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  1. #1
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    Nov 2010
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    They Ones They Took Query

    Hello...I know I'm new here, but I was hoping to get some feedback on my query. I'll be sure to return the favor. Thanks!

    Date

    Dear (Mr/Ms. Last Name),

    Getting into the church van was the biggest mistake of Mikal Alvo’s life.

    Mikal Alvo, a young Hispanic boy growing up in the city, is offered a chance to attend a church event by two strangers in a van. Believing he can trust them because they’re from a church, he accepts without hesitation. After that day, Mikal is left with recurring nightmares of a scarred man and images of fire.

    With every year that passes, Mikal must find ways to deal with the pressures of the city—which include drugs, gangs, and violence—and the strains of living with a bipolar mother and emotionally-disturbed brother. All Mikal wants to do is graduate from high school and escape his life in the city. Things get tougher when the scarred man shows up at an unexpected moment, resulting in three life-changing events that leave Mikal emotionally paralyzed and changed forever.

    THE ONES THEY TOOK is a completed 53,000 word young adult novel based on the true accounts of the children lured away by church vans in Lancaster City. Because I was one of these children, I've written to my local newspapers and Secular Humanist newsletter about religious indoctrination.

    I will be happy to send sample chapters or the full manuscript at your request.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Sincerely,



  2. #2
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    Re: They Ones They Took Query

    I think you've got a great idea here, but now you've got to tighten it.

    1. How old is he when he's taken? Paragraph one can be cut down. You've used the word 'church' twice.

    2. The second paragraph doesn't seem to match the first. Is this years later? What happened inbetween? You need something to link the two paragraphs together.

    53,000 is too short for YA. Most YA is between 60,000 and 80,000 but I do believe they might sometimes make exceptions.

  3. #3
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    Re: They Ones They Took Query

    Getting into the church van was the biggest mistake of Mikal Alvo’s life.
    Meh. Passive. How about "Mikal Alvo made a huge mistake when he climbed into a van


    Mikal Alvo, a young Hispanic boy growing up in the city, is offered a chance to attend a church event by two strangers in a van. Believing he can trust them because they’re from a church, he accepts without hesitation. After that day, Mikal is left with recurring nightmares of a scarred man and images of fire. Vague.


    With every year that passes, Mikal must find ways to deal with the pressures of the city—which include drugs, gangs, and violence—and the strains of living with a bipolar mother and emotionally-disturbed brother. All Mikal wants to do is graduate from high school and escape his life in the city. Things get tougher passive when the scarred man shows up at an unexpected moment, vague resulting in three life-changing events that leave Mikal emotionally paralyzed and changed forever. More vague bad stuff. If you go this far with the Q, you have to show specifics

    THE ONES THEY TOOK is a completed 53,000 word young adult novel based on the true accounts of the children lured away by church vans in Lancaster City. Because I was one of these children, I've written to my local newspapers and Secular Humanist newsletter about religious indoctrination. Whoa dude. Is this memoir? That's a different kind of Q. And you may need someone with a knowledge of libel law to take a gander at it if you name names. IMO, you may be better served to take this part out.

    I will be happy to send sample chapters or the full manuscript at your request.

    OK, the main problem I see is the the MC is passive. Stuff happens to him, things get tougher, mistakes are made by him. See what I mean? Try rewriting this with Mikal taking action rather than being the recipient of action. State what he wants. Then go into what he does to get it. Then describe the stakes, what happens if he doesn't get what he wants. Be specific. Use strong verbs. Then stop, leaving the agent panting for more. And don't say you'll be happy to send your work to the agent. Of course you will. That's why you're frying your brain with this whole query stuff anyway.

    As usual, take what you want, give nothing back.

    Stan

  4. #4
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    Re: They Ones They Took Query

    You have what could be a good hook, but as written, it's just a tired cliche. Yes, I know it's tempting to assure agents that your book's complete, but it doesn't look professional.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
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    Re: They Ones They Took Query

    Thanks for everyone's help. It's much appreciated.

    @Joe- Do you mean the "biggest mistake of his life" part?

  6. #6
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    Re: They Ones They Took Query

    With your help this is what I have now:

    Dear (Mr/Ms. Last Name),

    Getting into a church van ruined Mikal Alvo’s life.

    Two strangers in a van offer Mikal, a young Hispanic boy living in the city, a chance to attend a sermon and a festival. Believing he can trust them because of their affiliation with a church, Mikal accepts without hesitation. After that day, he is left with recurring nightmares of flames that consume his soul and a scarred man who never fails to leave Mikal fearing for his life.

    With every year that passes, Mikal comes one step closer succumbing to the pressures of the city life, which include drugs, gangs, and violence. The strain of living with a bipolar mother and emotionally-disturbed brother leave him with no one to turn to—his mother doesn’t remember his birthday. All Mikal wants to do is graduate from high school, attend college, and escape his life in the city. His plan becomes hindered when the scarred man returns at an unexpected moment, resulting in a life-changing event that leaves Mikal emotionally paralyzed and fighting the community to bring his dream back to life.

    THE ONES THEY TOOK is a 53,000 word young adult novel based on the true accounts of the children lured away by church vans in Lancaster City. Because I was one of these children, I've written to my local newspapers and Secular Humanist newsletter about religious indoctrination, all of which were published.

    I will send sample chapters or the full manuscript at your request.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Sincerely,

  7. #7
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    Re: They Ones They Took Query

    flames that consume his soul - horrible, horrible cliché. Avoid!

  8. #8
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    Re: They Ones They Took Query

    Oh how true that is!!

    Delete! Delete!

  9. #9
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    Nov 2010
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    Re: They Ones They Took Query

    Dear (Mr/Ms. Last Name),

    Getting into the church van ruined Mikal Alvo’s life for good.

    Two strangers in a van offer Mikal, a young Hispanic boy living in the city, a chance to attend a sermon and a festival. Believing he can trust them because of their affiliation with a church, Mikal accepts without hesitation. After that day, he is left with recurring nightmares of a scarred man, who he fears will return to take him away.

    With each passing year, Mikal grows closer to succumbing to the pressures of the city: drugs, gangs, and violence. All Mikal wants to do is graduate from high school, attend college, and escape his life in the city. This become difficult when the scarred man returns at an unexpected moment, resulting in a life-changing event that leaves Mikal emotionally paralyzed and fighting to keep his sanity.

    THE ONES THEY TOOK is a 53,000 word young adult novel based on the true accounts of the children lured away by church vans in Lancaster City. Because I was one of those children, I have written letters and essays on religious indoctrination to my local newspapers and Secular Humanist newsletter.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.
    Sincerely,

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    584

    Re: They Ones They Took Query

    It's clear from your reaction that you knew the answer to your question before you asked it. The second version, BTW, was better than the third.

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