First Attempt: Query - On Our Own
A girl with no past, and a boy who has seen only the dark, will come together to try and discover the truth about what lays hidden behind the mind’s walls.
After his drunken abusive father sadistically murdered the rest of his family, Johnny enters the dilapidated orphanage on the outskirts of town. Behind the crooked iron bars of the orphanage Johnny befriends Sally, a small girl whose life before the orphanage is so deeply buried within her mind that even she can not remember the truth of her past. Together they are swept along on a dangerous journey to uncover the mysteries locked away in her mind and are thrust into the cruel world of drunken misery and sickening low lives that Johnny had barely just escaped. The closer they come to discovering the truth about her past, the more they discover that the truth is not always welcome… and some things are better left buried.
On Our Own is a work of fiction and is 62,000 words long.
Thank you for your time,
C - this is too vague to entice anyone into the story, because you don't say a whole lot about the story. Quite a few descriptors are used to set the scene, but actually detract instead:
- a boy who has only seen the dark (dark what? is he blind?)
- hidden behind the mind's wall - boring and vague
- drunken and abusive
- dilapidated (just saying orphanage is depressing enough)
- crooked iron bars (Ditto)
- so deeply buried within her mind that even she cannot remember (if the details are buried, then of course she can't remember - her mind couldn't handle the truth and is hiding away from it)
- swept along (What? they don't have a choice?)
- mysteries locked away in her mind (so cliche)
- cruel world
- drunken misery (what? do they become drunks?)
- sickening low lives (redundant - drunken misery says the same thing)
- did Johnny really escape? Being put into a dilapidated orphanage with crooked iron bars doesn't sound like much of an escape
- WHY do they need to discover the truth of her past? Is someone trying to kill her for what she doesn't remember? There needs to be a reason for this quest besides just the need to know.
Yeah, lose the first sentence...says next to nothing.
Is there nothing redeeming about this story? Dilapidation, cruelty, drunken misery, and sickening low life are a tough sell, to say the least. Perhaps we can be thankful it's only 62K, lol. I vote with Lea that it's much too general. A miserable boy and girl in a miserable orphanage trying to discover the girl's miserable past - tell me who wants to read that. You need some kind of hope or goodness to float in all that misery. I can't imagine the agent that story would attract. He'd ask for your MS, then shoot himself before it came, lol.
So...more detail, and some kind of hope or goodness to break up the blackhole misery.
Yes, its rather general (check Query Shark, etc.) and the story vaguely reminds me of Incarceron... but an orphanage instead of a prison Would love to read the query 'punched up,' and introduce the MC name(s) sooner.
Thank you all for your responses, and for the record I would like to note that no agents have been harmed in the making of this query, haha. Bellow is an attempt at completely abolishing the useless fluff and expanding on the plot of the book, including the more positive events.
Sally was six years old when she watched her drunken father murder her older brother and their mother. The event not only landed her in an orphanage, but left her with a broken mind. Unable to deal with the reality of her past, she stored the memories away in an imaginary friend, Johnny.
Four years later, Dr. Gray, a psychiatrist, adopts Sally from the orphanage. Instead of becoming the father that Sally had always dreamed of, Dr. Gray studies Sally and her relationship with Johnny by indulging Sally’s delusions that Johnny is real. However, before Dr. Gray can diagnose or even attempt to cure Sally, Samuel, her sadistic father, escapes from prison.
While attempting to cope with the return of Samuel, Sally and Johnny befriend a kind elderly woman who provides them with the accepting and protective atmosphere necessary for them to at last confront the truth about the past. Finally safe and cared for, Sally is able to release her imaginary friend and safety blanket, Johnny.
On Our Own is a 62,000-word work of fiction that follows the journey of an imaginary boy as he struggles to come to terms with being imaginary and protect the girl who’s memories he holds from harm.
A: Does that make sense, or are you lost by the end?
B: Is it still too dark?
C: Is that too much explanation? Or still vague?
(Also this is just a quick punch out attempt to get the plot, I do plan to fill it in and script it better (I wouldn't want any agents shooting themselves after all! ;P))
Onto my third side note -"He'd ask for your MS, then shoot himself before it came" - is seriously the best feedback I have ever heard.
This book is about Sally, not Johnny. If it's about Johnny, why is 95% of the letter about Sally? Answer: Johnny does not exist.
If this is really about Johnny, then Sally needs to take a back seat. You tell all about Johnny, how he befriends and helps Sally during that murder episode, protects her and advises her while she's with Dr. Gray, comforts her and laughs with her during their stay at the old lady's house. Then at the end, something like this:
Sally thinks Johnny is the best friend she ever had, but he hides a terrible secret: he's a figment of her imagination!
Last edited by John Oberon; 07-16-2012 at 12:18 PM.