MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

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m.a.leslie
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MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by m.a.leslie » October 5th, 2010, 1:02 pm

Hello everyone,
This is my first attempt at getting help with a query. So far I have been failing and I realize that I am doing something wrong, please help. Thank you.



I am submitting to you because middle grade fiction is a genre that you represent and I hope that this will fit what you are seeking.

Tristan Parker is an eleven year old boy that is faced with several life altering changes that send his life into a spiral. He is forced to move from the city he loves and the friends he knows to live in a new small town he doesn’t know. His mother and father split up and he is forced to live with his mother that he doesn’t see eye to eye with, because his father is currently deployed in the military. If all of his other problems weren’t enough, along the way he discovers that he is a natural born druid with ancient magical powers from a seemingly kind magic store owner. At first the discovery of his new powers is something of great excitement that curbs the mixed emotions of his new home and living situation, filled with the ability to create fireballs from his hands, produce light from nothing, and even have conversations with trees and animals. However, Tristan soon realizes the magic shop owner that made him realize his powers may be using him for his own evil plot to suck the life from the town’s youth and gain his own eternal youth.

TRISTAN AND THE MAGIC SHOP is a 40,000 word completed work of fantasy middle grade fiction that was written not only to entertain but has a few key elements that may hopefully help the cause for our youth going green and respecting the world around them.
The full or partial manuscript is available at your request. Thank you for your time and your consideration.

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wilderness
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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by wilderness » October 5th, 2010, 1:38 pm

m.a.leslie wrote:Hello everyone,
This is my first attempt at getting help with a query. So far I have been failing and I realize that I am doing something wrong, please help. Thank you.
Hi and welcome! I've done a line-by-line below, but I think you might want to check out Query Shark and read some other examples as well. Sounds like a fun MG, but you've got to bring out the unique, titillating aspects in your query. Good luck!
m.a.leslie wrote: I am submitting to you because middle grade fiction is a genre that you represent and I hope that this will fit what you are seeking. Query Shark advises everyone to start with the pitch. You can move this to the bottom of the query.

Tristan Parker is an eleven year old boy that is faced with several life altering changes that send his life into a spiral. Every book is about life altering changes. You don't need to tell us this. Just start with the premise.

He is forced to move from the city he loves and the friends he knows to live in a new small town he doesn’t know. His mother and father split up and he is forced to live with his mother that he doesn’t see eye to eye with, because his father is currently deployed in the military. If all of his other problems weren’t enough, along the way he discovers that he is a natural born druid with ancient magical powers from a seemingly kind magic store owner. Everything before this sentence was just backstory. Start with Tristan learning he is a druid with magical powers. How does he discover this? What happened when he walked into the magic store? Also, what does it mean that he is a druid exactly -- I thought that was an old religion?


At first the discovery of his new powers is something of great excitement that curbs the mixed emotions of his new home and living situation (this clause is very clunky), filled with the ability to create fireballs from his hands, produce light from nothing, and even have conversations with trees and animals. I say just drop the first clause and tell us how he uses his powers. However, Tristan soon realizes the magic shop owner that made him realize his powers may be using him for his own evil plot to suck the life from the town’s youth and gain his own eternal youth. This is interesting, but tell us in more detail. What leads him to the truth about the magic store owner? And then end with a line that represents his conflict.

TRISTAN AND THE MAGIC SHOP is a 40,000 word completed work of fantasy middle grade fiction that was written not only to entertain but has a few key elements that may hopefully help the cause for our youth going green and respecting the world around them. Don't mention the lessons you are trying to teach. Agents advise against this because nobody wants to read a book for the lessons -- they read it because it is entertaining.

The full or partial manuscript is available at your request. Thank you for your time and your consideration.

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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by priya g. » October 5th, 2010, 4:23 pm

sounds like a good story! here are few tips:

I am submitting to you because middle grade fiction is a genre that you represent and I hope that this will fit what you are seeking. THIS SENTENCE, WELL, IT ISN'T DEMANDED BY MOST AGENTS. SOME LIKE YOU TO JUMP RIGHT INTO THE STORY.

Tristan Parker is an eleven year old boy that is faced with several life altering changes that send his life into a spiral THIS SENTENCE IS A BIT UNNECESSARY- SKIP TO THE NEXT ONE, SOMETHING LIKE- WHEN TRISTAN PARKER, 11, IS FORCED TO MOVE... MENTION THE REASON (LIFE ALTERING CHANGES) AT THIS POINT. He is forced to move from the city he loves and the friends he knows to live in a new small town he doesn’t know- YOU CAN COMBINE IT WITH THE FIRST. His mother and father split up and he is forced to live with his mother that he doesn’t see eye to eye with, because his father is currently deployed in the military WHY DOESN'T HE SEE EYE TO EYE WITH HIS MOTHER? IS THAT ESSENTIAL TO THE STORY? If all of his other problems weren’t enough, along the way he discovers that he is a natural born druid with ancient magical powers from a seemingly kind magic store owner CHUNKY SENTENCE- BREAK IT UP. At first the discovery of his new powers is something of great excitement that curbs the mixed emotions of his new home and living situation, filled with the ability to create fireballs from his hands, produce light from nothing, and even have conversations with trees and animals ANOTHER CHUNKY SENTENCE- BREAK IT UP. SOMETIMES FRAGMENTS HELP. However, Tristan soon realizes the magic shop owner that made him realize his powers may be using him for his own evil plot to suck the life from the town’s youth and gain his own eternal youth CHUNKY SENTENCE YET AGAIN- BREAK IT, CUT IT, OR REMOVE IT.

TRISTAN AND THE MAGIC SHOP is a 40,000 word completed work of fantasy middle grade fiction that was written not only to entertain but has a few key elements that may hopefully help the cause for our youth going green and respecting the world around them.THE AGENT CAN DECIDE THIS FROM READING THE MANUSCRIPT.
The full or partial manuscript is available at your request. Thank you for your time and your consideration.

All-in-all, its a good query. hope to see the revision soon!

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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by m.a.leslie » October 5th, 2010, 10:30 pm

Here is an attempt at a rewrite. Thank you for all of your advice. I know that this still isn't right but I am hoping it is somewhat better. It amazes me that the MS seems easier to write then the query.


Tristan Parker walked into the park of his new town on a seemingly ordinary day. Unfortunately a tag team of bullies confront him and he quickly finds himself on the ground in pain with empty pockets. Depressed and embarrassed he walks the streets before going home and is forced to duck into a back alley to avoid a second encounter with them. To his surprise he finds that there is a quaint magic store tucked away and his curiosity pulls him through the door. There Tristan encounters the store owner who puts him through a few tests and tells him that he is a member of an ancient order of magical druids and he could help him in his training. Tristan instantly starts his studies and quickly finds that he can produce fireballs from his hands. Along with other magic he could, talk to trees and animals. Unfortunately, he builds a dangerous trust with the store owner. After being picked on for several weeks the store owner has him cast a spell on the bullies of his school. Tristan thought it was innocent and would stop them from picking on him. Instead they become lethargic and sick as well as the rest of the school. Tristan eventually realizes with the help of his best friend, Brody, that as the kids at school become sicker the store owner becomes younger. It comes down to Tristan taking on the man that made him realize his powers in a magical duel. Otherwise all of the kids in his school would become soulless and doomed.

TRISTAN AND THE MAGIC SHOP is a completed 40,000 word work of fantasy middle grade fiction. I am submitting to you because middle grade fiction is a genre that you represent and I hope this will fit with what you are seeking.

The full or partial manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

priya g.
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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by priya g. » October 6th, 2010, 8:31 am

Tristan Parker walked into the park of his new town on a seemingly ordinary day. Unfortunately a tag team of bullies confront him and he quickly finds himself on the ground in pain with empty pockets. Depressed and embarrassed he walks the streets before going home and is forced to duck into a back alley to avoid a second encounter with them THIS IS NOT A VERY CATCHY BEGINNING- SINCE I HAVE READ YOUR PREVIOUS DRAFT, I KNOW IT RELATES TO HIM FINDING OUT WHO IS ACTUALLY IS. BUT IF SOMEONE READS THIS FOR THE FIRST TIME, THEY WILL GET THE IMPRESSION THAT THE STORY IS SLOW. CUT THIS PART OR COMBINE IT ALL- UP UNTIL HE SEES THE MAGIC STORE IN ONE, MAXIMUM TWO SENTENCES. To his surprise he finds that there is a quaint magic store tucked away and his curiosity pulls him through the door. There Tristan encounters the store owner who puts him through a few tests and tells him that he is a member of an ancient order of magical druids and he could help him in his training VAGUE SENTENCE- INTRODUCE DETAIL HERE- WHAT TESTS DOES TRISTAN GO THROUGH? WHAT POWERS DOES HE HAVE? DOES HE BELIEVE THE OWNER? DOESN'T HE FIND IT WEIRD THAT THIS RANDOM GUY IS HELPING HIM?. Tristan instantly starts his studies and quickly finds that he can produce fireballs from his hands CHUNKY SENTENCE. Along with other magic he could, talk to trees and animals DOES THIS HELP IN THE STORY IN ANY WAY?. Unfortunately, he builds a dangerous trust with the store owner. After being picked on for several weeks the store owner has him cast a spell on the bullies of his school COMBINE THIS SENTENCE WITH THE NEXT, SOMETHING LIKE: WHEN THE STORE OWNER TEACHES HIM A SPELL TO CAST ON THE SCHOOL BULLIES, HE THINKS ITS AN INNOCENT TASK FOR ESCAPE. BUT IS IT? AND THEN YOU ADD THE SYMPTOMS . Tristan thought it was innocent and would stop them from picking on him. Instead they become lethargic and sick as well as the rest of the school. Tristan eventually realizes with the help of his best friend, Brody, that as the kids at school become sicker the store owner becomes younger HOW DOES HE FIND OUT? It comes down to Tristan taking on the man that made him realize his powers in a magical duel SENTENCE DOESN'T SEEM TO FIT IN TOO WELL. Otherwise all of the kids in his school would become soulless and doomed AGAIN- COMBINE THIS WITH PREVIOUS SENTENCE.

TRISTAN AND THE MAGIC SHOP is a completed 40,000 word work of fantasy middle grade fiction. I am submitting to you because middle grade fiction is a genre that you represent and I hope this will fit with what you are seeking.

The full or partial manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

there has been an improvement- you singled out the important characters and how to lay them down; a bit of tweaking and working round this query will have it shining in no time!
all the best!

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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by androidblues » October 6th, 2010, 11:52 am

Please break up the paragraphs. White space is beneficial for queries. With my short attention span I'm having difficulty reading this big block of text. Nice idea for a MG novel, but I would include less description of the bullying and more of his personality.
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Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by m.a.leslie » October 6th, 2010, 1:06 pm

First off let me say that the advice that I have received thus far has been extremely helpful. At this point I am embarrassed that I even sent some of my original queries out to agents. I can see why Nathan uses the stick figure banging his head against the desk cartoon, this is frustrating. I have revised again, but it still feels like I am missing something just like my head as tufts of hair come flying from my scalp. Thank you for all of your help and support.

P.S. I think that I may have to buy a new desk, nobody said to only hit the desk lightly when using the query letter writing proper technique.




Tristan Parker, a seemingly normal eleven year old boy, takes a chance walk into a magic shop and is told that he is part of an ancient magical order of druids. At first he doesn’t believe the kind, old store keeper, but after taking a druid’s stone test (it’s simple all you need is a druids stone and a glass of water) and seeing the magic he is convinced. Tristan, in an effort to look for a distraction from his crumbling family and recent move, focuses his attention on studying the elements of magic and soon learns that he can perform spells and make potions. While his power is in their infancy he is able to produce light from nothing, fireballs from his hands, and even cause his body to erupt in flames.

Unfortunately, Tristan is unable to find a spell that elevates the daily attacks that he receives from two local bullies at school, so he employs the help of the shop keeper. Together they cast a spell that Tristan thinks is just innocent revenge, but it turns the bullies lethargic and it doesn’t stop there. Like a slow disease it passes from student to student until almost the complete school is in a vegetative soulless state and each time the spell has a new youthful donor the shop keeper becomes younger.

Tristan with the help of his best friend, Brody, realize after peeking into the necromancy section of the spell book that he had unknowingly been tricked into casting dark magic. After learning the spells true nature, Tristan knows that all of the kids from school will be doomed and the only way to break the spell is by facing the man who cast it. Will he be able to match up against a seasoned druid with no qualms against using dark magic?

TRISTAN AND THE MAGIC SHOP is a completed 40,000 word work of fantasy middle grade fiction. I am submitting to you because middle grade fiction is a genre that you represent and I hope this will fit with what you are seeking.

The full or partial manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by androidblues » October 6th, 2010, 2:15 pm

Much better, but I don't think you are using Black Magic correctly. Black Magic isn't evil, rather it is just offensive magic while white magic is defensive magic. One causes things to happen while the other prevents things from happening. Neither is better than the other. Think of a different more powerful term because that is kind of cliched. Thin the first paragraph out and this is a winner. My 10 year old sister would read it.
http://www.thebooklantern.com

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

I never want to hear the screams of the teenage girls in other people's dreams.

In the real word as in dreams, nothing is quite what it seems.

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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by wilderness » October 6th, 2010, 2:31 pm

Hi again,

Your story is much more clear now. I like how you explicitly told us about the magic shop owner's plan to use the kids to regain his youth. Very nefarious indeed!

I see two main areas of improvement:
1. Voice -- The plot seems very whimsical and magical. Try to make the tone and phrasing also whimsical and magical. Right now, the tone sounds sort of distanced and the phrases a little dry.
2. Overwriting. This is something Query Shark often points out -- if it's in the query, she says, it will likely be in the manuscript and that makes her worry. See if you can cut out extraneous clauses and clean up your sentences. Examples:
m.a.leslie wrote: Tristan Parker, a seemingly normal eleven year old boy,
Eleven-year-old Tristan Parker
At first he doesn’t believe the kind, old store keeper, but after taking a druid’s stone test (it’s simple all you need is a druids stone and a glass of water) and seeing the magic he is convinced.
Tristan isn't convinced until he takes the old store keeper's magic test. The druid stone moves of its own accord when he waves his hand over the water.

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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by trirae » October 6th, 2010, 3:05 pm

Hi there. I'm not an expert, so I offer ideas just as a reaction. Take or leave. I think you've got a fun story here.

Tristan Parker, a seemingly normal eleven year old boy, takes a chance walk into a magic shop and is told that he is part of an ancient magical order of druids. I'm not in love here. I think you could find a way to combine this with the second sentence and make it the intro. If you keep it, I think you can pare it down a bit, maybe even eleminate "seemingly normal". At first he doesn’t believe the kind, old store keeper, but after taking a druid’s stone test (it’s simple all you need is a druids stone and a glass of water) and seeing the magic delete seeing the magic? he is convinced. Tristan, in an effort to look for a distraction from his crumbling family and recent move, focuses his attention on studying the elements of magic and soon learns that he can perform spells and make potions. While his power is in their its? infancy he is able to produce light from nothing, fireballs from his hands, and even cause his body to erupt in flames.

Unfortunately, Tristan is unable to find a spell that elevates alleviates? the daily attacks that he receives from two local bullies at school, so he employs the help of the shop keeper. Together they cast a spell that Tristan thinks is just innocent revenge, but it turns the bullies lethargic and it doesn’t stop there. Like a slow disease it passes from student to student until almost the complete school is in a vegetative soulless state and each time the spell has a new youthful donor the shop keeper becomes younger. I think this would be really cool in the book, but in the query it might slow the pace a little. I think you can take out some description and focus on the action.

Tristan with the help of his best friend, Brody, realize after peeking into the necromancy section of the spell book that he had unknowingly been tricked into casting dark magic. That one, you might being with "with the help of..."After learning the spells true nature, Tristan knows that all of the kids from school will be doomed and the only way to break the spell is by facing the man who cast it. Will he be able to match up against a seasoned druid with no qualms against using dark magic? I like this. Very clear conflict

TRISTAN AND THE MAGIC SHOP is a completed 40,000 word work of fantasy middle grade fiction. I am submitting to you because middle grade fiction is a genre that you represent and I hope this will fit with what you are seeking.

The full or partial manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

priya g.
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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by priya g. » October 7th, 2010, 2:26 pm

Tristan Parker, a seemingly normal eleven year old boy, takes a chance walk into a magic shop and is told that he is part of an ancient magical order of druids INFORMATION OVERLOAD IN FIRST SENTENCE, I CAN SEE THAT YOU WANT TO JUMP RIGHT INTO THE STORY BUT CUT UP THE SENTENCE. At first he doesn’t believe the kind, old DESCRIPTION SEEMS OUT OF PLACE- IF HE ENTERED THE STORE FOR THE FIRST TIME, HOW WOULD HE KNOW IF HE IS KIND? BRING IN THIS DESCRIPTION LATER store keeper, but after taking a druid’s I DONT KNOW WHAT DRUID IS. REALLY, I DONT. stone test (it’s simple all you need is a druids stone and a glass of water) and seeing the magic he is convinced IS THAT ALL IT TAKES TO CONVINCE HIM?. Tristan, in an effort to look for a distraction from his crumbling family and recent move ARE THESE IMPORTANT? FROM YOUR LAST QUERY, I PICKED THAT THE STUDENTS BULLYING HIM PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN HIS LIFE. BRING THAT TO LIGHT., focuses his attention on studying the elements of magic and soon learns that he can perform spells and make potions HMM, HOW ABOUT CONDENSING THIS SENTENCE?. While his power is in their infancy he is able to produce light from nothing, fireballs from his hands, and even cause his body to erupt in flames I CAN SEE THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO SHOW HIS POWERS BUT SOMEHOW THIS SENTENCE COMES ACROSS AS MUNDANE.

Unfortunately, Tristan is unable to find a spell that elevates the daily attacks that he receives from two local bullies at school, so he employs the help of the shop keeper. Together they cast a spell that Tristan thinks is just innocent revenge, but it turns the bullies lethargic and it doesn’t stop there SENTENCE STRUCTURE IS A BIT OFF. Like a slow disease it passes from student to student HOW ABOUT USING 'CONTAGIOUS'? until almost the complete school is in a vegetative soulless state END THE SENTENCE HERE and each time the spell has a new youthful donor the shop keeper becomes younger HOW DOES TRISTAN FIND OUT?.

Tristan with the help of his best friend, Brody HOW DOES BRODY COME INTO THE PICTURE? IS HE NECESSARY TO THE STORY?, realize REALIZES? after peeking into the necromancy section of the spell book that he had unknowingly been tricked into casting dark magic. After learning the spells true nature, Tristan knows that all of the kids from school will be doomed and the only way to break the spell is by facing the man who cast it OVERLOAD. REPETITION OF THE STUDENT'S STATE?. Will he be able to match up against a seasoned druid with no qualms against using dark magic? GOOD ENDING.

TRISTAN AND THE MAGIC SHOP is a completed 40,000 word work of fantasy middle grade fiction. I am submitting to you because middle grade fiction is a genre that you represent and I hope this will fit with what you are seeking.

The full or partial manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

your new draft shows improvement but i think you should bring in elements of your previous draft, too.

all the best!

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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by m.a.leslie » October 12th, 2010, 4:13 pm

Wow. Thank you to all of the people that have posted and helped improve my query letter. I just wanted to update and say that I received a response for the first 30 pages today with your assistance. First time it has ever happened to me and it feels really good, even though I know it is only a baby step. Again thank you and as I learn I will do my best to pay it forward and help others on their quest.

P.S. Did I mention thank you.

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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by Natasha » October 12th, 2010, 4:48 pm

m.a.leslie wrote:First off let me say that the advice that I have received thus far has been extremely helpful. At this point I am embarrassed that I even sent some of my original queries out to agents. I can see why Nathan uses the stick figure banging his head against the desk cartoon, this is frustrating. I have revised again, but it still feels like I am missing something just like my head as tufts of hair come flying from my scalp. Thank you for all of your help and support.

P.S. I think that I may have to buy a new desk, nobody said to only hit the desk lightly when using the query letter writing proper technique.




Tristan Parker, a seemingly normal eleven year old boy, takes a chance walk into a magic shop and is told that he is part of an ancient magical order of druids. At first he doesn’t believe the kind, old store keeper, but after taking a druid’s stone test (it’s simple all you need is a druids stone and a glass of water) and seeing the magic he is convinced. Tristan, in an effort to look for a distraction from his crumbling family and recent move, focuses his attention on studying the elements of magic and soon learns that he can perform spells and make potions. While his power is in their infancy he is able to produce light from nothing, fireballs from his hands, and even cause his body to erupt in flames.

Unfortunately, Tristan is unable to find a spell that elevates the daily attacks that he receives from two local bullies at school, so he employs the help of the shop keeper. Together they cast a spell that Tristan thinks is just innocent revenge, but it turns the bullies lethargic and it doesn’t stop there. Like a slow disease it passes from student to student until almost the complete school is in a vegetative soulless state and each time the spell has a new youthful donor the shop keeper becomes younger.

Tristan with the help of his best friend, Brody, realize after peeking into the necromancy section of the spell book that he had unknowingly been tricked into casting dark magic. After learning the spells true nature, Tristan knows that all of the kids from school will be doomed and the only way to break the spell is by facing the man who cast it. Will he be able to match up against a seasoned druid with no qualms against using dark magic?

TRISTAN AND THE MAGIC SHOP is a completed 40,000 word work of fantasy middle grade fiction. I am submitting to you because middle grade fiction is a genre that you represent and I hope this will fit with what you are seeking.

The full or partial manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Everyone has given you such great advice on here thus far, but I was thinking maybe you should try something a bit different with this query. I was reading something on Kristin Nelson's blog on fantasy query pitches and I think this method here would work (the method they used with harry potter): http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2007/10/bl ... art-i.html

For your first paragraph, perhaps you could start off with something like this:
Eleven-year-old Tristan Park didn't know how to produce light from nothing, fireballs from his hands, and even cause his body to erupt in flames until he walked into a magic shop and learned that he was a magical druid.


Then maybe you could:
1) State a sentence about his relationship with the shop owner when they first meet. Does the shop owner look at him a certain way? Maybe a sentence that cues us about the shop owners behavior towards Tristan.

Then maybe say something like this (I condensed and reworded your sentence)

2) In effort to distract himself from his crumbling family and recent move, Tristan focuses his attention on studying the elements of magic and learns that he can perform spells and make potions.


Then go into your second paragraph.

I hope this helped some. I think that the examples I gave you will a.) give you a better hook and b.) still give us enough background about your character. Oh yeah btw, I think your story seems really good.

Gah, I know how hard it is to try to construct a query. I'm still struggling with mine. It's like we get so darn close to our stories that we want to include EVERYTHING.

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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by Natasha » October 12th, 2010, 4:51 pm

m.a.leslie wrote:Wow. Thank you to all of the people that have posted and helped improve my query letter. I just wanted to update and say that I received a response for the first 30 pages today with your assistance. First time it has ever happened to me and it feels really good, even though I know it is only a baby step. Again thank you and as I learn I will do my best to pay it forward and help others on their quest.

P.S. Did I mention thank you.

CONGRATS!

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Re: MG Fiction Query (First Time asking for help)

Post by priya g. » October 23rd, 2010, 6:53 am

m.a.leslie wrote:Wow. Thank you to all of the people that have posted and helped improve my query letter. I just wanted to update and say that I received a response for the first 30 pages today with your assistance. First time it has ever happened to me and it feels really good, even though I know it is only a baby step. Again thank you and as I learn I will do my best to pay it forward and help others on their quest.

P.S. Did I mention thank you.
That is awesome! Way to go. could you post the query which recieved a request in the topic "queries that got a positive response" in the Query forum please?

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