Sep 6, 2009


Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for my young adult novel, JACK MBC, complete at 90,000 words.

Jack’s life is changed when he falls off the roof of a Las Vegas Hotel and doesn’t die. He discovers he has a form of Mind Body Control, or MBC for short. At signs of danger, he can order his body to turn into marble, steel or whatever is required.

His friends tell him he’d make a great superhero, but Jack isn’t sure he wants to be one. At sixteen, he’s not sure what he wants to be, period. He doesn’t appreciate the appearance of a weird ‘extra-ability’ (he refuses to call it a superpower) pushing him into a particular path.

But how can he say no to rescuing people from certain deaths? Even though using MBC gives him head splitting migraines. And when MBC is on, his emotions turn off, and may permanently stay off.

Then Jack makes a serious mistake and a man dies. MBC turns into a monster, attacking him with vicious side effects that may destroy him. Will Jack figure out what to do with MBC and how to control it, or will he lose himself forever?

I have enclosed the first xx pages for your consideration. Thank you.


Dominique said...

This felt more like you were listing the events in the book instead of really giving an idea of what's super exciting going on.

Scott said...

I agree with Dominique.

You need to hit the ground running and tell the agent what the central conflict of the book is. Is it dealing with his new power and/teen angst? Is it the fact that MBC threatens to take over his life?

With querry letters, I believe you almost have to think backwards. That is, start with the climax of your book and fill in from there. An example might be:

Sixteen-year-old Jack Smith is one step from becoming a monster. After a near fatal accident, Jack gains shape-shifting ability and sets out on saving his fair share of humanity.

But along the way...

Do you see the difference? Your opening sentence is the "hook" that captures the readers attention and interest. From there, you fill in only the very most important details. The query doesn't have to go through every thing that happens ... just hit a few of the highlights.

Also, your closing paragraph should read something like:

JACK MBC is a yound adult novel complete at 90,000 words. My work has been previously published in ...

RCWriterGirl said...

I found the story itself interesting and thought him falling off the roof of a Vegas hotel and not dying, plenty eye catching for an opening.

I agree that you need to focus in on the conflict. I felt the second paragraph slowed things down. It should probably be condensed to one sentence: His friends think he'd make a great superhero but Jack isn't sure. (then go into the fact that MBC isn't all it's cracked up to be--migraines, lack of emotions).

Finally, after this great stuff about him rescuing people an the weird side effects of MBC, you end with a graf that left me confused, not curious. I think you need to say what these side effects are that may destroy him. It's more compelling than me sitting here trying to guess. What you've sorta done is say: "Something different happens to Superman when he gets near Krypeonite....will he be able to battle villains and Kryptonite?"

Well, it doesn't work if you don't tell me what Kryptonite is. For me, it fell apart by not knowing what it is about MBC that can destroy him. It doesn't really ring true if I don't understand why he can lose himself forever (which I don't--will he turn into a catatonic zombie in a coma if he keeps using his MBC?)

I think you need to flesh out the next-to-last graf to show us what's at stake in an understandable way. Right now, it's too vague because we dont' understand what the ultimate problem is with MBC.

Good luck with your query. I liked it a lot until the ending, which didn't really feel like much of a payoff after reading the first paragraphs. (As an aside, is there another character--an antagonist--in the book to mention, or is MBC the thing he's got to fight against?

Anica Lewis said...

Ooh, neat concept! I especially like the "extra-ability" thing. A couple of little suggestions:

1. I'd start with the second paragraph, moving the important info from the first one down toward the end.

2. You might end the second paragraph with something a little snappier, maybe "he can order his body to turn into marble, steel - whatever he needs" rather than "or whatever is required."

4. Head-splitting is hyphenated.

5. I'd make a bigger deal out of the fact that Jack could potentially lose all of his emotions! That's a real "whoah" thing. Maybe "his emotions turn off - and someday, they might not come back on." Or something.

Nice query, though - good length, and good job establishing the stakes. Best of luck!

ghsb12 said...

Thanks so much everyone for the really helpful comments! I’m working on revisions and hope I’ll be able to address the issues you mentioned.

RCWriterGirl, in answer to your question, yes MBC is the main thing Jack has to fight and learn to control. I’ll try to be more specific on how MBC can take over Jack and may ultimately kill him if he doesn’t step up. ‘Lose himself forever’ is rather vague, thanks for pointing that out.

Anica, you got it! Yes, the big issue is Jack may end up losing his emotions forever. I need to give that more oomph.