YA Contemporary Query

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brandileigh2003
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YA Contemporary Query

Post by brandileigh2003 » March 14th, 2011, 6:23 pm

Thanks for all your help- I have my actual query below
Last edited by brandileigh2003 on March 16th, 2011, 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

GeeGee55
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Re: Hooks for query

Post by GeeGee55 » March 14th, 2011, 10:18 pm

I think perhaps the hook is not the problem. I have not written a successful query myself, but I think this might be helpful. Try to distance yourself from the characters and figure out what are the key details in the story? Where does the story really begin? When she meets Kaden or when she discovers she's pregnant and must chose between staying and going, for her sake and the sake of her unborn child. Good luck with your query. It's the hardest thing in the world to write a query. Here is Nathan's advice from his blog about specificity:

And here's what I think is one of the very most important thing to do in a query: be as specific as possible. Allow me to be even more specific: be as specific as possible about the right things.

When I say "be specific" I don't mean that we need to know every character's name and the name of every city and place in the Realm of Unpronounceable Cities and Places. In other words, I don't think it's a good idea for your query to read along the lines of, "Morfor travels to the Uwn'uim Square in the town of Zxcimist in order to meet his brother Phoidum."

When I say be specific I also don't mean that we need to get bogged down in tangential details either, like ages and hair colors and other things characters are doing if they don't play a major role in the story.

Instead I mean this: be as specific as possible about the plot.

I get so many queries that read (literally, though this is made up for the purposes of this post) like this:


Character Name is living peacefully in Hometown. But then a life-changing event occurs that changes everything. Secrets are revealed that turn her life upside down. Character Name faces grave danger as she embarks on a quest to save her people. This novel is filled with humor and passion and suspense and romance, and there's a shocking twist that leaves the reader breathless.

Being vague leaves an agent with so many questions: What are the secrets? What is the life-changing event? What is the danger she's facing? What happens that is funny and suspenseful and romantic?

When all of these key details are kept hidden the query ends up sounding like... well, pretty much every novel ever written. And chances are an agent is going to move on to the next query.

Replace that vagueness with key details and suddenly the query comes alive. Let's try that query about Character Name again, hmm?


Angelina lives with her cats in Moonville, an outer space colony known more for its knitting festivals than anything resembling excitement. But when Moonville is invaded by cat-eating space monkeys, Angelina learns that her cats aren't ordinary cats: they are actually hyper-intelligent feline assassins who can kill their enemies with a flick of a paw. And they need a leader. Angelina has to leave her knitting behind to defeat the space monkeys, and an intrepid and handsome space explorer named Brad may hold the key.

brandileigh2003
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Re: Hooks for query

Post by brandileigh2003 » March 14th, 2011, 10:26 pm

Thanks I just read that example from Nathan's blog.

Story really starts with Meredith and her dad being sick and dying, she's really depressed, and then when she goes to college and meets Kaden, she falls in love with him. A lot of the story is their relationship, with the end showing how Meredith makes the right choices for her and leaves Kaden and gives her baby for adoption. Its very character driven.

enewmeyer
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Re: Hooks for query

Post by enewmeyer » March 16th, 2011, 4:30 pm

What genre is this written for? That will help in how you write the query. I'm not sure bringing up the abuse right away is the best thing for your story. It makes the story seem like a depressing situation that only gets worse. That might not be the case at all, but having lived that kind of relationship I'm not sure I'd pick this up without there being a serious silver lining.

brandileigh2003
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Re: Hooks for query

Post by brandileigh2003 » March 16th, 2011, 4:59 pm

It is YA
The beginning of the book is very light, focusing on her family. There is of course a silver lining, but from my understanding, we get down to the plot of the story for the query letters and what the main character's conflict is, so that is what I am focusing on for hook.

Joel Q
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Re: Hooks for query

Post by Joel Q » March 16th, 2011, 5:26 pm

brandileigh2003 wrote:It is YA
The beginning of the book is very light, focusing on her family. There is of course a silver lining, but from my understanding, we get down to the plot of the story for the query letters and what the main character's conflict is, so that is what I am focusing on for hook.
Check out QueryShark and Nathan's blog posts on the query.

brandileigh2003
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Re: Hooks for query

Post by brandileigh2003 » March 16th, 2011, 5:47 pm

I have read Nathan's posts- that is how I found these forums.
You need to be specific about the plot- specific about the right things, like the first poster said.

Here's the letter I'm working on right now:


Dear M. Agent,


Seventeen-year-old Meredith’s life is unraveling one thread at a time. First her dad passes away, then she locks her mom and sister out of her life. She goes to college for the first time feeling isolated and alone. That is, until charming Kaden sweeps into her life, a green-eyed engineering student comes into her life who showers her with much needed attention. As Kaden kisses away Meredith's tears, she slowly forgets the pain she left behind.

The first time Kaden hits Meredith, she can’t understand how he the guy who soothed her pain away could hurt her like that, and Meredith is quick to forgive. But over time, Meredith runs out of excuses for Kaden's violent mood swings. Her rules for survival are simple: don’t be late, call home secretly, and above all, always keep Kaden happy. Because when Kaden is happy, he transforms into the patient and gentle guy Meredith fell in love with.

Meredith is desperate and torn when she finds out she’s pregnant. Can she believe Kaden’s promises to never hit her again and cling to the hope of a happy family? But she thinks of her bruises and realizes her baby could be next; will she have to leave the only guy she’s ever loved and be a single mom? There’s a third option—give her baby to another family, but that too, is an option that haunts her every time she closes her eyes.



Complete at 65,000 words, FRACTURED is a YA Contemporary that will appeal to fans of Holly Cupala’s Tell Me a Secret and Sarah Dressen’s Dreamland.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Brandi
Last edited by brandileigh2003 on March 17th, 2011, 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

AllieS
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Re: YA Contemporary Query

Post by AllieS » March 16th, 2011, 6:25 pm

Seventeen-year-old Meredith has learned the rules for survival Maybe mention that these are the rules for survival with her boyfriend, since just saying survival is vague. Don’t be late, never talk back, and call home only when Kaden doesn’t know about it. I don't quite understand this line. You mean he doesn't let her talk to her family or something? Keep him happy. Always keep Kaden happy. I think this would work with only one of these lines, but if you keep them both, maybe putting the "always" in the second one in italics or something to add to the emphasis.The last is most important because Just by reading the rest of this line you can tell it's the most important rule. When Kaden’s happy, he transforms into the boy Meredith fell in love with; charming, patient and gentle.

Meredith’s life unraveled one thread at a time, her dad passed away, she pushed her mom and sister out of her life, and then went away to college alone. I feel as though I'm reading two different queries here. Maybe starting the query with a line like this would make everything fit together better. You're jumping around. When Kaden first came into her life, he was sweet and charming and showered her with much needed attention… until she realizes she fell for the wrong boy This makes it sound as if there was another boy vying for her affection.. She made excuses for his behavior, desperate to keep his positive attention focused on her. Could you include in here that his behavior is violent? The reader can assume that something is off, but by throwing "violent" in there you ensure no one misses it.

Only this time, it’s not just her life at risk, she realizes she’s pregnant.Should be two sentences. "Only this time, it's not just her life at risk. She's pregnant." Or something of the sort. Meredith chooses to believe Kaden’s promises to change and clings to hope of a happy family together. Desperate, Meredith must decide—should she stay and hope for the best, or leave the only guy she’s ever loved and be a single mom. These two lines state two completely different ideas. In the first, Meredith is ignoring Kaden's inability to change. In the second, she realizes something needs to change. Things have to change. Obvious. This time she has to make the rules because it’s not just her life that’s at risk ... and that won't make Kaden happy.

Hope my suggestions help!

brandileigh2003
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Re: YA Contemporary Query

Post by brandileigh2003 » March 16th, 2011, 6:39 pm

We'll go with the fact that I am a mom with a two year old, writing a new book, and trying to query this one with why I posted the wrong one that you critiqued. Thank you so much for your thoughts!

AllieS
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Re: YA Contemporary Query

Post by AllieS » March 16th, 2011, 6:41 pm

Haha! Well, I can say that I tried to help.

clamjaphry
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Re: Hooks for query

Post by clamjaphry » March 22nd, 2011, 5:12 pm

Hi there,

I'm a noob on these forums, but I'll do my best :)
brandileigh2003 wrote: Dear M. Agent,


Seventeen-year-old Meredith’s life is unraveling one thread at a time. First her dad passes away, then she locks her mom and sister out of her life. She goes to college for the first time feeling isolated and alone. overall, I feel that these first 3 sentences lack energy—maybe you could try conveying the same things with punchier language? (to the extent that it's appropriate for your MC, that is) That is, until charming Kaden sweeps into her life, a green-eyed engineering student comes into her life you have "into her life" twice herewho showers her with much needed attention. As Kaden kisses away Meredith's tears, she slowly forgets the pain she left behind.

The first time Kaden hits Meredith, she can’t understand how he the guy who soothed her pain away could hurt her like that, and Meredith is quick to forgive. But over time, Meredith runs out of excuses for Kaden's violent mood swings. Her rules for survival are simple: don’t be late, call home secretly call her Mom secretly? I was confused by whether this meant Meredith was telling anyone about her problems, and above all, always keep Kaden happy. Because when Kaden is happy, he transforms into the patient and gentle guy Meredith fell in love with. ooh. I like the tension here. you can see M's motives for putting up with this torment.

Meredith is torn when she finds out she’s pregnant. Can she believe Kaden’s promises to never hit her again and cling to the hope of a happy family? But she thinks of her bruises and realizes her baby could be next; will she have to leave the only guy she’s ever loved and be a single mom? There’s a third option—give her baby to another family, but that too, is an option that haunts her every time she closes her eyes. love the conflict here. but there's too much going on—could you boil this down to one or two sentences?



Complete at 65,000 words, FRACTURED is a YA Contemporary that will appeal to fans of Holly Cupala’s Tell Me a Secret and Sarah Dressen’s Dreamland.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Brandi

brandileigh2003
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Re: YA Contemporary Query

Post by brandileigh2003 » March 22nd, 2011, 5:39 pm

Thank you! I like your suggestions, I will work on those bottom sentences.
I am also thinking of using 2nd para as my hook and then rewriting a bit!

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