Sunday, September 2, 2012

#226

FIRST REVISION

 Dear Query Shark,

Frederika Frosch, a transfer student from Austria, likes Lee Min Ho. She recently found out that he’s interested in her too.

She likes him, he likes her....so what? 

It really helps if there's some inkling of tension, or what's at stake, here in the first paragraph.  Set up is great but you have to show the bowling ball heading toward the pins, not just the pins at the end of the bowling alley.


It was three years ago that Freddy first met the transfer student from South Korea. Almost immediately, she managed to leave a lasting impression by soaking his designer shirt in a pool of hot coffee. Needless to say, he wasn’t too happy about it and resorted to ignoring her for the rest of their time at Riverden.

More of the same. She likes him, he likes her, they had a rocky start...so what.
At this point I'm impatient to see stakes. 

But there he was, speaking to her, on the first day of the last year of their high school career. Having transformed from thin air into someone Min Ho is apparently interested in, Freddy doesn’t quite trust the new wind that travels through the halls of Riverden. Because in Riverden, California’s International school for the rich and the gifted, you stuck to your own kind. You didn’t intermingle.

Ok. Here's a hint of tension: no intermingling. Except we already know they are going to do that cause without it you don't have a book.  What you need here is what bad thing is going to happen if they do intermingle. What worse thing is going to happen if they don't?


When Freddy finds out that Min Ho really likes her, the two of them get closer. Though before they have a chance to start dating, Min Ho’s entire female Asian fan club and its leader, Yoon Joo, start marching against Freddy in every way possible.

"marching against" is a very unusual way to describe what we'd call Mean Girls stuff. It's not unusual in a good way. It's unusual in that it makes me think they're leading protest marches...and that's nonsensical.

Metaphors, similes, comparisons, descriptions need to illuminate the story: make us see behaviour in a new way. This doesn't This is confusing. Confusing is not good.

From abusing her verbally, to making Freddy crash Bernadette, her beloved motorcycle, they have seemingly declared war against her. They even go so far as to involve the rest of Riverden. The school starts to show Freddy that just maybe, in contrast to what she believed at first, people aren’t that tolerable after all. Though Freddy and Min Ho don’t want to listen.

Still no plot. And you don't mean tolerable. You mean tolerant. (At least I think so although my assistant would say people aren't tolerable at all.)


Min Ho is, furthermore, part of the rich in Riverden and priceless to his parents who run several companies back in Seoul. Yoon Joo’s final move is to get the parents involved and Min Ho, shortly afterwards, disappears.

Aha! Here's the first hint of what's at stake. You've spent so long on set up though that I've probably stopped reading the query by now.

Freddy cannot figure out what happened. How can a teenager alone fight against the injustice of a world in which she feels like she doesn’t belong in in the first place, and that wants her to back off from being together with the one person she truly loves?

That second sentence is where I stop reading and send you a form rejection. 

While de-puzzling the mystery to Min Ho’s disappearance, Freddy starts to use her talent as a writer and writes a book. The story of a girl and a boy that couldn’t be together.

de-puzzling? Again, that is not a word choice that illuminates anything.

DON’T LOVE is complete at 65,000 words. It is a young adult romance and the first in a potential series of three. I was born in Vienna, Austria, am currently working on finishing my BA in International Studies and Marketing, own an online boutique and eat ice cream for breakfast. For more information check out my blog (blog info)

Put your contact info (and a blog is contact info) under your name.

I am guessing that English is one of your languages, and probably not the first.  Your command of it is admirable but it's also not publishable yet.



Your time and consideration are greatly appreciated.



You're not ready to query yet if your book is like this query letter. Spend some time with beta readers.  
Getting a lot of form rejections won't help you. Invest your time by joining a critique group. It can be of inestimable value to you if only to identify things like "depuzzle" "pool of coffee"  "marching against" and the difference between stick and stuck.



--------------------------
ORIGINAL QUERY
Dear Query Shark,

Freddy, short for Frederika, Frog from Vienna, Austria likes Lee Min Ho from Seoul, South Korea. She recently found out that he likes her too. Surprisingly. Because she isn't one of them. She isn't Asian, but Caucasian.

Her name is really Freddy Frog? Really? This makes me wonder if it's an animal fable.

Though as soon as Freddy finds out that he likes her and the two of them have the chance to get closer, Yoon Joo (also from South Korea), together with her puppets of brainless Asian barbie dolls, set out to break them apart. Bono, Freddy's bestest of friends, is thrown into the pool of toxic hearts and tempers when it turns out that he sort of likes Freddy himself.


Riverden is the place of the crime for passion. The most popular high school in Orange County, California. Made especially for the rich and the gifted.

If all the action is taking place in the OC why are you mentioning Austria and South Korea?

Although Freddy's still only a teenager she knows what she is and what she is not. She isn't one of the rich kids like Lee Min Ho, but one of the gifted ones. She's also not a person that gives up easily, least of all the boy she has grown to love. A writer is what she is. And this is her story. The story of a girl and a boy.

I'm with you right up to here. The rhythm is a little bumpy and there are too many characters, but I'm not looking for flaws in a query letter. I'm looking for a good story. Right up to now, I'm with you.

But, dear agent, you see this isn't your average love story. This story has a purpose unlike any other and that's why Freddy needs you to publish this book. She needs you to publish it, because this will be the only way she'll find him again. Reach out to him. Her impossible love. Through this book. Through words that are so powerful that they will spread across nations and ignite generations.
Through telling their story Freddy can show him that she still loves him. The guy she has recently lost. The guy named Lee Min Ho. Min Ho from South Korea.


And right here you go splat. And not just sort of. BIG FAT SPLAT.

For starters, I don't publish books. That's the publisher.
For seconders, what the hell does this even mean?
This is like breaking the fourth wall in theatre and talking to the audience. Don't do it. Just tell me what the book is about. Don't plead with me. Yuckola.

You have the set up but no plot. The plot is NOT publish this book.  

For thirders: this isn't your average love story is telling me not showing me what the book is about. 

DON'T LOVE or THE ART OF KILLING YOUR BABY is complete at 65,000 words. It is a young adult romance and the first in a potential series of three. I was born in Vienna, Austria, am currently working on finishing my BA in International Studies and Marketing, own an online boutique and eat ice cream for breakfast. For more information check out my blog (blog info)

This is the worst title of all time. That is not the category you want to be in let alone win.

Yes publishers change titles so you don't need to obsess over getting it exactly right but you want one that doesn't make me actively wonder if you have lost your grip on reality.



Your time and consideration are greatly appreciated.

This is a classic example of veering right off the rails, over the cliff, under the water, and out to sea.


This is a form rejection with the title now heading the list of examples of what not to do.

44 comments:

alaskaravenclaw said...

This is very confusing.

In the first paragraph I, too, thought this might be a talking-animals fantasy, set in an alternative world where romance and friendship between people of different ethnic backgrounds is for some reason impossible.

Second paragraph: I thought dolls were also characters.

Third paragraph: maybe it's a murder mystery?

Fourth paragraph: it finally becomes clear (I think?) that this is a story about a high school romance.

Fifth paragraph: Uh oh, this might be autobiographical, and the writer's way of bringing herself to her crushee's attention.

I hope that's not the case... but writer, we don't know anything about your book except from the query. For that reason, avoid anything gimmicky and just give it to us straight, in ordinary, non-repetitive sentences: protagonist, challenge she faces, what she does to try to overcome it.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Is this a spoof query?

Freddy Frog, as a name in YA? "Brainless Asian" Barbie dolls?(which should be capitalized, btw.)"bestest" of friends? "likes and sort-of likes?"

Not only are you using terms and names more fitting a kid's book than YA, but you're being *highly* insulting while doing it. Beyond the bald-face insult, you're talking down to - and about - your target audience, which is something a teen reader will pick-up on, and toss your book for, in less than two pages.

Lehcarjt said...

I really like international / ethnically diverse stories. From that perspective this appealed to me.

However, I had a tough time with the writing. My initial impression of the first sentence was: Freddy, short for Frederika othrwise known as Frog from Vienna; Austria likes Lee Min Ho from Seoul, South Korea. It took several more reads (and QS pointing out that her name was Freddy Frog) for me to get the commas straight.

I had similar difficulties (meaning I had to think the grammar through) other places.

GillyB said...

Freddy Frog just can’t be the name of your contemporary YA heroine. And when you mention a city like Vienna, you don’t need to Austria part. Same with Seoul, South Korea. It’s like specifying Tokyo, Japan or New York City, United States. It’s unnecessary, and adds to the clunkiness of the writing.

Which is really my biggest issue with this query (apart from the failed gimmicks, which QS more than covered). The writing just doesn’t feel polished. It doesn’t flow. Also, these are American teenagers, yes? Not exchange students? Because then they would be Austrian American and Asian American, not from Seoul, South Korea or Vienna, Austria. Also, when you say “Yoon Joo… together with her puppets of brainless Asian Barbie dolls” it sounds like she’s about to unleash her zombie doll army on an unsuspecting Freddy.

And OOF. Her best friend’s name is Bono. Just call him Joe. Please.

There COULD be a really interesting love quadrangle here about cross-cultural high school relationships, and I’m all for that. But just pare down and tell us. Don’t say there is a “pool of toxic hearts and tempers”. Don’t say “Riverden is the place of the crime for passion” (particularly because it doesn’t make sense- it’s a crime OF passion, and since no one’s being murdered here, it's confusing). Just say they go to an advanced prep school in the OC for the rich and the gifted.


“Through words that are so powerful that they will spread across nations and ignite generations.”

Please don’t ignite the generations. We have firewood for that.

THE ART OF KILLING YOUR BABY as a title would never see the light of day. It is intensely frightening. It sounds like a manifesto written by someone in prison.

Like I said- I’m really intrigued by the kernel of the story. I think you could have something here, but you’re getting in your own way. Simplify. Step away from the story. I love that you’re passionate about it, but the query letter is a business letter, and the agent just wants to see the story straight up. Good luck on the rewrite. I actually do like the name Freddy, minus the Frog part, and love both the setting and the set-up.

alaskaravenclaw said...

I think the brainless Asian Barbie dolls are meant to be the boy's social circle, whom the girl blames for breaking up the romance or potential romance.

And yes, it's offensive.

That being the case, I toyed with the idea that "Frog" was another offensive term meaning that the protagonist, though Austrian by birth, was of French extraction.

God knows.

Emy Shin said...

For anybody who has passing familarity with Korean culture, seeing the name of one of the most currently famous Korean actors (Lee Min-ho) is a bit like seeing "Justin Bieber" for the name of the love interest -- it makes it a bit difficult to look past that.

Moon Jae said...

I am a fan of Lee Min Ho and I still don't get what your novel is about. I'm guessing it's a spoof of some sort.

If you replace LMH with Justin Bieber, it might make more of an impact with US agents. (Then again, they might stop reading altogether.)

On a side note, if you call a girl group member (Thats what Yoon Joo supposed to be right?) "brainless Asian Barbie doll" I think you've alienated 50% of your target audience. Most of LMH's fans are young girls who are also kpop fanatics.

LadySaotome said...

I agree with Emily - my first thought was this must be the writer's dream romance with one of the biggest stars in Korea at the moment. Granted there are only so many variations of names in South Korea but that one should be avoided - it really is like seeing "Justin Bieber". Yoon Joo & her brainless barbies sounds like a cliche from an Asian tv drama - the little fanclub of girls with their leader who attempt to bully the girl "their" guy likes, usually to little affect.

sbjames said...

Freddy Frog as the MC, The Art of Killing Your Baby as the title,a direction to the blog and a mention of what the author eats for breakfast...hmm, I'm wondering if someone isn't pulling your leg Janet. If the author had just mentioned her cats, I'd be sure of it.

Annikka Woods said...

First paragraph: the name. The name of the main character. I'm sorry but that's a turn off right there. Is she a talking toad? Is she a magical tree frog? No? Then we need a different name.

Second and third paragraphs: I already don't care about these people. Also, why should I care where they're from if you're basing this in the OC? Too much info here in these paragraphs.

And then we hit the "dear agent" paragraph. Now the author is making me think she's asking the agent to publish her own love letters to a childhood sweetheart. I no longer see a purpose for this story.

There is no plot. The title is abysmal (and this is coming from someone who sucks at titles herself). I wouldn't know what to do with this if I saw it either.

Standback said...

I could actually imagine breaking the fourth wall as a successful gimmick, but it would need to be really well done. Imagine how Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony Snicket, might have queried his Series of Unfortunate Events - I could easily imagine a query beginning, "I understand my manuscript has come to your attention. Please, I implore you not to read it." Or how might William Goldman have queried for The Princess Bride? "So there's this book my grandpa used to read to me..."

I could see why you'd dislike the gimmick, but if the book itself has a strong element of meta or fourth-wall-awareness, then some of that might be appropriate for the query. Maybe?

Unfortunately, while I do feel there might be potential for something teaser-ish here, the writing really doesn't support it. I'm extremely frustrated by the way all the characters are defined almost exclusively by their home city. And the choppy, broken-up sentences... might be a stylistic choice, but they really don't work for me. "Reach out to him. Her impossible love. Through this book." I think it's going for drama, but the effect is like somebody's trying to dictate a bad movie promo voiceover, not like a full, enticing query.

flibgibbet said...

I feel like I'm missing something and wondering if the author's first language is English.

This is what I imagine the story to be about: A poor but gifted girl from Vienna attends a special school in OC, falls in love with a boy from Seoul, but other clannish Asian girls disapprove. Freddy's best friend is in love with her. (So what does he DO that complicates the story? What happens?)

The supposed purpose of the book is to reach out to Lee Min Ho to prove that Freddy loves him. (Drop the gimmick). Not only that, but the book itself will change the world as we know it. That's a tad over the top don't you think?

As QS mentioned, this is pure set up. The story itself may be riveting, but this certainly isn't doing it justice.

Show us what's at stake. It's not enough that it's something Freddy wants (she's a teenager, and teenagers want everything----right this minute).

alaskaravenclaw said...

If the author is really from Austria then no, her first language is probably not English. It's probably German. But many German speakers attain native-like proficiency in English, especially if they've spent some time over here. I'm not getting a doesn't-know-enough-English vibe here. It's just not very good writing.

Rachel6 said...

Others have commented on this, but it's just bugging me. The "dear agent" paragraph really sounds like the author has written this book just to prove to her crush that she really likes him, and wants him to see it in stores so that he'll love her back.

Many people enjoy a love complicated by culture-clash and clannish companions. I'd like to hear more about the love and complications.

Adam Heine said...

I agree with Standback that breaking the fourth wall can be (and has been) a successful gimmick.

But the author here is not breaking the fourth wall with their audience, but with potential agents, and that just doesn't make sense to me at all.

laurahurlburt said...

Whoa. This can't be for real! Must, must be a spoof. OC with rich asian bimbos and a gifted caucasian? Nice turning a stereotype on its head, but the rest has to be a joke. If it's not, all the best to you, author. Just head back to the query drawing board.

Princess Sara said...

So, your plot is "white girl in the OC is harried and persecuted by characters of color--I'm sorry, I mean 'brainless Asian Barbie dolls?'"

Whoa.

Your abysmal query is the least of your problems. "Poor, persecuted white girl" narratives are deeply offensive and utterly fail to understand how racial privilege works. Do not query this. Toss the manuscript, read up on racial privilege, and start on something else.

Scribble Orca said...

This is seriously shark bait?!?!?! It's not a real query. Is it?

It--It--It...ah....maybe if I query QS something like this I'll have the chance to be mauled, too.

I suppose it was distraction, QS. Briefly.

Heidi Schulz said...

Why go to all the trouble of writing an entire book to try and reconnect with your old flame. Isn't that what facebook is for?

Carrie-Anne said...

I thought this was a picture book from the opening lines, and also thought it featured talking animals. The other summary paragraphs seemed to be more of a mini-synopsis than a concise summary of the meat of the story and the actual hook. The ending paragraph definitely gave the impression that this is a thinly-veiled autobiography.

There seemed to be a fair amount of sentence fragments, along with some other writing mistakes The title is all kinds of creepy, even if it is intended as a spoof.

Max sophox said...

It seems to me the basic plot here is this: Freddy attends a school in Orange County for the rich and the gifted. Not rich herself, she falls for Lee Min Ho, who is. Unfortunately, Yoon Joo and a bunch of other rich kids are determined to break them up.

So far, that's it. What we need to know now is why Lee Min Ho is so special to her, and what risks she is willing to take to keep him. I'd also like to know why I should like Freddy in the first place.

All that is the essence of your query, and you need to explain it just as plain as that.

If the narration itself is also interesting (I'm thinking of Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler) you might mention it in a sentence at the end.

AA said...

Lemme get this straight. Frederica Frogette is a French/Viennese teenager going to Riverdale in OC, a school for the very rich or brainy but not both at the same time. There she falls for Ho Chee Min, and Ho Chee kinda likes her, too. His main squeeze, Moon Juice, is jealous, and she apparently got into the school on the gifted and talented scholarship, because she has created an army of robotic AI dolls, and they're at her command. This looks bad for Freddy, so her best friend Bonehead sacrifices himself to the zombie dolls in a desperate attempt to make Freddy finally notice him.

I dunno. It's got potential.

shurikenlord said...

Wait. This is not a joke? Pardon me, but I literally screamed when I read the title. It's so funny. Commendable commentary as usual from my favorite shark. Ugh, I love this site!

ChiTrader said...

I'm in the spoof camp here. "Freddy Frog??" And the paragraph that starts, "But, dear agent, ..." had me laughing outloud.

The clincher was the title of the author's book. I apologize if the querier has sent a real query and don't mean to offend, but if true I hope you are a young writer who is just learning how to query, took a chance on a daring style of querying, and had it not work for Ms. Reid.

That said, for all we know another agent might read this and immediately ask for a full. That's why we query many agents, right? No accounting for taste.

I'd pass on this if I were an agent mainly because the story seems like a run of the mill teen love story. The query didn't tell me enough about the plot to generate further interest.

GillyB said...

@AA

OHMIGOD. Ho Chee Min, Moon Juice, and Bonehead all going to school at Riverdale made me snort my coffee out my nose.

Nancy Thompson said...

Ummm...WTF?

Erin Kane Spock said...

Laughing so hard. Thanks for sharing.
Unrelated - my daughter played 'Freddie the Frog' in her 2nd grade school play On the Lily Pad. Originally written for a boy, she referred to herself as "Fredreeka." :)

dylan said...

I was confused by some of this, and agree it fails overall as a query, but if I was the agent I'd have looked at the pages. I sensed poetry lurking in the language.

The protagonist is a writer, and many of us have heard that "kill your babies" is an editing rule. I imagine that is what she is referring to in the title.

dylan

Angie Brooksby said...

I too laughed at this but if the QS chose it there must be something to bite into.

What is "the place of the crime for passion"? Do you mean crime of passion or passion for crime? Is passion a crime, why? Confusing. It there a crime, it sounds more like a silly sitcom with no blood drawn.

Crime for passion makes me think of when mafioso in Sicily were pardoned for killing their wives - not fiction - because they were alleged adulteresses.

When I read the "Dear Agent" paragraph I was not certain if the MC, a writer, was querying an agent as part of the plot in the book or if she was appealing the shark to represent her.

I love reading the comments.

alaskaravenclaw said...


It sounds so sexy, dunnit? As I understand it, a "crime of passion" in the U.S. is unpremeditated murder or manslaughter. Just means the assailant killed the victim because the assailant lost his/her temper, ie was in a passion.

Years ago a professor in a law course I took (IANAL, was just interested) told us that in Texas, the wife's adultery in the type of case Angie describes would be considered a mitigating factor and would lead to a lesser sentence for the husband. In New York State, he said, it would be the other way 'round and the wife's adultery would be considered a motive and used to prove that the husband did the foul deed.

I have no idea if that's true. This prof was kinda loopy.

Anyway, if "crime for passion" was a clever play on words, it was lost on me-- didn't notice it till other commenters pointed it out. Plays on words in a query: probably not a good idea. They just end up looking like typos.

NTM in this query we don't know what the crime is.

Christine Tripp said...

At first I was taking this query seriously, seeing problems I might mention to the writer, all the while feeling I had seen Amanda Bynes in a teen flick with the same plot, then BAM, the whole query just went off the radar.
So, though there is no reason now to really mention this, I still will...

>She recently found out that he likes her too. Surprisingly. Because she isn't one of them. She isn't Asian, but Caucasian.<

What teen reader would ever consider an Asian Boy liking a Caucasian Girl surprising? A YA would have dropped the book right there!

Elemarth said...

I'm completely confused by this query. The first sentence was awful in terms of readability, and it made me think this was one of the parody queries. After that, the query got more normal, but I still didn't like it and it still wasn't making a lot of sense. Then, at the "dear agent" part, it totally went off the rails. I can only figure out a few things that could possibly be going on:
1. This is a parody after all
2. The writer is insane (whether it's an autobiographical story or... I don't even know)
3. This is some gimmick that I completely don't get
I really hope the author resubmits something that clears it up for me, because now I'm really curious about what this is supposed to mean.

Laura W. said...

This leaves me very confused. And uncomfortable.

Main objection: the author can do a MUCH better job tackling the issue of cross-cultural romance without sounding so freaking racist. "Puppets of brainless Asian barbie dolls" had me cringing. It reflects the "all Asians look the same" stereotype. As for Freddy being from Vienna, the query gives me absolutely no clue as to why that would be relevant -- other than to reinforce the "white blue-eyed blonde chick falls for Korean boy and he must choose her over all the same-looking Korean girls." *cringe cringe*


Now -- if there's a language barrier due to Freddy being Austrian, that is SO much more interesting. And it needs to be in the query.

On a random note: I personally hate reading romances with gender-ambivalent main character names. It gets really confusing. Again, that would depend on how you pitched it. If Frederika nicknamed herself "Freddy" in an attempt to Americanize her name, I totally wouldn't care that I now have to read about a girl with a boy's name. Especially if it backfires b/c she doesn't realize it's a boy's name in America, and gets teased for it by these "puppet" girls. :P

JQ Trotter said...

I think it's pretty obvious from the start that English is not this writer's first language. I was actually wondering for a while whether or not this was a spoof query.

I second that it makes no sense that it takes place is Cali. I don't live anywhere near there, but I don't think that it has a huge South Korean population, like the query seems to say. Also, I get a hint of racism from most of the things said, particularly the "brainless Asian Barbie dolls" comment. Which makes no sense. Since, last time I checked, Barbie looked more Austrian than Korean.

I hope that this is really a spoof.

Adam Heine said...

JQ Trotter wrote: "I second that it makes no sense that it takes place is Cali. I don't live anywhere near there, but I don't think that it has a huge South Korean population..."

Demographics of California: Racial and ancestral makeup. FTA: "Only Hawaii has a higher Asian American percentage than California."

Yes it's Wikipedia. But having grown up there, in a highschool where Asian Americans made up 51% of the student body, I'm going to say yeah, that's probably accurate.

Theresa Milstein said...

I don't have much to add. I also thought it was a spoof since the first paragraphs reminds me so much of the last spoof query posted. Then I thought it the author wasn't a native English speaker. Finally, I felt like it was a gimmick to either sell the book or really get the attention of the boy she likes (because we know publishing works THAT fast).

If it's not a spoof, possibly not knowing English that well still doesn't excuse why this writer doesn't seem to have read through QS archives. This has a lot of what not to do.

I wish the writer luck with her research.

Cara M. said...

um, dylan. "Murder your darlings" is writing advice. "Kill your babies" is crazy.

GillyB said...

I'm sorry to say, but this rewrite makes me less inclined to read. It's much clearer that this isn't a spoof, and most of the accidental racism seems to be gone, but honestly, it's the quality of the writing that is not up to publishing standards. I am sure the author is an excellent speaker of English and an excellent writer in his or her native tongue. But English is a tricky, subtle, evil this that has millions of rules that are very hard to learn. And many of the idioms here are just not quite right.

For example: "Tolerable" vs. "Tolerant". "Having transformed from thin air into someone Min Ho is apparently interested in, Freddy doesn’t quite trust the new wind that travels through the halls of Riverden." You come out of thin air. You don't transform from it, and you certainly don't become a new wind.

That aside, the story itself seems to have issues. I'm guessing a large portion of the novel is dedicated to Yoon Joo sabotaging Freddy's life? There doesn's seem to be much agency on Freddy's part. And the world of Riverden seems very unbelievable (and I am someone who went to an elite Southern California private school with a high population of Korean students).

Think about the point the plot gets moving, as indicated by Ms. Reid- Min Ho disappears (you still need to change the name). Start there. What does Freddy do to find him? What choices can she make? And it CAN'T be "write a book". That is so passive and Mary-Sue-ish that the reader is just not going to go along with it.

AA said...

I see the tolerable/tolerant thing has been pointed out. And "priceless" is an odd word choice since most parents consider their offspring priceless. I suspect you mean something along the lines of valuable, since he is needed to return and help run the financial empire.

By the way, congratulations on learning a language as difficult as English. By this I'd guess you could be a translator if you wanted to. But like GillyB pointed out, idiomatic English is very tricky.

Your female lead, Freddy, looks like a victim and that's not good. There has to be a point where the victim starts fighting back or taking control of what's happening to her. Weak protagonists are not popular.

Also, there needs to be a reason we really want Freddy and LMH to get together. He's rich and popular, she's- what? Rich and popular people aren't always very nice, so I'm not sure I really want Freddy to end up with him. I don't know Freddy very well either. How do I know I will like her and want her to be happy?

First, tell me why I like Freddy. Then, tell me why I like Min Ho. Then tell me they seem to be falling in love and could be happy together.

Now, enter Yoon Joo. She wants Min Ho to herself and recruits her friends to ruin Freddy's life. The motorcycle part was good. Another example would help.

Then, up the stakes. Min Ho's family need him to come back and run the financial empire. They are against the idea of him having a white, European girlfriend and would never accept his marriage to anyone except a Korean from a wealthy family. They're very old-fashioned. So now, everyone seems to be against Freddy.

Now tell us what Freddy decides to do about all this. How does she fight back or take control of he situation?

This would be a good pattern to follow in your next rewrite. Good luck.

Theresa Milstein said...

There's a story buried in this new version. My husband is a scientist who has worked with many people who don't write English as well as they do in their native language. They always gave him their research papers to edit. That's what this writer needs to do with both the manuscript and query--find a good native speaker who has an excellent command of grammar.

Laura W. said...

As awkward as the first query sometimes got, it had humor and voice. The 2nd query loses all of that and just lists events in a matter-of-fact, boring way.

LadySaotome said...

Now the plot sounds a lot like Hana Yori Dango aka Boys Over Flowers. (A popular Japanese manga that has been remade as an Anime, Japanese live drama & movie, and also has Taiwanese, mainland China & Korean versions.) Which, incidentally, Lee Min-ho the Korean actor starred in as the rich chaebol whose parents didn't want him dating the poor girl and whisked him away to New York to put a stop to their relationship. It sounds more like fanfiction than ever, just changing the setting to transfer students from two different countries meeting in a third country.

Dal Jeanis said...

Ummm, people, how about some helpful advice, and assuming the writer is really trying to get better?

1) If "Freddy writes a book" is the answer to your character's story needs, then you are leading off with the wrong story question. The story question, to be answered by her writing a book, must be something along the lines of "how can Freddy get them to understand...?"

After all, if rich boy Lee Min Ho wants to find Freddy, she doesn't have to be famous, she can just put up a facebook page in her real name, and when he gets a credit card from dad and mom he can come visit. Right?

2) So, assuming that I've pegged your story solution, here's a quick and bad rewrite oriented toward your real story.


In Riverden, California’s International school for the rich and the gifted, you stick to your own kind. You don’t intermingle.

That's what the Korean girls try to tell Frederika Frosch, a transfer student from Austria, when Freddy begins getting closer to Lee Min Ho, the eldest son of a rich and powerful South Korean family. But, they can't really mean that, can they? Riverden prides itself on diversity and openness, at least according to the four-color brochures.

Yoon Joo, the leader of Min Ho’s entire female Asian fan club, makes it as clear as she possibly can. Her warnings quickly escalate from abusing Freddy verbally, to making Freddy crash Bernadette, her beloved motorcycle, and the torture shows no signs of letting up.

But Freddy has no intention of giving up her budding relationship with Min Ho, regardless of the escalating conflict. When Freddy tries to ((take concrete actions to fight back)), she finds that the people of Riverden aren’t that tolerant after all.

((enter specifics, then bridge to ))

Min Ho suddenly disappears, and it's up to Freddy to figure out just what happened, and to determine which among her own talents can help her find him, and make them all understand that they cannot stand between two people who truly belong together.

Melissa Hed said...

Wow. If you're going to rip off an episode of one of S. Korea's most popular dramas "Boys Over Flowers," at least change the names of the characters & actors. Jeech. Pretty much the only thing that changes here is setting in CA rather than SK. Everything else is the SAME. Shocking.