Mar 18, 2009

Query: Just Maybe

A revision of this query has been posted. Click here to read it.

Dear Mr./Ms. Agent,

I am caught between two worlds.

Outside my front door I’m just a high school student, doing my best not to flunk out of Physics. Inside my house, it’s more old world Asia than modern America.

My priorities were handed to me when I was born. Everything I’ve ever done has been for my family. When everyone’s happy, I’m happy. Or so I thought.

No one understood my life, except my best friend Sam. She always listened to me. Until her accident. Then it was my turn to listen.

I heard more than I expected.

In JUST MAYBE Lisa is exactly what any first generation Asian American family would expect from their only child. She’s good in school, respectful to her elders and most of all, obedient. Since her mother died, everything she’s done has been for her family.

After her best friend Samantha is involved in a devastating accident and turns to Lisa for support, she finds her friend is not the only one she’s supporting. As her closest friend’s recovery progresses, Lisa stumbles into something she never expected and begins to question everything she’s ever known. Can she take this chance to discover what life can really be or will she succumb to her family’s expectations?

JUST MAYBE is my first novel and stands complete at approximately 89,000 words. I’d be happy to provide a partial or complete manuscript for further review. Thank you for your consideration.

3 comments:

The Screaming Guppy said...

In most cases, I don't think 1st person queries are favored.

To me, this was confusing and hard to follow because you start in 1st person (the character), then go to 3rd, then back to 1st person as yourself.

I would cut everything before this:

"In JUST MAYBE Lisa is exactly what any first generation Asian American family would expect from their only child. She’s good in school, respectful to her elders and most of all, obedient. Since her mother died, everything she’s done has been for her family.

After her best friend Samantha is involved in a devastating accident and turns to Lisa for support, she finds her friend is not the only one she’s supporting. As her closest friend’s recovery progresses, Lisa stumbles into something she never expected and begins to question everything she’s ever known. Can she take this chance to discover what life can really be or will she succumb to her family’s expectations?"

Not only for the sake of the perspective shifting, but because you basic repeat everything you've written twice. The first time Lisa tells us and the second time, you tell us in 3rd person.

I also think you need something a little more specific here. You want to wow the agent with details, I think, not vague hints at what will happen. The agent needs the details to know if your novel would appeal to them.

You have a devastating accident, something never expected, and questioning everything, but it doesn't really tell me anything.

You don't need to say its your first novel. You do need to include a genre. This sounds like it might be a number of genres, and I don't know from reading this if it's YA or adult.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Thanks TSG. I appreciate the feedback!

Amanda said...

I know first person queries don't usually work, but this one seems to for some reason. Maybe because it reminds me of Sarah Dessen's stuff (which is not at all a bad thing!). I'm not an agent, but I like it here. Maybe submit it to Query Shark & Evil Editor to see what they say about the 1st person here?

Also, I love this line: "Inside my house, it’s more old world Asia than modern America" although maybe you could replace Asia with Lisa's specific country of origin?

Otherwise, I agree with Screaming Guppy. If you do choose to risk the 1st person thing, maybe start the 3rd person with something we don't already know: "In JUST MAYBE, Lisa's friend Sam is injured in a _____, and during her recovery tells Lisa all about ______ . Lisa stumbles into ______ and begins to question ____." or something like that.

I'm assuming it's YA, but you should definitely say that in the query.

Good luck. :)