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Ask Daphne! About My Query LXII

beachdresssandals1Happy almost-4th-of-July, all! In the spirit of the holiday, I’ll be taking off on Monday (and hopefully getting some more reading done this weekend), but in the meantime, let’s head to the Jersey Shore for today’s About My Query, shall we?

Dear Daphne,

Abigail (Abby) Hardy thinks that she is the last 18-year-old virgin alive. And that’s just fine with her, until she meets two guys competing for her time and affection.

Along with her best friend, Makenna, Abby spends the summer at the Jersey Shore sans protective parents and brat-of-a-brother. The soon to be college freshman vows to keep her chastity until she meets the one, but it’s not easy. The Jersey Shore was her home away from home every summer, but this year is different. Abby isn’t sure how to handle the boys. Considering her previous experience consists of holding hands and an occasional kiss.

Nick was handsome in the obvious sort of way. He was the boy upstairs for the summer, who stole Abby’s heart first. Colin Murphy was a stop- your- heart gorgeous, knee shaking, smooth talker. From the first word, she knew he could change her world, and Abby was positive her inexperienced heart would not recover. He was here for only one summer, in from Dublin. Long distant relationships never lasted, or so she thought.

A fairytale believer of true love, Abby’s inexperience takes her on a journey of self-discovery in my 78,000 word young adult romance DOWN THE SHORE.

I am a new writer, and a proud member of YALITCHAT. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kelly M.

Thanks for sending along your query, Kelly! Let’s get right to it, shall we? Right off the bat, I think you don’t need the formal structure of “Abigail (Abby) Hardy”. Just Abby is fine. Moving on, if you start your query with Abby’s thought that “she is the last 18-year-old virgin alive”, I’m going to assume that that’s important, and thus your second sentence has me already doubting your voice when you tell me she’s “fine” with it. If she were fine with it, then I don’t think you’d have a plot. The rest of the sentence, about the “two guys competing for her time and affection” just doesn’t feel strong enough to me for a hook. It’s not action-oriented enough. Not dramatic enough.

Next paragraph: I don’t think we need to know Makenna’s name since it doesn’t come up again. You also want to be aware of how often you use the same structure to describe things: “brat-of-a-brother,” “soon-to-be college freshman,” “stop-your-heart gorgeous, knee-shaking, smooth talker.” You didn’t use hyphens for all of these phrases, but if you are going to use these phrases, they should have the hyphens. This paragraph reads very staccato, I’m afraid. The sentences don’t flow very well together. If I were rewriting it, I’d move the third sentence up to second, and combine the last two sentences, among other tweaks. And again, if she’s made a vow to keep her chastity, again, that’s a different story than telling me she’s fine with being a virgin. It’s similar, but different, and that difference may be the selling point for some agents.

The next paragraph seems dropped in from a different story. For one thing, it’s in a completely different tense. In terms of characters, though you describe Nick and Colin, you actually tell the reader very little about them. What about Colin makes Abby think he would change her world? Just the fact that he has an Irish accent? How did Nick steal her heart? Why does Abby jump right into worrying about a long-distance relationship? Colin’s here now, isn’t he?

And then, much like the non-dramatic opening hook, the closing line doesn’t really sing to me. It’s fine, I guess (although I think it should be “fairytale believer in true love”, as opposed to “of”), but a journey of self-discovery isn’t all that compelling when I don’t know enough about Abby to care yet anyway.

If I were rewriting it, I’d spend more time building Abby’s character, and telling the reader what about this two very different guys appeals to her, and why. You also probably want to put more import behind the idea that she’s willing (or interested, at least) in giving up her virginity to one of them, if that’s the plot you’re building towards, especially as that seems to be a major character aspect.

Readers, how would you help Kelly bedazzle her query?

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