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Author Topic: Query for OwnVoices YA "The Punk Pariah" *UPDATED*  (Read 829 times)
Ro
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« on: March 15, 2019, 03:10:13 AM »

Here's my UPDATED query guys:

----------------------------

Seventeen-year-old Maria Chaudhry’s friends are acting strange.

The guy gripping her heart won’t look her in the eye, and the guy who usually gets along with everyone can’t stand him. Maria has no idea they’re blackmailing each other with secrets about her dead best friend: One can’t let Maria find out JC was in love with her, and the other is guilty of JC’s death.

Meanwhile, Maria's parents, prone to crappy decisions, have finally made a good one by choosing to separate. Now, the daily dose of yelling is finally over but Maria’s problems aren’t. Her grandma is sick in Pakistan and her mom can’t afford to visit. After Maria raises enough money for one ticket, her mom agrees to leave for Pakistan. But only if Maria spends summer vacation with the aunt who tore her parents apart.

Barely welcome in her aunt’s home, Maria misses JC more than ever. The loss of her co-dreamer has left her hopeless. And when her friends reveal their secrets in chaotic ways, Maria has to decide whether forgiving them is truly worth the risk of more pain.

THE PUNK PARIAH is a diverse, OwnVoices YA contemporary novel of 55,000 words, featuring a protagonist of Muslim faith and Asian ancestry.

[will insert agent specifics as appropriate]
« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 08:54:41 PM by Ro » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2019, 03:47:24 AM »

Hi guys,
I'm getting the jitters just posting my query for review. Lord knows how I'm gonna deal with the real thing. My heart goes out to those already in the trenches.
Please let me know what you think. I'd really appreciate it :]

Thank you!

Try not to be nervous about posting your query!  Smiley


----------------------------

What a moving story!

Need age for YA. Maria (Last name) is back downtown after a failed move to the suburbs, not that leaving her childhood home was her idea. It was just another crappy decision by her parents, though they’ve finally made a good one by choosing to separate. Now, the daily dose of yelling is finally over but Maria’s problems aren’t.

Her friends won’t speak to each other, and one of them, the one gripping Maria’s heart, won’t even look her in the eye anymore. Maria has no idea they’re blackmailing each other with secrets about her dead best friend: One can’t let Maria find out JC was in love with her, and the other is guilty of JC’s death.

With her grandma sick overseas, Maria raises money for her mom to visit Pakistan. But the ultimate price isn’t selling her prized possessions, it’s spending summer vacation with the aunt who tore her parents apart.

Barely welcome at (in) her aunt’s home, Maria feels JC’s absence more than ever. Losing her co-dreamer has left her hopeless. Her relationships won’t ever be fixed, her dreams are cruel jokes, and the future is useless. But when her friends come clean with their secrets, Maria is tempted by the chance to heal things between them. Even if it means finding a way to heal herself first. I'm not a fan of sentence fragments outside of dialogue but plenty of people are.

THE PUNK PARIAH is a diverse, OwnVoices YA Need a genre. YA is just the age category. novel of 55,000 words, featuring a protagonist of Muslim faith and Asian ancestry. [and yeah I'll insert relevant info based on the agent being queried]

Your query seems very strong to me. Nice job.  Thumbs Up

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Ro
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2019, 04:59:45 AM »

Thanks for the tips 007  Smiley . I would include a last name but I actually never came up with one. It wasn't needed in the story. Do you think I should make one up to use in the query?
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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2019, 05:26:11 AM »

Thanks for the tips 007  Smiley . I would include a last name but I actually never came up with one. It wasn't needed in the story. Do you think I should make one up to use in the query?

You're welcome.  Smiley

I'm not sure I've seen queries w/o a last name. I can get away with it because my story is set near the end of the Stone Age.  Grin

Giving her a last name will show the diversity upfront.

I missed commenting on this somehow, but...

Quote
But the ultimate price isn’t selling her prized possessions

...reads a little funny to me. Easy fix, I'm sure. The line doesn't seem to have quite the right words to segue from "raising money". Others might feel differently. My suggestions is something like....But selling off her prized possessions doesn't bother her, it's spending...
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2019, 07:10:26 AM »

Maria is back downtown after a failed move to the suburbs, not that leaving her childhood home was her idea. It was just another crappy decision by her parents, though they’ve finally made a good one by choosing to separate. Now, the daily dose of yelling is finally over but Maria’s problems aren’t. This first parag. is just a bit clunky. Agree that Maria's age needs to be added and maybe a bit more color and clarification. I get that her parents have separated, by why is she back downtown? This suggests a third move instead of a single big change to her life. Read it aloud and see if you don't hear it. Flow is very important.

Her friends won’t speak to each other, and one of them, the one gripping Maria’s heart, won’t even look her in the eye anymore. Maria has no idea they’re blackmailing each other with secrets about her dead best friend: One can’t let Maria find out JC was in love with her, and the other is guilty of JC’s death. You've started over with a completed different query here. What does her friends have to do with her parents above. One parag. must lead into the other.

With her grandma sick overseas, Maria raises money for her mom to visit Pakistan. But the ultimate price isn’t selling her prized possessions, it’s spending summer vacation with the aunt who tore her parents apart. I had to read this twice. Selling all her prized possessions is a huge deal and will warrant an explanation on why Maria was motivated to do this and then stay behind on a trip she is financing. Is her parents very poor? This seems important to mention in the first parag. Also spell out the fact that she stayed behind because i automatically assumed she was going.

Barely welcome at her aunt’s home, Maria feels JC’s absence more than ever. Losing her co-dreamer has left her hopeless. Her relationships won’t ever be fixed, her dreams are cruel jokes, and the future is useless. But when her friends come clean with their secrets, Maria is tempted by the chance to heal things between them. I'm sorry but this is way too vague to be meaningful. It doesn't make sense how her friends sharing their secrets can heal her relationship with them. You started with her parents and then completely left them out of this parag. I'm still not sure what the main theme of the story is. Figure that out and focus your query on that. The query starts with a girl pained by her parent's divorce. in the second parag. its a story of a girl in love with her best friend. Then it becomes a story of a girl who struggles to live with her aunt. Find that theme. Even if it means finding a way to heal herself first.

THE PUNK PARIAH is a diverse, OwnVoices YA novel of 55,000 words, featuring a protagonist of Muslim faith and Asian ancestry.A character of Muslim faith and Asian ancestry sounds unique and sets your story apart from the thousands of others flying across your agent's desk. If this is an important enough element to mention it here, i assume it's important to the story. I'd mention this in the first parag and why this is important. Does she feel isolated or like she's not fitting in?[and yeah I'll insert relevant info based on the agent being queried]

This is a great start. Queries are soooo hard for all of us. Looking forward to seeing the revision. Don't forget to add a bit more color or visual. This is reading dry and generic. For example purposes only: Maria is a sixteen-year-old Muslim, who'd rather pierce her face than go to mosque. Blame it on her mother. She was the who dragged her back to the ghetto after another failed reconciliation with Maria's dad.(add a few descriptive words like Muslim, Piercings, and ghetto and suddenly your agent can see this world of yours.
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2019, 10:46:48 AM »

Thanks rivergirl. Lol I have a lot of work to do now.
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Pineapplejuice
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2019, 11:18:00 AM »

Hi guys,
I'm getting the jitters just posting my query for review. Lord knows how I'm gonna deal with the real thing. My heart goes out to those already in the trenches.
Please let me know what you think. I'd really appreciate it :]

Thank you!

----------------------------

Maria is back downtown after a failed move to the suburbs, not that leaving her childhood home was her idea. It was just another crappy decision by her parents, though they’ve finally made a good one by choosing to separate. Now, the daily dose of yelling is finally over but Maria’s problems aren’t.

Her friends won’t speak to each other, and one of them, the one gripping Maria’s heart, won’t even look her in the eye anymore. Maria has no idea they’re blackmailing each other with secrets about her dead best friend: One can’t let Maria find out JC was in love with her, and the other is guilty of JC’s death.

Try to hook the reader with a situation in the first paragraph. I know the voice you were going for but the situation is too scattered and ordinary to really interest the reader enough. Also try to create a sense of what the main goal or plot will be in first paragraph. Who is MC and what does she most want?
I agree with Rivergirl about these paragraphs not really connecting.


With her grandma sick overseas, Maria raises money for her mom to visit Pakistan. But the ultimate price ( the wording here is a bit off. People usually use 'ultimate price' in regards to their life being taken as a result of a good deed or something , so it threw me. I know you're going for the teen exaggeration here but it just confused me so I'd word it differently. Also, not all teens exaggerate so agents might get tired of having that implied ) isn’t selling her prized possessions, it’s spending summer vacation with the aunt who tore her parents apart.

Barely welcome at her aunt’s home, Maria feels JC’s absence more than ever. ( is this book mostly about grief and having to endure a summer with a hostile Aunt? That's ok if it is, but it's just not clear what the plot is here ) Losing her co-dreamer has left her hopeless. Her relationships won’t ever be fixed, her dreams are cruel jokes, and the future is useless. But when her friends come clean with their secrets, Maria is tempted by the chance to heal things between them. ( I agree with Rivergirl again, I think this is too vague to have value the way it's worded here. If this is important, tell us what is going on )  Even if it means finding a way to heal herself first.( The wording 'even if it means' implies she's paying a heavy price, but then it's followed by 'finding a way to heal herself first' ( which sounds like a positive thing ) so I'm not sure what you're saying here.

THE PUNK PARIAH is a diverse, OwnVoices YA novel of 55,000 words, featuring a protagonist of Muslim faith and Asian ancestry. [and yeah I'll insert relevant info based on the agent being queried]



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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2019, 11:33:40 AM »

Thanks Pineapplejuice. I'm working on revising it now. Will update!
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2019, 05:08:13 AM »

I don't think anyone knows you have a revision. Sometimes it's not enough to just change your thread title if you post your revision where your first query was. If you want to make a habit of posting a revision in first post/replacing an old one, it's certainly okay, but it would be a good idea to add a post after the last person's post and simply state "revision in first post" so people will know. The other option is to post the revised query in a new post, one following the last person who commented. Also, completely removing your original query while your thread is still active with a revision can be a bummer since some people like to review first version. Sometimes people can suggest to use an element/bit from original query in the new query, etc. Just an FYI.  Smiley

I think my post might serve as notice to others that you have a revision, so I think someone/people will check out your rewrite. If not, post after me and state you have a revision in your first post of this thread.  Thumbs Up
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2019, 07:13:49 AM »

I don't think anyone knows you have a revision. Sometimes it's not enough to just change your thread title if you post your revision where your first query was. If you want to make a habit of posting a revision in first post/replacing an old one, it's certainly okay, but it would be a good idea to add a post after the last person's post and simply state "revision in first post" so people will know. The other option is to post the revised query in a new post, one following the last person who commented. Also, completely removing your original query while your thread is still active with a revision can be a bummer since some people like to review first version. Sometimes people can suggest to use an element/bit from original query in the new query, etc. Just an FYI.  Smiley

I think my post might serve as notice to others that you have a revision, so I think someone/people will check out your rewrite. If not, post after me and state you have a revision in your first post of this thread.  Thumbs Up

Lol thanks, I didn't realize any of this!
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2019, 02:40:25 PM »

Check out my updated query in the first post guys Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2019, 01:25:38 AM »

Here's my UPDATED query guys:

----------------------------

Seventeen-year-old Maria Chaudhry’s friends are acting strange. Nice hook!

The guy gripping her heart ( I  know what you're going for but this wording is too graphic ) won’t look her in the eye, and the guy who usually gets along with everyone can’t stand him. Maria has no idea they’re blackmailing each other with secrets about her dead best friend: One can’t let Maria find out JC was in love with her, and the other is guilty of JC’s death.

( Too many characters. Try to space it out a bit so it's not so overwhelming. I got boggled reading it then totally missed the bit about the death )

Meanwhile, Maria's parents, prone to crappy decisions, have finally made a good one by choosing to separate. Now, the daily dose of yelling is finally over but Maria’s problems aren’t. Her grandma is sick in Pakistan and her mom can’t afford to visit. After Maria raises enough money for one ticket, her mom agrees to leave for Pakistan. But only if Maria spends summer vacation with the aunt who tore her parents apart.

Still feels like two different plots. Try to mix the two things in somehow in each paragraph . I can't figure out what the main plot is

Barely welcome in her aunt’s home, Maria misses JC more than ever. The loss of her co-dreamer has left her hopeless. And when her friends reveal their secrets in chaotic ways, Maria has to decide whether forgiving them is truly worth the risk of more pain. ( Too vague regrading what is actually happening.  imho and  stakes not clear )

THE PUNK PARIAH is a diverse, OwnVoices YA contemporary novel of 55,000 words, featuring a protagonist of Muslim faith and Asian ancestry.

[will insert agent specifics as appropriate]

I kind of want to know that the MC wants, what her goal is and what is stopping her.

What is she up against here?
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« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2019, 06:40:16 PM »

Here's my UPDATED query guys:

----------------------------

Since I did such a bang-up job in my first review of your query, I thought I'd take another crack at it. After giving serious thought to what it was exactly about the first query that struck me, I can clearly state some things. In your first query, 1. your MC's voice was clear in your first paragraph and invoked sympathy for her, and 2. beginning with the parent situation (trouble at home), then working outward to friend situation (trouble outside of home) seemed like a logical order, especially since I think the friend situation takes up a larger space in novel and seems to be where your stakes will be.

Thinking of your first query, you did have things out of sync. You started with immediate family, then friends, then family outside of home when I think a progression of her troubles expanding outward would be more logical. 1. immediate family. 2. family outside of home. 3. life outside of family.

Situation 1 creates sympathy for your MC and gives us a sense of her world.
Situation 2 does the same but also shows a selfless side of her in her selling prized possessions to fund her mother's trip to see her mother. I think you should keep that bit about her. Situation 2 also provides a contrasting situation that I like...her reward for her selfless act is having to live in a home where she's not welcome, on the heels of a parental situation to boot.
Situation 3 is where the real sizzle comes in.

It seems like every situation ties to your title. In my mind it does, though "pariah" doesn't feel like the right word. More like "the cursed punk".

So while I now see what others have said about your query, I also think it needs to be structured into a more logical order.
 
Back on your title: THE PUNK PARIAH

This makes me think that your MC feels everything she touches/involved in falls apart as if she's responsible somehow or is cursed somehow, not in the mystical sense. Is this the case? Is there something about her parents' split that she feels responsible for? Maybe she tried to help parents resolve their issues and failed? Anyway, I'm curious about your word choice of "pariah".
 


Seventeen-year-old Maria Chaudhry’s friends are acting strange. While I like this line, I suggest one that reflects MC's experience in how everything seems to be falling apart at once (immediate family, outside family, friends) and structuring your query in an expanding outward way.

The guy gripping her heart won’t look her in the eye, and the guy who usually gets along with everyone can’t stand him. Maria has no idea they’re blackmailing each other with secrets about her dead best friend: One can’t let Maria find out JC was in love with her, and the other is guilty of JC’s death. What has been seen can't be unseen. After reading Pinapplejuice's comment about "gripping", I too see it as literal even though I know you don't mean that. I also see that this could be clearer. I'm guessing the two guys and JC are your MC's closest friends and then she loses one and the other two suddenly change.

Meanwhile, Maria's parents, prone to crappy decisions, have finally made a good one by choosing to separate. Now, the daily dose of yelling is finally over but Maria’s problems aren’t. < When that ended your first paragraph, I felt "but her problems aren't" was a good segue to the other material. ETA: The "problems aren't" doesn't work as well here because "her problems aren't" is obvious because you have unresolved issues for her in paragraph above this one. When all her other problems follow "the yelling is over but her problems aren't", it works. Her grandma is sick in Pakistan and her mom can’t afford to visit. After Maria raises enough money for one ticket, her mom agrees to leave for Pakistan. But only if Maria spends summer vacation with the aunt who tore her parents apart.

Barely welcome in her aunt’s home, Maria misses JC more than ever. The loss of her co-dreamer has left her hopeless. And when her friends reveal their secrets in chaotic ways, Maria has to decide whether forgiving them is truly worth the risk of more pain.

Like Pineapplejuice said, missing a sense of stakes and what your MC wants. Maybe she wants harmony in some aspect of her life, and if she can't have that at least thru her friends, she'll fall into a deeper depression than she's already in over the loss of her friend. Whatever is accurate for your story.

THE PUNK PARIAH is a diverse, OwnVoices YA contemporary novel of 55,000 words, featuring a protagonist of Muslim faith and Asian ancestry.

[will insert agent specifics as appropriate]
« Last Edit: March 18, 2019, 10:12:33 PM by 007 fan » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2019, 12:55:07 AM »

The first sentence/paragraph ("Seventeen-year-old Maria Chaudhry’s friends are acting strange.") is 100% tell with no show. You do some telling in the next paragraph, although "the guy gripping her heart" could be literal or figurative, and if it's figurative you're still telling a lot. I'm also confused about who JC is -- is that the guy gripping her heart? Is it one of the best friends you're talking about? Does the book start with JC's death?

I like the part about the parents' divorce, but how did the aunt cause it?
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« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2019, 04:19:49 AM »

Lol thanks again guys. It's so hard to read your own query like a third person.

Back to the keyboard I go... Grin
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