Query - Somewhere In Between - YA urban fantasy *Revised*

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jmn
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Query - Somewhere In Between - YA urban fantasy *Revised*

Post by jmn » July 26th, 2011, 4:16 pm

**REVISED QUERY ON 9TH POST. THANKS!!!***

I would be so grateful for any help you guys could give me! Who knew a one page query would be even harder to write than an entire novel!

Dear (Agent),
(Something personal about specific agent). Because of this I’m hoping you will be interested in my urban fantasy novel for young adults, SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN, complete at 86,000 words.

Quinn has always considered himself a pretty laid back kind of guy. Even when his parents dragged him from his small hometown in Montana to Lisbon, Portugal, he didn’t totally freak out. But when an old man gives him an innocent looking medallion on a leather strap, and Quinn puts it around his neck, the medallion comes to life, fusing itself to his chest like some strange metal tattoo, sending all his senses into overdrive. Surely things can’t get any weirder. Then he meets Layla, a girl in his history class, and when they touch, jolts of electricity shoot through him.

Layla is well aware that she isn’t like the humans in this world, but she’s taken pride in her ability to blend in. She has a job, a school, and a serious crush on Quinn, the new American boy. She no longer has to deal with any of that destiny mumbo jumbo that nearly ruined everything; her life and future is finally hers for the choosing. But when she realizes Quinn is the medallion bearer, the one person she ran away from home to avoid – the one who can destroy the life she’s built here – her peace is shattered and she’s sent reeling.

As their two worlds collide, things are quickly spinning out of control. Hunters are after Quinn, and Layla can’t bring herself to walk away from him to protect herself. To keep Quinn safe and help restore peace to her world, together they must choose to run or fight for their lives.

I lived in Lisbon, Portugal for eight years, during my late teens and early twenties, and my experiences there helped form the setting of my story. This is my first novel, and the first in a potential series.

Thank you so much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Best wishes,
Last edited by jmn on August 20th, 2011, 12:07 am, edited 2 times in total.

Margo
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Re: Query - Somewhere In Between - YA urban fantasy

Post by Margo » July 26th, 2011, 4:21 pm

I like the first two paragraphs of your pitch, describing who your characters are, but I think you need to be specific about what happens in the story. So far, the query only includes the fact that your hero moves to Portugal, he meets the girl, and they run from hunters. I think that third paragraph really needs to make good use of its three or four sentences and tell the agent what the characters are going to be doing. If you haven't already I suggest checking out a post Nathan wrote awhile back about the novel pitch. I followed it and got a partial request without even writing the book.
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Nicole R
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Re: Query - Somewhere In Between - YA urban fantasy

Post by Nicole R » July 26th, 2011, 11:57 pm

I agree with Margo. It seems like maybe you're trying a bit to hard to veil the actual plot, especially in the third paragraph. What exactly is Layla's ability and destiny? What does she want for her future and how is the medallion bearer standing in her way of that?

The hunters in the last paragraph also seem to come a bit out of the blue. Can you give us earlier details to set the context?

Sounds like a great concept! Good luck with it!

jmn
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Re: Query - Somewhere In Between - YA urban fantasy

Post by jmn » July 28th, 2011, 11:24 pm

Thanks guys! I think you're right. I'm off to work on it. I'll post it again when I've tweaked it a bit.
Jenn

clara_w
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Re: Query - Somewhere In Between - YA urban fantasy

Post by clara_w » July 29th, 2011, 9:37 am

What do you mean by "sending his senses overdrive"? this is a great time to be specific.
I'd also let us know sooner whats the destiny mumbo jambo.
Wouldnt mention series potential, but you have overall a good query. : )

tanyathib
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Re: Query - Somewhere In Between - YA urban fantasy

Post by tanyathib » August 3rd, 2011, 2:41 am

I'm impressed, the story concept draws me in and I'd be interested in seeing more.

I pretty much agree with everything the others say too and having read nearly a hundred queries and their critiques (ya I'm going cross eyed lol) I do know that this one would get picked on for structure and technicalities.

While there is plenty of contradicting advice and information out there, from what I've found, the majority of the time agents don't want the specs at the beginning and most don't want the personal comments. They're busy, they have hundreds of submission to read through, they want you to get to the point. So jump into the story and simply state at the end:
SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN is an 86,000 word, YA/urban-fantasy. It's the first installment of a planned series, yet is quite capable of standing on its own and is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
But when an old man gives him an innocent looking medallion on a leather strap, and Quinn puts it around his neck, the medallion comes to life, fusing itself to his chest like some strange metal tattoo, sending all his senses into overdrive.
This sentence is 43 words - too long (and yes I'm being a hyprocrite lol, I am horrendous for run on sentences, especially when I'm tired lol, but we want this to really shine).

I'm going to look for Nathan's "pitch" post too, don't recall seeing that one. But the other place I've found helpful too is the Query Shark. Whether you agree with all the comments or not, it's a true "critique" site by an agent, which I just found to be extremely helpful. From that site I've learned that the key ingredients are:

1) voice - you have to convey the voice of your main character
2) enticement - your words must cause the reaction of "I want, no, NEED to know more!"
3) An agent wants to know a) who is the main character, b) what does (s)he want, c) what is stopping him/her from getting it, d) what are the consequences/what's at stake
4) "show don't tell" everything you want to get across in your query

Hope this helps and good luck!

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MattLarkin
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Re: Query - Somewhere In Between - YA urban fantasy

Post by MattLarkin » August 4th, 2011, 9:48 am

Good list, tanyathib. And I agree the intro might fit better at the end, where you mention you lived in Lisbon.

And I agree with the others. When I read "Hunters are after him," first thing I thought was, "what hunters." It kind of comes out of the blue and is never elaborated on. We get the sense Layla is hiding from someone, but Quinn seems to be in Portgual only because his parents want to live there.

Also, on Quinn, if he is supposed to the MC, he doesn't seem too exciting to me. All we really know about his personality is that he's laid back, and the chosen one. Layla, the one who risks her own life to do the right thing, seems much more the hero of the story to me (from this).
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piers
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Re: Query - Somewhere In Between - YA urban fantasy

Post by piers » August 4th, 2011, 11:17 am

jmn wrote:I would be so grateful for any help you guys could give me! Who knew a one page query would be even harder to write than an entire novel!

Dear (Agent),
(Something personal about specific agent). Because of this I’m hoping you will be interested in my urban fantasy novel for young adults, SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN, complete at 86,000 words.

Quinn has always considered himself a pretty laid back kind of guy. Even when his parents dragged him from his small hometown in Montana to Lisbon, Portugal, he didn’t totally freak out. But when an old man gives him an innocent looking medallion on a leather strap, and Quinn puts it around his neck, the medallion comes to life, fusing itself to his chest like some strange metal tattoo, sending all his senses into overdrive. Surely things can’t get any weirder. Then he meets Layla, a girl in his history class, and when they touch, jolts of electricity shoot through him.
I think you can make this even punchier. The idea really grabs me, but I want the words to grab me as well, especially the first sentence.

Layla is well aware that she isn’t like the humans in this world, but she’s taken pride in her ability to blend in. She has a job, a school, and a serious crush on Quinn, the new American boy. She no longer has to deal with any of that destiny mumbo jumbo that nearly ruined everything; her life and future is finally hers for the choosing. But when she realizes Quinn is the medallion bearer, the one person she ran away from home to avoid – the one who can destroy the life she’s built here – her peace is shattered and she’s sent reeling.
Wouldn't mind a little more explanation here. I think you are thinking 'book jacket' here- which I tend to do. I have been advised that with queries, you should provide more detail. Also 'her peace is shattered and she’s sent reeling.' feels redundant.


As their two worlds collide, things are quickly spinning out of control. Hunters are after Quinn, and Layla can’t bring herself to walk away from him to protect herself. To keep Quinn safe and help restore peace to her world, together they must choose to run or fight for their lives.
I definitely need more of an explanation of what is going on.

I lived in Lisbon, Portugal for eight years, during my late teens and early twenties, and my experiences there helped form the setting of my story. This is my first novel, and the first in a potential series.

Thank you so much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Best wishes,
I think all and all this is one of the more well-done queries I have seen on the site so far. Cheers.

jmn
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Re: Query - Somewhere In Between - YA urban fantasy

Post by jmn » August 20th, 2011, 12:06 am

Thanks so much for the feedback! It's all been really helpful! Here is my revised attempt. I'd love to hear what you think, whether it is any better or still struggling with the same problems.

Thanks!

Dear Agent,

Quinn considers himself a pretty laid back kind of guy. Even when his parents dragged him from his small hometown in Montana to Lisbon, Portugal, he didn’t completely freak out. But just as he’s starting to adjust to his new life, he’s given a medallion that comes alive, fusing itself to his chest like a strange metal tattoo. Layla, the cryptic girl at school, is the only one with any insight into his questions, but as her own secrets come between them, he’s not sure if he can trust her answers.

Layla has spent the last three years running from her destiny and perfecting the art of blending in with the humans of this world. But Quinn has a knack for bringing out the elfish side of her she’s worked so hard to hide. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he’s the medallion bearer, the one the old Seer foretold would be her match. The one she’s been trying so hard to avoid.

Quinn is determined to figure out the truth about the medallion, Layla, and his family tree even if it kills him. And if the murderous elves who are hunting him down have any say in the matter, it just might.

Complete at 86,000 words, SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN is an urban fantasy novel for young adults. I lived in Lisbon, Portugal for eight years, during my late teens and early twenties, and my experiences there helped form the setting of my story. This is my first novel.

Thank you so much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Best wishes,

AllieS
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Re: Query - Somewhere In Between - YA urban fantasy *Revised*

Post by AllieS » September 4th, 2011, 2:05 am

Quinn considers himself a pretty laid back kind of guy. Even when his parents dragged him from his small hometown in Montana to Lisbon, Portugal, he didn’t completely I think you could leave this outfreak out. But just as he’s starting to adjust to his new life, he’s given a medallion that comes alive fusing and fuses[/color ]itself to his chest like a strange metal tattoo. Layla, the cryptic girl at school, is the only one with any insight into his questions, but as her own secrets come between them, he’s not sure if he can trust her answers.
Hm...not a huge fan of this line. It's too vague and seems randomly tacked onto the end.

Layla has spent the last three years running from her destiny and perfecting the art of blending in with the humans of this world. But Quinn has a knack for bringing out the elfish side of her she’s worked so hard to hide. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he’s the medallion bearer, the one the old Seer foretold would be her match. The one she’s been trying so hard to avoid.
I like the paragraph about Layla in your last draft better. It gave me a better sense of who she is and why she's hesitant about Quinn.

Quinn is determined to figure out the truth about the medallion, Layla, and his family tree even if it kills him. And if the murderous elves who are hunting him down have any say in the matter, it just might.
Like these lines, though! Good end

Complete at 86,000 words, SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN is an urban fantasy novel for young adults. I lived in Lisbon, Portugal for eight years, during my late teens and early twenties, and my experiences there helped form the setting of my story. This is my first novel.

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