Sep 15, 2010

YA query: A HEART-SHAPED HOLE (first revision)

Click here to read the original query.

Annabelle's life hinges on one thing: her ability to deceive the people around her into believing she is perfectly happy. She's got everything she could ever want: rich parents who stay out of her way, a wild group of partygoing friends, and the world practically at her fingertips. At the center of it all is her highly sought-after boyfriend, Emmett. But Annabelle has a horrible secret: her smile is a lie.

Emmett physically and emotionally abuses Annabelle, slowly turning her into a twisted whirlwind of self-hatred and guilt. Her one pride is her ability to manipulate her peers into looking straight through the problems she hides. Stuck with a family too absorbed in their own petty problems, she has no one to turn to. That is, until she meets Brendon while hiding in the bathroom during a party.

Brendon is just as disillusioned as Annabelle. He becomes a shoulder for her to lean on, always eerily able to see right through her shallow charade of happiness. As Annabelle reclaims the person she once was, she begins to find self-worth, open her eyes to her boyfriend's faults, and come to terms with her reasons for staying with Emmett. But Annabelle has a past, and Brendon knows more about her situation than he lets on. These two factors become what may ultimately prevent Annabelle from ever feeling genuine happiness again.


Suzan Harden said...

You've got a good potential query here. I read the original, and this is much better.

I see two problems. 1) The first paragraph and a half are back story that really needs to be trimmed down. The real story seems to start with Annabelle meeting Brendon in the bathroom at the party.

That situation brings me to Problem #2. The rest reads like a back cover blurb, not a query. Don't be afraid to reveal Annabelle and Brenden's secrets. The agent/editor needs to know where the story plans to go. Those secrets may be what sets your story apart from the crowd and entices an agent/editor to request pages.

And quite honestly, it took me several years to figure out #2.

Best wishes on your submissions.

Zee Lemke said...

Agreed about the backstory. Slightly disagree with the bit about spoilers; I've heard it both ways and consensus appears to be that you shouldn't give away all the secrets. But you shouldn't be general and make those absences glaring ones either--give us enough that we can wait for the rest. That means the following words are problematic for you:

See right through
Shallow charade
Factors (also out of voice)

None of those are descriptive. They are outlines. You need color, because splotches of color alone can make a picture, even if you don't draw it all out in ink. What has disillusioned Brendon? You don't have to give us all his secrets, but do give us something concrete. What is Annabelle doing to convince people she's happy? Replace the sentence about seeing through with something he does when he catches her faking it, and maybe how he knows. What sort of person did Annabelle used to be? You can give us that instead of "the person she once was." You get the idea.