Mar 21, 2011

Query- WALKING OFF PLUTO (Version 3)

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

Dear Agent,

Lynn’s father is dying, but she’s more concerned about Pluto losing its status in the solar system. She’d rather be alone and mourn for the dwarf planet than grieve for a man she secretly hates in WALKING OFF PLUTO, a contemporary young adult novel at 78,000 words.

Seventeen-year-old Lynn risks losing control of her emotions when she meets Peter in the hospital, the same night her father passes away. She’s attracted to Peter because he speaks his mind, yet lies constantly, and thinks Pluto will always be a planet at heart. Despite multiple medical conditions, including a fear of food, he is Lynn’s ultimate distraction, while Lynn’s older sister, Chloe, is the ultimate agitation.

Chloe seeks to crack through Lynn’s self-created shell in order to understand Lynn’s resentment. Chloe’s attempts are a failure as Lynn becomes practically inhuman, not even cringing when she bashes a mirror with her bare hands. The only time Lynn feels remotely alive is when she is with Peter who has a few secrets of his own. When Peter opens up about the tragedies of his past, Lynn realizes that if she doesn't face her father’s death and the resentment she holds against him, she’ll never be able to love anyone.

WALKING OFF PLUTO began as a short play. (INSERT INFO ABOUT PERFORMANCES AND FESTIVALS AND HOW PLAY GREW INTO A NOVEL)
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

The Blank Girl

5 comments:

Anonymous Author said...

Lynn's callous attitude toward her dad's death needs more explanation. She (secretly?) hates him. Why?

Chloe confused me, and I had to go back and see what she was doing in the query. Maybe you should leave her out of it.

yankinfrance said...

I have a feeling that you're just too in love with the whole Pluto/planet metaphor and can't see that this is not essential for the query.

For one thing, you risk confusion: I originally thought I'd be reading a query about a sci-fi novel.

What is essential here is that you give a sense of the main character, and her conflict. But who is the main character, really? It seems to be Lynn - but later in the query it appears that Chloe is, in fact, the main actor in the story, the person who is driving things forward.

This query, and the previous versions, leads me to suspect that you haven't quite gotten a grasp on what the novel is about -- you really need to ask yourself the hard questions, not simply fall back on, "it's a story about grieving."

Use the query writing process to help you to understand your novel. And I'm guessing the novel is still in progress, since it has jumped from 50,000 words to 78,000?

As for the Pluto/planet metaphor, this may indeed be a central conceit in the story, but revealing it in the query is sort of giving away the plot (especially with the title).

The query may be more provocative if you simply hint at the metaphor (i.e., with the title). Focus the query entirely on the characters and their conflicts.

N. Blank said...

Thank you for your suggestions. I know I need to focus on my main girl, Lynn, and make the query about her and what's at risk for her. At one point in the novel, Peter breaks up with her because she won't face her past. So she has to decide whether to face her past or lose Peter forever. Once she does face the past, she realizes she has to let go of resentment in order to love Peter fully.

The Pluto metaphor can be reduced, I agree. Maybe I could tie it into the relationship between Lynn and Peter. They're both outcasts, like Pluto.

The novel is still being revised and edited, I'm trying to get it to 80K.

I don't want to give away why she hates her father. It'd be very long to explain in a query. But I'll avoid the word "secretly" to help out with that issue.

THANKS AGAIN! I love your detailed responses.

Draconium said...

i would write it like this (i cobbled together pieces from this version and the last):


Some people cry and openly express their feelings, but for others, it feels like a journey across the universe just to begin the process. If you start, will you ever stop?
Seventeen-year-old Lynn refuses to grieve for her dying father. She’s more concerned about Pluto losing its status in the solar system. She’d rather be alone and mourn for the dwarf planet than grieve for a man she hates.

Feeling out of orbit with her dysfunctional family, she spends most of her time alone with her telescope, trying to find the impossible-to-find rejected planet. Then she meets Peter. Peter is an actor pretending to be sick. Or a cancer patient. Or he has an eating disorder. Bottom line, he's not well physically, and mentally he's off the charts. He speaks his mind, yet lies constantly. What’s more, he too thinks Pluto will always be a planet at heart.

The only time Lynn feels remotely alive is when she is with Peter who has a few secrets of his own. When Peter opens up about the tragedies of his past, Lynn realizes that if she doesn't face her father’s death and the resentment she holds against him, she’ll never be able to love anyone.

My young adult novel, WALKING OFF PLUTO, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Draconium said...

what ever you do, don't drop the Pluto metaphor, it's what sets your story apart from every other melodramatic story about love and loss.