Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Face-Lift 736

Guess the Plot

Dare You to Move

1. I dare you to move. No, I dare you to move. Well, I double dog dare you to move. Nuh-uh, ‘cause I triple dog dare you!

2. The Swingin' Seniors are playing Strip Statues this week. Can newcomer Homer hold his perilous pose until Gretchen's girdle gives out, or will he lose his drawers and his dignity to the laughter of the assembled ladies?

3. Susan shares a crummy apartment with two sloppy roommates, so when her loner uncle bequeaths her a mansion, she starts packing. Then she hears of an evil presence in the mansion's basement. How bad can it be? And what's a trunk novel anyway?

4. Fred Lyczenski hosts a new reality TV show: contestants pack up all their belongings and go live in a different neighborhood for a month. While filming the first episode "Louisiana swamp rat moves to Chinatown" the film crew stumbles across a money laundering scheme. Chaos ensues.

5. When she becomes the unwilling subject of a blog titled Guess Eleanor Cummings' Next Man, Eleanor Cummings must decide whether to fight back against the vicious rumor spreaders who are ruining her life, or to just move. Who knew junior high was such a pain?

6. Life's rough for members of the Filmore High chess club, considered the lowest of the nerds. Then geek princess Liz discovers that bad boy basketball star Tomas has a flair for the board . . . and the high school hierarchy will never be the same.

Original Version

For Ellie Cummings, there’s only one way to survive eighth grade— be silent and invisible and don’t fall for a boy. [I wish it had been that easy for me. I made it through 8th grade with bribery, a flak jacket, and by imagining my French teacher, Miss Devereau, conjugating verbs in the nude.] This would have been a breeze, if Justin Sampson the cute ninth grader Ellie shared a secret summer friendship with hadn’t transferred to her school. [That sentence needs two commas, neither of them being the one that's actually there.]

After Justin brushes off the attention of several popular girls to hang out with Ellie, rumors infest the eighth grade class. Is Ellie Cummings having a secret affair with an older boy?

Yeah right! Seriously, not gonna happen.

And all it takes to vault Ellie from the safety of invisibility to the bright glare of notoriety is one amazing first kiss, a couple jealous girls, and some very compromising photos. Suddenly, she's the unwilling star of a blog titled Guess Eleanor Cummings' Next Man and St. Vincent Academy’s designated slut. [I would end that sentence after "Man"; if you do use the slut part, put it before the blog part so it doesn't sound like it's part of the blog title.]

How does a girl who’s never stood up for herself become a voice powerful enough to reach beyond the walls of her school? [Not clear what that means. Does she become this powerful voice? In what way? If she leads a crusade against Internet bullying, say so.] And what is she really running from, the sleazy girl someone has turned her into or the girl who just might be in love for the first time? [I had no idea she was running from anything. I thought she was standing her ground, becoming a powerful voice.]


Yeah right! Seriously, not gonna happen. That's nice voice, but if it means she would never date an older boy, I'm not getting that impression; I assume the kiss was with Justin? (Also, the difference in age between an 8th and 9th grader could be as little as a day, so it seems Justin would have to be another grade higher for this to be a scandal. Surely plenty of 8th graders who date would have 9th grade boyfriends? I mean, what girl would want to date an 8th grade boy?)

I assume this is just the plot portion of your query, as otherwise it would include the book's title, length, audience.

Make it clear why Ellie can survive 8th grade only by becoming invisible. She's not the new kid. It's her school. Why should she need to do anything different to survive 8th grade than she did to survive 7th grade?

In short, it's not bad, but there are some holes that need to be filled in.


wendy said...

I could not make heads nor tails of this query, though I think you have a very good premise in there somewhere.

I did not have time to figure out exactly what all wasn't working for me and add suggestion, so I rewrote it. I'm probably way off with the story, but I hope at least a piece or two will be of some use.

Goodluck with your story.

'All it takes to vault eighth grade wallflower and blossoming scientific genius Ellie from the safe confines of invisibility to the bright glare of notoriety is one totally amazing first kiss, a couple of jealous girls, and some compromising photos. Now she's crazy in love and living the red carpet life on the arm of one of St. Vincint Academy’s star athletes. She's also the unwilling pin-up girl on a new blog titled: Guess the Slut’s Next Ride.

But she can deal...

That is until a picture of Ellie’s BFF appears on “Guess the Slut” complete with untrue tales of wild nights spent in the arms of boys they never even met.Now Ellie must find her voice and take control of the situation. But how does a girl who’s never stood up for anything fight back? She’ll figure that out later. Of course, it would be way easier if her own Mr. Popular backed her up, but what are the odds he would risk everything for someone like her?

“Yeah right! Seriously - not gonna happen.”

Sylvia said...

"!ll it takes to vault Ellie from the safety of invisibility to the bright glare of notoriety is one amazing first kiss."

I'm notoriously bad at queries but I'd be awfully tempted to start with that line and then explain.

angela robbins said...

The two lines that grabbed my attention the most (other than EE's naughty comment about his French teacher...) were:

Yeah right! Seriously, not gonna happen.

And all it takes to vault Ellie from the safety of invisibility to the bright glare of notoriety is one amazing first kiss, a couple jealous girls, and some very compromising photos.

I would start with the kiss, jealous girls, photos line- it sets up a good premises while being a great hook. As well, it compliments with the flavor of the yeah right line. Keep that yeah right line it establishes the voice very effectively.

I agree with EE, not too bad, just fill in the gaps. I also agree that a one year age difference is not going to shock most teens as taboo. At least a two grade difference is needed. Even at that, girls tend to date older boys, so I am still not sure how much of a shocker that would be, unless the girl is a nerd and not in the same league as the new kid. Now, if it's an older girl dating a young boy... even more of a scandal.

Oh, is that his class ring?
Why does it say "JUNIOR High?" Ew, gross.
Uh, his high school one's in the shop?
Yeah, right. Cradle robber!

Matt said...

I'm not quite sure what the last paragraph is implying. Does she become the popular girl she never wanted to be in order to save her reputation and keep her man?

Chelsea Pitcher said...

I liked this a lot. I agree that the beginning and ending need clarification, but those are just little tweaks. The voice is great, and the topic is something I think a lot of pre-teen girls will be into.

I think the first line, if you keep it, could be tweaked a bit. Something to the effect of, "Ellie Cummings believes there's only one way to survive eighth grade..." That way, it's clear that the assumption is Ellie's, not the narrator's.

The middle of the query is great! (Though I might start the paragraph following "Not gonna happen" with "Except that it does," or something similar.

One question: how is Ellie going to become a voice outside the walls of her school?

Anonymous said...


I don't get this query. It sounds like the commercial for ONE EPISODE of a Disney Channel show. Not novel material.

"Is Ellie Cummings having a secret affair with an older boy?"

Really? Since when do teenagers hanging out turn into "secret affairs"? Do you think you're doing yourself or us a favor by hiding why she's not supposed to be with this boy? Not working.

The one Wendy re/wrote sounds fantastic.

PicardyRose said...

"Guess Eleanor Cummings' Next Man" doesn't really sound like the way kids talk. "Guess Eleanor Cummings' Next Booty Caller" sounds more like it.

Polenth said...

I don't get why she's labelled as a slut for kissing one boy, who was obviously interested in her. People would tease, but slut is usually when you have a string of partners... something else going on that isn't in the query?

Chelsea Pitcher said...

No_bull_steve, the premise actually rings pretty true for me. I've got several teens in my life, and from what I've seen, it takes very little (or actually nothing) to start "slut" rumors that people believe. (I realize this won't be true for everyone. Heck, it wasn't for me - I was definitely more of the starts-out-invisible-ends-up-invisible type.)

I've even heard stories of girls taking "compromising photos" from other girls' myspace pages and sending them to their school principals. Pretty ridiculous stuff, but still true.

Anonymous said...

The premise is decent, but I think for it to work Ellie would have to be a few years older, as well. That makes it less... inappropriate and sleazy and more just scandelous, which is what I think it's meant to be. Maybe put Ellie in grade 10, as it's a more mature age for the story. And Justin should be in grade 12. That way the age difference is still shocking but they are more mature and able to handle their situation.

_*rachel*_ said...

If she's in 8th grade, he'd have to be in 10th for it to be at all scandalous. 11th or 12th, it would be scandalous. If their ages are solidly on different sides of the legal age of consent AND there are scandalous rumors, adults are going to pay attention.

I'm also not sure about the blog. It's been a while since middle school, but I think phone calls, texts, maybe emails, and lolcats are more age-appropriate; blogs tend to be for a class, if anything. But hey--we were still using floppies.

Your biggest plus is your voice.

I really wanted it to be GTP 4.

Adam Heine said...

I like the voice, and I think the plot is sound (although it's not my genre; my first thought was "Grease", 2nd thought: "High School Musical"). I agree with those who say the beginning and ending needs to be tweaked, particularly the ending. That last paragraph needs to be more clear/hookier.

Julie said...

Hi everyone,

I'll raise my hand and claim this as my own.

Thanks for all the great feedback! One thing i can't seem to get across in the query but is very clear by the end of chapter one (page 6) is Ellie is painfully shy, like nobody should look at me. Ever.

And she just wants to blend in, not have people whispering about what's she really doing when she's "swimming" at Justin's house (which is actually swimming).

The whole boy/girl thing kind-of hits her over the head like a hammer at the worst possible moment. And then a ninth grade girl likes Justin and wants revenge.

Oh and her school ends at 9th grade ,which is weird but my jr. high was like this and they changed it because the ninth graders were so immature.

Ellie is petrified of them. Any and all suggestions welcome! Sample pages are on The Public Query Slushpile but its under the former title "The Eleanor Story"

It was boring so I changed it to reflect one of the songs in the book.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the title suits the genre or target audience at all. I know the song, and I really don't think serious-themed, Christian-alt-rock really meshes with what seems like a fun romp of a YA novel. Also, don't quote me on this, there might be copyright issues if the song is explicitly referenced in the novel.