Monday, January 28, 2013

Bouncer Post #101


Title: THE ONES
Genre: YA light Sci Fi
Word Count: 72,500

Query:

Numerology, the mystical science of numbers. Straight-A student Mina Gale doesn’t think much of patchouli-scented crap like that. She’s a practical, play-it-safe kind of girl if ever there was one.

Between her increasingly intrusive epilepsy and her dad’s recent death, all Mina wants is to feel like less of a weirdo outsider at Grove High. Well, that and a conversation with the darkly handsome new transfer student, Nico Payne. She just wishes her classmates would stop looking at her like she belongs in another dimension or something. What Mina doesn’t know yet is…

She kind of does. 

Turns out there’s a good reason Mina hasn’t been able to keep her mind off Nico. They’re numerological soul mates. Powerful “double elevens” who share an energy so charged it can punch open doors between eleven parallel universes.

When a door opens unexpectedly, Mina and Nico are sucked off their feet…and into another world. Stranded without a guide, a map or a clue what any of this double eleven stuff really means, the pair sets out to find their way home.  

The journey rockets them from highs (an afterlife dimension where Mina reunites with her deceased father) to lows (a narrow scrape with death in an anti-gravity world). It’s going to be a dangerous trek home, and playing it safe just isn’t going to cut it anymore if Mina wants to make it back alive.

But if holes keep ripping between dimensions every time they kiss, the biggest threat Mina and Nico have yet to face may actually be themselves.

I'm a SCBWI member and a writer/editor with seventeen years of magazine experience. My work has appeared often in Allure, Lucky, Glamour, and The Huffington Post. 

First 250:

The minutes didn’t crawl in Mr. Sykes’ Physics class, they zombie-walked. Each tick of the clock’s second hand was a painful, hunched jerk forward. In the desk diagonal to mine, Nico Payne wasn’t even pretending to pay attention. He kicked one of his Vans up onto his desk and squinted critically at the Bic pen scribble he’d just added to its toe.

God, he squinted great. He’d had the exact same expression on his face the first time I saw him. I’d walked over to Joe’s Italian Ice one hot night this summer and there he was, staring up at the list of flavors like he was contemplating the meaning of life instead of Peaches-N-Cream versus Bada Bing Cherry. One look at the guy and my guts swirled like a chocolate-vanilla twist. If I’d known he was going to be transferring to Grove in the fall, maybe I’d have gone up and introduced myself. 

But knowing me, probably not.

Mr. Sykes erased a velocity chart off the whiteboard and turned to face us. “As human beings,” he said, his voice raspy with age, “we experience the world in three space dimensions. One: Forward and back. Two: Side to side. Three: Up and down. And then, of course, we have the fourth dimension of time. However, many scientists with an interest in string theory believe in the existence of not four but eleven different dimensions.”

Nico smirked as he made Twilight Zone noises. “Do doo do doo do doo do doo…” 

21 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Don't know why the last comment showed me as 'Unknown'. This sounds really great. I loved the line 'God, he squinted great.' Made me laugh out loud. Good luck!

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    1. Agreed! The voice in your 250 is great. LOVE the details - those are what really make it.

      However, I found the query a little hard to follow. I don't think it lives up to the actual writing. The first sentence being a fragment got me off on the wrong foot, I'll admit. I'd prefer the whole thing pared down more though. Uncontrolled epilepsy + dad's death are both HUGE things in a teen's life, so having them there just as background makes it hard for me to get into the actual action of the story.

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  3. What a great voice! This is wonderful. I'm going to agree with Greyson though, the query is a little on the long side.

    Good Luck!

    Kim
    #86

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  4. I definitely enjoyed reading the first 250. I am also going to agree with everyone else that the query is too long. You have a really interesting premise that needs to take center-stage here, and could be an awesome, intensely-packed query. I'd keep reading if I had pages!

    Virginia
    #91

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  5. This sounds AMAZING and I'd totally keep reading after the first 250. It's got a great voice and I already like the MC Mina. My favorite was the "zombie walking" and the "chocolate and vanilla twist" bit.

    However, I feel the same as the other commenters when it comes to the query letter. I think it is way too long. I've been staring at it for a while and I think I've come up with a way to shorten it based on what you have. My suggestion would be to keep the set up of the fifth paragraph, cut the rest of the 5th and use the last line of the sixth paragraph as the fifth paragraph. So it would read:

    "...between eleven parallel universes.

    When a door opens unexpectedly, Mina and Nico are sucked off their feet... and into another world. It’s going to be a dangerous trek home, and playing it safe just isn’t going to cut it anymore if Mina wants to make it back alive."

    This isn't going to completely erratic the long query problem but hopefully it's a good place for you to start.

    I hope this help some and know that I am totally in love with this concept and voice.

    -Amber (#102)

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  6. I so appreciate the query feedback everyone, thank you. I agree that the allusion to her epilepsy and father's death should go. And I'm going to tighten the spacing and sixth graph. Many thanks!
    --Robyn

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  7. Love, love love your opening line in your first 250! Great voice, I would definitely read further. Good luck!
    Laurie #98

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  8. Double 11s! This looks adorable, fun, and creative. And you have so much great writing experience. Good luck!
    Sam (87)

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  9. I really hope the bouncers look at this entry on the merits of your first 250 rather than the query. I really like your premise and you have a stellar voice. IMO, the query is cluttered and hard to follow.

    My suggestions (some that have been stated before, some that haven't; ALL opinion)--

    I wouldn't start the query off with a sentence fragment. This is going to be the first sentence of your writing an agent reads. It's not the best idea to blow grammar rules out of the water immediately. I know I'm not the first to say so, but the stuff about the epilepsy and her father take away from your premise. Unfortunately, I think all of the 2nd paragraph (besides the description/intro to Nico) is unnecessary clutter. I say 'unfortunately' because I really like your segue into "She kind of is." It's clever and cute... I just also think it's forced in here for the sake of being clever and cute. We aren't given a reason WHY Mina's classmates think she's strange, and in the long run, it isn't important to the story.

    This is how I would reorganize the query:

    "Straight-A student Mina Gale is a practical, play-it-safe kind of girl if ever there was one. She doesn’t think much of patchouli-scented crap like Numerology.

    So she's understandably surprised to find out she and the darkly handsome new transfer student, Nico Payne are numerological soul mates. They’re powerful “double elevens” who share an energy so charged it can punch open doors between eleven parallel universes.

    When a door opens unexpectedly, Mina and Nico are sucked off their feet…and into another world. Stranded without a guide, a map or a clue what any of this double eleven stuff really means, the pair sets out to find their way home.

    The journey rockets them from highs (an afterlife dimension where Mina reunites with her deceased father) to lows (a narrow scrape with death in an anti-gravity world). It’s going to be a dangerous trek home, and playing it safe just isn’t going to cut it anymore if Mina wants to make it back alive.

    But if holes keep ripping between dimensions every time they kiss, the biggest threat Mina and Nico have yet to face may actually be themselves.

    I'm a SCBWI member and a writer/editor with seventeen years of magazine experience. My work has appeared often in Allure, Lucky, Glamour, and The Huffington Post."

    I think without the info that doesn't add to the main plotline, your premise really shines. I just have to say.... "But if holes keep ripping between dimensions every time they kiss..." I love this line! Excellent. And every word of your first 250 falls into place like a jigsaw puzzle.

    I hope my critique doesn't offend and don't take anything to heart if it doesn't feel right to you. Good luck in the contest and with all you writerly endeavors!

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  11. Hi, all. I've been tinkering with a RV of the query. If anyone checks back in, I'd love to hear what you think of this tightened version. Many thanks! -Robyn

    All Mina Gale wants is to feel like less of a weirdo outsider at Grove High. (Well, ideally that and a conversation with the darkly handsome new transfer student, Nico Payne.) Her straight As and play-it-safe practicality don’t exactly make her a friend magnet. But there is someone at Grove who feels a powerful attraction to Mina…and she’s about to find out who.

    Turns out, Nico hasn’t been able to keep his mind off her, either. And for good reason—they’re numerological soul mates. Rare “double elevens” who share an energy so charged it can punch open doors between eleven parallel universes. When a door opens unexpectedly, Mina and Nico are sucked into another world. Stranded without a guide, a map or a clue what any of this double eleven stuff really means, the pair sets out to find their way home.

    The journey rockets them from highs (an afterlife dimension where Mina reunites with her deceased father) to lows (a narrow scrape with death in an anti-gravity world). Playing it safe just isn’t going to cut it anymore if Mina hopes to make it back alive. But if holes keep ripping between dimensions every time they kiss, the biggest threat Mina and Nico have yet to face may actually be themselves...

    Bio, etc.

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    1. Robyn, this is fantastic! I love the new query, and I'm so into your premise, I hope the bouncers pick you! I'd love to read it if you needed another CP, or just another set of eyes on it.

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    2. My CP friends are murmuring off-screen that it could still be less passive voice. This query is my nemesis. A new try:


      Mina Gale longs to feel like less of a weirdo outsider at Grove High—almost as desperately as she longs for a conversation with that darkly handsome new transfer student, Nico Payne. Unfortunately, her straight As and play-it-safe practicality don’t exactly make her a friend magnet. But someone at Grove does feel a powerful attraction to Mina…and she’s about to find out who.

      It turns out Nico hasn’t been able to keep his mind off Mina, either. And for good reason. They’re numerological soul mates—rare “double elevens” who share an energy so charged it can punch open doors between eleven parallel universes. When one of them sucks Mina and Nico into another world, they find themselves stranded without a guide, a map, or a clue what any of this double eleven stuff really means.

      Their journey home rockets them from afterlife dimension to a narrow scrape with death in an anti-gravity world. And Mina realizes that playing it safe just isn’t going to cut it anymore if she hopes to make it back alive. But if holes keep ripping between dimensions every time they kiss, the biggest threat Mina and Nico will have to face may actually be themselves...

      Delete
    3. Robyn, I think you've nailed it this time!

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  13. I love your first 250. The voice is crystal clear and I get a sense of your novel right away. The query...I like your revised post. Much more concise and I agree about leaving out the elements we don't get a sense of right away (dad/epilepsy) and letting the main dilemma shine.
    Good luck!

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  14. Only comment I have is when can I read this, I want this now, gimme, gimme, gimme. Sorry, I've been dealing with the kids, and I think they are rubbing off. Great voice, great idea, tight writing. I love, love, love it. Best of luck!
    Amy #73

    Just noticed your revised version. I think I like the original better. I definitely don't like the parenthetical (I have my own challenge with these, so I'm hyper-critical of them, and yes, I know I put this in parentheses - I can't help myself). I think the fragment in the original reflects the humor and spirit of your writing. It seems a smidge drabber without. My 2 cents. Seriously, I want to read. I'll gladly be a beta. In the immortal words of Katniss, "I volunteer."

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  15. Bouncer on the EdgeJanuary 31, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    Mmmm! Numerology and strong writing. Yes! You're in!

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