Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

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clara_w
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Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

Post by clara_w » January 16th, 2011, 6:44 am

Hi Everyone,

Is this better? Thanks for all your help!

Revised Query 2

Jade’s father used to help her control her wind-taming powers, but when he’s murdered in front of her by humans who can’t master the elements, Jade loses her grip and creates a monstrous hurricane.
Six years later, she still struggles to tame her abilities, when Matsuo and the Shadow Man find her. Matsuo wishes to help her control not only her powers, but the burning desire for vengeance that crawls into the deepest cracks of her soul. The Shadow Man wants to use her hatred to bring Jade to his side, and annihilate all humans who can’t tame the elements.
Jade knows what to do. She must stay with Matsuo and stick to the values of honour and kindness her father thought her. But doing what's right could be easier if she weren't falling for the Shadow Man's charming yet morally ambiguous son, Timas.

“JADE’S HURRICANE” is a fast-paced YA Fantasy novel set in contemporary times, finished at 98,000 words. It should appeal to fans of the series ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ and Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’.

Old QueryDear Ms. Agent,

Jade should control her wind taming powers, but it’s often the other way around.

When she embarks on a mission to manage her abilities, she faces not only heavy physical and mental challenges, but also recurring nightmares in which she kills her father’s murderers. Even though those ‘gun-carrying fools’ are dead, vengeance is constantly in her mind.
But when the mysterious Shadow Man creates an army to annihilate humans who can’t master the elements, Jade must choose between joining his war against the same kind that murdered her father, or fighting him with powers that may well destroy her in the process.
That could have been easier if she didn't have mixed feelings about the Shadow Man’s charming, and 100% evil, son.

“JADE’S HURRICANE” is a fast-paced YA Fantasy novel set in contemporary times, finished at 98,000 words. It should appeal to fans of the series ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ and Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’. It it is a multicultural, high-concept novel, involving characters who must face painful decisions as they journey from adolescence to adulthood.
Last edited by clara_w on January 22nd, 2011, 10:52 am, edited 2 times in total.

notw
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Re: Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

Post by notw » January 16th, 2011, 11:34 am

clara_w wrote:
Jade should control her wind taming powers, but it’s often the other way around. Personally, not sure this is the best hook for you. I liked the begining of the older version better but woud suggest a change in the first sentence.

When she embarks on a mission to manage her abilities, she faces not only heavy physical and mental challenges, but also recurring nightmares in which she kills her father’s murderers. Even though those ‘gun-carrying fools’ are dead, vengeance is constantly in her mind. So even though her father's killers are dead she still wants vengeance? This might need a little more explaining but that might just be me. :)
But when the mysterious Shadow Man creates an army to annihilate humans who can’t master the elements, Jade must choose between joining his war against the same kind that murdered her father, or fighting him with powers that may well destroy her in the process.
That could have been easier if she didn't have mixed feelings about the Shadow Man’s charming, and 100% evil, son. This part felt out of the blue since there is no mention of his son before now.

“JADE’S HURRICANE” is a fast-paced YA Fantasy novel set in contemporary times, finished at 98,000 words. It should appeal to fans of the series ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ and Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’. It it is a multicultural, high-concept novel, involving characters who must face painful decisions as they journey from adolescence to adulthood.


Your story sounds interesting but I think your query lacks some detail of what is occuring in the story. Good luck on your next draft!

ajcattapan
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Re: Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

Post by ajcattapan » January 16th, 2011, 4:25 pm

I agree with the previous reviewer. It sounds like you've got a cool idea for a book here, but the query seems a bit lacking in clarity and detail. I'll see if I can give you any useful suggestions for where to clarify.
clara_w wrote:
Query:

Dear Ms. Agent,

Jade should be able to control her wind-taming powers, but it’s often the other way around. I think you mean that she should be able to control her powers, but she is unable to. Saying "Jade should control her wind-taming powers" makes it sound like she is making a choice not to do so. Oh, and "wind-taming" should be hyphenated because the two words together are describing her power, which by the way is a very cool power!

When she embarks on a mission to manage her abilities (What "mission" is she going on exactly?), she faces not only heavy physical and mental challenges, but also recurring nightmares in which she kills her father’s murderers. Even though those ‘gun-carrying fools’ are dead, vengeance is constantly in her mind. "Gun-carrying fools" sounds too lighthearted when we're talking about vengeance for a father's death.
But when the mysterious Shadow Man creates an army to annihilate humans who can’t master the elements (Does this mean he intends to annihilate only the humans who can't master the elements or that he means to annihilate the humans because they can't master the elements? There is a huge difference between "annihilate humans who can't master the elements" and "annihilate humans, who don't have the power to master the elements."), Jade must choose between joining his war against the same kind (Kind of what? Humans? Does this mean Jade isn't human?) that murdered her father, or fighting him with powers that may well destroy her in the process.
That (Unclear antecedent here. What does "that" refer to?) could have been easier if she didn't have mixed feelings about the Shadow Man’s charming, and 100% evil, son. (Maybe it'd be easier to say, "Her decision would be easier to make if she weren't falling for the Shadow Man's charming yet morally ambiguous son." I think if you come right out and say he's evil, then it seems obvious she shouldn't get mixed up with him.)

“JADE’S HURRICANE” is a fast-paced YA Fantasy novel set in contemporary times, finished at 98,000 words. It should appeal to fans of the series ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ and Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’. It it is a multicultural, high-concept novel, involving characters who must face painful decisions as they journey from adolescence to adulthood.
Like I said at the beginning, I think you have a cool concept here. Clearing up a few details may help a lot.

glj
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Re: Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

Post by glj » January 16th, 2011, 5:10 pm

I have not reviewed this before, and did not read the 2 comments above, so this is my first impression of your query.


Jade should control her wind taming powers, but it’s often the other way around. This might have more punch if you show this. It didn't make me curious and didn't give me much of an image of who Jade is and what her powers entail. Showing her screwing up and causing trouble for herself, even if only in a single sentence, could provide more impact.

When she embarks on a mission to manage her abilities, she faces not only heavy physical and mental challenges, but also recurring nightmares in which she kills her father’s murderers. The phrase "mission to manage her abilities" seems flavorless, some sort of bureaucratic-speak for "she determines to control her powers, knowing it will make her life easier to be less impulsive, ..." and so on. Even though those ‘gun-carrying fools’ are dead, vengeance is constantly in her mind. The phrase "gun-carrying fools" in italic is her internal dialog, doesn't seem appropriate for a query letter. I assume it refers to her father's murderers, but is not really connected and leaves me confused.
But when the mysterious Shadow Man creates an army to annihilate humans who can’t master the elements, Jade must choose between joining his war against the same kind that murdered her father, or fighting him with powers that may well destroy her in the process. This didn't give me much of a set-up. The name "shadow man" implies he is mysterious, but I want to know more here. This did not give enough information to hook my interest. It came across as two-dimensional.
That could have been easier if she didn't have mixed feelings about the Shadow Man’s charming, and 100% evil, son. I didn't see anything that seemed unique or compelling. How does the title tie in? Does Jade spawn hurricanes when she is in a foul mood? Why is shadow man doing what he is doing? I think you just don't create enough tension to make the reader want to read more.

“JADE’S HURRICANE” is a fast-paced This always strikes me as a signal that the writer knows the query letter is weak, instead trying to say it is great instead of showing that it is fast-paced and interesting. YA Fantasy novel set in contemporary times, finished at 98,000 words. It should appeal to fans of the series ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ and Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’. It it is a multicultural, high-concept novel, Whoa, whoa, multicultural high-concept AND YA? I don't buy that. It seems that it could be one or the other, but not both. Not to mention that young readers hearing "multicultural high-concept" are likely to run away. involving characters who must face painful decisions as they journey from adolescence to adulthood. Again, this doesn't add anything compelling. Show us more of the plot. It sounds as if the story might be interesting, but the minimal plot elements included here aren't enough to intrigue me.

allegedauthor
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Re: Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

Post by allegedauthor » January 17th, 2011, 1:29 pm

I agree that your hook needs to "show" a little bit more. What does it look like when her powers control her? Great idea for a query but the conflict could be fleshed out a bit more. Good luck!

jmbrinton
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Re: Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

Post by jmbrinton » January 17th, 2011, 2:13 pm

First let me say I do not read a tremendous amount of fantasy so you should bear that in mind when reading this. I think the query is fairly clear and meets all the basic requirements. A hook, a synopsis, etc. The problem for me is that the story doesn't present a dilemna for the MC that interests me. Her mission (as stated in the query) is to learn to manage her abilities. That sounds dull. And while you say the wind some times tames her, I can't imagine what that means.

Your bad guy is given a pretty generic name (Shadow Man) and his intention is to destroy humans who don't have powers to control the element. But you don't tell us why or how he wants to do this or how many humans we are even talking about. I personally don't know any human with this trait and you have only told us about one--Jade. So what is this world? You need to ground us in the place where the action occurs. Specifically, you say it is a contemporary setting but I would have thought just the opposite. There is no mention of Jade going to high school or doing anything normal.

And the part about the evil son isn't clear. Is he the love interest? If so, you need to create more of a mystery around him--tell us what attracts Jade to him. I assume she doesn't know he is all bad but the query suggests she does.

And the man against whom she seeks revenge (Shadow Man) isn't even the guy who killed her father--he's only like them. Not much motive for revenge. And a dream where you kill people who are already dead doesn't sound like a nightmare.

Go back to the basics. Build your world, tell us what Jade wants, what stands in her way, and what will happen if she doesn't reach her goal.

rosepetal720
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Re: Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

Post by rosepetal720 » January 18th, 2011, 11:50 am

There's a lot happening in this query, so it's a little difficult to keep a focus. There's the fact that she has powers she can't control. There's a mission to learn to control them. There's revenge. There's a war and holocaust. There's a love interest between her and a bad boy. There's painful decisions. There's the journey from adolescense to adulthood. You're going to have to focus on ONE of these things, maybe two. Books are complicated, but queries are not.

Also, nix the entire last paragraph. I've read over and over again that you should never compare your book to others or say what your book is like, but that your query should say what the book is about in a way that shows the agent what the book is like.

Your books sounds fantastic, by the way. But because of the reasons I've mentioned, I understand why the query isn't getting much attention.
Author of Sacred Fire, a historical fiction of the Vestal Virgins of Rome.
http://teralynpilgrim.blogspot.com/

clara_w
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Re: Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

Post by clara_w » January 19th, 2011, 10:13 am

Hey everyone, thanks for all the help! Very insightful tips!
Could you let me know if the revised Query is better?

Thank you!

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Mary-Catharine
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Re: Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

Post by Mary-Catharine » January 19th, 2011, 2:24 pm

Jade’s father used to help her control her wind-taming powers, but when he’s murdered right in front of her by humans who can’t master the elements, Jade looses grip and creates a monstrous hurricane.

(Although I think you have a great premiss and story going here, I do believe the intro has excess details. Keep the same concept of the first sentence, just simplfy it a bit.)

Six years later, she still struggles to tame her abilities, when Matsuo and the Shadow Man find her. The first wishes to help her control not only her powers, but the burning desire for vengeance that grudges the deepest cracks of her soul. The second wants to use that to bring Jade to his side and annihilate all humans who can’t tame.

(I like that there are two people wanting to use Jade for good or evil! Great idea, really. I think instead of the saying "the first"-meaning Matsuo, you should just say Matsuo. And, the same with Shadow Man. Look, I think you have a great story going here.)

Doing what's right could be easier if she weren't falling for the Shadow Man's charming yet morally ambiguous son, Timas. He will do everything in his power to turn Jade into the glorious, murderous beast she can become.

(Hooked. Chills. You got it with the last line, really. Look, I've never published a book before, so I obviously have no clue how to write a query. I understand what it's like to give blood, sweat, and years to writing a book, and then discovering that getting it sold is the hardest part about the whole mess. I know nothing about writing queries, I'm still learning. So, you can take my opinion with a grain of salt.)

Now Jade must choose between sticking to her father's code or following her crooked heart.

(Honestly, you sold me with the last line, the last tagline is not really necessary.)

“JADE’S HURRICANE” is a fast-paced YA Fantasy novel set in contemporary times, finished at 98,000 words. It should appeal to fans of the series ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ and Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’.


(Don't put quotations around your book, just all caps is fine-- quotations are for poems and articles. Be careful about using that word!!!!!! I dare mention it in a query... young adult *shivers*. Young Adult are the most competitive in the market, I'm sure an agent cringes everytime they look at a Young Adult project. You can just say a 98,000 contemporary novel. One of the most important things, and I mean the most important thing about queries, is how to place your book into a genre. I actually yahooed or googled how to genre my book, either those things I can't remember. I don't think you should say what your book is 'like' because your book is original, unique, and something that will be the next thing, right? It doesn't need to be anything else to be just as great.)

Personal Note: I really hate doing these criticism things, because I know how it feels when I thought I got it right that time! I really hope I was constructive and not critical, after you were very helpful with mine. I think we can both agree that queries suck, but glad to have help like this to make it right! One day, I keep thinking. One day.

clara_w
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Re: Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

Post by clara_w » January 20th, 2011, 3:14 am

That was a fantastic feedback, thank you so much Mary!
Yes, we're down the painful road of querying, but at least we're not alone = )

One day, definitely. One day...

glj
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Re: Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

Post by glj » January 20th, 2011, 10:56 am

This is better. Comments below.


Jade’s father used to helped hercontrol her wind-taming powers, but when he’s murdered rightin front of her, by humans who can’t master the elements, Jade looses loses her grip and creates a monstrous hurricane. Does this create a tragedy that she later feels guilty about? Does it kill the non-weather-controlling humans who killed her father? Does she now hate humans without powers?
Six years later, shestill struggles struggling to tame her abilities, whenMatsuo and the Shadow Man find her. The first wishes to help her control not only her powers, but the burning desire for vengeance that grudges I don't think "grudges" is a word. You mean "begrudges"? But this is still the wrong word. How about "weighs on", "has settled into", or something similar?the deepest cracks of her soul. The second Shadow Man wants to use that her hatred to bring Jade to his side and annihilate all humans who can’t tame the weather. My problem with this is that it is worded as if Matsuo and Shadow Man are competing to control and change Jade, but yet their stated goals are nearly identical. Why discuss separately if they both want to exploit her anger/guilt and control her by playing on her emotions?

Here might be a good place to show the reader that Jade isn't a monster, and though she has negative emotions due to her father's death, she has a handle on it until Matsuo, Shadow Man, and Shadow Man's son appear.

And, more importantly, show that Jade recognizes the danger that they present. She must struggle with her decision regarding Timas, right? So you need to show this, show her awareness of it, and most of all, you must show how and why her decision is difficult. THIS is the heart of your query! If you can convincingly show this internal conflict, and show the stakes if she does AND doesn't choose Timas, then you have the reader hooked. Simple, really (just kidding).


Doing what's right could be easier if she weren't falling for the Shadow Man's charming yet morally ambiguous son, Timas. Show us why Jade is falling for Timas. As is, this doesn't have much impact. He will do everything in his power to turn Jade into the glorious, murderous beast she can become. This doesn't show why Timas would want Jade to become a murderer. What is at stake? What will Timas do if he succeeds in changing Jade? Turning Jade into a murderer is bad, but if there are worse consequences, i.e., what he will use Jade to do, this could provide higher stakes. Otherwise, if this is all that will happen, you might need to paint a picture of Jade as a good person in order for the change to have more impact (Jade goes from an angry person to a murderous person isn't much of a change. Sweet, guilty Jade turning into a murderer is more of a change and is more of a conflict).
Now Jade must choose between sticking to her father's code What code? We haven't heard of any code. or following her crooked heart. Why is her heart crooked? Is it because she is tempted to fall in love with Timas? Not sure that "crooked" helps.

“JADE’S HURRICANE” is a fast-paced Don't tell us this, SHOW us this! YA Fantasy novel Redundant wording, if it is "fantasy", then it is a novel. And you have given the word count, so it cannot be a short story, flash fiction, novella, or novelette. set in contemporary times, This seems unneeded. Don't waste words, especially if you can show this in the body of the query. finished at 98,000 words. It should appeal to fans of the series ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ and Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’.
I don't write YA and don't know the YA rules/expectations, but it seems that YA has an upper wordcount limit that is much less than this. A 98,000 word novel is adult length. This alone may cause agents to ignore your query. Do some research and see if you need to change this. My recollection is that 70k words is generally the accepted upper limit for YA.

clara_w
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Re: Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

Post by clara_w » January 22nd, 2011, 10:54 am

Very good points glj!!! Thanks a LOT for that!
I tried to fix them and posted the new version under revised 2.

I couldnt add more of the details you were asking for, because then it would just deviate the query from its objective (which isnt the tragedy that happened to Jade when she was a child).

Thanks once again! =)

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Mary-Catharine
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Re: Query: Jade's Hurricane back from rejection

Post by Mary-Catharine » January 22nd, 2011, 7:59 pm

Looks like glj bleed all over yours too.

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