QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

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Thalia
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QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Thalia » September 16th, 2010, 5:24 pm

Thank you for the help, everyone!

- - -
The year is 1882, and London is in a state of terror due to a string of brutal murders. Not the best way to enter the Yuletide season.

When he was a child, a madman kidnapped fourteen-year-old Marquis Emil Aleric and his sister. Only Emil survived. So the word of a ruthless killer rampaging London frightens his mother into sending Emil to live with Officer Corwin James until the culprit is found. But it turns out that Corwin has no intention of hiding out; one of the victims was his beloved fiancée, and her death only hardened his resolve to catch the criminal himself.

Every murder follows the same pattern: a young girl is kidnapped in the night. Three days later, the girl shows up, killed in a horrific fashion. But what throws everybody off is the notes left at the sites of the kidnappings, all quoting Alice in Wonderland.

This doesn’t mean anything to the police, but it does to Emil. The man who kidnapped him was never caught, and Emil only knew him by one name: the Hatter. If, as he suspects, the man they’re looking for and the tormenter of his past are the same person, then Emil will do anything to stop the man. He even stands a chance of avenging his sister—if he isn’t killed first.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery with a supernatural twist, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Melyn
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Melyn » September 16th, 2010, 5:38 pm

Ooh, I love this query! I would definitely request pages if I were an agent. :)
When he was a child, a madman kidnapped fourteen-year-old Marquis Emil Aleric and his sister.
It sounds like the madman was a child when he kidnapped Emil. Maybe you could rephrase it to something like, "When Marquis Emil Aleric was fourteen, a madman kidnapped him and his sister."

Maybe you could mention how many years later the story takes place? Since it's YA, Emil can't be too much older, but it would be nice to know how many years have passed since the kidnapping.

I'm guessing that the Alice in Wonderland quotes are clues that help Emil find the Mad Hatter, so maybe you could mention this somehow, just so that we know how it's tied in.
the tormenter of his past
"Tormenter" doesn't feel like the right word here. It makes me think of a bully.

Anyway, I love the query, and you did a great job on it!
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by JadePhoenix » September 16th, 2010, 5:50 pm

Thalia wrote:Thank you for the help, everyone!

- - -
The year is 1882, and London is in a state of terror due to a string of brutal murders. Not the best way to enter the Yuletide season.

When he was a child, a madman kidnapped fourteen-year-old Marquis Emil Aleric and his sisterI agree, the construction here makes it sound like the madman was the child.. Only Emil survived. So the word of a ruthless killer rampaging London frightens his mother into sending Emil to live with Officer Corwin James until the culprit is foundWho is this guy that his mother would trust her son, and presumably only surviving child who she almost lost once, to him?. But it turns out that Corwin has no intention of hiding out; one of the victims was his beloved fiancée, and her death only hardened his resolve to catch the criminal himself.

Every murder follows the same pattern: a young girl is kidnapped in the nightso if the victims are clearly all female why was his mother worried? She didn't know, at the time, that this was the same guy who kidnapped him before and killed his sister. So, as it reads right now, she hears about a guy targeting young women and immediately starts worrying about her son who doesn't fit the victim profile in the slightest. He isn't female and, assuming this is a few years later, he isn't as young anymore. Also, how old was the fiance? Is the age range from teen to 20s or so?. Three days later, the girl shows up, killed in a horrific fashion. But what throws everybody off is the notes left at the sites of the kidnappings, all quoting Alice in Wonderland.Why do the notes throw people off? The guy's a psycho and the quotes are his signature - what is it about them that is throwing them off?

This doesn’t mean anything to the police, but it does to Emil. The man who kidnapped him was never caught, and Emil only knew him by one name: the Hatter.How is it the police don't know this? Didn't they question him the first time around? Was his sister found in the same fashion or did he mess up the killer so he couldn't do the quote thing? If, as he suspects, the man they’re looking for and the tormenter of his past are the same person, then Emil will do anything to stop the man. He even stands a chance of avenging his sister—if he isn’t killed first.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery with a supernatural twist, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I like this and I would totally read it if I saw it in the store. These are the few little things I noticed in the query and I'll freely admit to being hyper-analytical so it's entirely possible I'm the only one who would see any of this. Anyway, good job and good luck! :)

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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by WilliamMJones » September 16th, 2010, 7:30 pm

Thalia wrote: The year is 1882, and London is in a state of terror due to a string of brutal murders. Not the best way to enter the Yuletide season.

When he was a child, a madman kidnapped fourteen-year-old Marquis Emil Aleric and his sister I agree with what's been said here. Also, saying he was a child and fourteen is redundant. Maybe "When Marquis Emil was fourteen, a madman kidnapped him and his sister". Only Emil survived. So the word of a ruthless killer rampaging London frightens his mother into sending Emil to live with Officer Corwin James until the culprit is found This sentance is a bit wordy. Also, the phrases "the word of a ruthless killer" and "rampaging london" sound off.. But it turns out thatCorwin has no intention of hiding out; one of the victims was his beloved fiancée, and her death only hardened his resolve to catch the criminal himself.

Every murder follows the same pattern: a young girl is kidnapped in the night. Three days later, the girl shows up, killed in a horrific fashion. But what throws everybody off is the notes left at the sites of the kidnappings, all quoting Alice in Wonderland.

This doesn’t mean anything to the police, but it does to Emil. The man who kidnapped him was never caught, and Emil only knew him by one name: the Hatter. If, as he suspects, the man they’re looking for and the tormenter of his past are the same person, then Emil will do anything to stop the man. He even stands a chance of avenging his sister This seemed kind of obvious to me.—if he isn’t killed first.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery with a supernatural twist, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Thalia » September 16th, 2010, 7:35 pm

Thanks! How's this?


Dear Awesome Agent,

London, 1882. Kidnapped as a child, Emil Aleric and his mother survived. The rest of the family didn't. So the word of a ruthless killer rampaging London frightens his mother into sending Emil to live with Officer Corwin James.

Every murder follows the same pattern: a young girl is kidnapped. Three days later, her body shows up, killed in a horrific fashion. But what throws everybody off are the notes quoting Alice in Wonderland.

This doesn’t mean anything to the police, but it does to Emil. The man who kidnapped him was never caught, and Emil only knew him by one name: the Hatter. If the man they’re looking for and the tormenter of his past are the same person, then Emil will do anything to stop the man. He even stands a chance of avenging his family—if he isn’t killed first.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery with a supernatural twist, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Me

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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by oldhousejunkie » September 16th, 2010, 9:57 pm

Glad that you dropped the "Marquis" part. It took me several read throughs to figure out that you meant "marquis" the aristocratic title. I thought it was his name at first! In general, English aristocrats were addressed as "Lord" So-in-So, Marquis of So-in-So. Just a random tidbit from a anglophile/social historian! :-)

Otherwise, the only other thing that jumped out at me is the phrase "killed in horridic ways" in second paragraph. It's very awkward. I think "horrifically murdered" would be better. Or something similar.

Otherwise, this sounds like an awesome concept! Best of luck to you!

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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by ABFTomioka » September 16th, 2010, 11:13 pm

Hello! This looks like a spine-tingling story. How much fun! I have a few suggestions for your query below:

London, 1882. Kidnapped as a child, Emil Aleric and his mother survived. The rest of the family didn't. These sentances are shocking, but I don't think they read so well together...Maybe make the first lines more dramatic, for example: When he was a child, Emil Aleric's entire family was kidnapped. He and his mother survived; the others didn't. So the word of a ruthless killer rampaging London frightens his mother into sending Emil to live with Officer Corwin James. I'd consider rephrasing this.... and unless Officer James is really important, he probably doesn't need to be mentioned. In fact, why not just move right into the drama, such as: But now a ruthless killer rampages through London, terrifying Emil's mother with memories of their gruesome experience. Or something like that.

Every murder follows the same pattern: a young girl goes missing, and three days later her body shows up, mutilated in horrific fashion. The bodies are accompanied by inexplicable notes quoting Alice in Wonderland.

This (maybe say "the notes," or "the quotes," just to clarify) doesn’t mean anything to the police, but it does to Emil. His kidnapper was never caught, and Emil only knew him by one name: the Hatter. If the man they’re looking for and the tormenter of his past are the same person, (if he's going to risk so much they'd better be the same person! Maybe rephrase to say something like: Certain London's murderer and the tormentor of his past are one and the same, Emil will do anything to stop the man.) He even stands a chance of avenging his family (I wonder if you can rewrite to show his determination here, to give the reader an idea of the passion he puts into this quest) —if the Hatter doesn't kill him first.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery with a supernatural twist (I don't know for sure, but I've heard agents prefer for authors to pick just one theme for their books....historical, mysery, OR supernatural. In your case I'd maybe say "a YA mystery", since history is already implied) is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Your book sounds great! Best of luck!

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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Thalia » September 17th, 2010, 7:22 am

Thank you! Actually, Officer Corwin James is like, the second main character. Half the chapters are in his point of view. But the actual story revolves around Emil, so I made the query about Emil. If you have any ideas of how to put him into the query, I'd love that!

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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Krista G. » September 17th, 2010, 10:55 am

Just chiming in to say I actually preferred the first query (with the grammatical improvements you introduced in the second). I think the first has more personality, and I didn't find it too long or confusing.

But whichever version you decide to go with, I think you need to rework the final summary paragraph. Everything about the query felt fresh and interesting - until we got to the last half of that last paragraph. It relied too heavily on trite phrases like "Emil will do anything to stop the man" and "he even stands a chance of avenging his little sister--if he isn't killed first." These statements could apply to almost any mystery thriller. Is there something you could say here that would be a bit more unique?

Best of luck.
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by theWallflower » September 17th, 2010, 12:55 pm

London, 1882. Kidnapped as a child, Emil Aleric and his mother survived. The rest of the family didn't. So the word of a ruthless killer rampaging London frightens his mother into sending Emil to live with Officer Corwin James.
-I'd start with the character's name--you want to go left to right with most important information to least important.
-survived what? A holocaust? Starvation?
-That last sentence is too complicated, and it's all reversed. Split it and reorder it. The base of it is that Emil is sent to live with Officer James
-At this point, I don't have an idea of who these characters are, so you should add in some personality traits
-At this point, there is also no conflict, not really.
-Wait, so they were kidnapped and then they're not? What does "the word of a ruthless killer" mean? What did he say? Give tangible examples.
Every murder follows the same pattern: a young girl is kidnapped. Three days later, her body shows up, killed in a horrific fashion. But what throws everybody off are the notes quoting Alice in Wonderland.
-What do you mean, every murder? This is non sequitir
-Also, are we in the future now?
-This sounds like you're telling a whole different story. I thought this was the story about Emil. The murders are background.
-"Killed in a horrific fashion" is both redundant and meaningless.
-"What throws everybody off..." is passive voice.
-How do the notes quote Alice in Wonderland? What kind of quotes?
This doesn’t mean anything to the police, but it does to Emil. The man who kidnapped him was never caught, and Emil only knew him by one name: the Hatter. If the man they’re looking for and the tormenter of his past are the same person, then Emil will do anything to stop the man. He even stands a chance of avenging his family—if he isn’t killed first.
-It should mean a great deal to the police--it's evidence--fingerprints, handwriting, paper type, ink signatures. The hatter's given himself away, basically.
-What is going to stop Emil from finding the mad hatter? He's not a cop, and he's not a detective, so he must have some hindrances.
-What happens if Emil doesn't stop him? There will be more murders, obviously, but it should culminate in something. I guess it depends on the Hatter's motivation.
-Why would the police even let Emil get involved?
-Is Emil's story about how he finds out if the killer and his kidnappper are the same? (as you've described it here) or is it how Emil catches the Hatter?
MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery with a supernatural twist, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.
-I didn't see a supernatural twist as presented in your query.
-I need less backstory and more present plot in this query. Kill the first paragraph. Start where the story catalyzes (the murders of young girls), follow through to the goal/conflict of the main character, and end with what the stakes are.
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Joel Q » September 17th, 2010, 6:21 pm

I really like this.
I think your first paragraph is your weakest.
Not sure how to do a date line here. I think what you have here works.
But the second sentence...
Thalia wrote: London, 1882. Kidnapped as a child, Emil Aleric and his mother survived. (the first query doesn't say anything about the entire family being kidnapped, so was it just Emil and his sister or all of them? Also the first phrase really sets the sentence but the "and his mother" doesn't work for me, b/c it's not connected to the phrase. His mother wasn't a child at the time. ) The rest of the family didn't. So the word (news, headlines, stories?, word seems more like rumors??) of a ruthless killer rampaging London frightens his mother into sending Emil to live with Officer Corwin James. (Why James? is he a family friend? just wondering if you could add something like...live with OCJ, a family friend.)

Every murder follows the same pattern: a young girl is kidnapped. Three days later, her body shows up, killed (slaughtered, mutilated, etc. we already know she was killed) in a horrific fashion. But what throws everybody off are the notes quoting Alice in Wonderland.

This doesn’t mean anything to the police, but it does to Emil. The man who kidnapped him was never caught, and Emil only knew him by one name: the Hatter. If the man they’re looking for and the tormenter of his past are the same person, then Emil will do anything to stop the man. He even stands a chance (That phrase seems passive to me.) of avenging his family—if he isn’t killed first.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery with a supernatural twist, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I like using Alice In Wonderland as the twisted thoughts of a killer.
JQ

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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Melyn » September 17th, 2010, 10:05 pm

I like the revised query, but I'm wondering if your novel is really YA. YA main characters are typically 15-18 years old, but Emil sounds older in this. How old is he?
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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Thalia » September 18th, 2010, 11:54 am

Emil's only 14, actually. He was kidnapped at seven.

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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by clara_w » September 19th, 2010, 5:30 am

Thalia wrote:Thank you for the help, everyone!

- - -
The year is 1882, and London is in a state of terror due to a string of brutal murders. Not the best way to enter the Yuletide season. Id start with In 1882, London is..., or something like that

When he was a child, a madman kidnapped fourteen-year-old Marquis Emil Aleric and his sister. when Marquis Emile Aleric was a child, he and his sister were kidnapped by a mad man Only Emil survived. So the word of a ruthless killer rampaging London frightens his mother into sending Emil to live with Officer Corwin James until the culprit is found. But it turns out that Corwin has no intention of hiding out; one of the victims was his beloved fiancée, and her death only hardened his resolve to catch the criminal himself.

Every murder follows the same pattern: a young girl is kidnapped in the night. Three days later, the girl shows up, killed in a horrific fashion. But what throws everybody off is the notes left at the sites of the kidnappings, all quoting Alice in Wonderland.

This doesn’t mean anything to the police, but it does to Emil. The man who kidnapped him was never caught, and Emil only knew him by one name: the Hatter. If, as he suspects, the man they’re looking for and the tormenter of his past are the same person, then Emil will do anything to stop the man.him He even stands a chance of avenging his sister—if he isn’t killed first.

MAD AS A HATTER, a YA historical mystery with a supernatural twist, is complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I liked it. Its a good query, I´d read pages. Just a few minor things to correct and bingo. Good work =)I

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Re: QUERY- YA Mystery- Mad as a Hatter

Post by Prudence » September 19th, 2010, 3:28 pm

I agree with Krista. I liked the first query as well. I think some parts of it could use a little bit more explaining, but other than that, it's very tight and has a lot more personality/voice--as well as being easier to read--than the revised query. I feel like the second one isn't from any one character's point-of-view while the first one feels like it's from Emil's point-of-view, and the second one reads very choppy to me.

Anyway, your story sounds really interesting. I don't read mystery that often, but I'd definitely read your story.

Good luck.

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