Monday, January 14, 2013

Bouncer Post #2


Title: THE DREAMSPEAKER'S DIARY
Genre: YA 
Word Count: 70,000

Query:

Yardleigh Brier isn't a typical Grayson High teenager. She isn't striving for popularity or attention, and she's definitely not looking for a boyfriend.

Her dreams are difficult enough to manage without her real life complicating things further. Because Brier has a secret. Whatever she dreams, she can speak into existence. Not people, or fairytale creatures--there are limits to her strange ability--and nothing lasts more than a day. A frightening childhood event has taught her to hide her talent--and she does everything possible to prevent her dreams from taking shape.

At least until Keller Temms comes to town.

Suddenly, Brier's closely controlled life is thrown off balance, and her dream residuals seem to be re-writing the rules of dreamspeaking. What is the connection to Keller? And what happens when the mysterious foster child from Seattle makes her reconsider the source of her power--as well as her place in her well-ordered world?

When regulators from a secret dream research institute come after her, she will be forced to explore the limits of her abilities, and decide if Keller is an ally or the reason she is a target in the first place.

First 250:

Prologue

If I’m not careful, they’ll come for me and take me away. That’s what my mother told me the one and only time we talked about my condition. That memory is buried deep in my mind, so old that it’s hazy around the edges. Back then the lines between my dreams and reality often blurred—until I got it all under control.    

But it’s happening again, and the more my control slips, the more I think that what she said is true--and that they may still come for me after all.

Brier Yardleigh
Dream Diary, entry 1

Chapter 1

When I turned six, I learned the monsters in my closet were real—but what scared me most was realizing I had put them there.

This is my first thought when I wake in the basement closet sprawled beside the baseboards. My fingers trace the grooves of claw marks—in the place my mother couldn’t cover with paint. Her words from that night come back to me and I’m reminded that, as scary as the creature in the closet was, the people who will come for me if I’m discovered are worse. My second thought is that I have to get my dreamspeaking under control, because this is the third time this week I’ve woken up in the damn closet.

The floor creaks and a light switches on.

“Brier?” My sister’s muffled voice reaches me beyond a wall of old coats.

Squinting against the sudden brightness, I scramble out on my hands and knees.  

21 comments:

  1. You have a really interesting premise, so interesting, I'd like to see it crystal clear in your query. You spend time saying what her ability is not (and what she doesn't want), I'd love to see something specific about what it IS. And not vague generalities. For example, perhaps the mc can choose not just whether to use the ability, but what she actually does (she makes her rival disappear for one day, but blows her chance to win the debate tournament and then can't make the same dream twice....you get the idea).

    I thought your Ch 1 first line was so good, I was sorry it isn't the actual first line. My opinion only, but I think putting the diary entry later would be much more powerful - then all the info would come off as a reveal. At first reading, I couldn't care about all the dire issues because I didn't know the mc yet. I tried reading from in the closet, and felt much more connected.

    Small thing - does the light switch on inside the closet too? Maybe she sees the light through the cracks, then a beat for her opening the door.

    Good luck!

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  2. Heather-thank you so much for your comments. I really appreciate the detailed feedback! I have re-worked the opening of this so many times, and it's nice to see it through someone else's eyes. This is really helpful--thank you for taking the time to read and give such an insightful critique!

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  3. I love your concept! The last paragraph of your query definitely left me wanting to read more. Great last line! I liked your first 250 as well, but I agree with Heather about your first line for chapter one (about the monster's in the closet). I love that line, and I think it would make a great 'real' first line. I liked the diary entry too, but, like Heather, I felt a little more connected to your mc after reading the monster's in the closet scene.

    But overall, great job! Good luck!

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    1. Thank you so much for your comments, Stephanie! Ok--I'm definitely hearing you guys in terms of the first line! :) This helps, as I've debated the opening and changed it so many times. This is so encouraging! BTW, I REALLY like your story opening--and wish I could read more! I wish you much success!

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  4. Hi Jenny! I agree with the previous poster - super interesting premise. I'd also be a fan of starting with "When I turned six...". I'm engaged by that idea and definitely want to learn more!

    Good luck!
    Erin (#20) :)

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    1. Thanks, Erin! I'm glad you liked the premise.I really appreciate the feedback about the opening--totally helpful and encouraging! BTW, I enjoyed YOUR story very much--really like Thelma's voice and I think your MC will have broad appeal among MG's!

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  5. I really like this premise and love the term "dreamspeaker"!

    I would cut out the 1st paragraph of your query since I don't think the reader gets drawn in until the 2nd paragraph.

    I also agree w/ the other comments about ditching the prologue and just starting w/ chpt 1. Great 1st line, BTW.

    I'm entry #19; thanks for your comments as well and best of luck!!

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    1. Thanks so much, Shannon! I really appreciate the feedback--and I'm totally taking your advice on the query and first line. I enjoyed the opening of your novel, BTW, and I wish you luck and success in your publishing journey! :)

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  6. I was about to write up my notes, but I realized everything I was thinking has already been said - I second loving the premise, cutting out the first paragraph of the query (the "ordinary girl" opening is cliche) and cutting the prologue/starting with Chapter 1.

    Best of luck from entry #7! :)

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  7. Thank you, Anna! I appreciate your comments--it just confirms the changes I need to make and that always helps the editing process.Good luck again to you as well--your story opening is beautifully written!

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  8. Really neat concept! Ditto on the other comments re: the prologue/diary entry; I thought the first line of chapter one was a really good hook. The first 250 was very well-written. I felt your query was good, with good intrigue, but like Heather I thought it could probably be made just a little clearer as to what's going on. In particular, it was the line about dream residuals that left me feeling confused, since we don't know what those are.
    Good luck from entry #1!

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  9. Thank you so much, Saybe! I really appreciate the detailed feedback--helpful to know what resonates with readers and what doesn't work as well. I wish you luck as well!!

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  10. Love, love your concept. But I agree about the prologue--ditch it as a prologue. BUT--have considered retooling it as your query??? Think about it. I think it could be very powerful.

    #6

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  11. What a great idea! Thank you, Margie! Good luck to you! :)

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  12. I think Margie has a great idea there--prologue as query would be awesome. I loved your first 250, and agree that starting after the prologue gave me a better connection to the character. Good luck!

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  13. Thanks, Heather!

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  14. Aaaaaaaaand.....

    You're IN!

    I looooved your first 250. Specifically: "but what scared me most was realizing I had put them there." That just grabbed me and wouldn't let me go. Perfect first sentence. Notice I said first. That's because I agree with the other commenters about the prologue. Only, I don't think you should necessarily use it for the query. It's an intriguing idea to use it for the query, but I don't think there's enough substance there for an agent to really get what's going on. BUT it would be cool to repurpose the prologue for back-flap copy maybe. Just a thought. Or incorporate it later on in the story. The problem with prologues (and I know this from experience) is that they either weaken a really strong opening, or they're trying to cover up a really weak opening. (Twilight's a good example of a prologue trying to cover up a really weak opening.) Your opening is very, very strong, and I think your prologue is just getting in the way of that.

    As for your query, it needs some work. I found it pretty confusing. For one thing, is the MC's name Yardleigh Brier or Brier Yardleigh? For another, if she can't conjure fairy creatures, how is she responsible for putting the monsters in her closet? Who is the mysterious foster child from Seattle and what does s/he have to do with Keller? Also, I think your query is too long. You can ditch the whole first paragraph and start with "Brier Yardleigh has a secret..." And you can cut the sentence that starts "Not people or fairytale creatures..." because we don't need to know this information in the query. One thing you might want to add is a hint of romance--I'm assuming Keller is a romantic interest? Hinting at a romance might help you with agents looking for a little romance in a story. Lastly, I think your last sentence needs some punch. Using her abilities more doesn't sound like such a bad thing to us yet, and deciding whether Keller is on her side or the reason for her problems is not really a dilemma. You want to set up that last sentence so that her dilemma is a powerful one, e.g., submit or die, submit or watch her friends die, submit or watch the world die, that kind of thing. Raise those stakes! I know they're there!

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    1. Trying to happy dance and type at the same time is presenting a challenge--but THANK YOU SO MUCH! I am thrilled to move on to the agent round, but I'm equally excited about the incredible two paragraphs of feedback you gave me. As writers, we send our submissions out into the 'Query Ether',and it's so rare to get positive, helpful suggestions back from a professional who knows their stuff. I am truly, truly grateful for this opportunity, and I know you've shared insight that will make my query and opening stronger.

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    2. You're very welcome! I'm excited for you, believe me. And I'm really looking forward to reading your book someday!

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  15. I want to thank everyone who took the time to leave comments on my query and 250. You guys rock and I'm truly encouraged by the things you said and suggested. So many great ideas--especially the suggested "real" first line that the Bouncer also agreed with. I wish you all well on your writing journeys--whatever your next step may be.

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  16. Awesome premise! And great "real" first line. ;) You've gotten some great advice for shining this up. Can't wait to read the new version. Good luck in the agent round! :)

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