rip my first query to shreads!!

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Nessa
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rip my first query to shreads!!

Post by Nessa » February 11th, 2010, 4:27 pm

I have just completed a new novel that I would like to query. I really appreciate all of your advice. To be honest I am on revision stage but I had beta's that really liked it so here goes!

Dear Agent,

After playing a part in a planned robbery that had gone insanely wrong, seventeen year old Lydia ran off to a small city in British Columbia, where she hoped to heal her painful wounds, and forgive herself for what she had done. Finding residents in an old medicine man’s shack, Lydia discovers she is not alone when she notices muddy footsteps on her floorboards, and her items misplaced. Terrified and emotionally wrecked, Lydia sets out to find who it is that secretly living with her, sending her gloomy letters and most likely watching her every move. When Lydia clashes with the intruder she is sent back, reeling into her past, for he is her mute accomplice, Jake, that she had thought was dead. The only thing that puzzles Lydia is that Jake was just protecting her, from the watchers that she had never noticed were there. Lydia and Jake set out on a journey of survival, but it isn’t simple, when there is darkness that Lydia can't identify brutally murdering innocent citizens, and voices that are warning her to stay away from the only one she trusts, Jake.

‘The watchers’ is an 80,000 word YA Fantasy novel, filled with gripping suspense, romance & betrayal. I appreciate your time.

Nessa

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Emily White
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Re: rip my first query to shreads!!

Post by Emily White » February 11th, 2010, 5:33 pm

Hey, Nessa! Good for you for taking the plunge! Nathan just moved all critiques over to the All Things Feedback forum yesterday. I'm sure that if you moved this over there, you'd get a few more responses. :)
Find out about ELEMENTAL, my YA Space Opera (available June 21, 2011) on my blog and ELEMENTAL's facebook fan page

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JustineDell
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Re: rip my first query to shreads!!

Post by JustineDell » February 11th, 2010, 5:43 pm

Shred uh? Would be an honor ;-)
Nessa wrote:
Dear Agent,

After playing a part in a planned robbery that had gone insanely wrong, seventeen year old Lydia ran off to a small city in British Columbia, where she hoped to heal her painful wounds, and forgive herself for what she had done. Finding residents in an old medicine man’s shack, Lydia discovers she is not alone when she notices muddy footsteps on her floorboards, and her items misplaced. This sentence struck me as odd. So the old medicine's man's shack is what she makes her home? You may want to clarify because later in the sentence you say 'her floorboards'. Terrified and emotionally wrecked, Why is she emotionally wrecked? Too general. Lydia sets out to find who it is that secretly living with her, sending her gloomy letters and most likely watching her every move. Oh wait, I get it she takes up "residence". You spelled it wrong. When Lydia clashes with the intruder she is sent back, reeling into her past, for he is her mute accomplice, Jake, that she had thought was dead. The only thing that puzzles Lydia is that Jake was just protecting her, from the watchers that she had never noticed were there. Lydia and Jake set out on a journey of survival, but it isn’t simple, when there is darkness that Lydia can't identify brutally murdering innocent citizens <-- this sentence makes no sense to me. Is the darkness telling her to kill innocent people? , and voices that are warning her to stay away from the only one she trusts, Jake.

‘The watchers’ is an 80,000 word YA Fantasy novel, filled with gripping suspense, romance & betrayal. I appreciate your time. THE WATCHERS, a YA Fantasy Novel is complete at 80,000 words.

Nessa
Your query is all one big paragraph, you may want to split it up. Second, some of the info is generalized and needs to be more informative (the "emotionally wrecked" part). Did she think Jake died in the robbery? You might want to mention that earlier, because now he just seems thrust into the story. What is the journey of survival entail? Fighting the watchers? Keeping each other from being eaten by big gators?

Here's my go at it. Keep in mind, I don't know the details of your story, I'm just giving you an idea where you may be able to plug in more details.

Seventeen year old Lydia (insert last name) ran away from home after she played a part in a robbery-gone-wrong that killed her best friend Jake (insert last name). There she hoped to heal her painful wounds, and forgive herself for what she had done. (new paragraph)

She took up residence in an abandoned shack, but soon discovers she is not alone. Muddy footprints on the floorboards, her items misplaced, gloomy letters addressed to her. Someone who is watching her every move. Terrified, Lydia is sent reeling into her past when she discover Jake, her mute best friend that she thought was dead. Lydia is puzzled when she learns that Jake was protecting her, from what he called The Watchers. She'd never noticed they were there. (new paragraph)

Lydia and Jake set out on a journey of survival (insert more info about the problems of survival here). Nothing is that simple. The darkness known as the The Watchers are killling innocent people and Lydia is afraid she is next. And voices are warning her to stay away from the only person she trusts, Jake.

So this is my rough go, more info could be added to spice it up. Another note, I think you need a better hook at the end. Like, are the voices telling her that Jake is a monster that is going to eat her while she sleeps? That's dramatic, but you get the drift. ;-)

Good luck on the revisions!!

~JD

http://www.justine-dell.blogspot.com/

"Three things in life that, once gone, never return; Time, Words, & Opportunity"

henyad
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Re: rip my first query to shreads!!

Post by henyad » February 11th, 2010, 6:51 pm

Dear Agent,

After playing a part in a planned robbery that had gone insanely wrong, seventeen year old Lydia ran off to a small city in British Columbia, where she hoped to heal her painful wounds, and forgive herself for what she had done. Finding residents in an old medicine man’s shack, Lydia discovers she is not alone when she notices muddy footsteps on her floorboards, and her items misplaced. The second sentence two scenes, bunched together. Hard to read. Terrified and emotionally wrecked, terrified and emotionally wrecked? Melodramatic, to say the least. Chose one or the other. Lydia sets out to find who it is that secretly living with her, sending her gloomy letters and most likely watching her every move.You are trying to say too much, too fast. Select the most important points of the story and stick to it. When Lydia clashes with the intruder she is sent back, reeling into her past, I like the concept of being sent to the past. I think that that should be the main focus of your pitch. for he is her mute accomplice, Jake, that she had thought was dead. The only thing that puzzles Lydia is that Jake was just protecting her, from the watchers that she had never noticed were there. Lydia and Jake set out on a journey of survival, but it isn’t simple, when there is darkness that Lydia can't identify brutally murdering innocent citizens, and voices that are warning her to stay away from the only one she trusts, Jake.

‘The watchers’ is an 80,000 word YA Fantasy novel, filled with gripping suspense, romance & betrayal. I appreciate your time.

Nessa

benwhiting
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Re: rip my first query to shreads!!

Post by benwhiting » February 11th, 2010, 7:02 pm

Okay, first critique (does that cover me legally for any butchering that ensues?)

Not sure how close an examination you want, so I'll just go ahead and point out what I see. If I'm too nit-picky, sorry--just let me know.
Dear Agent,

After playing a part in a planned robbery that had gone insanely wrong (is "insanely" necessary? I would cut it), seventeen year old Lydia ran off to a small city in British Columbia, where she hoped to heal her painful wounds,(this comma is unnecessary because the same subject does both verbs) and forgive herself for what she had done. Finding residents in an old medicine man’s shack, Lydia discovers she is not alone when she notices muddy footsteps on her floorboards, and her items misplaced (I think this sentence doesn't work because the result is summarized before we get the details--and I'm not sure we need those details. Why not just "But she soon realizes she's not alone"?). Terrified and emotionally wrecked, Lydia sets out to find who it is that secretly living with her (I'd switch "find" out for something like "discover" and drop "it" and "that"), sending her gloomy letters(comma here) and most likely watching her every move. When Lydia clashes with the intruder she is sent back, reeling into her past, for he is her mute accomplice, Jake, that she had thought was dead. The only thing that puzzles Lydia is that Jake was just protecting her,(unnecessary comma) from the watchers that she had never noticed were there ("were there" weakens the end of this sentence). Lydia and Jake set out on a journey of survival (unless they are actually leaving, I wouldn't use "journey" here. Even then, "fight for survival" might be better), but it isn’t simple, (period, new sentence) when there is ("there is" constructions are generally weak, so try to reword this sentence) darkness that Lydia can't identify brutally murdering innocent citizens, and voices that are warning her to stay away from the only one she trusts, Jake.

‘The watchers’ is an 80,000 word YA Fantasy novel, filled with gripping suspense, romance & betrayal (I think your story summary actually shows the suspense, romance, and betrayal--which is great--so you don't need to "tell" that down here). I appreciate your time.

Nessa
I would break up the text after the sentence about an intruder and before they set out on a journey. I think your query does a good job of giving some information but not everything. You might try to make it a little clearer why this is a fantasy. Good job for a first query.

JL Hartfield
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Re: rip my first query to shreads!!

Post by JL Hartfield » February 11th, 2010, 8:27 pm

Nessa wrote:
Dear Agent,

After playing a part in a planned robbery that had gone insanely wrong, seventeen year old Lydia ran off to a small city in British Columbia, where she hoped to heal her painful wounds, and forgive herself for what she had done. Finding residentsresidencein an old medicine man’s shack, Lydia discovers she is not alone. whenshe noticesmuddy footsteps on her floorboards, and her items misplaced. Terrified and emotionally wrecked, Lydia sets out She doesn't really "set out" if the intruder is just in her home. If she actually goes somewhere else, tell us. to find who it is that secretly living with her, sending her gloomy letters and most likely watching her every move. When Lydia clashes with the intruder she is sent back, reeling into her past, for he is her mute accomplice, Jake, that she had thought was dead. The only thing that puzzles Lydia is that Jake was just protecting her, Comma not needed here. from the watchers that she had never noticed were there. Lydia and Jake set out on a journey of survival, but it isn’t simple, when there is darkness that Lydia can't identify brutally murdering innocent citizens, and voices that are warning her to stay away from the only one she trusts, Jake. This sentence needs to be broken down. I explained it a little more below.

‘The watchers’ is an 80,000 word YA Fantasy novel, filled with gripping suspense, romance & betrayal. Don't tell us that it's filled with "gripping suspense". Let the query show that.I appreciate your time.

Nessa
Some parts of this seem a bit wishy-washy, not quite strong enough. There are some sentences you can definitely tighten up. For example;
Terrified and emotionally wrecked, Lydia sets out to find who it is that secretly living with her, sending her gloomy letters and most likely watching her every move
Could be better written as, "Fearing her every move is being watched, terrified Lydia searches for clues to the identity of her secret housemate." Or something like that.

Also, I would suggest shortening some of your sentences. In more intense parts, shorter sentences are usually better. For example;
Lydia and Jake set out on a journey of survival, but it isn’t simple, when there is darkness that Lydia can't identify brutally murdering innocent citizens, and voices that are warning her to stay away from the only one she trusts, Jake.
The suspense and intensity is lost because there is so much to take in at once. Try breaking it into multiple sentences.

Here are the suggestions I can give you for this:
1) Go through your query sentence by sentence. Try taking out one word at a time and read the sentence aloud. Does it still make sense? Keep the word out. Does it lose its meaning? Keep it in.
2) Remember to show, not tell. Telling is cheating. It takes the reader out of the story and spoon feeds them what they should feel. It's much better to describe what is going on and let the reader feel those things for themselves.
3) Get rid of your "where"s, "had"s and "were"s. Like the word "just", they're just query fat. Grab your sweat bands and give that query the workout it needs.
4) Tighten, tighten, tighten!
5) Your query is one big paragraph. Walls of text don't fly with agents. Try breaking it up to make it easier to read.
6) Who are the watchers? There isn't enough information about them for me to be interested. Throwing the name in at the end made me stop and re-scan the query. We can't be concerned about them as readers if there is no explanation of who they are. What's their aim?

That's all that comes to mind for now. Good luck!

DedicatedWriter
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Re: rip my first query to shreads!!

Post by DedicatedWriter » February 11th, 2010, 11:10 pm

Nessa, putting it out there takes a lot of courage, good for you.

My suggestion, for your first paragraph, is that you try what Noah Lukeman (First Five Pages) suggests, write one sentence that will super glue your query in the agent's hand.

First paragraph idea: Lydia and Jake set out on a journey of survival, but it isn’t simple, when there is darkness that Lydia can't identify (might want to work on this because I'm led to believe that the darkness is brutally murdering) brutally murdering innocent citizens, and voices that are warning her to stay away from the only one she trusts, Jake.

Two brief paragraphs that gives a tantilizing peek at your book.

Conclude with your word count, genre, and of course, pertinent info about you.

Hope you find something helpful here and wish you all the best.

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