Entry 2 – RESCUE ME

Title:  RESCUE ME
Genre: LGBT Contemporary
Word Count:  85,000

Query: 

Most people have a funny story about how they met their spouse.  Jacoby Mortensen found his future husband half-dead in the seedy part of Council Bluffs, Iowa.  

Getting attached to a seventeen-year-old John Doe goes against every rule of first responders. But the longer Jacoby sat at Jimmy’s bed side, the more attached he grew. And no matter how many times Jimmy ran away, back to the drugs and the streets, Jacoby was at home, waiting for him. He took his vows seriously and, if that meant combing the streets trying to bring his husband home, so be it.

When Jimmy goes off his meds this time around, Jacoby doesn’t think he’s strong enough to make the marriage work anymore. Jimmy not only goes off his meds, he goes off his rocker at work, too. Once he’s released from the psych ward, he promises to stay on his meds, but Jacoby doesn’t believe him.

Jacoby loves Jimmy and is determined to keep their marriage together. But he’s got to keep his husband clean and sober. Jimmy refuses to take care of himself and Jacoby is going slowly insane. Then, Jimmy makes a decision that could change their marriage forever. And now Jacoby has to decide just how much Jimmy means to him—and to what lengths he’ll go to keep the marriage together.

RESCUE ME is contemporary LGBT fiction complete at 85,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

First 250: 

“Hey Jacoby, ready to clean?” Hollister McIntosh called. She flashed me a smile as I stepped up on the back bumper and into the ambulance.

I shivered and tightened my jacket. What in the hell possessed me to move to the Midwest? I mean, yeah, the waiting list for the EMT program in California was two years long, but I could’ve gone back after graduation. Had I used my brain, I could be in sunny Southern California right now. But no. I came to Nebraska for school and bought a farm in Iowa. I didn’t think about winter. It’s fucking freezing outside!

Shaking my head, I glanced at the grey clouds that had stayed solidly in place all day. The forecast said freezing rain and snow; the clouds said the forecasters were right for a change. I tugged my hat down further over my ears and trudged toward rig 44.

“If I must.”

“Oh come on, sour puss. It’s not like we’re busy.” She cocked her head, her green eyes twinkling. “The faster you get in here, the less time this’ll take.”

“It’s butt-ass cold out here,” I said. “Can we at least turn on the heat?”

“Wuss.”

I flipped her off, laughing. In all the years I’ve lived here, my California blood has never thickened. I swear you have to be born here to have thick blood. I pulled a clipboard out and started counting bags of saline.

“Got any big plans for your anniversary tomorrow?”

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9 thoughts on “Entry 2 – RESCUE ME

  1. Score for Query:
    words 10/10
    hook 7/10
    plot 5/10, maybe try to elaborate on what decision Jimmy is having to make, plot can be a little more specific
    amount of characters 10/10
    show/tell 7/10
    stakes 7/10, stake doesn’t seem to be high enough if the stake is the end of a marriage
    overall 7/10

    Score for first page
    first line 5/10
    voice 9/10, good voice
    originality 5/10
    character development 8/10
    setting/world building 7/10
    overall 7/10

    from entry 1

  2. Score for Query:
    words 10/10
    hook 8/10
    plot 5/10, I think you could transition better from the hook. Elaborate that Jacoby saved Jimmy e.g “Getting attached to a seventeen-year-old John Doe goes against every rule of first responders. But when Jacoby saves him he can’t stay away from him….because?” I want to know why this Jacoby grew attached to Jimmy. I wish you would also point how long ago they got married when Jacoby saved him.
    amount of characters 10/10
    show/tell 7/10
    stakes 7/10, I love the hook better than the stake, and I think you can learn from it. I believe it can be much stronger
    overall 6/10 I think the plot could be tightened. And the query could elaborate why Jacoby is also stuck with this Jimmy because you paint a good picture of how Jimmy seems uncaring

    Score for first page
    first line 6/10
    voice 9/10, loved the voice!
    originality 6/10
    character development 8/10
    setting/world building 8/10
    overall 8/10

    From entry 3

  3. Feedback From Entry #9
    Query
    words 8/10
    hook 8/10
    plot 6/10 I get the internal conflict but what is the external?
    amount character 8/10
    show/tell 7/10
    stakes 6/10
    overall 8/10.

    First page
    first line 8/10
    voice 6/10 I didn’t draw me in.
    originality 6/10
    character development 7/10 – Hard to tell in 250 words. :\
    setting 8/10 I knew where and how the character felt. I liked the voice.
    overall 7/10

  4. Query: 9/10

    Hook: 8/10 I don’t have a funny story about how I met my spouse. Perhaps interesting, but not funny. I think it’s best to avoid generalizations in a query because if the agent reading it doesn’t agree (it’s kind of like the “have you ever wondered?” starts), then they won’t connect with the rest of the pitch. I do like the second line, though. You should start with that.

    Plot: 9/10

    Characters: 10/10

    Showing vs. Telling: 5/10 Too many idioms – “goes against every rule”, “goes off his rocker”, HOW does Jimmy go off his rocker at work? Ie. “when Jimmy punches a colleague at work” shows he’s off his rocker

    Stakes: 7/10 The stakes are vague – we’re once again led to assume that the stake is their marriage would fall apart. Many marriages fall apart – how is this unique? The sentence “Jimmy makes a decision that could change their marriage forever” is too vague – an agent would say – what’s the decision? Sometimes you have to be specific.

    Overall: 8/10 You switch tenses several times even in these few paragraphs and you need to be more specific, but I do understand what the book is about and it sounds interesting.

    First Line: 5/10 Starting with dialogue like Entry 1 and it’s about cleaning PLUS the first and last names of a non-central character is mentioned. It doesn’t grab me at all.

    Voice: 9/10

    Originality: 9/10

    Character Development: 9/10

    Setting/World Building: 8/10

    Overall: 8/10 There’s some repetition that can be edited out (2x California in second paragraph – maybe change first to L.A.?; forecast/forecasters in third – change forecasters to weathermen; blood twice in second to last paragraph and California again for the third time in 250 words!)

  5. from Entry #10
    Query:

    Query is 250-300 Words: 10/10
    Hook: 10/10
    Plot: 9/10 I think your query becomes more vague towards the end. Is he going insane because of Jimmy, or is there something else going on? What makes their love so strong?
    Amount of Characters Listed: 10/10
    Showing vs. Telling: 9 /10
    Stakes Clearly Listed: 9 /10 Great, but does Jimmy care for him at all? Is he just using him? Does Jacoby worry about this at all?
    Overall: 10 /10

    First 250:

    First Line: 6/10 This book deserves a stronger opening.
    Voice: 10/10
    Originality: 9 /10
    Character Development: 8/10
    Setting/World Building: 9/10
    Overall: 9/10 Sounds great! Would love to read it.

  6. Query:
    Query is 250-300 Words: 9/10
    
Hook: 9/10 It certainly starts off with a bang, but I wonder how the rest of the story is going to hold up. It’s like starting your story with a car chase, followed by pages of no action.
    
Plot is Easily Understandable (MC, Goal, Conflict): 9/10 You don’t mention Jimmy, the name of the mc’s husband, until the next to last paragraph, which was a little confusing. I’m also wondering if they actually got married when Jimmy was 17 (I doubt it, but you mention their first meeting as being when Jimmy was 17, so that threw me a bit.)
Amount of Characters Listed: 10/10

    Showing vs. Telling (Doesn’t Read like a Synopsis): 10/10

    Stakes Clearly Listed: 9/10 Keeping a marriage together makes for great stakes, but we still don’t know much about Jimmy other than that he needs to be kept clean and sober, which implies that he’s not. Some more details about his past and what Jacoby has to do in order to help him might make it more compelling.

    Overall: 9/10  I really like this concept, even though I don’t read a whole lot of contemporary fiction (I’m trying to change that!). My only concern is that, with the focus on rescuing Jimmy, Jacoby might end up seeming more like a father or a social worker to him than a spouse.

    First 250:
    First Line: 7/10 Not sure who Hollister is, or what kind of parent names their child Hollister. I presume she’ll be an at least somewhat important character, since she’s mentioned in the first sentence.
    
Voice: 8/10
    
Originality: 7/10

    Character Development: 7/10

    Setting/World Building: 9/10

    Overall: 7/10 Despite my lower scores here, this is intriguing, and I would read on if I could.

    from entry number 8

  7. Query:
    Words: 9/10
    Hook: 9/10 I think I’d leave out the first part. Start with “Jacoby Mortensen found…”
    Plot: 8/10
    Characters: 10/10
    Showing vs Telling: 9/10
    Stakes: 9/10
    Overall: 9/10

    First 250:
    First Line: 7/10
    Voice: 9/10
    Originality: 8/10
    Character: 9/10
    Setting: 8/10
    Overall: 8.5/10

  8. Entry 2: RESCUE ME

    Query:
    Length: 10
    Hook: 2
    Plot is Easily Understandable (MC, Goal, Conflict): 0
    Amount of Characters Listed: 10
    Showing vs. Telling (Doesn’t Read like a Synopsis): 4
    Stakes Clearly Listed: 2
    Overall: 4

    First 250:
    First Line: 5
    Voice: 3
    Originality: 3
    Character Development: 5
    Setting/World Building: 5
    Overall: 4

    Total score: 57

    Query:
    Hook: The first line in paragraph 2 might have been a better hook than the one used.
    Plot: There seems to be nothing at all going on here.
    Stakes: There’s nothing here that isn’t common to every couple.
    Overall: Although the query is fairly well written, it gives no indication that the story has any substance to it.

    First 250:
    Voice: The second paragraph hurts this page. You throw out various locations all over the place, then top it off with needless profanity.
    Originality: Too many people talk crudely like this all the time.
    Character: I’ll give you this; you started developing your MC quickly. He comes across as an ass with no respect for women. If this is what you were going for, congratulations, but it’s not a character I want to read about (helping to lower the ‘voice’ score).

    General notes, applicable to all:

    Query length:
    250-275 is the sweet spot to aim for (300 words is too long). I used a simple formula. Any query of appropriate length scored 10/10. Anything over 275 words (excluding salutation and sign-off) lost one point, and then another point was deducted for every 10 words extra. I did not deduct points for short queries as this is not likely to be a problem with agents, provided all the important information is presented.

    Number of characters:
    I awarded the maximum to every entrant, unless it read like a character soup, or it was clear that something was missing.
    (Note for next time: I think this category should have been a little broader to include depth of character)

    Other categories:
    I figured that 6 is an average score, appropriate for an average query as seen in the “Query Critiques” forum (polished & revised versions, not first drafts as this is a contest and entries should already be polished). I adjusted the scores up or down based on how I felt it would stack up on that forum.

    Overall:
    I skewed the overall scores slightly depending on whether or not the entry left me wanting to read more.

  9. Query
    Words: 10/10
    Hook: 9/10
    Plot: 7/10–The story is there, but other than being LGBT, I’m not sure how it differs from other fiction focusing on marital problems.
    Characters: 10/10
    Showing vs. Telling: 8/10
    Stakes: 7/10
    Overall: 8/10–Some telling sentences can be eliminated to make the query sharper, but overall, I think it’s good.

    First 250
    First Line: 7/10
    Voice: 7/10–Good voice, but your MC spends most of the first 250 talking about the freezing weather.
    Originality: 7/10
    Character Development: 7/10
    Setting/World Building: 7/10
    Overall: 7/10

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