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Monday, September 16, 2013

Workshop #16 She Flies With Her Own Wings

Revision #1
Anna is stuck in a rut. To be fair, though, it’s a very comfortable rut that her dad approves of, and that she dug for herself. But still, it’s time for a change.

Change comes in the form of Coy McLeod, visiting Anna’s small hometown from the far away land of Chicago. He’s as spontaneous, passionate, and independent as Anna is… not.

When Coy gets the idea to take a Shakespeare Festival road trip, Anna agrees to go along, hoping the spontaneity of the trip will help her to be more open to new things. But when she returns home, she is just as uncertain of what to do with her future as when she left. Coy has added a new choice to Anna’s list of possible future plans- he wants her to move to Chicago with him. As if things weren’t confusing enough already.

Should she finish college at her family’s alma mater, while still living at home with her widower father? Or take a chance on Coy, and step into the unknown? As time runs out on Anna’s last semester of school, it will take a proposal, a death, and The Sound of Music to bring down the curtain on her old life.

SHE FLIES WITH HER OWN WINGS is a New Adult novel, complete at 90,000 words. It would appeal to readers who enjoy contemporary Young Adult novels, such as those by Sarah Dessen, and are now looking for an older protagonist. Thank you very much for your consideration.


Original
Dear (agent),

After graduating from high school, Anna Claysmith stayed home. She hates her job, but she needs it to pay for her courses at the community college. Her boyfriend is part of a traveling theater company, which would be cool if she got to see him more than once a year. She knows she wants things to change, but she doesn’t like not knowing what the future will hold.

The one bright spot in her life is working backstage for the community theater- until the director brings in newcomer Coy McLeod. Though she initially resents needing his help, Anna and Coy gradually become friends.

Then Coy gets the idea to take a “Shakespeare Festival” road trip. Anna agrees to go along, hoping the spontaneity of the trip will help her to be more open to new things. When she returns home, she is just as uncertain of what to do with her future as when she left. Coy has added a new choice to Anna’s list of possible future plans- he wants her to move to Chicago with him.

Should she finish college at her family’s alma mater, while still living at home with her widower father? Or take a chance on Coy, and step into the unknown? As time runs out on Anna’s last semester of school, it will take a proposal, a death, and The Sound of Music to bring down the curtain on her old life.

SHE FLIES WITH HER OWN WINGS is a New Adult novel, complete at 90,000 words. It would appeal to readers who enjoy contemporary Young Adult novels, such as those by Sarah Dessen, and are now looking for an older protagonist. Thank you very much for your consideration.

(contact info)

14 comments:

Crystal Collier said...

Great query. My only comment is on the line: "Though she initially resents needing his help..." Because I'm not sure what she needs his help with--just breaking out of her old life? Or is it that she resents he's been hired because her help isn't enough at work?

I especially loved the last line--proposal, death and The Sound of Music. Awesome.

Liz A. said...

I don't like that first paragraph. It feels very...I don't know. Perhaps if you started with Coy.

I like the fourth paragraph. It feels like there she has a choice, and that choice feels very new adult.

Huntress, aka CD Coffelt said...

IMHO,I’m afraid that I don’t see a hook in the first paragraph. I don’t feel the conflict or much in the way of drama in the rest of the query.

Regarding the questions in the fourth paragraph: it is kinda dicey using them like this. A person wants more intrigue, a reason to give their time and keep reading. At this stage, answering questions might result in snark.

Tiffanie Lynn said...

I feel like this could use a lot more voice. Concept is important, but I believe voice is what always wins the day.

While I like the question at the end, especially the "...a proposal, a death, and The Sound of Music..." part, I feel like it sounds too "back-of-the-book-cover"-y. Queries aren't supposed to sound that way. Maybe find another way to state that part.

nwharrisbooks said...

I'd say the first paragraph needs work. Sounds a little like back story when it should be a hook that hints to the overall conflict of the story.

I think maybe the first three paragraphs could be brushed up so they hook and build the tension. The forth paragraph is really awesome and does what it is supposed to do, which is make me want to read the book.

mshatch said...

I think the first paragraph could use some tweaking, maybe explain why she isn't going off to college like some of her friends. Is it money? Maybe something like this would work:

Unlike most of her friends, Anna isn't going off to college. She's going full time at a job she hates while taking community college courses at the same time. When her boyfriend gets the opportunity to join a traveling theater company, Anna is heartbroken. [YOU CAN PROBABLY DO BETTER AS YOU KNOW THE STORY. THEN I'D MERGE WITH THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH...

The one bright spot in her life is working backstage for the community theater- until the director brings in newcomer Coy McLeod.

[I'D MAKE THIS THE START OF THE NEXT PARA BUT YOU NEED TO EXPLAIN WHY SHE RESENTS NEEDING COY'S HELP] Though she initially resents needing his help, Anna and Coy gradually become friends.

Mostly I liked the rest of this though I think you could tighten it a bit.

Hope this helps!

Martha Mayberry said...

I also think you could make your first sentence more hooky. You want to grab an agent's attention and this one is more of a slow start than a bang. Not that every book begins with a cliffhanger, but you want something that grabs a little more.

The first part of your query reads a little like a synopsis to me, but as others have said here, it improves as it goes along.

You could also add more voice to the query so we learn more about the MC.

Best of luck with it!

Martha Mayberry said...

I also think you could make your first sentence more hooky. You want to grab an agent's attention and this one is more of a slow start than a bang. Not that every book begins with a cliffhanger, but you want something that grabs a little more.

The first part of your query reads a little like a synopsis to me, but as others have said here, it improves as it goes along.

You could also add more voice to the query so we learn more about the MC.

Best of luck with it!

Kara said...

You guys have given some great feedback. I completely agree with those of you who pointed out that the first paragraph lacks a hook- man, has coming up with one been a struggle! The query used to start out by mentioning the road trip, like this:
Taking a Shakespeare Festival road trip with a new friend and his uncle is every girl’s picture of the ideal summer vacation, right? For twenty-year-old Anna Claysmith, it’s her last hurrah before finishing her Associate’s degree and facing the fact that she has no idea what to do with her life.

Any thoughts on starting out with that tack?

Huntress, aka CD Coffelt said...

@Kara
Still not much of a hook IMHO.

Ask yourself, what is Anna's main problem/conflict? It needs to be clear from the onset. "...she has no idea what to do with her life..." won't do at all.

Just remember, your reader doesn't know or care about Anna. You need to give her a Voice. Give us a small detail that makes her stand out. A character trait that is in conflict with her main goal. Inner angst.

Kara said...

That's a great suggestion, Huntress. I've been trying to work on a succinct way to sum up the conflict- maybe you guys can help me out?
It essentially boils down to a strong sense of filial duty warring with a desire to forge one's own path. Anna's father is a widower, and so she is hesitant to leave him alone when she graduates high school. She stays home and goes to community college (Dad's idea). Now, two years later, she's one semester away from finishing school. Dad has always planned for her to go to the same University that he and Anna's mother went to (close enough that she could continue to live at home). Anna doesn't want to disappoint her father, but wants to make her own decisions about her future.
Any ideas on how to incorporate those details without it being too much like backstory would be greatly appreciated!

Huntress, aka CD Coffelt said...

What is she feeling? What strong reaction does she have to 'one semester away' from her degree?

Anna is so close to graduating from college, she can taste it. She has plans, goals, and they don't involve living at home.

Kara said...

Just submitted a revision to be posted. I tried injecting some more "voice", and I hope the opener is a little more attention-grabbing. But feel free to rip it up! You guys have been great!

Huntress, aka CD Coffelt said...

Cool revision! This one has fantastic Voice. And it clarifies while not giving tmi.
My suggestion to help it flow: look at the number of pronouns. Try cutting them whenever possible.