Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #16

Dear Agent Inbox,

Zach’s bruises are so common they don’t faze him anymore, or so he pretends. His black and blue marks and his mom's permanent black eyes are courtesy of his loving stepfather, Dave, who his mom decided to marry after Zach's real dad died. The rage begins to build up inside Zach until he finally can't hide it any longer. He explodes on anyone who sets him off, no matter who they are.

Dr. Greenberg is the doctor who wants to help Zach find the answer even if it means she has to pry the information out of him, one word at a time. Zach knows if he talks, Dave will beat the h*** out of his mom and then him. H***, it's hard enough for Zach to just function like a normal 18-year-old boy managing life, school, his job at the music store and his not-sure-we-are-boyfriend-and-girlfriend relationship.

It's now or never. Knowing he has Intermittent Explosive Disorder means Zach needs to open up to someone, and that someone happens to be Dr. Greenberg's assistant--his new roommate. Zach hopes she's the one that's going to help him gain control and try for a normal life.

ZACH'S FIGHT is my young adult contemporary novel complete at 60,000 words. I am a member of SCBWI and RWA. Thank you for your consideration.



“Son, take a step back. I don’t want to hurt you.” I barely heard his command over the sirens coming down the street.

Son of a b****, I thought I had this under control. What the h*** tripped me this time? I’d started too many fights recently. I was screwed. Sweat dripped into the scratch just below my eye, and I winced in pain.

“Don’t make me ask you again. If you don’t step away from the boy, I will do what is necessary.” The cop’s rough voice wasn’t as threatening as the words were meant to be.

I sighed and took a step back then looked down at my feet to see who I’d gone for this time. I tried to search my thoughts for the reason this guy won the lottery as my most recent target. Nope, nothing.

The crowd around me was a chorus of hushes, gasps, and cries. When I glanced up, I found myself staring at the net with the basketball on the ground below it, reminding me I was still at school. Oh I’m out for sure now. Great. I ran my hand down my face and felt the scratches on my knuckles where the skin split open.

“What happened?” I asked. The officer behind me chose that moment to take a step forward. The air around me shifted and my personal space shrank.

“Well, I’d hoped you could tell me.” A hand dropped to my shoulder. “Why are you standing over this boy with bloodied knuckles?”


Alex said...

Great premise and query, very succinct and attention grabbing.

I liked the writing style that showed how disoriented Zach is coming out of his rage blackout.

The dialog seems like it could be a little unnatural, but I haven't read enough to tell. It could just be because it can be difficult to write dialog for cops or that cop dialog can always sound unnatural.

I'd read on though.

Janice Sperry said...

The query is too long. My first thought was if this kid is 18, why is he letting his stepfather pound on him and his mom?

I like how you start off with him pounding another kid without realizing why. It shows how messed up he is. Nice start.

The Agent said...

This query feels like it needs more focus. The story in particular concerns me because as presented it feels more like a vehicle for an issue than on the life of this particular character. The main character feels younger than 18 in his passive acceptance of his situation (why is he still at home?), and I wonder why he is worried about telling when his stepfather obviously beats the heck out of them anyway?

RR said...

I had the same questions as the previous commenters. But I thought the first page was very intriguing and I'd definitely read more.

Suzi said...

The query seems kind of wordy. For instance, I don’t think you’d need to put the “who his mom decided to marry… real dad died.” Having the step-father mentioned is sufficient.

The mention of Dr. G’s assistant being Zach’s room-mate stopped me. It creates questions that take away from the query. Why would he be living with Dr. G’s roommate? That seems weird. Since I don’t know why/what yet, I would leave that part out.

I think the 2nd paragraph doesn’t could be rewritten, just doesn’t grab my attention.

** I loved your first page. You jump right in with the action and I would keep reading with that.

Suzanne Warr said...

I like the first pages, and believe you've got a strong story in here. However, the query needs a lot of smoothing. It should build in a cohesive way and feel knit from the same cloth. As is, it comes across as different paragraphs you liked and decided to string together. Also, I find it really unbelievable that an 18-year-old would be taking this kind of crap from his step-father. Most boys that age are just coming into their prime, and don't have any trouble taking down an older, flabbier man. Especially if the kids' been knocked around a lot and doesn't flinch from pain. Unless his step-father is a demi-god or this kid is really a shrimp, I don't buy the age, which means I don't buy your ability to tell the story with authenticity. Aging him down would help a lot, and would actually be a better fit for the story voice.

Best of luck as you clean this up--you've got a strong core, all it needs now is work!