Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Query Critique Round 1

I’d like to take a moment to thank my first victim lovely query-supplier for the chance to look over her letter (which she’d like me to disclaimer by saying she came up with and wrote in 2 minutes, which is pretty damn impressive considering the writing is so nice and tight—that last part was me speaking). Alright, let’s get started! My comments are in blue.

Original Query

Dear Agent Last Name,

            To do what is right, she has to neglect her heart. Twice.
Recaptured by the Primes, Ellanue is given a choice. Be sent to Earth to train the new Warden, preparing him for the incoming war, or be judged for her crimes and, most certainly, executed. For her honor, she would rather die, but because of a secret unfinished business, she accepts the offer.
            Though, convincing self-centered Blake of his own mission is a hard task, worsened only when people she thought as allies, ambush and betray. Heartbroken, Ellanue sets to face her enemies alone, even if the price is her own life.
            ENERGY is a new adult sci-fi romance complete at 75,000 words. It stands alone, but can be developed as first in a trilogy.
            I’ve taken five writing courses, two self-editing workshops, and I’m a member of RWA, FF&P, and Savvy Authors.
            Thank you for your time and consideration.

{Name and contact info redacted}

Query After I Got My Grubby Paws On It

Dear Agent Last Name,

            To do what is right, she has to neglect her heart. Twice. Nice opening
Recaptured by the Primes, Ellanue is given a choice. <Having read this over a few times, I’m wondering who the Primes are. I know you probably don’t want to give everything away in the query, but I’m afraid we do need a bit of orientation so this letter isn’t confusing or vague. I’m thinking something like ‘Recaptured by the Primes, the extraterrestrial police organization who’ve held her captive for the last twelve years, Ellanue is given a choice.’ Obviously inserting your own information in there. Also, a colon at the end of this sentence leading into the choice would work well. Be sent to Earth to train the new Warden, preparing him for the incoming war, or be judged for her crimes and, most certainly, executed. For her honor, she would rather die, but because of a secret unfinished business, she accepts the offer. Nice, I’m interested.
            Though, convincing self-centered Blake of his own mission is a hard task, however, worsened only when people she thought as allies, <Delete comma ambush and betray. <While I suspect there’s something interesting going on between Ellanue and Blake, I’m afraid this is again too vague. I’m sure you did this on purpose to intrigue the reader, but I’m worried that too many unknowns will have the opposite effect and make a reader lose interest. Just my opinion here, but I’d like to see more detail re: their history, his mission, and possibly a bit about her enemies. Your query clocks in around 155 words, so you certainly have room for expansion if you’re using the general 250-word limit rule (some say as high as 350 is okay). Heartbroken, Ellanue sets to face her enemies alone, even if the price is her own life.  Nice high stakes
            ENERGY is a new adult sci-fi romance complete at 75,000 words. It stands alone, but can be developed as the first in a trilogy. All good here.
            I’ve taken five writing courses, two self-editing workshops, and I’m a member of RWA, FF&P, and Savvy Authors. Nice credentials, me likey.
            Thank you for your time and consideration. Just another point here—this query arrived double-spaced. Query letters should be single spaced.

My apologies for all the blue--I'm wordy and also can't help myself. Overall a great start here that, with a bit of tweaking and detail-adding, I think has potential to lure in some agent interest. Thanks again for sharing J


9 comments:

  1. I'm intrigued by this concept, although I have to agree with Michelle that it's a bit too vague. I don't have a clear idea of where Ellanue is coming from, who the Primes are, and what type of Earth she's being sent to.

    Vagueness in reference to her crimes works well to build mystery and intrigue, but not so well in reference to her general circumstances.

    Great hook in the end though!I quite like the idea of a strong female MC facing the baddies all alone. Perhaps that's the feminist in me :)

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  2. Great points Michelle!

    This sounds like a really interesting storyline.The opening and closing lines are both very strong, and that's not only a good thing, but hard to acheive, I think. However, I would tend to agree with Michelle that some additional detail would help to clarify things a tad. Who are the Primes? Where is Ellanue right now? With these revisions, I'm confident the query will get an agent's attention.

    Good luck!

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  3. I think Michelle has suggested some great ways to strengthen this query.
    I'd like to add that the MC's name should be inserted into the opening sentence. It's an introduction, so it's almost rude to call her 'she' :-)
    The query would definitely benefit from more information. I want to know what a 'Prime' is, coz at the moment I'm thinking of the Transformer movie. And also some details about the Wardens role might not go amiss. The 'secret unfinished business' is an exciting concept, but I need a hint about how it links in with the plot to get super excited.
    I'm sure her crimes are important to the story, and therefore I'd like to know how they effect her character. Are they crimes of passion that make her impulsive, crimes of anger that make her hotheaded, crimes of revenge that make her calculated. By adding a word or two about the crimes, it will help us better understand Ellanue's personality.
    I hope we get to see the next version of this query.

    Great job Michelle :-)

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  4. Good suggestsions Amaleen, and I'd also like to see the next version of the query.

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  5. It might be a bit of back story but I'd like to know something, even just a sentence, about what makes Ellanue so special that she'd be chosen to train the new warden? What qualifies her above others? Why was she given this choice? Like is she the daughter or relative of one of the greatest wardens of all time?

    other wise I tend to agree w/ most of the other suggestions. Although, I see why they say it's vague for a query but it's really the jest of the story in a nut shell, you just need to add a few details. ;)

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  6. Hi, guys.
    I'm Juliana, the one who wrote the query.
    Let me emphasize I wrote this query in two minutes, after I found out that Michelle was offering to critique queries.
    I have the outline for this story, but I have only 3 chapters written so far, so you see why I came up with the query so fast--because I had none! =P
    Anyway, I love your suggestions.
    The thing I hate about queries is that we have to make it concise, be a little mysterious, and omit a lot of info, but also we can't drop names without explaining a little at least--and it's what I did here.
    I didn't explain about the Primes, about her crimes, about Blake and their relationship, about her secret mission ... anyway, I don't think I should explain it all, but chose a few that will have the most impact.
    I do have to rework it, a lot, and take into account all of your amazing suggestion (KEEP THEM COMING!) ... and, if Michelle let me, I'll send the revised version to her, so y'all can pick on me again ;)
    Thanks!

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  7. Absolutely Juliana. Please do so :)

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  8. I have to agree with most of the posts, but it's pretty good for writing it in two minutes.

    Yes, I would like to know what makes her special too. I think it will resonate with the reader.

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  9. Thanks for all the input, everyone! How nice of you all to help a writer with her query :)

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