The Courier--Young Adult Query--Round Two Posted :)

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Hyaline
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The Courier--Young Adult Query--Round Two Posted :)

Post by Hyaline » June 13th, 2011, 8:16 pm

Hi All! I'd appreciate any feedback or suggestions on the query for my young adult post-apocalyptic novel The Courier. Anything that's unclear, please point out--I've been too close to this for too long :) Thanks! *Edit* Revision Posted Below.

It’s been a century since the Collapse, and the Colony is thriving. Norah is set to inherit her father’s prestigious job as the Courier between the isolated settlements that form the Colony, becoming the first woman in the occupation. Though this garners protest from some Colony leaders, the only dissent she really cares about is the disapproval of Marius—the Colony’s Archivist and her best friend.

When Norah catches an interloper from the Metropole, warlike people from the north, she gleans information that forces her to look outside her small settlement. The Federate, a new power from the east, is emerging, intent on absorbing the territories controlled by the Metropole and the Colony. Only information housed by accident in the Colony’s Archive can prevent their plan from succeeding—and the rapidly encroaching authorities will destroy the Archive and assimilate the Colony if they discover the documents.

As Courier, Norah is uniquely positioned to assist in the opposition efforts. Though the Colony is divided over whether to trust their former enemies, Norah chooses to ally with them. She must convince the Colony of the truth and gain Marius’ respect if she is to protect the treasures housed in a dingy old library.

THE COURIER, a work of young adult fiction that’s Laura Ingalls Wilder meets The Enclave, is complete at 60,000 words. Though the story stands alone, it is also the prospective first in a trilogy.

Thanks for taking a look! I tailor a "why I query you" and bio paragraph to each submission...so I didn't include those here...sorry for any confusion over that.
Last edited by Hyaline on June 14th, 2011, 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Courier--Young Adult Query--Thanks in Advance :)

Post by gilesth » June 14th, 2011, 9:34 am

Hyaline wrote: It’s been a century since the Collapse,This opening phrase feels a little flat. Try to reword it without "been." Something like, "A century after the Colloapse, the Colony is thriving." and the Colony is thriving. Norah is set to inherit her father’s prestigious job as the Courier between the isolated settlements that form the Colony, becoming the first woman in the occupationThis feels flat, too. I get the importance, but it doesn't pop. Though this garners protest from some Colony leaders, the only dissent she really cares about is the disapproval of Marius—the Colony’s Archivist and her best friend.Overall, this opening paragraph gets great information onto the page. But not in an engaging manner. Tell me more about the Norah. Why should I care about her? Focus more on her and less on the Colony.

When Norah catches an interloper from the Metropole, warlike people from the north, she gleans information that forces her to look outside her small settlementThis sentence is confusing. What does she glean? Why does she need to look outside of her settlement? And more importantly, why do you want me to care?. The Federate, a new power from the east, is emerging, intent on absorbing the territories controlled by the Metropole and the Colony. Only information housed by accident in the Colony’s Archive can prevent their plan from succeeding—and the rapidly encroaching authorities will destroy the Archive and assimilate the Colony if they discover the documents.This came out of left field and doesn't appear connected to the previous paragraph.

As Courier, Norah is uniquely positioned to assist in the opposition efforts. How? I thought she was in danger of losing that job because too many people opposed her Though the Colony is divided over whether to trust their former enemies, Norah chooses to ally with them. Why? She must convince the Colony of the truth and gain Marius’ respect if she is to protect the treasures housed in a dingy old library. It sounds like you have a tense conflict, here, but I don't see it in the query. My recommendation is to start over (not trying to be harsh), and tell me: Who is the MC, What does the MC want/need, and what are the consequences of failure?

THE COURIER, a work of young adult fiction that’s Laura Ingalls Wilder meets The Enclave, is complete at 60,000 words Try not to compare your book to published works. This may not hurt you, but it's unlikely to help...at least that's what I hear from many agents across the web. Let your writing speak for itself :). Though the story stands alone, it is also the prospective first in a trilogy.
As always, these are my opinions, but it's advice I've been given many times. And it's helped :) Good luck! It sounds like you have good story.

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Re: The Courier--Young Adult Query--Thanks in Advance :)

Post by michelleimason » June 14th, 2011, 10:02 am

It’s been a century since the Collapse, and the Colony is thriving. I agree with the previous commenter that you should start with Norah instead of the world. Norah is set to inherit her father’s prestigious job as the Courier between the isolated settlements that form the Colony, becoming the first woman in the occupation. Is it important that the job was her father's? That seems like backstory that isn't necessary in the query. It could just be: Norah is set to become the first female Courier... Also, how old is Norah? If it's YA, I wouldn't say woman. I think you need to say her age somewhere. Though this garners protest from some Colony leaders, the only dissent she really cares about is the disapproval of Marius—the Colony’s Archivist and her best friend. Right now I'm not getting a sense of YA. These positions - Courier and Archivist - sound like they're the top positions, so it seems strange that teenagers would hold them. But if they do, you should explain why that is.

When Norah catches an interloper from the Metropole, warlike people from the north, she gleans information that forces her to look outside her small settlement. What do you mean by "interloper?" Like a spy? I also have an issue with the word "gleans." You could just go with "she finds out The Federate, an emerging new power ... The Federate, a new power from the east, is emerging, intent on absorbing the territories controlled by the Metropole and the Colony. Only information housed by accident in the Colony’s Archive can prevent their plan from succeeding—and the rapidly encroaching authorities will destroy the Archive and assimilate the Colony if they discover the documents. What kind of documents have that power? I think you should be a little more specific about what they are and how they got there by accident. And who are the authorities? The Federate or some other entity?

As Courier, Norah is uniquely positioned to assist in the opposition efforts. How? Though the Colony is divided over whether to trust their former enemies, Norah chooses to ally with them. Why? Are they a lesser evil? Spell it out. She must convince the Colony of the truth and gain Marius’ respect if she is to protect the treasures housed in a dingy old library. If Marius is her best friend, why does she need to gain his respect? Is he her age or someone older? Also, Archivist sounded important at the beginning, so calling it a "dingy old library" seems at odds with that.

THE COURIER, a work of young adult fiction that’s Laura Ingalls Wilder meets The Enclave, is complete at 60,000 words. The comparison to Laura Ingalls Wilder throws me off a bit. It sounds like a dystopian or fantasy (you might even want to say that), so the prairie seems like a strange comparison, especially since I think of that as a family saga. Don't know The Enclave, so I'm not sure about that one. I think comparisons can be good, just make sure you have the right one. Though the story stands alone, it is also the prospective first in a trilogy. Some agents want to know you're working on something else and others don't. Just make sure you tailor it to each one.

I think you have a good start but need to clarify some points and really give it more of a YA flavor. If you didn't say it was YA, I wouldn't have known from the story blurb itself. Just punch up that part of it and use some more specifics while still leaving the agent wanting more. Good luck!

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Re: The Courier--Young Adult Query--Thanks in Advance :)

Post by oldhousejunkie » June 14th, 2011, 10:16 am

Hi R--

I'm going to make some comments, but to be honest, I've been spending some time researching query letters (for the umpteenth time) and I'm more confused than ever. It seems that a hook and few sentences lent to plot description should be the first paragragh and then broader connections should be made in the second. The third, of course, to your bio and the particulars. Whether or not you do that, is up to you. So I will make some off-the-cuff observations.

Hyaline wrote:Hi All! I'd appreciate any feedback or suggestions on the query for my young adult post-apocalyptic novel The Courier. Anything that's unclear, please point out--I've been too close to this for too long :) Thanks!

It’s been a century since the Collapse, and the Colony is thriving. Norah is set to inherit her father’s prestigious job as the Courier between the isolated settlements that form the Colony, becoming the first woman in the occupation. Though this garners protest from some Colony leaders, the only dissent she really cares about is the disapproval of Marius—the Colony’s Archivist and her best friend. Why would her best friend be disapproving? And I agree with Giles--why should we care about Norah?

When Norah catches an interloper from the Metropole, warlike people from the north, (this reads funny--I almost thought 'Metropole' was a place until I saw 'warlike people.' Perhaps speaking in broader terms would help. Her stumbling upon info that makes her look beyond the Colony is pretty pivotal even without referencing the run-in with the Metropole.) she gleans information that forces her to look outside her small settlement. The Federate, a new power from the east, is emerging, intent on absorbing the territories controlled by the Metropole and the Colony. Only information housed by accident in the Colony’s Archive can prevent their plan from succeeding—and the rapidly encroaching authorities will destroy the Archive and assimilate the Colony if they discover the documents.

As Courier, Norah is uniquely positioned to assist in the opposition efforts. Though the Colony is divided over whether to trust their former enemies, Norah chooses to ally with them. She must convince the Colony of the truth and gain Marius’ respect if she is to protect the treasures housed in a dingy old library. 'Dingy old library' really kills the dramatic effect' and once again, if Marius is her best friend why would he not respect and trust her? Are you hinting at some fall out between the two?

THE COURIER, a work of young adult fiction that’s Laura Ingalls Wilder meets The Enclave, is complete at 60,000 words. Though the story stands alone, it is also the prospective first in a trilogy. I would do this based on what the agent wants. Noah Lukeman says to make comparisons, and I have noted several other agents who want them, so I would just check to make sure you are not querying anyone who might downgrade you for making comparisons. I've never read "The Enclave" but I thought Laura Ingalls Wilder reference was cool.

Thanks for taking a look! I tailor a "why I query you" and bio paragraph to each submission...so I didn't include those here...sorry for any confusion over that.
Overall, a very interesting project and I'm glad that you're moving forward with it. The only other comment I have is "The colony" seems to be used A LOT. I might look at editing some of them out because it was distracting after a while.

Good luck!!

Hyaline
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Re: The Courier--Young Adult Query--Round Two Posted :)

Post by Hyaline » June 14th, 2011, 10:03 pm

All right--thanks for your suggestions! Here's another go-round:

It’s been a century since the Collapse, and the Colony is thriving. Seventeen-year-old Norah Falconer is set to apprentice under her father as Courier, becoming the first woman in the occupation. Despite her prowess navigating the forests trails that surround her settlement, this garners protest from some Colony leaders. The only dissent Norah cares about is the disapproval of Marius—the Colony’s Archivist and her best friend.

When Norah chooses to talk to an interloper from the Colony’s long-standing enemies, the warlike Metropole, instead of shooting her on sight, she discovers that her isolated settlement is under threat. The Federate, a new power from the east, is emerging, intent on absorbing the territories controlled by the Metropole and the Colony alike. Only information housed by accident in the Colony’s Archive can reveal the real reasons behind the Collapse and thereby prevent their plan from succeeding—and the rapidly encroaching Federate will destroy the Archive and conquer the Colony if they uncover the documents.

Though the Colony is divided over whether to ally with their former enemies against the Federate, Norah forms a tentative alliance with the Metropole. As Courier, Norah is uniquely positioned to assist in the opposition efforts, but she needs Marius’ help if she is to protect the Archive. She will have to navigate both the hidden trails of the forest and the unclear paths of her emerging and complicated relationship with Marius to keep the Federate from overpowering her first love—the Colony.

THE COURIER, a work of young adult fiction that’s Laura Ingalls Wilder meets The Enclave, is complete at 60,000 words. Though the story stands alone, it is also the prospective first in a trilogy.

Thanks again!

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Re: The Courier--Young Adult Query--Round Two Posted :)

Post by Krista G. » June 14th, 2011, 11:25 pm

Hyaline wrote:It’s been a century since the Collapse, and the Colony is thriving. Seventeen-year-old Norah Falconer is set to apprentice under her father as Courier, becoming the first woman in the occupation. Despite her prowess navigating the forest trails that surround her settlement, her apprenticeship garners protest from some Colony leaders. Why? Is it a sexist thing? Also, "garners" doesn't seem like a teenagerly word to me, but I'm definitely nitpicking. If you like it, keep it. The only dissent Norah cares about is the disapproval of Marius—the Colony’s Archivist and her best friend. Again, I'm wondering why Marius disapproves. Is he concerned about her welfare?

When Norah chooses to talk to an interloper from the Colony’s long-standing enemy (I changed "enemies" to "enemy" since Metropole is singular; also, I'm not digging the word "interloper" for the same reason I didn't like "garners"), the warlike Metropole, instead of shooting her on sight, she discovers that her isolated settlement is under threat. The Federate, a new power from the east, is emerging, intent on absorbing the territories controlled by the Metropole and the Colony alike. Only information housed by accident in the Colony’s Archive can reveal the real reasons behind the Collapse and thereby prevent their plan from succeeding—and the rapidly encroaching Federate will destroy the Archive and conquer the Colony if they uncover the documents. I'm not making the logical jump that would explain why the information in the Archive would foil the Federate's plan. You might need to add a few more details to help us make that leap.

Though the Colony is divided over whether to ally with their former enemies against the Federate, Norah forms a tentative alliance with the Metropole. As Courier, Norah is uniquely positioned to assist in the opposition efforts, but she needs Marius’ help if she is to protect the Archive. She will have to navigate both the hidden trails of the forest and the unclear paths of her emerging and complicated relationship with Marius to keep the Federate from overpowering her first love—the Colony.

THE COURIER, a work of young adult fiction that’s Laura Ingalls Wilder meets The Enclave, is complete at 60,000 words. You might want to say, "Little House on the Prairie meets The Enclave," just so they're both book titles. (Or you could change "The Enclave" to whoever wrote it.) Also, I'd add one more word to the genre description (since YA is more of a category than a genre), like "dystopian" or "science fiction." Though the story stands alone, it is also the prospective first in a trilogy.
I actually like this quite a bit. I know it's hard to stand out in the dystopian genre right now, but this feels unique to me. It's not the usual revolution story, which is good. I don't really have any overall comments. I think you're almost there; if you just give us a few more details, I think this could be in pretty good shape. Good luck!
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Re: The Courier--Young Adult Query--Round Two Posted :)

Post by michelleimason » June 15th, 2011, 11:55 am

Much stronger! There are just two things that still stand out to me. Can you give some clue of Marius' age? Is he a teenager like her or older? I'm assuming he's young since you hint at a romance later, but then I don't understand why he has such an important position. You handled it well with her by calling her an apprentice, which definitely sounds YA, although calling her a woman still sounds older. The other is the documents. How can documents make or break the Colony? Are they magical? If you can give a better hint about that, I think you'll be in good shape. Good luck!

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Re: The Courier--Young Adult Query--Round Two Posted :)

Post by oldhousejunkie » June 23rd, 2011, 2:56 pm

MUCH better...but I think there is still too many names being bandied about. See below.
Hyaline wrote:All right--thanks for your suggestions! Here's another go-round:

It’s been a century since the Collapse, and the Colony is thriving. Seventeen-year-old Norah Falconer is set to apprentice under her father as Courier, ["Courier" reads oddly. It's abrupt. Maybe a little intro like "the settlement's courier"?] becoming the first woman in the occupation. Despite her prowess navigating the forests trails that surround her settlement, this garners protest from some Colony leaders. The only dissent Norah cares about is the disapproval of Marius—the Colony’s Archivist and her best friend. ["The only dissent" reads awkward to me as well. Perhaps "But the only opinion she cares about is that of Marius, the Colony's Archivist and her best friend, and he is uneasy with her appointment"?]

When Norah chooses to talk to an interloper from the Colony’s long-standing enemies, [I'd scratch these details...they are clunky] she discovers that her isolated settlement is under threat. The Federate, a new power from the east, is emerging, intent on absorbing the territories controlled by the Metropole and the Colony alike. [Maybe "intent on absorbing new territory" instead?] Only information housed by accident in the Colony’s Archive can reveal the real reasons behind the Collapse and thereby prevent their plan from succeeding—and the rapidly encroaching Federate will destroy the Archive and conquer the Colony if they uncover the documents. [Not needed, IMO)]

Though the Colony is divided over whether to ally with their former enemies against the Federate, Norah forms a tentative alliance with the Metropole. As Courier, Norah is uniquely positioned to assist in the opposition efforts, [Perhaps "Norah becomes involved in the opposition efforts as a result of her unique position, but"?] but she needs Marius’ help if she is to protect the Archive [Add a little of the last line from the previous paragrah here.]. She will have to navigate both the hidden trails of the forest and the unclear paths of her emerging and complicated relationship with Marius to keep the Federate from overpowering her first love—the Colony. Great ending!

THE COURIER, a work of young adult fiction that’s Laura Ingalls Wilder meets The Enclave, is complete at 60,000 words. Though the story stands alone, it is also the prospective first in a trilogy.

Thanks again!
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Re: The Courier--Young Adult Query--Round Two Posted :)

Post by thewhipslip » November 17th, 2011, 12:14 pm

Overall, I like it. I feel like I want to know a bit more about Marius, why he disapproves of her being Courier. I'm not getting a real feel for his personality, though I know that's always hard to accomplish in query letters when it comes to secondary characters. I'm also thinking that you need more personal conflict. She loves her country, but in my opinion, that doesn't give this the oompf it needs. What's at stake for her in her personal life? Maybe highlight that more and it'll really drive the query home.
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