Thursday, July 12, 2007
Guess the Plot
The Friendship Puzzle
1. Roger gets a federal research grant to try to understand what women really want when they say, "Let's just be friends." It's a puzzle with no solution, though, a maze with no exit, and Roger slowly goes insane.
2. Sally is best friends with Jane, but Jane is best friends with Carol, but Carol doesn't like Sally and instead wants to be friends with Nancy, who has other ideas and Wendy and Tammy aren't getting along like they used to and Maria thinks they're all silly but Kendra and Mona are spreading rumors about Sally which causes Nancy to side with Carol when she introduces the new girl Sandy to the group.
3. Tina Winthrop makes possibly the biggest mistake of her young life during her first day of junior high: she sits at the wrong lunch table. Soon she is ignored by her friends, yelled at in class, and pointed at in the hallway. Can Tina figure out the intricacies of tween life before her junior high career is over? Or will she explode in a rage and go all Carrie over someone's ass?
4. Princess Sally's fairy godmother saddles her with the worst "gift" imaginable: the Friendship Puzzle, which makes even the most simple acquaintance into a tangled web of misperception and confusion. Only when her father marries her off to their enemy, King Groghan of Leibrauzane does she understand its use is political, not social.
5. It was supposed to be a toy – like Magic 8 Ball or Ouiji. But then a cheerleader fell for a Chemistry Club Geek, and an Emo became brainiac Susmita Gupta's best friend. Can she undo the damage her little invention has caused, or are the changes really for the better?
6. Alanna made up her mind not to let Maggie force her out of their eighth-grade clique. But Maggie isn't someone you want to mess with. When the Mafia gets involved, Alanna must decide what's more important: friendship or making it to ninth grade.
“If I die, I won’t be popular!!!” thought Alanna Stewart in The Friendship Puzzle. [On the other hand, I'm currently alive and I'm unpopular. I guess I should try being a zombie.] [I don't understand what circumstances would lead her to have that thought . . . unless . . .. Did she just tell her mom she wished she were more popular, and her mom recommended suicide?] My YA novel is about a kind-hearted thirteen-year-old who wants to gain acceptance in her misguided popular clique yet often sees herself as an outsider with conflicting morals. She believes Maggie is keeping her from being accepted, so she sets out to remove her nemesis from the clique; however, messing with Maggie turns out to be a mistake, since Maggie fights back with a vengeance. [I thought the point of being in a clique was to work together to make the unpopular kids as miserable as possible. These cliquemates treat each other like Rosie treats poor sweet Elizabeth.]
At the same time, Alanna yearns for a handsome, Japanese-Caucasian boy with a personality that directly conflicts with her friends. Several colorful characters, involved in quick moving scenarios, accompany Alanna through the eighth grade. [She attends school with the Muppets.] Not only must Alanna deal with arrogant teenagers, [There's no transition between these sentences. It's a list. If you're going to drop the Japanese-Caucasian boy after one sentence, he probably doesn't need to be in the query.] but she also fears the Mafia, [Whoa. The Mafia?
Maggie: My Godfather here wants to talk to you.
Alanna: About what?
Godfather: Alanna, I'm gonna make you an offer you can't refuse.
Alanna: What's that?
Godfather: Either your signature goes on this clique withdrawal form, or your brains do.
Alanna: I'm reporting this to Principal Adams.
Godfather (handing Alanna a jacket with a fish inside): Take this. It's a Sicilian message. It means Principal Adams sleeps with the fishes.
Alanna: How could you?!
Maggie: It's not personal; it's strictly business.]
and encounters several strange occurrences. [Vague. Like what?] Each chapter provides action and/or humor to keep the readers’ attention until Alanna finds the courage to be herself. [At which point the readers' attention flags radically.]
My husband and I have three teenage children. I have taught intellectually gifted students for the past twenty years and am knowledgeable about what appeals to girls of this age group. [Namely, boys of this age group.] My book captures the middle school mentality through the speech and actions of my characters. I look forward to hearing from you.
The first five chapters of my 53,000-word novel are enclosed. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Yours very sincerely,
If you're going to claim that a kind-hearted thirteen-year-old girl fears the Mafia, a little elaboration is in order. Something like . . . has feared the Mafia ever since her false testimony sent Joey Bananas up the river.
Capturing the middle school mentality sounds more like something parents would care about than middle schoolers looking for a good read. Middle schoolers already know the middle-school mentality.
She deals with colorful characters, she encounters strange occurences, she yearns for a boy. But the main story line is that she fights to be part of the popular clique, and in the end realizes it's not for her, she doesn't need them, she was happier back when she was ratting out the Mafia. Keep the query focused on the main story, while including some specific important events.