Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the Third Day of Querymas

my true Genn gave to me,  a sick girl, two switched witches, and a role-play game that turns deadly.

When an invasive bowel surgery puts seventeen-year-old Shayla’s Crohn’s disease into remission, she finally has the chance to catch up everything she’s missed. With her large scar hidden under her shirt, Shayla begins senior year confident, pain-free, and hoping to finally have a first date. 
 I'm not sure I like the hook to this query and there's a specific reason.  It doesn't grab me, but it could.  I happen to have an Uncle who almost died from Crohn's in high school, so I know how serious the disease is and the toll it takes on your lifestyle.  That's missing from this paragraph, and I'll tell you why it's essential in a minute.

At school, Travis’ handsome looks immediately catch her attention, but it’s his dry wit, friendly conversation and adorable science-loving ways that keep her interested (this would be a great place to show instead of tell - give a specific example and "his adorable commitment to Bunsen burners" or whatever). Dating him is everything Shayla wished for during her years alone in her illness. When Travis kisses her, she forgets her damaged body. That is until he gets too close to her scar, causing her to shriek and pull away. 
My question here is whether they are getting closer to getting serious or if he just kisses her.  Personally I hope it's the first because it's very compelling and I would use that, i.e. "But as they get more involved, Shayla finds herself pulling away physically.  She wants Travis, but she can't share her scar with him - or the truth about her fragile health."  That's not very good, but it gives you an idea.

Panicked that evidence of her surgery will repulse him, Shayla leaves Travis without explanation. As he continues to confront her, trying to figure out what went wrong, But Travis isn't giving up and soon Shayla realizes sharing her feelings about her disease is an even bigger struggle than living with it. Shayla’s scar isn’t going away but, unless she's honest, Travis certainly will. 

 SICKGIRL is a young adult novel, complete at 50,000 words. 
Ok, back to the first issue.  Contemporary is a popular genre with agents who love to rep it, but they will all tell you it can be a tough sell.  It has to have something that sets it apart.  Now most adults have some experience with Crohn's, but I would not count on it and I certainly wouldn't count on a teen knowing too much about it, which is why it's so important to deliver a clear sense of how dire this disease can be.  She wasn't just fighting for her first date, she was fighting for her life.  Now that's she in remission she gets to not only live but actually have a life.  That's a lot for someone to adjust to and it's bound to come with baggage that affects not only her body image and subsequently her sexuality, but also her emotional ability to get involved.  Not only might she lose Travis when he finds out the truth, she also might get to keep him and for a girl who's never had a life that can be just as frightening, right?  What if she doesn't know how to be a girlfriend?  Or if they break up?  Or worst of all, she gets sick again?  Show us her struggle a bit more in the query.  Make us feel that inner-tension and this query will set itself apart as will the novel.

Best of luck!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much! I've really been struggling with this and I was worried about being melodramatic but it sounds like I've gone too far in the opposite direction. I have a lot to think about, can you hold another Querymas in January when I've written a brand new one? :D

    Thanks again for taking the time to critique, I really appreciate it!