Query: DREAMSEA, YA Urban Fantasy

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TomLysander
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Query: DREAMSEA, YA Urban Fantasy

Post by TomLysander » August 3rd, 2011, 4:25 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm sending my second draft of the novel out to beta readers this month, so I thought I'd ask the forum for some help with this query letter. Any and all feedback is welcome. Thanks!

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Dear [Agent],

On a bright summer day, a mysterious teenager appears in the ordinary town of Remington. Thomas Lysander calls himself an Ambassador to the Waking World. His job is stealing people away—never without their permission, of course—to the dreamsea, the collection of worlds that we visit when we sleep. He’s now offering this opportunity to Edgar and Rosalind Lucas.

What Edgar and Rosa hope to find is their runaway brother James, who’s been missing for two years. Tom says that their brother has been in the dreamsea all along, making himself a newself: the hero, the Great César Lucas. Their brother made history by standing against the Rust Golem, otherwise known as the Iron Ghost, the Hunter-Seeker, the Bloodsound: a fearsome shadow made of haunted metal with smoldering indigo eyes. Hero or not, their brother lost that battle.

If they’re ever to see their brother again, Eddie and Rosa must master the rules of unusual dreamscapes, from the law-obsessed city of Nomos to the crowded Chatterworld to the nightmare planet where James finally disappeared. The enigmatic Tom Lysander serves as their tour guide, but why is he obsessed with finding the Great César in the first place? It seems that everyone who can’t find their brother is following them—including the Rust Golem itself.

DREAMSEA is a YA urban fantasy, complete at 102,000 words. I’m sending this query to you because [xxx]. Written in the tradition of books like THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH and A WRINKLE IN TIME, this novel explores multiple worlds, each with its own mysteries and dangers.

Thank you for considering my work! I appreciate your time.

Sincerely,
[name, address, email, website]

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Thanks in advance for any and all comments. If you have a query letter that I haven't commented on, let me know and I'll be more than happy to return the favor. :-)

Best,
tomlysander

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wilderness
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Re: Query: DREAMSEA, YA Urban Fantasy

Post by wilderness » August 3rd, 2011, 8:05 pm

TomLysander wrote:
Dear [Agent],

On a bright summer day, a mysterious teenager appears in the ordinary town of Remington. No reason to start your query with a sentence that doesn't tell us much of anything... Thomas Lysander calls himself an Ambassador to the Waking World. His job is stealing people away—never without their permission, of course—to the dreamsea, the collection of worlds that we visit when we sleep. He’s now offering this opportunity to Edgar and Rosalind Lucas. How does a teenager get such powers? Is he the MC or Edgar or Rosa?

What Edgar and Rosa hope to find is their runaway brother James, who’s been missing for two years. Tom says that their brother has been in the dreamsea all along, making himself a newself: the hero, the Great César Lucas. Whats a newself? Why not just say a new identity? Their brother made history by standing against the Rust Golem, otherwise known as the Iron Ghost, the Hunter-Seeker, the Bloodsound: a fearsome shadow made of haunted metal with smoldering indigo eyes. I don't think we need 4 different names for the same creature. Hero or not, their brother lost that battle.

If they’re ever to see their brother again, Eddie and Rosa must master the rules of unusual dreamscapes, from the law-obsessed city of Nomos to the crowded Chatterworld to the nightmare planet where James finally disappeared. The enigmatic Tom Lysander serves as their tour guide, but why is he obsessed with finding the Great César in the first place? A lot of agents have pet peeves against rhetorical questions. This question also makes it seem as if Edgar & Rosa are your MCs, in which case you should start the query with them and then explain how they meet Tom. It seems that everyone who can’t find their brother is following them—including the Rust Golem itself. It's best to end with a strong conflict, I think.

DREAMSEA is a YA urban fantasy, complete at 102,000 words. I’m sending this query to you because [xxx]. Written in the tradition of books like THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH and A WRINKLE IN TIME, this novel explores multiple worlds, each with its own mysteries and dangers.

Thank you for considering my work! I appreciate your time.

Sincerely,
[name, address, email, website]
This is a good start. Sounds like you have an interesting world. However, I'm not sure who your MC is but it's best to stick to one perspective in a query, and then make sure we have a reason to care about him/her. Right now, I get a sense of the plot, but not a sense of the characters and why I would care about them. Hope that helps!

tanyathib
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Re: Query: DREAMSEA, YA Urban Fantasy

Post by tanyathib » August 4th, 2011, 3:52 am

I agree with Wilderness in that you need to draw us in to your characters more and clearly define who your MC is.

What does your MC want?
What's preventing him from getting it?
What's at stake? What are the consequences?

It's also better if you can show us more than you tell us.

While at the same time getting the voice of MC across.

Clear as mud? lol I struggle with the whole concept too.

But overall sounds like you've got an interesting concept going here. Good luck!

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MattLarkin
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Re: Query: DREAMSEA, YA Urban Fantasy

Post by MattLarkin » August 4th, 2011, 9:23 am

Wilderness already said the things I was going to say, but I can say this: I'm intrigued. I don't read much YA, but I love fantasy, and this sounds like something I'd read for sure.

That said, it seems Edgar and Rosalind are the heroes here, so I'd try to carry one of their voices across. Let us see Thomas through their eyes as he shows up, seeming mysterious and offering this dangerous bargain.
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piers
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Re: Query: DREAMSEA, YA Urban Fantasy

Post by piers » August 4th, 2011, 11:25 am

I always make the mistake of reading other people's critiques first, and then agreeing with them. I just wanted to say that I also like the premise. My advice would be just to sharpen it up and clarify a bit, particularly at the end where it gets a bit murky. I don't envy people who have to query books with multiple worlds! It seems to me it would be nigh impossible.

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