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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Query for YA Adventure

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message 1: by Jackson (new)

Jackson | 13 comments I am seeking representation for my 61,000-word YA adventure novel, A Yahoo Life.

There’s nothing that quite brings people together like the common interest of their plane crashing. 17-year-old, Ian Whitman finds this out for himself when he becomes moored on an uncharted island with only a handful of other people. Ian’s budding intimacy with the teenagers sharing in his tragedy, encourages him to overcome his introversion and handle the overwhelming adversities he will soon face.
Ian got on the plane to visit his father, but when a tropical storm hit, his flight went down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Ian finds refuge on a jungle island where the only other six survivors are stranded. If he wants to survive, Ian must learn to manage the psychological and physical implications inherent to his disaster.
While they await rescue, Ian and the other two adolescent survivor’s reckless behaviour has unforeseen consequences. The victims of the plane crash are not alone. There is another presence on the island which threatens everyone’s chances of survival.

message 2: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments First, you need to be aware of whitespace and how many editors will put it in, but not transfer when you copy/paste. Always look at your query in plain text and put in manual blank lines, so everything doesn't run together.

Second, I think you either move the second paragraph first, or put the information in in bits and pieces.

Here is my attempt:

Hello (agent name),

Because of (personalized; very important!) I think you'll like "A Yahoo Life," a 61K YA adventure novel.

Seventeen year old Ian's visit to his father is interrupted when a tropical storm grounds his flight in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The seven teenage survivors find refuge on a jungle island. They must learn to manage the psychological and physical dangers.

There’s nothing quite like shared tragedy to bring people together. Ian’s budding intimacy with the other survivors encourages him to overcome his introversion.

While they await rescue, Ian and two other survivor’s reckless behavior puts the team at risk. They're not alone. There's something else on the island, which threatens everyone’s survival.

Your choice of the phrase "budding intimacy" implies to me that there will be some element of a love story. If that's what you intend, perfect, but if not, you might want to consider other words.

The supposed sweet spot for a query is 350 words with 100-150 devoted to the blurb. My version of your blurb is at the short end, if you wanted to put more in. You don't have to hit any minimum word count and agents probably prefer shorter over longer, so don't feel you need to pad. That being said, they often like to see comparables (books in the same market niche you are targeting) and, if relevant (meaning, writing-related credits), a few words about yourself.

Good luck!

message 3: by Jackson (new)

Jackson | 13 comments Thank you so much for the revisions and advice Keith!

message 4: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Cirisano | 46 comments I would start simply. Main character, problem:

Ian is traveling home to see his father when a tropical storm hurls his flight into the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

I think the bigger piece you need to tackle, though, is the way you describe your premise. This type of story has been done a lot, i.e. Lost. That’s okay, but you have to show the agent that you’re bringing something new to the table. I would avoid the obvious, general statement of the type of conflict we find in every plane-crash-tropical-island story:

 “If he wants to survive, Ian must learn to manage the psychological and physical implications inherent to his disaster. “ / “They must learn to manage the psychological and physical dangers.”

Make your story stand out by giving the agent some unexpected, fresh twist on the standard obstacles, an unlikely hero, an interesting relationship, etc.

Writers bring new life to old premises all the time through original, complex characters. The best example I can think of right now is the first season of American Horror Story. I mean, what’s more cliche than a family moves into a haunted house? But the character relationships were so compelling, it worked.

To that point, I feel like your query would benefit from illuminating Ian’s character more. You say he’s an introvert, which is interesting. It’s the type of trait that seems like a bad match for a jungle island at first, but could actually be an advantage. (I thought that maybe his introverted nature led him to spend a lot of time reading in his past, and he’s got knowledge to help them survive, etc.) If there is some sort of unique romance, maybe get that in there. Whatever you do (and whatever is accurate to the actual content of the novel), I think you need the query to answer “This story is different because _________.”

I think that's the first piece of the puzzle to set you up for success. After that's down on paper, you can polish sentences. (Also, if it helps - don't try to make the query short at first. I found a tip on an agent's website that said to write super long, then cut. It really works. Would highly recommend!)

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