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  1. #1
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    Query Letter Help (Criticism Appreciated)

    Dear Agent,

    I would like to offer a semi-autobiographical novel for your consideration.

    With Ivy League dreams and a unique naivety, Justin and Ashton transfer into the notoriously underperforming Clark County School District, Las Vegas, Nevada. They embark upon a quest to take as many Advanced Placement classes as possible and to conquer the college admissions process. Reality intervenes.

    At the heart of the novel is an epic struggle between cynicism and compassion as Justin and Ashton each must find a way to cope with the daily absurdities inherent within Green Stick High School. Their story brutally exposes the harsh failures of the American education system from the inside out.

    Tales of a Valedictorian is 66,000 words of Adderall-fueled insanity.

    I am a recent graduate of Palo Verde High School. I am 17 years old. I have seen things I shouldn't have.

    Sincerely,
    Samuel Johnson



  2. #2
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    First, trash this attempt and write the story in about 400-500 words. Just explain the plot and conflict and tell what the main characters do in present tense. Post that, then we'll pare it down.

    Second, tone down your rhetoric. Two guys trying to get into college is no "epic struggle", trouble inside a single high school does not exemplify "the harsh failures of the American education system", and I don't think even the most devoted bookaphile wants to read "66,000 words of Adderall-fueled insanity". Just tell the story as plainly and simply as you can, then we'll polish the language to make it sound like something an agent would want to read.

    Finally, 66K is kinda low, especially if this is your first novel. Makes it tougher to sell.

  3. #3
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    Samuel, your premise is interesting. And you can write, that's clear. I have to disagree with John-- you didn't say getting into college was an epic struggle. And frankly, troubles inside a single high school could very well exemplify "the harsh failures of the American education system"-- that's what it means to be an example. And I kinda like the last line of the query. It's intriguing. Gotta agree though, "66,000 words of Adderall-fueled insanity" is a real turn-off.

  4. #4
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Premise? He wrote a premise? Maybe you would be kind enough to tell me exactly what it is.

    Alrighty...the epic struggle is between cynicism and compassion, but the context is high schoolers getting into college. Maybe we have different definitions of "epic". To me, it means something like heroic or larger-than-life, you know...BIG. The situation and setting he describes is hardly epic.

    And we'll have to disagree about troubles in a single high school exposing the harsh failures of the American education system. I could see it exposing the failures of a city school system, maybe even the schools of an entire county (if I stretch my belief a little), but ALL of America? Sorry, but that's just a slight bit of exaggeration, wouldn't you say?

    I don't like the last line. It's not intriguing, it's vapid. What...did he peep into the girl's locker room or something? Who knows what the heck he's talking about?

    Take my advice, Samuel...just tell the story as simply as you can to start off, then you can sculpt it into something decent. Right now, you have no query.
    Last edited by John Oberon; 10-11-2012 at 12:25 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member SapphireBlue's Avatar
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    I think there's a base here of something that could become a query. But I was confused right off the bat when the main characters, who have Ivy League dreams, go to an underperforming school. Why? Weren't they accepted anywhere else? And I agree with the other comments; I have NO grasp of what the story really is. You need to be able to sum up, in a sentence, NOT what the theme is or what you brutally expose, but what HAPPENS. Don't sell yourself--sell your story.

  6. #6
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    Blue,

    Good to see ya'.

    Cur

  7. #7
    Rogue Mutt
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    Why bother responding to a thread from 5 months ago? The user's probably long gone from here by now.

  8. #8
    Senior Member SapphireBlue's Avatar
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    Hey, Smiling and Rogue. Good to see ya too! At the time, this was the newest quey in here. lol.

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