Aug 11, 2009


Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first revision.

Dear Agent,

The other sunny idiots at YMCA Camp Powell could hold hands and Kum Ba Yah all they wanted. Thirteen year old Kyle Matusik lashed back at his evil Junior Counselor and a tyrant camper. Unleashing his rage was the only way Kyle knew how to deal with the torment of his father’s suspicious death. It stunk that he might get booted out, though. He was so close to talking with that gorgeous girl in his sports class. She seemed lonely too, just like him.

A SCORPION’S NATURE unfolds in a rollicking summer camp with quirky songs and food so atrocious even the director’s mutt refuses to eat the Cheesy Fish Tarts. My 55,000 word middle grade novel grew out of twenty years as a YMCA camper, counselor, and director.

The complete manuscript is available upon your request. Thank you for considering my work.



TLH said...

I adore this, first of all, because I have worked for a YMCA for years and this is such a great jumping-off point for a book!!

I like that in the first version it was clear that his dad committed suicide. That gives me an instant attachment to this young boy that I didn't get here.

The only other thing I would say is I don't have a sense of the plot conflict, really. Is the primary drama his fight against authority at this camp? Or is there something more to his father's death he's trying to uncover? There are a lot of hints at conflict but none of them stand out.

Overall this is a really clean, straight-to-the-point letter. I like it a lot! I wish I could get mine to read so nicely!

jbchicoine said...

I can’t help it—I really like this.
I’m just wondering why Kyle lashed back at his evil Junior Counselor and a tyrant camper. I get that Kyle has attitude, but what camp incident started the conflict rolling? What are the consequences of him getting booted?— aside from missing out on the lonely hottie.

fred limberg said...

This confused me a bit. I'd like to know why there was lashing out.

I didn't get enough to get a feel for the story.

Also, you 'sing' kum ba yah, though at many of my cmp encounters it was more of a dirge.

The brevity crowd (BLESS THEM for my own reasons) thinks this is like a 'name that song' challenge.

You have a whole sheet of paper.

my thoughts


Anonymous said...

I like the voice in this letter.

My main concern was the way the ideas seem to jump from sentence to sentence. Could you smooth out the transitions?

Good luck!

Rick Daley said...

I've been watching this query and the revisions. I think the premise is interesting, it doesn't pander to the younger reader, which is good. You present challenging situations.

My biggest issue with it is that there is such a difference in tone between the first paragraph and second. There is a tone of despair and angst in the first paragraph, but the contrast to the rollicking camp, quirky songs, and funny food makes me think oil and water. Is it fun and light, or heavy and thought-provoking?

Does anyone else sense this distinction?

jbchicoine said...

Of course now that you mention it, Rick, it's pretty obvious. Personally, I like the cynical angst of the first paragraph. Perhaps the cynicism of the second paragraph could be boosted.

folksinmt said...

Rick, I think you just left an open-faced sandwich. Where's the positive closure?

Yes, I agree that the tones are different. That last paragraph is closer to the tone you had in the first query.

Like Fred said, you could use up a bit more space. Don't worry so much about being brief. Make sure your tone visible and consistent through the whole query. Then keep it under 350 words! :)

I do think you have done a good job eliminating all the unnecessary stuff and focusing on your conflict. You're so close!

Rick Daley said...

Folks- you got me ;-)

Although technically I ended with a question so can I argue that my critique is still open?

I think this story has potential, I'm curious to read pages and see which tone it follows.

RCWriterGirl said...

Wow, this is much better. The sentences you added about "unleashing his rage" and "It stunk that he might get booted out" and the girl who looked lonely, too, fixed a lot of the problems of the earlier query. It gave an element of likability and understanding to this kid that wasn't there before.

He went from evil tyrant to boy with a broken heart who is lashing out at others.

Much much better. Hope you snag an agent.

Gina said...

I also think this is yet another improvement. Have grown quite fond of this story and query :-).
Many good points made above.
My main issue remains the past tense though.
What does everyone else think about this?

Rick Daley said...

Gina- I agree, queries are most often written in present tense.

Watery Tart said...

I agree with comments that this is a great voice and set-up. I love the tormented teen, and the camp is brilliant.

But a few things are confusing.

Did his father JUST die? Then why is he at camp? Without some time indicator it doesn't make sense that this kid is both yelling (because he is tormented) AND obsessed with a girl he wants to meet.

And I agree plot is unclear--is this an internal struggle book or a murder mystery set-up? Need the BROAD plot somewhere in here.