little more detail about what brings her and Ethan together in the first place.
    Your 250 was really well-written. But I was wondering if you started off in the right place. What does Beatrice have to do with the move? I ant to know what she thinks about having moved a 19th time. Is she at a new school right now? Or has she not moved yet?
    Good luck to both of you.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Truth and Consequences: I love Shakespeare retellings. LOVE. So yay! I was not exactly sure what you intended to be the title of the book. I like Ben and Beatrice. The idea of translating his warrior spirit to football, nice. I don't think I needed the line about who the book would appeal to. Over all the query is solid. 250. Lots of fun going on in here. I think getting Hero on scene might have been cool. I love the Dogberry nonsense. Making Beatrice seek homecoming royalty is spot on! Solid page!

    You Had Me at Salty Fries: The angst is coming through the query, so good. I also love how you focus on Tory's arc throughout your query and that you are also reveal Tory's emotional story. Kudos. On the 250, I wanted one more tip that Tory was in gym class at the beginning. The stuff going on inside her head is interesting, but I wanted her to seem just a touch more broken--the query set me up for that. Maybe stretch out one more thought inside her head. You are great with language and this was a pleasure.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Truth and Consequences: I love Shakespeare retellings. LOVE. So yay! I was not exactly sure what you intended to be the title of the book. I like Ben and Beatrice. The idea of translating his warrior spirit to football, nice. I don't think I needed the line about who the book would appeal to. Over all the query is solid. 250. Lots of fun going on in here. I think getting Hero on scene might have been cool. I love the Dogberry nonsense. Making Beatrice seek homecoming royalty is spot on! Solid page!

    You Had Me at Salty Fries: The angst is coming through the query, so good. I also love how you focus on Tory's arc throughout your query and that you are also reveal Tory's emotional story. Kudos. On the 250, I wanted one more tip that Tory was in gym class at the beginning. The stuff going on inside her head is interesting, but I wanted her to seem just a touch more broken--the query set me up for that. Maybe stretch out one more thought inside her head. You are great with language and this was a pleasure.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Truth and Consequences

    I love the idea of two stories coming together. The first paragraph of the query seems a little disjointed right now. I was a little thrown when you bring up Juan, because he’s not mentioned in the first sentence. Maybe start by saying this is the tale of two stories that merge, and give us a hint of how they merge. Then we’re ready for a short blurb about each story, and their coming together.

    In the second paragraph of the query, I get a real sense of the Beatrice and Ben in the first two sentences. After that, I felt a little lost and had to reread. I wonder if you need to talk about all these characters, or if you can focus more on the slumbering romance, which is intriguing to me. Tell us a little more about what attracts them, rather than that it’s because of someone else’s romance.

    In the first 250, I wonder if there’s a way to introduce more tension in your first paragraph. Maybe include a hint of an important announcement. I like the tension of “little pins” and you use some very clever metaphors.

    Dogberry’s announcement was hilarious. I almost want Beatrice’s reaction to come before you tell us how the crowd reacts. I feel for your MC and I want to know more about what she’s feeling as she waits for the important announcement. Congratulations on a great entry, and good luck!

    You Had Me at Salty Fries

    In the query, I feel for the MC right away. I only tripped up with the last sentence, which I had to read a few times to finally figure out Ethan might be her calling too. The last sentence may be a little long too. I would change #20 to number 20.

    The first 250 has a great beginning. It tells me so much about your MC right away and how she feels about herself. I love the voice in this, and really like that whole second paragraph. It’s so relatable for a teen -- to compare their real self to the online self. Clever.

    Her description of Brooke was great, all but the “stink of gym clothes” which seemed to not fit in her perfect world.

    I would change tan to tanned, and search for where you might eliminate instances of the word “that”. Also, maybe experiment with varying your sentence lengths to get a smoother rhythm going. I’d definitely read on, though, because I need to find out what happens next!

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  13. First, SO many thank yous to the hosts of QK for the work and support you put into this contest and its contestants—even over a holiday weekend! All of us are indebted to you for the opportunity you created for us.

    Thank you to the judges who took time away from their own creativity to help us with ours. You’re all proof that the writing world can be one of community. Your suggestions are invaluable, and I've already started attacking the parts pointed out that need strengthening.

    More appreciation to fellow entrants who worded their critiques thoughtfully and constructively and who cheered one another on over Twitter. Good luck to all of you, in this contest and beyond.

    I'm glad to have connected with my opponent before the match ups posted. Eva, I knew you were kind beforehand, but you've proven classier than I could have imagined. I look forward to finding your books on bookstore shelves one day and staying in touch on your journey there!

    Just like raising a child, “raising” a book takes a village, and EVERYONE involved in QK makes an amazing one to be part of.

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  14. Thank you to all judges and fellow contestants. I appreciate your thoughtful and thorough commentary. I have started to revise my query and 250 based on the advice of what works and what does not work.

    It's been a positive experience to be part of the supportive QueryKombat community. The valuable insight you have given me can only make me stronger as a writer and I thank you.

    I hope each and every one of you received useful feedback and the positive encouragement to keep writing. Good luck to all and I hope to be buying your books in the near future.

    KC, I am so pleased to have connected with you. Your writing is compelling and I look forward to reading more:)

    Hugs to all.

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