Query Critique 74

Dear (Agent)

FALL TO PIECES is an 89,000-word dual perspective contemporary YA novel. If Jennifer Niven’s ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES met FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, this is the result. The wording here is a tiny bit awkward. I lived with undiagnosed depression as a teenager, and like Jacob, I hid it the best I could. Now, I want to tell our stories without the stigma associated with mental illness. I think I would just mention in the bio that you also lived with undiagnosed depression. I don’ think you need to include the last sentence. The publishing community is, on the whole, very sensitive to mental health issues and very aware of the need for literature that addresses these issues. I also might put this part after the synopsis, but that’s largely personal preference.

On the football field, sixteen-year-old Jacob Wilson is an all-star working his way toward a Division I scholarship. But at home, he’s working on an escape plan, counting the months until he’s free from the sting of his dad’s accusations and belt. So far he’s managed to keep the abuse a secret, even from his girlfriend Megan, but when he shatters his leg playing the game he loves, he watches his dreams of a scholarship and a way out of small town Colorado disintegrate. 

Straight-A student Megan Michaels realizes that Jacob is hiding a lifetime of scars behind his football hero persona when she discovers him chasing painkillers with whiskey to numb the pain of his injury. Blinded by visions of college and the future, Megan ignores the signs of Jacob’s addiction, but when Jacob nearly ODs, she finds the courage to speak out. Revealing his secrets might be the only way to prevent him from self-destructing. 

When Jacob’s dad announces that he has taken a new job in South Dakota, the only thread uniting Jacob’s crumbling world rips away. An errant kiss, another bottle of whiskey, and a bathroom brawl push Megan beyond her last second chance. With the moving truck ready and a 9mm pistol tucked in his jeans, Jacob only sees one way out. And it’s not in South Dakota. I love that last line! Overall, I think this is a very solid query letter. Good conflict, high stakes.

As a member of SCBWI, I’ve attended Midsouth regional conferences, and I’m a member of an active critique group with other accomplished writers. I am also a member of the Tennessee Press Association where I received the Edward J. Meeman Award for Public Service writing, first place for Best Personal Humor Column, and second place for Best Personal Column and Education Reporting.

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