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YA Contemporary Query Help


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#1 A. Wass

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Posted 04 June 2018 - 11:36 AM

So you awesome people helped me polish a strong query that got me into the Query Kombat contest. I've tried to make changes based on their suggestions but there was A LOT of conflicting critiques. So I'm not looking for a full on critique, but rather whether you think the new query is stronger or if I should keep using the original. 

 

New Query

Most people use the summer after high school graduation to get ready for college, travel, or find a job. Jason uses the time to plan his own death. Consumed with guilt for causing the accident that killed his sister, he intends to pay for the mistake with his life, but first he wants to meet all of the people his sister’s organs saved. Finding them means an end to the nightmare plagued nights and cruel voices in his head, and there’s only one more name on his list: Sophie Meyer.

 

After a painful recovery from a lung transplant, Sophie fears she’ll reject the new organ, so she’s going to make every second count. Her summer was supposed to be full of speeding around on her motorbike and whipping up irresistible goodies at her family's bakery, but all that changes when a guy with a sad smile and an unnerving calm walks through the door.
 

Jason can’t help but find the pink-haired adrenaline junkie’s thirst for life contagious, so when Sophie finds a bucket list on his sister’s blog, it doesn’t take much for her to convince him to complete it with her. He puts his plan on hold and together, they travel the world and complete the items on the list. They dance in Times Square, see the Northern Lights, and kiss on top of the Eiffel Tower, and the more time they spend together, the more they both start to heal. Completing the list gives Sophie a way to repay her organ donor and Jason a reason to live, but when Sophie starts to develop a crippling cough, both must decide if they’re willing to fight for love, even if it has an expiration date.

 

BEFORE I LEAVE YOU, complete at 75,000 words, is a dual point of view YA Contemporary that is a mix between the movies SEVEN POUNDS meets THE BUCKET LIST.

 

Original Query

Eighteen-year-old Sophie has spent the last few years struggling to breathe, going in and out of the hospital more times than she can count. But all that changed when she finally received the lung transplant she’d been praying for. After a painful recovery, her worst fear is that someday she'll reject the transplant, so she’s eager to take her new lungs out for a test drive and enjoy life while she still can. Sophie spends the summer before she goes to college speeding around on her motorbike and whipping up irresistible goodies at her family's bakery. She never expected Jason, the brother of her organ donor, to walk through the door.

 

After Jason’s sister dies in a car accident that he caused, he blames himself and can't move past the grief. Desperate to end the pain, he plans to kill himself, but first he wants to meet all of the people his sister’s organs saved. Sophie is the last one, and meeting her means he’s ready to end his suffering. But when Sophie finds a bucket list on his sister’s blog, she convinces him they should complete it for her, and he puts his plan on hold.

Together, Sophie and Jason travel the world and complete the items on the list. They dance in Time Square, see the Northern Lights, and kiss on top of the Eiffel Tower. The more time they spend together, the more they both start to heal. Completing the list gives Sophie a way to repay her organ donor and Jason a reason to live, but the closer they get to the end, the more Sophie is convinced she's rejecting the lungs. Both must decide if they’re willing to fight for love, even if it has an expiration date.


BEFORE I LEAVE YOU, complete at 75,000 words, is a dual point of view YA Contemporary that is a mix between the movies SEVEN POUNDS meets THE BUCKET LIST.



#2 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 04 June 2018 - 11:47 AM

Hey there :smile:  I believe I commented on your Kombat entry already, but I think the original query is way stronger. It holds more resonance for me. The new one is too "wordy" and feels like it's trying too hard to inject voice into it. The old one flowed really, really well. I totally feel you about the conflicting advice, I'm basically pulling my hair out at this point  :blink:



#3 Quillaby

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Posted 04 June 2018 - 03:14 PM

I actually found version one stronger. It needs some tweaking (stronger opening, a slight trim), but it has Jason in the protagonist seat, which is where I feel he should be. Jason needs a new lease on life, while Sophie already has one.

 

Personally, I'd run with version one.



#4 taylorhale

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 03:17 PM

I'm going to be a pain in your ass and say that I think both queries are have stronger points, and could be combined. I like the two intro paragraphs better in the new query, but I dislike the first line about mundane things people do before college because it feels cliche and obvious. So maybe something more simple, like "Seventeen-year-old Jason is using his time before graduation to plan his own death." Followed by the two paragraphs in the new query exactly as they are. 

 

The third paragraph, I think, is stronger in the old query. In the new one, I see what you're going for by trying to make it more vivid, but I don't think the colour of her hair matters, and we get a sense that she has a thirst for life from the second paragraph. Maybe something more like "When Sophie finds a bucket list on her sister's blog, she asks Jason to fulfill it with her. And Jason, having found a new reason to live, agrees to join her." Then followed by the stuff about Times Square, etc etc. I also like in the old query how you make it clear she's worried about the lungs rejecting, where it's somewhat vague in the new one.

 

SORRY I know you said you weren't looking for a full critique, but this sounds like a cute story and totally something I would read so I'd love to see you find success with it. I hope my two cents helps.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that I'd advise against using movies in your query... according to Suzie Townsend's tumblr, agents want to see your book compared to things that are currently on the shelves. This is a way for them to get an idea of how your plot comps are selling and being received. 



#5 perpetual

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Posted 22 June 2018 - 02:10 PM

I think your first query is a stronger one. I think it seamlessly connects and introduces the second POV, which is hard to do in a query. It feels super cohesive, where as the second one feels more like a stop/start type thing. That being said, I do think the first query could use some trimming to make it exceptional.

 

All in all, I think which query is better is a moot point because I think the answer lies in which query follows your manuscript format. From reading the first query, I expect the novel to start with Jason's POV. If it doesn't, that'd throw me off.

 

Hope this helps!

 

If possible, I'd love your thoughts on my contemporary YA query, which I've linked in my signature :)


Query: Click here.

 


#6 Tanja

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Posted Yesterday, 12:55 AM

You're really facing a heard decision. I can't really decide between the two. What I can say is I prefer the beginning of the first version better. The introduction of Jason is brilliant and it grabs me. Then go to Sophie. I think that works smother. Other than that, they both have their strong points. I would, as already suggested, try blend them both together.

 

Sounds like a great story and I would certainly read it.

 

Good luck


Query:  10 DAY BETRAYAL

             10 DAY CONSPIRACY

             RABBIT 76 (NEW PROJECT)

 

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#7 smoskale

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Posted Yesterday, 03:57 PM

I prefer the original query. Sophie's plight is more sympathetic, in my opinion, and as you finish with her transplant possibly being rejected, it makes more sense to build to that moment from the beginning--the stakes are higher for her than they are for Jason. Also, she's more likable, admirable even--at least in the query version--than Jason.






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