Jump to content

Disclaimer



Photo
- - - - -

VESPERS ACADEMY - YA Contemporary w/ sci-fi elements

Fiction Young Adult Science Fiction Commercial Fiction Mystery

  • Please log in to reply
6 replies to this topic

#1 KA O'Neill

KA O'Neill

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS South

Posted 26 June 2017 - 06:15 PM

Hi everyone! I'm very new here, but would love some feedback on my query. I know the summary might be a bit long, but I'm hoping that's okay because I don't have any credentials for an author bio paragraph. Thank you in advance!

 

EDIT:  changed some things to reflect advise from users Sataris and Joni--Are the stakes more clear? Still can't quite figure out how to word the first sentence of the second paragraph--I want to make it clear that the school aims to reform all the usual people you would find in a correctional school, but ALSO people with stubborn mental health struggles, like phobias and other disorders, which is something real correctional schools do not do. (This is a major part of the plot, and also the first thing that makes the MCs suspicious.)

 

EDIT 2: Thanks for all the help and kind words so far, guys! I feel like it's getting stronger. I pasted the new copy in place of the earlier draft. 

 

- - -

 

Dear [agent's name],

 

No one told Eponine Fitzgerald that Vespers Academy was a correctional school until after the doors had already locked behind her. With all methods of outside contact wrestled out of her arms and an ugly yellow uniform shoved in their place, she’s stuck stewing in her parents’ betrayal for the rest of the summer.

 

Vespers prides itself on reforming not only rebellious teens like Eponine, but also those with stubborn mental health issues—teens like Fred Halloway, a boy with social anxiety so crippling he hardly speaks. Made allies by chance, Eponine and Fred agree to navigate the term together. Along for the ride are their disparate cast of roommates, including a happy-go-lucky gambling addict, a female sociopath, and one gifted (and handsome) amnesiac.

 

But Vespers is not what it seems.

 

After witnessing a “therapy” appointment that leaves their friend crying and scared for his life, Eponine and Fred realize the school’s psychological approaches to correction are more than just unorthodox, they’re unethical. On top of that, half of the students don’t seem to warrant correctional school at all. Eponine suspects that Vespers might have a goal bigger than just “reformation in record time.” She and Fred risk being forced into the same deadly treatments when they break all of Vespers’ rules in order to uncover what mysteries surround the school—and inadvertently discover that not all of their roommates are who they seem.

 

VESPERS ACADEMY is a character-driven YA contemporary with sci-fi elements, told through multiple third person perspectives. As a teenager, I struggled with anxiety (both social and general) and had trouble finding stories involving mental health that were both optimistic and fun to read. I wrote VESPERS ACADEMY with my teenage self in mind, in hopes that it could one day reach another young person who might need it.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration!

                                                     

Sincerely,

 

[my name]

[my email]

[my phone number]



#2 Sataris

Sataris

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 120 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS Northeast

Posted 26 June 2017 - 06:50 PM

Hi everyone! I'm very new here, but would love some feedback on my query. I know the summary might be a bit long, but I'm hoping that's okay because I don't have any credentials for an author bio paragraph. Thank you in advance!

 

- - -

 

Dear [agent's name],

 

No one told Eponine Fitzgerald that Vespers Academy was a correctional school until after its grand double the doors had already locked behind her. With all methods of outside contact cut off, wrestled out of her arms and an ugly yellow uniform shoved in their place, she’s stuck stewing in her parents’ betrayal for the rest of the summer.

 

I really like the hook! I cut the extra stuff because it feels a little shoehorned in - we don't want our focus on the double doors or yellow uniform, we want it on the cool hook/betrayal

 

Vespers prides itself on reforming students with mental drawbacks as much as behavioral think this might need to be rephrased a bit here; mental drawbacks as well as behavioral issues?—the “difficult” cases that would be turned away from other institutions. Eponine’s first interaction with said difficult cases is Fred Halloway, a boy with social anxiety so crippling he hardly speaks. Made allies by chance, the two teens agree navigate the term together. Along for the ride are their disparate cast of roommates, including a happy-go-lucky gambling addict, a female sociopath, and one gifted (and handsome) amnesiac.

 

But Vespers is not what it seems.

 

The school’s psychological approaches to “therapy” and “punishment” are not only unorthodox, they’re unethical, lose the italics and kids are walking away scared for their lives. Added on top of that? to that, half of the students don’t seem to warrant correctingnal school at all. Eponine suspects that the school might have a goal bigger than just fixing the unfixable. lose these too She and Fred risk both their safety and their sanity, breaking all of Vespers’ rules in order to uncover what mysteries surround the school, and inadvertently unearth the dark secrets surrounding their own roommates as well.

 

 I don't think you want this last bit; your last sentence should be one of your punchiest, and adding with an "as well" diminished it a bit.

 

VESPERS ACADEMY is a character-driven YA contemporary with sci-fi elements these two things are at odds a little bit; is it close enough to contemporary to just call it that?, told through multiple third person perspectives. I found you [insert how I heard about agent] and am querying to you because [insert reason].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration!

                                                     

I don't think this is too long, actually. What I'm not sure about is what the stakes actually are; does the MC fear behavioral therapy? Why do they both feel the need to risk their safety/sanity? I like the idea of them suspecting something is up, but is there something they come across that causes them to really feel like they have to go out on a limb to fix? I feel like I'd have to really see something horrible happening before I'd be willing to risk my own sanity/life to fix it

 

Sounds cool though! and I do really like your first sentence. Solid attempt!


No current query!


#3 Joni

Joni

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 16 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS Southeast

Posted 26 June 2017 - 07:19 PM

Sataris picked up a lot of the things that I noted.  But there is one phrase: "kids are walking away scarred for their lives."  - How does she know this?  She had her communication with the outside world taken from her and the doors locked behind her.  I'm unclear as to how she would know what the lives of kids that have left are like.  

 

Sounds like an interesting premise though, for sure.



#4 Daisy

Daisy

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 114 posts
  • Literary Status:published
  • LocationCanada

Posted 27 June 2017 - 09:15 AM

Hi everyone! I'm very new here, but would love some feedback on my query. I know the summary might be a bit long, but I'm hoping that's okay because I don't have any credentials for an author bio paragraph. Thank you in advance!

 

EDIT:  changed some things to reflect advise from users Sataris and Joni--Are the stakes more clear? Still can't quite figure out how to word the first sentence of the second paragraph--I want to make it clear that the school aims to reform all the usual people you would find in a correctional school, but ALSO people with stubborn mental health struggles, like phobias and other disorders, which is something real correctional schools do not do. (This is a major part of the plot, and also the first thing that makes the MCs suspicious.)

- - -

 

Dear [agent's name],

 

No one told Eponine :biggrin: (Eponine!  As a Les Mis junkie, I LOVE that you've named your MC Eponine!) Fitzgerald that Vespers Academy was a correctional school until after the doors had already locked behind her. LOVE this opening. 

 

With all methods of outside contact wrestled out of her arms and an ugly yellow uniform shoved in their place, she’s stuck stewing in her parents’ betrayal for the rest of the summer. tighten this up and get rid of unnecessary words so that it's stronger.

 

Vespers prides itself on reforming students whose unwanted behaviors are a result of mental health issues—the “difficult” cases that would be turned away from other institutions. Eponine’s first interaction with said difficult cases is Fred Halloway, a boy with social anxiety so crippling he hardly speaks. Made allies by chance, the two teens agree navigate the term together. Along for the ride are their disparate cast of roommates, including a happy-go-lucky gambling addict, a female sociopath, and one gifted (and handsome) amnesiac. Again, tighten this up and get rid of unnecessary words.  If this was my query, I'd omit the last line completely. It's just clutter. You only need to introduce Eponine and Fred.

 

But Vespers is not what it seems. gosh!:  I'm still here....tell me more.... :tongue:

 

After witnessing a “therapy” appointment that leaves their friend terrified and in tears, Eponine and Fred realize the school’s psychological approaches to correction are more than just unorthodox, they’re unethical. On top of that, Find a stronger way to say "on top of that" half of the students don’t seem to warrant correctional school at all. gosh!: Eponine suspects that Vespers might have a goal bigger than just fixing the unfixable. She and Fred risk being forced into the same deadly treatments, breaking all of Vespers’ rules in order to uncover what mysteries surround the school—and inadvertently discover that not all of their roommates are who they appear to be.

 

VESPERS ACADEMY is a character-driven YA contemporary with sci-fi elements, told through multiple third person perspectives. I found you [insert how I heard about agent] and am querying to you because [insert reason].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration!

                                                     

Sincerely,

 

[my name]

[my email]

[my phone number]

 

 

I LIKE this!  Tighten up the wording so it's stronger and you've got a winner!

You're almost there.  :wub:



#5 jaustail

jaustail

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 430 posts
  • Literary Status:self-published, unagented
  • LocationAsia
  • Publishing Experience:Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Literary Orphans Magazine.

Posted 27 June 2017 - 09:50 AM

JMO:

 

 

No one told Eponine Fitzgerald that Vespers Academy was a correctional school until after the doors had already locked behind her(how does the mc find out it's a correctional school? Maybe put that here. I guess the guards would be bulky. So add that here). With all methods of outside contact wrestled out of her arms and an ugly yellow uniform shoved in their place, she’s stuck stewing in her parents’ betrayal for the rest of the summer.(nice)

 

Vespers prides itself on reforming students whose unwanted behaviors are a result of mental health issues—the “difficult” cases that would be turned away from other institutions. Eponine’s first interaction with said difficult cases is Fred Halloway, a boy with social anxiety so crippling he hardly speaks. Made allies by chance, the two teens agree navigate the term together. Along for the ride are their disparate cast of roommates, including a happy-go-lucky gambling addict, a female sociopath, and one gifted (and handsome) amnesiac.

 

But Vespers is not what it seems.

 

After witnessing a “therapy” appointment that leaves their friend terrified and in tears, Eponine and Fred realize the school’s psychological approaches to correction are more than just unorthodox, they’re unethical(maybe: illegal. Is a stronger word). On top of that, half of the students don’t seem to warrant correctional school at all. Eponine suspects that Vespers might have a goal bigger than just fixing the unfixable. She and Fred risk being forced into the same deadly treatments, breaking all of Vespers’ rules in order to uncover what mysteries surround the school—and inadvertently discover that not all of their roommates are who they appear to be.

 

VESPERS ACADEMY is a character-driven YA contemporary with sci-fi elements(i didn't get any hint of sci-fi from the above paragraph. Maybe insert some sci-fi elements above), told through multiple third person perspectives. I found you [insert how I heard about agent] and am querying to you because [insert reason].

 

 

 

I got the story of the novel. Maybe add some sci-fi elements in the query so it doesn't come as a surprise when you add that in the above paragraph. Also why is the mc in the institution? What problems does she face? Or her parents think she faces?



#6 perpetual

perpetual

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 95 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationCanada

Posted 27 June 2017 - 11:25 AM

Hi everyone! I'm very new here, but would love some feedback on my query. I know the summary might be a bit long, but I'm hoping that's okay because I don't have any credentials for an author bio paragraph. Thank you in advance!

 

EDIT:  changed some things to reflect advise from users Sataris and Joni--Are the stakes more clear? Still can't quite figure out how to word the first sentence of the second paragraph--I want to make it clear that the school aims to reform all the usual people you would find in a correctional school, but ALSO people with stubborn mental health struggles, like phobias and other disorders, which is something real correctional schools do not do. (This is a major part of the plot, and also the first thing that makes the MCs suspicious.)

- - -

 

Dear [agent's name],

 

No one told add an age here, pretty much a must for any YA novel. Eponine Fitzgerald that Vespers Academy was a correctional school until after the doors had already locked behind her. With all methods of outside contact wrestled out of her arms and an ugly yellow uniform shoved in their place, she’s stuck stewing in her parents’ betrayal for the rest of the summer. Nice.

 

Vespers prides itself on reforming students whose unwanted behaviors are a result of mental health issues—the “difficult” cases that would be turned away from other institutions. Just as an FYI, this makes me think this is set in the 40s, 50s when "institutions" were more common.  Eponine’s first interaction with said difficult cases is Fred Halloway, a boy with social anxiety so crippling he hardly speaks. Made allies by chance, the two teens agree to navigate the term together. Along for the ride are their disparate cast of roommates, including a happy-go-lucky gambling addict, a female sociopath, and one gifted (and handsome)  I don't think you need this. amnesiac.

 

But Vespers is not what it seems.

 

After witnessing a “therapy” appointment that leaves their friend terrified and in tears, Eponine and Fred realize the school’s psychological approaches to correction are more than just unorthodox, they’re unethical. On top of that, half of the students don’t seem to warrant correctional school at all. Eponine suspects that Vespers might have a goal bigger than just fixing the unfixable. She and Fred risk being forced into the same deadly treatments, breaking all of Vespers’ rules in order to uncover what mysteries surround the school—and inadvertently discover that not all of their roommates are who they appear to be. This sounds awesome.

 

VESPERS ACADEMY is a character-driven sci-fi YA contemporary with sci-fi elements, told through multiple third person perspectives. I found you [insert how I heard about agent] and am querying to you because [insert reason].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration!

                                                     

Sincerely,

 

[my name]

[my email]

[my phone number]

 

I hope my thoughts above help. I don't think you're far off from your perfect query. :)

 

Just as an FYI:

 

Contemporary deals with present life and common issues that teens would face, navigating how to deal with them. E.G. Depression, families breaking apart, new romances, coming-of-age, etc. etc. While your novel touches on mental health which could be a theme of a Contemporary YA, it still doesn't qualify as contemporary. Your novel is in the same line as Divergent or Maze Runner, which is marketed as sci-fi. (Dystopian is a subgenre of sci-fi) So stick with just sci-fi. :) 

 

Also, I really recommend specifying a time frame for your novel. E.g. For Divergent it's a dystopian future.


Query: Click here.

 


#7 Constantine Singer

Constantine Singer

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 107 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging, agented
  • LocationUS Southwest
  • Publishing Experience:My debut YA Novel, NeverWhen, will be in bookstores everywhere in 2018. I was discovered in the slush-pile and I got my querying start right here.

Posted 27 June 2017 - 02:49 PM

You've got the form down pretty well -- some small changes to wording, though.  Your bigger issue may be regarding your description of Vespers. 

 

I'm not seeing any of the teens described as being "unfixable" by normal methods.  Social anxiety, amnesia, the rest all seem fairly common even in the extremes and as the child of a psychiatrist who ran a locked juvenile word for years, I can tell you the cases that came through there and for which there was moderate success by traditional means were a lot more extreme than what you're describing.

 

Reword that section if you intended "difficult" to mean "stubborn but not severe enough in terms of mental health to warrant a 51-50."  If you mean it in terms of "extreme," however, then you're going to have to be more clear in describing their extremity -- right now they seem pretty tame.

 

Best of luck to you, and if you have any more questions about what I've said here, let me know.  

 

This shit is hard.

 

 

 

 

No one told Eponine Fitzgerald that Vespers Academy was a correctional school until after the doors had already locked behind her. With all methods of outside contact wrestled out of her arms and an ugly yellow uniform shoved in their place, blocked, she’s stuck stewing in her parents’ betrayal for the rest of the summer.  Question:  What's wrong with Eponine?  Is she a reliable narrator?  What about her is unfixable, or is this a true betrayal by parents who are trying to destroy her?

 

Vespers prides itself on reforming students whose unwanted behaviors are a result of mental health issues—the “difficult” cases that would be turned away from other institutions. "Difficult" is a difficult word here.  I first read it as "extreme," meaning that they were beyond help.  What I'm seeing is that they are "difficult" in that they are stubborn cases that do not rise to the level of extremity which would be necessary for commitment in most states.  Which is it?  Maybe if it's the latter, then choose a different word.   Inside, Eponine’s first interaction with said difficult cases is meets Fred Halloway, a boy with social anxiety so crippling he hardly speaks.  Made allies by chance, the two teens agree navigate the term together. along for the ride are their disparate cast of roommates, including a happy-go-lucky gambling addict, a female sociopath, and one gifted (and handsome) amnesiac.  Don't need this -- it will be taken as assumed that there are other cases and this re-enforces the confusion about what sort of "difficulty"  they have.

 

But Vespers is not what it seems.

 

After witnessing a “therapy” appointment that leaves their friend terrified and in tears, Either describe this therapy appointment in more detail or find a different way to show this -- a lot of therapy appointments can do this -- even normal ones.  What made this one so horrifying that wasn't acceptable by ethical standards?  Eponine and Fred realize the school’s psychological approaches to correction are more than just unorthodox, they’re unethical. not strong enough for me.  Maybe "immoral?" On top of that, half of the students don’t seem to warrant correctional school at all. Eponine suspects that Vespers might have a goal bigger than just fixing the unfixable.Why does she suspect this?  We have no hint yet except that they're not fully "ethical," which is true of a lot of treatment centers and private youth homes.  She and Fred risk being forced into the same deadly OK, here we go.  Deadly.  Deadly is bad for kids.  Why is this buried down this far in the query?  treatments, breaking all of Vespers’ rules in order to uncover what mysteries surround the school—and inadvertently discover that not all of their roommates are who they appear to be.

 

VESPERS ACADEMY is a character-driven YA contemporary with sci-fi elements RED FLAG:  You mention sci-fi elements here, but you have absolutely nothing even close to sci-fi in your query.  Agents who represent Sci-fi do so because they represent sci-fi.  Contemporary YA agents, same thing.  Very different worlds.  If this is light sci-fi, then give some hint as to how?  Is it near future?  If so, that can be the first line.  "In a near future world, Eponine..."  Is Vespers run by aliens?  If so, then "breaking all of Vesper's rules in order to uncover what mysteries surround the school and the very mysterious "people" who run it...  Any way it works, give some hint of the sci-fi element in the query., told through multiple third person perspectives. I found you [insert how I heard about agent] and am querying to you because [insert reason].   The agents who want personalization want it in the top of the query because they won't read further without it.  The ones who don't care about personalization (the vast majority, fyi) won't care about it in either place.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration!

                                                     

Sincerely,

 

[my name]

[my email]

[my phone number]


Look for NeverWhen, my debut novel from Putnam/Penguin Teen in bookstores everywhere in 2018!






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Fiction, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Commercial Fiction, Mystery

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users