Query Workshop B-12: LISTEN TO ME

It’s the final day of the query workshop with me and three of my blogging friends. Two queries on four blogs for ten days. This final day is only on my blog. They’re winners of a drawing on the Beyond The Hourglass Bridge Blog  So here’s my next critique…

       
Dear AgentName,

Since she was six years old, Stacy has seen her future self whenever she looks in the mirror. Growing up with your future self in the mirror has its perks: “Older Me” has supported Stacy through her parents’ divorce, bullying and a broken heart. She’s been a trusted confidante who can’t get Stacy in trouble and who won’t torment her like most of her peers.

But at seventeen, Stacy’s beginning to wonder if she wants to become the 29-year-old she sees in the mirror. When Older Me tells Stacy not to declare her feelings for her best friend, Mark. Stacy refuses. To keep Stacy from getting hurt, Older Me is forced to admit she’s lied about not remembering her past — Stacy’s present.

Older Me claims she did it to help Stacy to avoid mistakes she made. But soon Stacy learns Older Me enjoyed the life Stacy wishes for — popularity, success, and most of all, Mark. Stacy can’t see how her derided, lonely, high school experience could ever be superior to Older Me’s seemingly perfect alternative.

With their relationship strained to its limits, and the clock ticking towards eighteen (the age Older Me was when Stacy arrived in her mirror), Stacy is determined to do whatever it takes to find her version of Older Me’s life for herself – even if herself is the person she’ll hurt most.

LISTEN TO ME is a YA contemporary that plays with the time-space continuum, complete at 89,000 words. The premise was inspired by the www.dearteenme.com website in which adult authors write letters to their teen selves.

Thank you for your time.

“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
B’s critique …

Dear AgentName,

Since she was six years old, Stacy has seen her future self whenever she looks in the mirror. Growing up with your future self in the mirror has its perks: “Older Me” has supported Stacy through her parents’ divorce, bullying (comma here – This is where I usually give my CPs my argument for the serial, also known as Oxford, comma.) and a broken heart. She’s been a trusted confidante who can’t get Stacy in trouble and who won’t torment her like most of her peers. (I’d make sure to give her current age upfront. I love this concept!)

Ever since seventeen-year-old Stacey entered the first grade, she’s seen her future self whenever she looks into a mirror. 

But at seventeen, Stacy’s beginning to wonder if she wants to become the 29-year-old she sees in the mirror. (What does she see in her 29-year-old self that she doesn’t want to become?)When Older Me tells Stacy not to declare her feelings for her best friend, Mark. Stacy refuses. (Why doesn’t she listen to her older self? What is the reason? A longing she has that she’s unable to resist?) To keep Stacy from getting hurt, Older Me is forced to admit she’s lied about not remembering her past — Stacy’s present.

Older Me claims she did it to help Stacy to avoid mistakes she made. But soon Stacy learns Older Me enjoyed the life Stacy wishes for — popularity, success, and most of all, Mark. Stacy can’t see how her derided, lonely, high school experience could ever be superior to Older Me’s seemingly perfect alternative.(Are their lives different from each other because Older Me has been guiding Stacy a different direction from the one she took before her? Directing her from being popular and being with Mark? Make it clear here.)


With their relationship strained to its limits, and the clock ticking towards eighteen (the age Older Me was when Stacy arrived in her mirror), Stacy is determined to do whatever it takes to find her version of Older Me’s life for herself – even if herself is the person she’ll hurt most.(What does Stacey think will happen when she turns eighteen? What is the clock ticking down to? Will Stacey miss her opportunity to be with Marc?

Complete at 89,00 words, LISTEN TO ME (Love the title) is a YA contemporary that plays with the time-space continuum, complete at 89,000 words. The premise was inspired by the www.dearteenme.com website in which adult authors write letters to their teen selves.

Thank you for your time.

This is such a cool concept, but the query is a little too vague in places. You hint at the plot and the stakes but don’t completely reveal them. You want to entice an agent not confuse them. We’re not asking you to give away the resolution of the story, just an understanding of what is driving your characters. I’d keep reading this because I fell in love with the premise right off.

I hope this helps. If you decide to revise and would like me to read it again, just post it in the comments of this post.

Okay, everyone, what do you think? 

And don’t forget to stop by the other blogs and read their query critiques. For each critique you leave in the comments, you get an entry into the drawing to win one of three first chapter critiques from me. The opportunity ends 8/25 at 9AM EST.

Becca C.
Becca (Becks) Coffindaffer
 Marieke Nijkamp

Sarah Nicolas
 Sarah Nicolas

14 comments to Query Workshop B-12: LISTEN TO ME

  • Wow- this could have been very difficult to understand but you do a great job of keeping the current and older me separate. Nice job!

    Do you need the second “to” in the 3rd paragraph, 1st line?

    Good luck!

  • Cook conceot, and again, I think Brenda is spot on with her suggestions. I think it needs a little more specifics.

  • I LOVE this concept. Maybe give a brief insight more into “Older Me.” You hint that 17 y/o Stacy may not want to be the “Older Me” in the mirror, why?

    You have a fantastic story and I know I’ll be reading this one in print soon enough 🙂

  • I love the idea. Nothing more to add.

  • It’s a great idea but Brenda is right about somethings needing to be cleared up. Like why she doesnt want to become the future version of herself.

    And I’m confused, was older Me’s adolesence different from current Stacy’s?. Yet if she’s changing her past with her advice, you end up in big timey wimey paradox.

    I have no idea what this means. “Stacy is determined to do whatever it takes to find her version of Older Me’s life for herself”

  • Thanks for the all the feedback, ladies! It is SO helpful!

    I’ve revised the query based on your comments. Does this read more smoothly?

    Dear Agent,

    Since she was six years old, Stacy has seen her future self whenever she looks in the mirror. Now seventeen, having her future self in the mirror has its perks: “Older Me” has supported Stacy through her parents’ divorce, bullying, and a broken heart. She’s been a trusted confidante who can’t get Stacy in trouble and who won’t torment her like most of her peers.

    But Stacy’s beginning to wonder if she wants to become the bedraggled, pudgy 29-year-old she sees in the mirror. When Older Me tells Stacy not to ask out her best friend, Mark, Stacy decides her feelings are too strong to resist. To keep Stacy from getting hurt, Older Me is forced to admit she’s lied about not remembering her version of the past — Stacy’s present.

    Older Me claims she hid her own teenage experience to help Stacy to avoid mistakes she made. But soon Stacy learns Older Me enjoyed the life Stacy wishes for: popularity, success, and most of all, Mark. Stacy can’t see how following Older Me’s advice into this derided, lonely, high school experience could ever be superior to living Older Me’s seemingly perfect alternative.

    With their relationship strained to its limits, Stacy is determined to make her own decisions. She’ll do whatever it takes to find that popular life with Mark — or any half-decent guy — for herself, even if what Older Me says is true, and herself is the person she’ll hurt most.

    Complete at 89,00 words, LISTEN TO ME is a YA contemporary that plays with the time-space continuum. The premise was inspired by the http://www.dearteenme.com website in which adult authors write letters to their teen selves.

    Thank you for your time.

  • Great concept! The rewrite is definitely stronger. I’d love to read this book.

    Good luck!

  • Interesting premise. REally makes me think how many times I’ve told myself: if I knew then what I knew now…

    I think the second version of query is stronger, but the opening paragraph still makes me stumble. It doesn’t grab me right away. It’s too much explaining, and I want to be hooked before explanation sets in (If that makes any sense). I almost want to flip around the paragraph, and start with the most trusted confidant portion, display the freindship and then reveal it’s Older Me.

    Really rough example: Seventeen-year-old Stacy’s BFF is a trusted confidante, can’t get her into trouble, and won’t torment her like most peers. The only problem? She lives in Stacy’s mirror. For the last eleven years, Stacy has looked into her mirror to see an older, wiser version of herself: Older Me. She’s seen younger Stacy through her parents’ divorce, classmates bullying, and a broken heart. But when Older Me’s wisdom leads Stacy away from what she most desires—her best friend Mark—Stacy begins to wonder if she really wants to become the bedraggled, pudgy 29-year-old in the mirror.

    I may be completely off the mark, and this is obviously really rough, but it emphasizes the relationship between Older Me and Stacy, because with the query you provide, that’s where the conflict seems to reside.

    Good luck!

  • I like the rewrite and LOVE LOVE LOVE Kelly’s suggestion for the opening. It’s really hooky. Great job, ladies!

  • You guys are all slathered in awesomesauce. Just saying.

    Thanks again, Brenda!

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