Mar 26, 2009

Query - Embrol (Revision 1)

Click Here to read the original query.

Olivia Ryan doesn’t know she’s a guardian of Earth. She doesn’t even know she’s not human.

After nearly dying in the car accident that takes her mother’s life, Olivia just wants her normal, happy life back. Jack Ellis, the new boy at school who is responsible for the accident, only compounds her pain. She feels drawn to him for reasons she cannot explain, but his revelation that she is an alien from the planet Hielos is difficult to accept. Despite Olivia’s conflicted desire to ignore him, her mother’s journal confirms her alien ancestry, and she learns that, like Jack, she has been endowed with many alien abilities.

Even after discovering she can control at least one of the five elements, Olivia resists the idea that she could be any kind of superhero. When a rogue Hielosian threatens her life and almost kills her friend, she is forced to accept the responsibility. With Jack’s help, she must find a way to stop the homicidal alien before he hurts anyone else. In the midst of all of this, Olivia struggles to understand her feelings for Jack and fights against the only thing she knows for certain--they belong together.

EMBROL, complete at 111,000 words, is a work of YA Science Fiction. While it is a standalone novel, the potential is there to extend it to a three book series. This is my first novel.

10 comments:

Belinda Frisch said...

Having read both versions, I like the revision MUCH better. I think that you eliminated a lot of the "fluff" while inserting critical details (like that she can control one of the elements).

I think you have a good hook, but possibly an excessive word count. My philosophy on that is to leave it up to your gut. If you absolutely feel that the novel must be that long to tell the whole story, then by all means, keep it. If you can trim it at all, it might help it sell.

I wish you a lot of luck. Revision 1 is definitely an improvement!

lucy in the sky said...

This version is much better, good job! Regarding word count, I saw a recommendation that said:
first draft - 10% = second draft. No doubt that if you haven't gone back and done some editing you should, but some agent blogs say they don't immediately reject because of high word count, but every word needs to count.

Sarah Garrigues said...

I like the concept of the book. I think you do a fair job of telling me what happens in the story, but not so much showing me [see http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2009/03/showing-vs-telling.html for a great description of the difference ]. I don't really get a sense of the voice in the story. Rick has posted a great query example by a published author under the blog label 'successful query' [see http://openquery.blogspot.com/search/label/Successful%20Query ]. In that query, you should see what I mean by the voice of the query.

Also, one final note...I am confused by the sentence 'In the midst of all of this, Olivia struggles to understand her feelings for Jack and fights against the only thing she knows for certain--they belong together.' If she is struggling to understand her feelings for Jack, how is the only thing she knows for certain is that they belong together? If she is struggling with her feelings, shouldn't their suitability and future together be in question as well? The two clauses seem to be in conflict.

Consider: 'In the midst of all of this, Olivia struggles to understand her feelings for Jack and fights against the conclusion she discovers within herself--they belong together.'

Sarah Garrigues said...

I also agree with the concerns about word count. Initially, it may throw some editors off. Attempt one more thorough edit and prune, prune, prune. I would set a goal of 10,000 words. Even then, your manuscript would still be on the long side. Look at each scene and think long and hard about if it truly moves the story forward. If it doesn't, give it the ax. I know it's hard to dice up your baby, but if it makes it stronger, then you are that much closer to publication. To make the cut easier, keep a copy of the old draft on the computer and save the new, shorter draft under a different name (i.e., 'Title.Third Draft.'). That way, if you have second thoughts about a cut chapter, you can add it back in later, but most likely you will not need to do this.

Peer edits would be beneficial at this point, to help give an objective view of which sections need to be cut.

Abby said...

Sarah -

Thanks for the input. It's not that she doesn't know how she feels about Jack, she just doesn't know why.

Does this sound clearer? -

"In the midst of all this, she fights against her feelings for Jack and the only thing in her life she knows for certain--they belong together."

On word count, I've already cut over 10,000 words and am in the process of going through it again. And I'll probably go through it at least one more time before submitting. There is just so much that happens and several subplots that are essential to the book as a series that I don't think I can cut anymore.

Thank you everyone for taking the time to read and critique this. You're suggestions are much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Abby,

Only cut words if they should truly be cut. Go to the YA section pick out the best sellers. Times the number of pages by 250. On most fonts you will find that this formula equals the word count. There are several YA's longer than a 100,000. Another thing you can do is consider splitting your book in two. Find an appropriate ending midway and start a second book.

Teens who like to read, always pick up the thicker books first. I find it alarming and in error that suggesting over 100,000 is too long for YA. An agent or publisher might not like the length, but the target audience does.

PS the line about the five elements and controlling one of them bothers me. Tell me what that element is or something.

Marissa Miranda said...

Even after discovering she can control at least one of the five elements,

This makes me want more information, and not in a way that agents will like, I think. Maybe instead "Even after discovering she will be able to control one or more of the five elements," if you don't want to name the element or "Even after discovering she can control water and possibly more elements as well," if you do want to name the element.

Otherwise, I feel like this is very strong and concise. Cutting some of the word count will be good, and I'm glad you are attempting to cut as much as possible. Even taking it down a couple thousand would be cut. Yes, it is possible to publish long novels but it is HARD.

Good luck! I think you've almost got it with this query. =D

Rick Daley said...

think the advice to look at cutting the story in two is good, I've considered that for my own 120,000 word thriller.

Just make sure that each book retains a full story arc. If someone starts with book 2, you don't want them to be so lost that they are too frustrated to go back and read book 1, but at the same time book 2 should not have too much backstory/exposition reiterating key events from book 1, making it redundant.

Anonymous said...

Good point Rick.

There is nothing more annoying than picking up a series, and having them explain the previous book in the first two chapters. Tell them to read the first book. It's a page filler, and makes the reader feel cheated.

Just make sure you are not cutting important stuff from your book. There is absolutely no way I could cut a whole chapter, I leak bits of info throughout them all. Cut redundancy not your story.

Sarah Garrigues said...

Abby,

Re: "In the midst of all this, she fights against her feelings for Jack and the only thing in her life she knows for certain--they belong together."

I think the revised line is fine, much more to the point (and less confusing). Good job there.

Re: 'On word count, I've already cut over 10,000 words and am in the process of going through it again. And I'll probably go through it at least one more time before submitting. There is just so much that happens and several subplots that are essential to the book as a series that I don't think I can cut anymore.'

I'm glad to hear you are doing several revisions. According to Editorial Anonymous' recent post, that is the mark of a Real Writer.

See my recent blog on the importance of critiques (and rewriting) at:

http://sarahgarrigues.blogspot.com/2009/03/painful-value-of-critiques.html

~Sarah