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CHILD GOD ( Suspense)


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#21 DC Rich

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 05:33 PM

I agree with what the others have said. I like take three.

I do miss this line though - "neither is a fan of the other".

As you moved on with them discovering traits in the other showed growth and development in just a few lines. I liked that part. But it reads great now, don't try to put it back, you've worked out the other bugs.

I know I just contradicted myself. That is what is so fun about all of this, many things work!

You’ve got some great advice, but take three is good. Don’t worry about the hook, it is working. I agree with anticipa good characters are the best hook.

She also has a great point about keeping it all in Angela's POV and not switching it.

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#22 MMWBus

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 03:55 PM

Hey. I like it overall, really, but a couple quick things -

"Despite the age of its protagonists, darker themes and scenes of graphic violence place Angela Dawn and the Child God firmly into the older YA market as a psychological suspense story."

I'd suggest cutting your opening line at the top and blending it with this at the end by saying "ANGELA DAWN AND THE CHILD GOD is an 80,000-word YA suspense novel. Despite the age of its protagonists, the psychological and at-times graphic nature of the story place Angela Dawn and the Child God firmly into the older market, much like Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card."
(The way you stated it immediately reminded me of Ender's Game, and imo it couldn't hurt to remind them that there ARE intensely successful books about younger protagonists for older readers.)

"and have posted several short stories (and one novella) online."
No need for this.

'“pointless endeavors” '
This doesn't need quotes. Neither does 'different' in the next paragraph

The sudden referral to Roy as Wiley in para 2 is understandable - i see his name quite a bit around it - but it's also jarring. I'd keep 'roy.'

I agree with ravage's comments, except for the bit about 'couldn't care less,' which is correct as is, and the capitalization of 'Master Plan,' which I believe is a stylistic decision on your part, yes? (I'm biased - I love capitalizing things that don't necessarily need capitalization. One of my MCs frequently refers to 'Big Important Things', which is always capitalized for sarcastic emphasis.)

i really like the transition you've got here from relatively comic to seriocomic to serious. it flows very nicely. best of luck and keep up the good work!


Somehow Anticipa articulated my thoughts before I was finished thinking them, ha. Except the Ender's Game suggestion. Brilliant ... and I agree as well.

In regards to your story, it really piqued my interest. I particularly enjoyed when Roy refers to poison ivy as "free weaponry –– ripe for the picking!" I smiled out loud. :)

#23 Petal65

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 11:07 AM

This sounds very interesting and I think you're well on the way to a workable query. I have one comment about target age vs MC age.

When I first read this query, I read YA in the opener and skipped over "classmate" a few lines down. This enabled me to picture Angela as OLDER than Roy, maybe 16 yrs old. I was actually disappointed when I re-read and realized she was also 12.

Having the protagonist two different ages might solve some of your problems, and I think it's interesting.

Just my thoughts.

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#24 windjammer

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 01:55 PM

Greetings,

Happy to return the critique favor. Hope the input is helpful to you:

Dear Mr. XXX:

I found your submission guidelines online FINDING A CLOSER MATCH POINT WOULD BE STRONGER and am seeking representation for my 90,000-word YA suspense novel, Angela Dawn and the Child God TITLES ARE ALL IN CAPS.

Arrogant and hyper-intelligent LOVE IT sixth-grade graduate I WOULD GO WITH SIXTH-GRADER RATHER THAN GRADUATE OF FIRST GRADE OF MIDDLE SCHOOL Roy Wiley couldn’t care less about pointless endeavors like baton-twirling CATCHY, BUT MAKES THE PARAGRAPH CIRCULAR; I'D SUGGEST A MORE HUMOROUSLY ARROGANT COMMENT. He’s far too busy working on his Master Plan NOT CAPS to save all the world’s children from hunger, disease, war and abuse. His classmate Angela Dawn, on the other hand, is concerned only with perfecting her twirling skills during the summer I WOULD SKIP 'DURING THE SUMMMER' so she can compete in upcoming A PARTICULAR COMPETITION OR CIRCUIT WOULD BE STRONGER competitions.

Angela is leery of Roy when their respective parents convince the Boy Genius NOT SURE ABOUT CAPS to tutor Angela in math, but she has to admit that Roy is nothing if not different SOMETHING MORE DESCRIPTIVE THAN 'DIFFERENT' WOULD GIVE A LITTLE MORE CHARACTER. After all, most kids don’t own 955 radio-controlled helicopters, carry around a water pistol filled with lemon juice or call poison ivy “free weaponry- ripe for the picking!” THIS IS GOOD VOICING; I WISH THESE THINGS GAVE ME A HINT OF HOW HE WAS PLANNING TO USE THEM TO SAVE THE WORLD'S CHILDREN, WHICH WOULD BE HILARIOUS. ALSO, THIS MIGHT BE A GOOD PLACE FOR A LITTLE WHITE SPACE (NEW PARA) While Roy helps her to see not only math AWKWARD PHRASING but the whole world in a brand-new light WHAT CONVINCES HIM TO CHANGE FROM ARROGANT TO HELPFUL?, she tries to help him moderate his obsessions I DIDN'T QUITE GET OBSESSION FROM THE ABOVE (AVID HELICOPTER COLLECTOR, YES). OR MAYBE THE NEW PARA STARTS HERE, WITHOUT THE 'BUT': But when Roy overreacts to a bullying incident BULLYING TO HIM?, events PLEASE SPECIFY THE CATEGORY OR EVENTS OR CHANGE; A LITTLE TOO VAGUE begin to spiral out of control. Angela’s efforts to help Roy find a solution TO THE BULLYING? lead only to her own life disintegrating, as friends abandon her and Roy's enemies become hers as well I LOVE THE POTENTIAL IN THIS. EVEN STRONGER IF I UNDERSTAND SHE WANTS TO BE POPULAR FROM YOUR INITIAL INTRODUCTION OF HER. Finally, Roy reveals the full nature of his plan to Angela IS THIS THE PLAN TO SAVE THE WORLD'S CHILDREN? IT'S THE ONLY PLAN I KNOW SO FAR, and she has to decide; is she the one who will help make Roy’s dreams a reality, or is she the world’s only hope for stopping him? I'D BE HAPPY TO PEEK INTO WHAT HIS DREAMS ARE IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND HOW THEY ARE OUTRAGEOUS. ALSO, BE CAREFUL WITH THE QUESTION MARK ENDING; IT ISN'T ALWAYS AN AGENT FAVORITE.

Thank you for your consideration.


Great story! I will be happy to follow this thread.

#25 windjammer

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 02:01 PM

Hi again,

I try to skip over everyone's comments to give the authors a fresh reader, but on my way out, the discussion about suitable for older audiences caught my eye. In this case, I would tailor the query so it wouldn't be as light-hearted (especially in the bullying description might be easy). Ultimately, it might make sense to "grow up" the characters at least to the end of middle school -- the kids' concerns would be similar to what you have, but a high school reader will consider them more as peer group equals.

#26 bkeats

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 03:12 PM

There's hardly room to thank each and every one of your for your feedback (not to mention your interest- 30+ stone-cold rejections from agents tends to throw a lot of cold water over one's enthusiasm, but I believe in this story, so I'm just going to keep on plugging). Again, thanks to you all. If I've helped in even the smallest way on any of my critiques on your works, I'll be very happy indeed.

A few notes on some of the more recent comments.


Krystle- Thank you for the notes on caps, as well as your advice.

jwmstudio- Thanks for your encouragement. Yes, I think it's almost there.

anticipa- What would I do without you? gosh!: Yes, Roy is indeed a psychopath, but he's my favorite kind- the one who's absolutely convinced he's acting for the greater good, and is more concerned and proactive about the ideals he espouses than most of the others around him. I'm going to take your advice by not trying to put in a textbook hook. The entire book is written in Angela's POV (Third person though, rather than the traditional first), so I don't want to try anything wanky here.

DC Rich- As you suggested as well, I'll keep the hook I have.

MMWBus- I can't help thinking about Ender's Game as well, but comparing my work to Card's in a query, even obliquely, would be like writing a Civil War romance and saying "it's in the same vein as Gone With The Wind."

Petal65- I used "classmate" to let the reader know that Roy and Angela are the same age without having to spell it out. And as for changing ages, I've been agonizing over this forever on the "Juvenile Fiction" forum. No can do. It's a linchpin of the plot that neither Roy nor Angela have hit puberty yet. Making them older (particulary Angela, as girls mature earlier) invalidates everything, and I don't want either kid to be suffering from some bizarre affliction that delays puberty.

windjammer- Thanks for your input. I know some things are still a little vague in the query, but this is one of those cases where it's hard to reveal anything without revealing everything. Roy's toy helicopters, water pistol and poison-plant picking proclivities aren't directly related to his Master Plan, (Yes, capitalized, as is Boy Genius. When tweens speak, you can practically hear them capitalizing everything. It's a drama thing), but they give a window into his mind-set (thus, Angela viewing Roy as "different").
I'D BE HAPPY TO PEEK INTO WHAT HIS DREAMS ARE IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND HOW THEY ARE OUTRAGEOUS.
Thank you, jammer. That as much as anything tells me my query is doing what I want it to do.

By the way, when did 6th grade become friggin' middle-school? I've never heard of that until recently! In my time (insert old-man voice) middle-school (junior high, call it what you will) was 7th and 8th grades. Okay, mine also included 9th, but never-mind. I still know places where 6th is the last year of elementary, so I'll stick with that. I list Roy as "6th-grade graduate" in the query as the entire book, except for the prologue, is set in the summer between 6th and 7th grades.


Okay, now. Fourth and (I think) final revision. Changes here are largely cosmetic and done in blue.
My biggest concern was when I suddenly realized I'd used the verb "help" four times in my query. I took out two of them, made a few tweaks here and there, and here we go...

Again note that the opening will be customized to the particular agent and agency in question.


Dear Mrs. XXX:

I am seeking representation for my 90,000-word YA suspense novel, ANGELA DAWN AND THE CHILD GOD.

Arrogant and hyper-intelligent sixth-grade graduate Roy Wiley couldn’t care less about pointless endeavors like baton-twirling. He’s far too busy working on his Master Plan to save all the world’s children from hunger, disease, war and abuse. His classmate Angela Dawn, on the other hand, is concerned only with perfecting her twirling skills during the summer so she can compete in upcoming competitions.

Angela is leery of Roy when their respective parents convince the Boy Genius to tutor Angela in math, but she has to admit Roy is nothing if not different. After all, most kids don’t own 955 radio-controlled helicopters, carry around a water pistol filled with lemon juice or call poison ivy “free weaponry- ripe for the picking!” While Roy enables her to see not only math but the whole world in a brand-new light, she tries to help him moderate his obsessions. But when Roy overreacts to a bullying incident, events begin to spiral out of control. Angela’s efforts to aid Roy only lead to her own life disintegrating, as friends abandon her and Roy’s enemies become hers as well. Finally, Roy reveals the full nature of his plan to Angela, and she has to decide; is she the one who will help make Roy’s dreams a reality, or is she the world’s only hope of stopping him?

Thank you for your consideration.



Well, that's the query. Now, onto the synopsis! :sad:

#27 Petal65

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 12:07 PM

Petal65- I used "classmate" to let the reader know that Roy and Angela are the same age without having to spell it out. And as for changing ages, I've been agonizing over this forever on the "Juvenile Fiction" forum. No can do. It's a linchpin of the plot that neither Roy nor Angela have hit puberty yet. Making them older (particulary Angela, as girls mature earlier) invalidates everything, and I don't want either kid to be suffering from some bizarre affliction that delays puberty.


Just so you know it is quite common for young women who are very physically active (competitive gymnasts and ballet dancers for example) to not reach puberty until they are 15 or 16. My sister in law was a ballerina and didn't get her period until she was 15. Also girls who restrict their diets (to fit into baton twirling uniforms for example :smile: ) often menstruate late. Just FYI.

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#28 Cat Woods

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 12:35 PM

Diving into the puberty discussion: eighth grade is a common grade for young ladies to hit puberty with no real worries until they are 14 or 15. This puts you firmly in YA territory if you want to bump that up a bit.

Unless the story and voice don't support the older age-group.

It really comes down to voice and style for breaking the traditional age boundaries. Have you had an experienced reader (ie one who reads MG and Ya) give your manuscript a once-over? This could be the most valuable advice you get on the subject rather than trying to conform to norms.

A few betas in each age range would be the bomb-diggity.

Best luck, as this continues to sound intriguing.

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#29 Lisa K

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 10:07 PM

Dear Agent:

I found your submission guidelines online and am seeking representation for my 80,000-word YA novel, Angela Dawn and the Child God.Maybe leave this out, since it doesn't mention any specific knowledge of the agent's credentials.
Arrogant and hyper-intelligent sixth-grade graduate Roy Wiley couldn’t care less (this is fine) as is about “pointless endeavors” like baton-twirling. He’s far too busy working on his Master Plan to save all the world’s children from hunger, disease, war and abuse. His classmate Angela Dawn, on the other hand, is concerned only with perfecting her twirling skills during the summer so she can compete in upcoming professional competitions.

When Roy is coerced to tutor Angela in math, neither is a fan of the other, but Angela has to admit Roy is at least “different.” After all, most kids don’t own 955 radio-controlled helicopters, carry around a water pistol filled with lemon juice or call poison ivy “free weaponry- ripe for the picking!” While Roy helps her to see not only math but the whole world in a brand-new light, she tries to help him moderate his obsessions. But when Roy overreacts to a bullying incident, events begin to spiral dangerously out of control. Angela’s efforts to help Roy lead only to her own life disintegrating, as friends abandon her and Wiley’swho's Wiley? enemies become hers as well. Finally, Roy reveals the full nature of his plan to Angela, and she has to decide; is she the one who will help make Roy’s dreams a reality, or is she the world’s only hope for stopping him?

Despite the age of its protagonists, darker themes and scenes of graphic violence place Angela Dawn and the Child God firmly into the older YA market as a psychological suspense story.

Although not yet a published author, I have taken fiction writing workshops in both New York City and Rochester, and have posted several short stories (and one novella) online. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely...

This is a clear, concise query. I couldn't find much wrong with it, except for the confusion of suddenly refering to Roy as Wiley. I'd just stick to Roy.

#30 bkeats

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 12:19 PM

Just so you know it is quite common for young women who are very physically active (competitive gymnasts and ballet dancers for example) to not reach puberty until they are 15 or 16. My sister in law was a ballerina and didn't get her period until she was 15. Also girls who restrict their diets (to fit into baton twirling uniforms for example :smile: ) often menstruate late. Just FYI.


You're quite right in that, Petal. (At one point, Angela briefly considers quitting athletics for that very reason, as she's "behind" all her friends in that regard). I think the major reason is, as Cat Woods stated, story and voice. There's a huge difference between being twelve and being say, fifteen. The story starts out fairly MGish as befits the two main characters, but becomes more YA half-way through, and the last several chapters are basically an adult thriller.

Probably unsellable as hell to any agent :sad: We'll see. I may bump up their ages if that's what it takes to break the logjam. Sadly, none of the numerous rejections I've received to date has been anything more than boiler plate, with no specifics whatsoever.

#31 Petal65

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 12:44 PM

Angela is your protagonist because she "has to decide". Make that clear in your query by starting with her?

Lose the phrase "spiral out of control" - it's a query cliche.

To YA this book Angela needs to be older (which we're discussed already) and you need a new title. "XXX and the XXX" titles are firmly fixed in either MG or satire.

The story starts out fairly MGish as befits the two main characters, but becomes more YA half-way through, and the last several chapters are basically an adult thriller.

Probably unsellable as hell to any agent :sad: We'll see. I may bump up their ages if that's what it takes to break the logjam. Sadly, none of the numerous rejections I've received to date has been anything more than boiler plate, with no specifics whatsoever.



You're right when you suspect that this mix of markets is unsellable. My question is, if you know this, then why are you going with it? Are you sabotaging your own work? Are you using this as a shield against rejection based on the quality of your writing?

If you wrote this just for the fun of it, then don't waste the time of busy agents submitting it. If you wrote it to publish then it needs to work in the publishing market. This is not just a "daring" deviation from formula. By your own admission this is three different books. Teens and adults (who don't read MG) will give up after a few pages. Average MG readers will get lost halfway through, and advanced MG readers will find the end too harsh? Maybe even too scary?

The only people who will be able to read your book, as described, will be adult MG/YA affictionados like myself, who will wonder what the hell the author was thinking writing a book with such a mixed up market.

This could be a fantastically interesting book for MG/YA or even adults (consider Life of Pi or Curious Incident, both MG protagonists, both adult market, but both CLEARLY adult from page one), but this line in your query:

"Despite the age of its protagonists, darker themes and scenes of graphic violence place Angela Dawn and the Child God firmly into the older YA market as a psychological suspense story."

Makes me think the writer thinks he/she is above publishing conventions. This is death for a query. Think of what you are actually saying here: "This is a book about two kids doing things that frighten adults, designed for teens to read." What?

Hard sell bkeats, hard sell.

But here's the thing. I suspect the MANUSCRIPT is just fine, maybe even for MG. You're sabotaging yourself in your own query.

Can you tell us what you think takes your story out of MG?

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#32 windjammer

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 09:16 PM

Time to check in with you here (yes, I caught your comments above; if you want to check up on current middle school grades, see www.greatschools.net -- not sure what you'll find, but I have four kids in four schools):

Dear Mrs. UHHHHH- Ms. or Mr., most of the agents are 20-something single women XXX:

I am seeking representation for my 90,000-word YA suspense novel, ANGELA DAWN AND THE CHILD GOD.

Arrogant and hyper-intelligent sixth-grade graduate Roy Wiley couldn’t care less about pointless endeavors like baton-twirling. He’s far too busy working on his Master Plan to save all the world’s children from hunger, disease, war and abuse. His classmate Angela Dawn, on the other hand, is concerned only with perfecting her twirling skills during the summer so she can compete in upcoming competitions.

ANGELA BARELY KNOWS THE BOY GENIUS EXISTS UNTIL ROY SHOWS UP ON HER DOORSTEP. AGAINST THEIR WILL, HE'S THE MATH TUTOR. NO DOUBT HE IS ALSO THE CRAZIEST KID IN THE WHOLE SCHOOL, IF NOT THE WHOLE UNIVERSE. (Angela is leery of Roy when their respective parents convince the Boy Genius to tutor Angela in math, but she has to admit Roy is nothing if not different.) After all, most kids don’t own 955 radio-controlled helicopters, carry around a water pistol filled with lemon juice or call poison ivy “free weaponry- ripe for the picking!”

While Roy enables her to see not only math but the whole world in a brand-new light, she tries to help him moderate his obsessions STILL WOULD PICK A DIFFERENT WORD, SORRY. But when Roy overreacts to a bullying incident PLEASE MAKE ACTIVE IF IT IS ABOUT HIM, events begin to spiral out of control VAGUE AND PASSIVE. Angela’s efforts to aid Roy only lead to her own life disintegrating, as friends abandon her and Roy’s enemies become hers as well. Finally, Roy reveals the full nature of his REVENGE? OR WHAT? plan to Angela, and she has to decide; is she the one who will (WOULD 'WILL SHE' WORK INSTEAD?) help make Roy’s dreams STILL NEED A CATEGORY OF THE DREAMS TO UNDERSTAND a reality, or is she the world’s only hope of stopping him?

Thank you for your consideration.


Closing in on a "win," as Query Shark would say... :-) Go, go go!

#33 bkeats

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 07:49 AM

Angela is your protagonist because she "has to decide". Make that clear in your query by starting with her?

Lose the phrase "spiral out of control" - it's a query cliche.

To YA this book Angela needs to be older (which we're discussed already) and you need a new title. "XXX and the XXX" titles are firmly fixed in either MG or satire.

You're right when you suspect that this mix of markets is unsellable. My question is, if you know this, then why are you going with it? Are you sabotaging your own work? Are you using this as a shield against rejection based on the quality of your writing?

If you wrote this just for the fun of it, then don't waste the time of busy agents submitting it. If you wrote it to publish then it needs to work in the publishing market. This is not just a "daring" deviation from formula. By your own admission this is three different books. Teens and adults (who don't read MG) will give up after a few pages. Average MG readers will get lost halfway through, and advanced MG readers will find the end too harsh? Maybe even too scary?

The only people who will be able to read your book, as described, will be adult MG/YA affictionados like myself, who will wonder what the hell the author was thinking writing a book with such a mixed up market.

This could be a fantastically interesting book for MG/YA or even adults (consider Life of Pi or Curious Incident, both MG protagonists, both adult market, but both CLEARLY adult from page one), but this line in your query:

"Despite the age of its protagonists, darker themes and scenes of graphic violence place Angela Dawn and the Child God firmly into the older YA market as a psychological suspense story."

Makes me think the writer thinks he/she is above publishing conventions. This is death for a query. Think of what you are actually saying here: "This is a book about two kids doing things that frighten adults, designed for teens to read." What?

Hard sell bkeats, hard sell.

But here's the thing. I suspect the MANUSCRIPT is just fine, maybe even for MG. You're sabotaging yourself in your own query.

Can you tell us what you think takes your story out of MG?


Thanks for the feedback, Petal. Double-thanks for being honest and not pulling your punches.

Here's the story. This is a bipolar novel. I've written it twice.

I originally wrote it as a straight psychological suspense story that just happened to have a middle-grader as its protaganist. As you've pointed out, this isn't unique. There are adult novels out there that have tween protaganists, although neither of the two you mention qualify. Don't get me wrong- I've read them both, and they're fantastic, but Pi is sixteen, and Boone in Curious Incident is fifteen. YA.

However, what I'm looking for is already out there. Swamplandia, The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Protaganists are 12, 11 and 9, respectively. All commercial novels, aimed at adults.

I'd never attempted to get anything published anything before, but I got such good feedback about this story that I decided to give it a whirl (this was before I joined AQ). So I submitted my story (then called simply Child God) to the appropriate agents. I'm no fool, and I certainly don't have an inflated opinion of myself as a writer. I expected rejection- lots of it. And I got it.

What I didn't expect was the complete and total lack of any specifics. I couldn't tell. Was it my query? My synopsis? My partials?

At this time, I'd joined, AQ, and started getting advice from luminaries as Cat Woods and others. I'd read over one hundred MG and YA books (not exaggerating), and started to think that this was the direction I should have taken all along. So I re-wrote my manuscript. It took several months, but the final result seemed cleaner and smoother to my eyes. Thus, I resubmitted it, with a new query, again to the appropriate agents.

Rejections. Bank, faceless, no-advice rejections. Thirty-three (not counting the original batch) and counting.

So, the bottom line is I don't know. Maybe I just suck as a writer. I'm certainly not arrogant enough to think "my work is genius, and all you stupid agents out there are too idiotic to see it!" They (the agents) are professionals, and have gotten to their position by being good at their jobs. I know it's what they think, not what I think, that's important.

You ask what takes this story out of MG. Well, I suppose the simplest answer would be the violence. There's more of it than I've read in MG books. It's not gratuitous or even gory, but there is some blood, and towards the end, a number of people die.

windjammer- thanks for your comments. If I decide to keep this as MG/YA, I'll consider them (heck, even if I don't). The only caveat is that the story takes place in a very small town (population 2,000), so Angela does indeed know who Roy is- they've been in the same grade for six years. He's just kept to himself for the most part, but Angela knows lots of rumors about him- some of which are true, and some of which are not.

I don't know. Maybe I need to rethink this. Post my synopsis and sample chapers on the appropriate forums and see what happens. Maybe I can figure out just what part of this whole mess isn't working.

#34 Petal65

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 11:35 AM

Yes, of course, you're right about Pi and Curious Incident's MC's. They are older than I remember them.

Who is YOUR MC? Is it Will or Angela? Have you read "Apt Pupil" by Stephen King? Your query kind of reminds me of this.

Another thing that defines MG/YA away from adult is the lack of involvement of adults. The plot is driven by the kid characters. In APT PUPIL for example, the plot is driven by both the kid and the old Nazi, also it's grotesque and horrifying, therefore adult lit.

Perhaps you should try a professional manuscript appraisal.

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#35 windjammer

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 01:20 PM

Thought I'd return the favor of checking in :-).

Excellent comments; from what you say, it is definitely premature for you to pass judgment on your manuscript/themes/purpose-in-writing-life. Your responses reflect what a challenging and emotionally trying this querying business provides (not to mention the money's not too good lol).

If what is facing rejection is your query, then the problem is your query. You owe it to yourself to keep it simple, in my opinion.

There are all these rules about the genres and queries, then there are all the notable breaks with the rules... good news and bad news, right? But the query MUST reflect the manuscript, and the most important aspect is voicing.

Do you have a one-page synopsis? Chances are it is written more seriously than your current query reads, yes? I think if you review (or create) that, then spot-read through your manuscript to put yourself back in the characters' heads, you can write a slightly-too-long query without overdue effort. From there, our community should be able to help you pare it down.

Stay strong for the marathon. You owe your manuscript that much :-).

#36 DC Rich

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 01:58 PM

If what is facing rejection is your query, then the problem is your query. You owe it to yourself to keep it simple, in my opinion.

There are all these rules about the genres and queries, then there are all the notable breaks with the rules... good news and bad news, right? But the query MUST reflect the manuscript, and the most important aspect is voicing.

Do you have a one-page synopsis? Chances are it is written more seriously than your current query reads, yes? I think if you review (or create) that, then spot-read through your manuscript to put yourself back in the characters' heads, you can write a slightly-too-long query without overdue effort. From there, our community should be able to help you pare it down.

Stay strong for the marathon. You owe your manuscript that much :-).


I think the one-page synopsis into a query is a good idea. Believe me when I say I know how emotional you can be with your manuscript. The work you’ve done should pay off as you are willing to make the changes necessary to have your work published. Have you posted anything from your ms to one of the appropriate forums for feedback? That may also be of some help in getting direction with your project.

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#37 bkeats

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 08:50 AM

Lord, did I once think I was nearly done with this? :huh:

Who is YOUR MC? Is it Will or Angela? Have you read "Apt Pupil" by Stephen King? Your query kind of reminds me of this.

Will or Angela? :blink:

Wrong, query, Petal. You're thinking of "The Bequest." :cool:

And yes, I've read Apt Pupil. Never thought of the similarity there, but in a faint way, I do see it.

You ask who my MC is. That's kind of a tough one to answer, because it depends on which version of my manuscript you're referring to. And that leads to yet another question. If a chapter (or more than one) is told from a given character's POV (third person), is that person a de facto Primary Character? I leave out the prologue-POV-told-by-the-guy-who-gets-killed-by-the-villian-cliche.

If that's the case, and I kind of think it is, the adult version of Child God has five primary characters; Roy Wiley, Angela Dawn, Roy's mother, his father and Roy's school psychologist. They kind of "orbit" around Roy during the course of the story. If you're looking for the main character, It's Roy.

For the MG/YA/Whatever-the-hell-it-is version, there's no confusion. It's Angela. The entire story is told from her POV (still third-person).

Another thing that defines MG/YA away from adult is the lack of involvement of adults. The plot is driven by the kid characters. In APT PUPIL for example, the plot is driven by both the kid and the old Nazi, also it's grotesque and horrifying, therefore adult lit.


Again, a toughie. In both versions, it's Roy and Angela who move the story forward, but in the original adult version, the adults and their concerns about and relation to Roy play a much larger role. There are a number of scenes between them that include neither Roy nor Angela, even if the topic of the scene is about the children. In the YA version, I cut out showing the adult involvement directly. It's shown only from the childrens' perspective, and is not as central to the plot.

Perhaps you should try a professional manuscript appraisal.


Along with professional therapy :wacko: :smile: Seriously, I am considering this. Others have suggested it, as well.

Windjammer, DC, thank you for your comments. I have a five-page synopsis, and am trying to distill it down to a one-page version. I hope to have it ready in a few days, and will then post it in the Synopsis Forum. Hopefully, that will help.

And thanks to everyone for their encouragement. It's easy to get discouraged. Knowing someone's rooting for you is the best tonic! :biggrin:

#38 Petal65

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 11:00 PM

Heck, we ALL need therapy. But for the purposes of my assistance I am interested in the "YA version", which as I've stated before is either MG or adult. :blush:

I think if you made Angela slightly older (say 14) then you might find you can squeeze this into YA. Maybe she failed a grade and Roy skipped?

Your understanding about the involvement of adults shows good insight into how young reader lit works. As far as who is a primary character, POV makes no difference really. Sometimes the book is written in 1st person point of view from a character who has little to do with story, or at least is not the protagonist. Consider "Moby Dick" for example.

I get this kind of question in my screenwriting classes A LOT. Can a screenplay have more than one protagonist (what we call here an MC - main character)? IN most cases, with a few notable exceptions, no. Good screenplays and movies have ONE MC. ADULT novels often have more than one, but for young readers, it's rare to make it work.

You say Roy is your MC, all the action revolves around him. Great, that's a good indicator. However, here's the critical thing: DOES HE CHANGE?

The example I always give is the movie "When Harry Met Sally". Two protags or one? Both want things, both do stuff, both get a lot of screentime, but only Harry really changes. Sally has always thought men and women could be friends. Sally has always believed in true love. Harry changes, therefore, Harry is the protag.

I get he feeling from your query that Angela changes, as a result of knowing (and fearing) Roy. But does he change? So your query makes it seem like Angela is the MC, yet Roy gets most of the attention and action, so it's a bit confusing. Not to mention the age/audience thing.

Hope that helps.

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#39 bkeats

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 07:19 AM

I think if you made Angela slightly older (say 14) then you might find you can squeeze this into YA. Maybe she failed a grade and Roy skipped?

I am plowing through my manuscript trying to find a way to make this work. Angela is an exceptionally bright girl- second only to Roy, in fact. Her grades do plummet after a tragedy in her life (set before the book starts). I hadn't intended it to be severe enough for her to fail a grade, but maybe...
I can't have Roy skip grades. He adamantly refuses to, even though he's more than capable; he wants to "coast" through elementary school so he'll have every available minute to work on his Master Plan. However, if I put Roy and Angela in different grades to start with, this might work after all. I'll lose some juicy scenes, but it might be worth it.

Your understanding about the involvement of adults shows good insight into how young reader lit works. As far as who is a primary character, POV makes no difference really. Sometimes the book is written in 1st person point of view from a character who has little to do with story, or at least is not the protagonist. Consider "Moby Dick" for example.

You have great insight, Petal. I never thought of it that way. I guess Ishmael is a bit of a do-nothing, isn't he? He starts strong, but then kind of fades away.

I get this kind of question in my screenwriting classes A LOT. Can a screenplay have more than one protagonist (what we call here an MC - main character)? IN most cases, with a few notable exceptions, no. Good screenplays and movies have ONE MC. ADULT novels often have more than one, but for young readers, it's rare to make it work.
You say Roy is your MC, all the action revolves around him. Great, that's a good indicator. However, here's the critical thing: DOES HE CHANGE?

The example I always give is the movie "When Harry Met Sally". Two protags or one? Both want things, both do stuff, both get a lot of screentime, but only Harry really changes. Sally has always thought men and women could be friends. Sally has always believed in true love. Harry changes, therefore, Harry is the protag.

I get he feeling from your query that Angela changes, as a result of knowing (and fearing) Roy. But does he change? So your query makes it seem like Angela is the MC, yet Roy gets most of the attention and action, so it's a bit confusing. Not to mention the age/audience thing.

Man, I wish I was in your class :smile: I did actually edit a screenplay about twenty years ago, and it was a blast. Never got made, though :sad:

Anyway, your point about the MC being the one who changes hit me like a brick. I thought about it, and then came to the inescapable conclusion.

NO. Roy doesn't change. He does get the chance at the book's end, but he rejects it. It's Angela who changes. Profoundly and substantially. That makes her the MC, I guess. No real surprise; when I re-wrote this as MG/YA, she took charge, and it seemed natural to me.

Hope that helps.


Do you have to ask? :biggrin: Thanks again.

#40 Petal65

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 03:40 PM

Ah HA! Now we're onto something. Angela is the MC. Marvelous. Focus the query on her. Think about Owen Meany - the protagonist is really the narrator - he changes through knowing Owen. Owen doesn't really change.

Owen Meany is also a good example of how this book could go back to being adult lit, if you want.

Good luck

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