WriteOnCon might not officially start until tomorrow morning, but we’ve got a special treat for you tonight! Joanna Volpe has already been busy trolling her query thread to select queries for critique.
Here’s the first query Joanna selected for critique:
Dear Ms. Stampfel-Volpe,
When Ryan Freeman, a 16 year old romantically challenged band geek and self-professed Beatles fanatic, finds himself paired for a month long World History social experiment with the uber-popular CHELSEA HAMPTON, he finds himself with a unique opportunity to strip away the high school “labels” and get to know the girl of his dreams since the second grade. But there’s a catch. The assignment is supposed to involve an anonymous exchange of e-mails and chatting online with the person nightly to see if the way the person has been perceived by their outward appearance matches the online persona. This would be no big deal if Chelsea hadn’t dropped her pink glitter Hello Kitty pen in class that day and Ryan hadn’t retrieved it, and the slip of paper in his hand with an anonymous e-mail address wasn’t written in pink glitter ink. He knows he’s got her as his partner, but she has no idea she has him. It also doesn’t help that Chelsea is dating the quarterback of the football team, BRODY ACKMANN, who has it in for Ryan after he overhears Brody bragging to his friends that he is cheating on Chelsea with her best friend. Now Ryan has not one but two secrets he must keep from her, or risk unraveling the trust and friendship that builds easily between them in their online chats.
Can Ryan keep his identity a secret from everyone, including his two best friends MYLES and LUCY, long enough to secure a place in Chelsea’s heart or will the friendship they build come tumbling down like a house of cards when she prematurely finds out Ryan has known who she is all along? Or will Lucy potentially change everything when she lets Ryan know she wants to take their friendship to another level? Adding to the mix is making it through marching band season in one piece, his mom’s developing relationship with her new boyfriend, and a Homecoming dance he’ll never forget where his virtual world and real life collide. Infused with comic banter and Beatles trivia galore, the novel aims to penetrate the social stigmas we all remember well in high school. The dialogue-driven story reaches out with hope and a healthy dose of snarky humor for those underdogs everywhere grappling with the angst of being a teenager in a world where what you see isn’t always what you get.
I am an active member of SCBWI, and have previously written numerous outreach materials for KCTS/Seattle, including the Emmy-award winning television show “Bill Nye The Science Guy”. Prior to that, I worked in motion picture development as a reader and Development Assistant for Amblin’ Entertainment and Hollywood Pictures, soliciting manuscripts and writing coverage on multiple projects. Having spent the last year immersed in the world of marching band via my teenage son and getting to know the kids in the various band ensembles, I decided they may, in fact, be the coolest kids on the planet and deserved to have their own story.
Thank you for your consideration. I’d love to send you the manuscript and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
The idea of band geek gets anonymously paired with the popular girl for a school project has a very Cinderella-type feel, which is great! I like how this concept turns the whole Cinderella story on its ear by making the main character a boy. However, this query is much, much too wordy. It’s hard to get through! If you want to catch an agent’s attention, you want to be concise and to the point. Introduce us to the characters, state the conflict, show tone, and how do the stakes get raised? That’s it in a nutshell.
For the full critique please visit Coffey. Tea. And Literary. Joanna will be posting the rest of her critique at 9 EST tonight.