Night Falls: YA Fantasy

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winterone
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Night Falls: YA Fantasy

Post by winterone » June 14th, 2012, 11:32 am

Hey all! Long-time lurker, first-time poster. I always said to myself that I'd never be able to post my query for everyone to hack-and-slash, but how else am I supposed to know if it's any good?

My novel is complete, revised and revised and now it's two years later! I'm just waiting on the last of a few reader critiques before firing off my queries to potential agents. What a crazy, nerve-wracking experience!

I think I'm mostly concerned that there may not be enough detail in my query. Please let me know what you think, and I thank you in advance!

-

Dear [agent],

The land of the Dead, Exit, has never been more frightening. Souls are turning to stone. The world has fallen into perpetual night. And a legendary evil – the Man With No Eyes – is threatening to take over it all.

Until fourteen-year-old Jacqueline Puddle inexplicably wakes up in Exit, she thought that the worst of her worries was the fact that her best friend moved away. Now, not only does she find herself in a place she's never heard of, but it is up to her to save it.

Together, with her new friends - a zombie dog, a talking doll and an incredibly peculiar boy - Jacqueline must defeat the Man With No Eyes before she can return home Alive.

But the stakes are high in Exit, and this journey could cost her much more than her life.

It could cost Jacqueline her soul.

NIGHT FALLS is a YA fantasy novel complete at 86,000 words.

-

Edit: I should add that I will, of course, add more personalization to this - this is just the bare bones of my novel summary. :)

clegler
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Re: Night Falls: YA Fantasy

Post by clegler » June 14th, 2012, 8:34 pm

Hey there! I actually think what you have is pretty good. Yes, there is not a lot of verbiage, but what you do have hits what I think are the key points of the book. I'm no expert at query editing, but from what I can see it really just needs more description, but it seems like you have gotten to the "bare bones" part of it. It flows well and it immediately introduces conflict and primary characters. I think this could be a really good/interesting YA novel. I immediately thought of a Herculean themed story, and that kind of stuff interests me. Well done so far, and good luck! :) Hope this helps.

winterone
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Re: Night Falls: YA Fantasy

Post by winterone » June 15th, 2012, 12:02 pm

clegler wrote:Hey there! I actually think what you have is pretty good. Yes, there is not a lot of verbiage, but what you do have hits what I think are the key points of the book. I'm no expert at query editing, but from what I can see it really just needs more description, but it seems like you have gotten to the "bare bones" part of it. It flows well and it immediately introduces conflict and primary characters. I think this could be a really good/interesting YA novel. I immediately thought of a Herculean themed story, and that kind of stuff interests me. Well done so far, and good luck! :) Hope this helps.
Thank you, clegler! And I agree with you. I find what I have very clean and concise, but I feel like it's missing a bit of substance!

Any other feedback is greatly appreciated. :)

winterone
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Re: Night Falls: YA Fantasy

Post by winterone » June 15th, 2012, 12:48 pm

The same query, with an additional paragraph:

--

The land of the Dead, Exit, has never been more frightening. Souls are turning to stone. The world has fallen into perpetual night. And a legendary evil – the Man With No Eyes – is threatening to take over it all.

Until fourteen-year-old Jacqueline Puddle inexplicably wakes up in Exit, she thought that the worst of her worries was the fact that her best friend moved away. Now, not only does she find herself in a place she's never heard of, but it is up to her to save it.

Just like all else in Life and Death, it won't be that easy. Shadows with orange eyes follow her trail and threaten to be her undoing. A deadly trial in the labyrinth called the Gardens may stop her from even starting her journey. And if the Man has his way, she will be Disappeared long before she becomes a threat to him.

Together, with her new friends - a zombie dog, a talking doll and an incredibly peculiar boy - Jacqueline must defeat the Man With No Eyes before she can return home Alive.

But the stakes are high in Exit, and this journey could cost her much more than her life.

It could cost Jacqueline her soul.

NIGHT FALLS is a YA fantasy novel complete at 86,000 words.

clegler
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Re: Night Falls: YA Fantasy

Post by clegler » June 15th, 2012, 1:24 pm

When I think of writing a query, I think of using the entire page, because that one page is your only opportunity to persuade the agent to read your manuscript (whether this is right or not is another story...). That being said, if you don't add more, it sounds more like the synopsis you would find on the back of the book: short, sweet, and to the point. It hits everything you need to know to be able to say, okay I want to read this, or no I don't want to read this. That being said, all I think you need to do is spice it up and add even more detail expand on what you already have and make it "spicy" so the agent/editor will see the crisp details that lie just outside of the bare bones that you already have...if that makes sense...

BettyMiller
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Re: Night Falls: YA Fantasy

Post by BettyMiller » June 17th, 2012, 11:51 pm

You've got a good query post, and there's nothing I can really say in terms of what words or sentences you should change. The only thing I can tell you is that when you're this close to getting it perfect it really helps to just write another one all over again. Just make sure you sit down, close your eyes, and really picture the novel in your head like a movie trailer. See the World, then the Protagonist, then the Problem, and lastly the Call to Action and how the Protagonist responds to it (or the conflict they have responding)

sorry if that's not terribly helpful, but this strategy usually works for me!

winterone
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Re: Night Falls: YA Fantasy

Post by winterone » June 18th, 2012, 10:58 pm

Thanks to you both, BettyMiller and clegler! Were you folks referring to my most recent version (in the comments) or the original post? I'm not sure how I feel about the paragraph I added in the revised.

BettyMiller
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Re: Night Falls: YA Fantasy

Post by BettyMiller » June 19th, 2012, 12:02 am

Hi! I just read your update post, and I think I actually prefer the first one. the second version gives too much detail that kind of takes away from the suspense, it almost feels unfocused.

winterone
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Re: Night Falls: YA Fantasy

Post by winterone » June 21st, 2012, 2:41 pm

BettyMiller wrote:Hi! I just read your update post, and I think I actually prefer the first one. the second version gives too much detail that kind of takes away from the suspense, it almost feels unfocused.
Perfect! Just what I needed to know. Thanks again!

dorothyinman
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Re: Night Falls: YA Fantasy

Post by dorothyinman » June 21st, 2012, 3:51 pm

This is really great and is definitely intriguing. I agree that you may need to add more details. The sentence "The world has fallen into perpetual night" could use additional details. Perhaps a short blurb as to why the world has fallen into perpetual night. Is it something to do with the Man With No Eyes? Is it because souls are turning into stone? Or is it all of the above?

I would also like to know the name of the Dog and the Doll and the Boy. To me, giving their names would make them real and make me want to know more about them.

I will let you know if I can think of anything else. Happy writing :D

bananas
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Re: Night Falls: YA Fantasy

Post by bananas » June 24th, 2012, 12:16 pm

The land of the Dead, Exit, has never been more frightening. Souls are turning to stone. The world has fallen into perpetual night. And a legendary evil – the Man With No Eyes – is threatening to take over it all.
The start of the first sentence reads awkward to me. What if you said, "Exit, the land of the dead, has never been..." Last sentence: I think you can lose "and a legendary evil" and just start the sentence with The Man with No Eyes. You don't have to explain everything, just tease enough that the agent wants to read more.

Until fourteen-year-old Jacqueline Puddle inexplicably wakes up in Exit, she thought that the worst of her worries was the fact that her best friend moved away. Now, not only does she find herself in a place she's never heard of, but it is up to her to save it.
What if you started here, with the heroine and then followed with what is currently your first paragraph? The first sentence is a little clunky b/c of how you've split it up. Try something like: "Fourteen-year old Jacqueline Puddle (great name, btw) thought the worst of her worries was the fact that her best friend moved away. Then she woke up in Exit." "Place she's never heard of" isn't super strong for me. I think the fact that it's the land of the dead is a way bigger deal than the fact that she's never heard of it. And it begs the question -- is she dead? I think you need to at least hint at why she's there.

Together, with her new friends - a zombie dog, a talking doll and an incredibly peculiar boy - Jacqueline must defeat the Man With No Eyes before she can return home Alive.
"Incredibly peculiar boy" is too much telling rather than showing. Is there a detail about his peculiarity that you can include? Is there a reason you've capitalized Alive? Why is Jacqueline the one who has to defeat the Man With No Eyes? I think you need to give us a reason, or I'm just not buying.

But the stakes are high in Exit, and this journey could cost her much more than her life.

It could cost Jacqueline her soul.
Like this ending. Stakes!

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LurkingVirologist
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Re: Night Falls: YA Fantasy

Post by LurkingVirologist » July 12th, 2012, 8:41 pm

Blue highlighted some text and put relevant comments in [].

"The land of the Dead, Exit,[clunky and overcapitalized, I'd go with Exit, the land of the dead,...] has never been more frightening. Souls are turning to stone. The world has fallen into perpetual night. And a legendary evil[kind of boilerplate language] – the Man With No Eyes – is threatening to take over it all[clunky wording]. [nice sparse set-up, I like]

Until fourteen-year-old Jacqueline Puddle inexplicably wakes up in Exit, she thought that the worst of her worries was the fact that her best friend moved away [reword this, awkward]. Now, not only does she find herself in a place she's never heard of, but it is up to her to save it. [I like the last sentence!]

Just like all else[weird phrasing] in Life and Death[why capitalized?], it won't be that easy. Shadows with orange eyes follow her trail and threaten to be her undoing[undoing how?]. A deadly trial in the labyrinth called the Gardens [maybe go with ...in the labyrinthine Gardens... ] may stop her from even starting [confused - how can she stop before she starts?] her journey. And if the Man has his way, she will be Disappeared[why capitalized?] long before she becomes a threat to him[quibble - she's already a threat, that's why he cares. She might just not be a BIG threat yet, but she's obviously a threat, otherwise Big Bad wouldn't be taking a personal interest. The difference between a potential threat and an imminent threat is the difference between a grenade with the pin in, or the pin out. Both are damn threatening if you ask me].

Together, with her new friends - a zombie dog, a talking doll and an incredibly peculiar boy [I love the zombie dog and talking doll, but what is an incredibly peculiar boy? Does he have 2 heads? Is he transparent? Does he only communicate in Shakespeare quotes? I've got no idea, and the more I think about it, the more absurd things I come up with] - Jacqueline must defeat the Man With No Eyes before she can return home Alive[why capitalized?].

But the stakes are high in Exit, and this journey could cost her much more than her life.

It could cost Jacqueline her soul."

Overall very nice. Sets up character, throws in some menace, and makes the stakes and challenges clear without doing a plot dump. Just tighten it up a bit and I think you are good to go. Did I mention I really like the zombie dog? Just sayin.
"Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic." -Carl Sagan

winterone
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Re: Night Falls: YA Fantasy

Post by winterone » September 11th, 2012, 11:05 am

Thank you to Lurking Virologist, bananas and dorothy inman for all of your additional help! Your input is incredibly beneficial. I've been procrastinating doing any querying (fear of failure and all, dumb I know!) but I think I've finally decided to do it and came by to see if there was anything else I could adjust.

Thanks very much!

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