Monday, August 06, 2007

Face-Lift 394

Guess the Plot


1. When Dmitri Federov is badly injured, his twin brother takes his place. But going from pair to singleton isn't all it's cracked up to be--especially when your opposite number was an irresponsible, deceitful druggie.

2. When newly-crowned World Backgammon champion Gavin De Leon is found dead with a single backgammon piece plunged deep in his throat, his murder exposes the cut and thrust of the turbulent world behind this apparently sedate game.

3. John Singleton's life was a disaster: three marriages, four arrests, countless jobs. Can the mysterious woman he meets at church help him out of his rut--or is she just a demon looking for an easy soul?

4. Alone in a world inhabited by Multiples, Al Fishton is bullied and teased at school, until the Dark Triplets descend and an ancient prophecy is uncovered. Now he must take up his destiny as . . . Singleton.

5. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, yada yada yada. Microbiologist Helen Drew is a closeted lesbian, and sick of being jibed at by her relatives for her single state. But she shows them, when she develops a virus that attaches to the Y chromosome, turning men into women.

6. CIA agent Shane Singleton thought his cover was blown when he heard someone whisper, "singleton." He slipped his hand into his pocket and palmed his piece. He swung around . . . and shot a bridge player 'tween the eyes.

Original Version

Dear agent:

Sash Federov expects he'll live and die in the shadow of his identical twin. Dmitri is dynamic, charming, and irresponsible: everything Sash is not. And everyone loves him. Sash has never expected this to change, and he's never really wanted it to. He'll gladly lead Dmitri's crowd of admirers. At least he has a front row seat for the madness.

But a soccer accident leaves Dmitri badly injured. [No, no, it's the fans who get injured in soccer, during the post-game riots.] [Most soccer injuries are faked anyway, like this: ] Now Sash is on his own, trying to find his identity in Dmitri's world of parties, drugs, and deceit. Can Sash take his brother's place? [You mean actually impersonate him? Does Dmitri want him to? Why?] Or will it take more than genetics to really understand all that Dmitri is?

Singleton is a quiet, honest, coming-of-age complete at 50,000 words. I believe it's subtle humor and absolutely fresh view of teenage life make it a perfect match for your needs in young adult fiction.

As a young writer, I'm able to write about teenagers in a way that's original and accurate. However, I am not inexperienced; My first novel, The Sublime, was accepted by Cantarabooks in January and will be released in September.

I've enclosed the first five pages of Singleton , and the remainder of the manuscript is ready for your review if you're interested in taking a look.



The only thing that happens in this book that's worth reporting is a soccer injury? We need more than a description of the main characters, we need some plot. Why does Sash want to take Dmitri's place? Doesn't everyone know about Dmitri's injury? Why is Sash happy being around Dmitri? If he's not irresponsible and into drugs and partying, I would expect him to be highly uncomfortable hanging around with Dmitri.

It sounds more like he enlists in Dmitri's army of followers than that he leads them.

It's better to give us more facts about the plot than to use words like "subtle," "original," "perfect match," "absolutely fresh." Convince us it's these things without stating it. Besides, if you say it's an accurate depiction of teens, and then claim it's original and absolutely fresh, it sound like you're saying you're the first person to accurately depict teenage life.

Soccer players practicing their fake injuries


Anonymous said...

I had no idea how old your MCs were until the end of the query, where YA is mentioned. Needs clarity.


"it's" means IT IS

You wants "its"

McKoala said...

Why would he want to, and why would he need to? Two separate questions, both important.

writtenwyrdd said...

It's terrific that you have a publication as a young writer, but this query doesn't do your story justice. I think the problem is that it doesn't sound like a YA book at all. A world of drugs, parties and deceit is pro soccer. These elements all sound adult, and the youthful drug scene is a turn off because you make it sound like he's envious of that life.

Perhaps focus on what is at stake in this story. You never do tell us that. Cut back on the glam aspects and give us more YA oriented information right at the beginning.

I think the letter is well written overall, except it sounds adult and we don't know what the issue is that drives the plot.

Zoraida Cordova said...

I actually want to know more about the brilliant brother and how his life will change after the soccer accident.

My whole family plays soccer. I've never seen a really horrible injury. My uncle is the king of faking and falling. True story.

Dave Fragments said...

Federov or Fedorov is a killer name for a soccer player. Sergei Fedorov is a hockey player and he married Anna Kornikova of tennis fame. Seeing the name Fedorov or Federov (like Smith and Smyth or Shawn, Sean, Sian, and Siohan) they sound the same to non-Russian ears.

And being a twin, I take exception to his:
Dmitri is dynamic, charming, and irresponsible: everything Sash is not.
That's not true. One twin may be outgoing and the other quiet, but they are not exclusionary. they are not two sides to the coin. That implies one is good and the other bad. Which I, my twin and all the other twins I know IS NOT the truth. (we scout each other out, yanno. We have a secret handshake.)

What is true, is that we are the same coin viewed from different angles. That's what Sasha and Dmitri must find out. It's not an either/or proposition. One twin does not have to be good at what the other twin is better at. Or worse.
You are dealing with two different people who happen to have the same genetics. That makes them look and act similar. Sometimes eve react and sound alike. But they do not have the same aptitudes for everything.

If you could make your story work with older and younger brothers, then it will work with twins. You are putting one twin in the others shoes with the gimmick of their identical looks. It's a gimmick and an old, tired gimmick. The lesson is growing up with a celebrity sibling, not growing up with a twin.

And one last thing, yes, at 57 years old (ancient, ain't I) there are people who still do not know who I am and walk up and ask me questions about my brother. He's old, he's got grandchildren. I don't I'm still young.

Anonymous said...

There's a sense here of trying to solve a non-problem. If Sash is content with who and what he is, why does he need to "replace" his brother? Dmitri isn't dead. Does Sash feel a duty to keep Dmitri's seat warm until he gets back? Does he need to jump into place in the soccer team to avoid their disgrace in that one big match? Does the crowd of admirers suddenly look to Sashto be their replacement idol?

It's not clear what's broke that needs fixing. It's not clear why Sasha needs to figure out what makes Dmitri tick.

none said...

Depends what you mean by a really horrible injury. I've seen broken legs and dislocated shoulders. But if you want to cripple Dimitri, have him play rugby....

Blogless Troll said...

[Most soccer injuries are faked anyway, like this: ]

That's why the US will never embrace soccer. We may get duped about an awful lot, but our sports injury bullshit detectors are infallible. One or more of your joints better be bent ninety degrees in the wrong direction or we're not buying it.

Bernita said...

it was not that long ago when ripping your tendons or ligaments loose - probably a common injury in soccer - made you crippled for life.

Nancy Beck said...

Like writtenwyrdd said, you need to tell us what's at stake in this story. You don't give us much of a plot to go on.

And it's interesting what Dave said about twins. It probably has nothing to do with your story (I wouldn't know, because you don't give us enough info), but it does sound fascinating to me.



Anonymous said...

From the decadent lifestyle, it sounds like Dmitri is at the top level of the soccer world - where the money is.

In that case his identical twin isn't going to be able to replace him - not at all, not ever. That level of sport requires years of training and skill development that can't be faked, even if you do have the same genes.

If you can explain why I'm wrong, and the impersonation is going to work, you need to put that in the query letter.

Anonymous said...

I could accept a serious soccer injury as a triggering event, but I don't understand what's happening in Dmitri's life that's so important that Sash has to take his place. What do they have to lose if he doesn't? Why doesn't Dmitri just sit in his hospital room accepting adulation from all his fans while he gets better?

I think I'm willing to accept for purposes of the query that Sash wants to be Dmitri, but I have trouble believing he could pull it off. You don't just walk (or run) into being a quality soccer player.

I'm kind of assuming from all this that maybe Dmitri's in too deep with the drug scene and Sash has to impersonate him to bail him out of some kind of trouble, but your query doesn't say that.

And add me to the list of people who didn't get "YA" from the description of the story.