Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer Query Extravaganza #2

And we are back with Query #2. Remember the third round of Query Kombat is happening now over at Mike's blog. Get over there and see the mentor improved queries and first 250 words of the Kombatanats. Oh, wait. Comment here first, then head over there.

To become my next participant you need only comment on the queries that come before you and contact me on twitter to volunteer for sacrifice this valuable opportunity. There are two spots left!

Please keep in mind that I'm no query guru, but I have read a considerable amount of query slush thanks to Query Kombat. (And that is a lot of repeating of the word query.) I might have an edge on what works and what doesn't.  But as in all such critiquing, the suggestions are mainly subjective. Or in other words, take it with a grain of salt and see if others agree with me. 

With my son in Japan, I have less towels to wash and tons of hot water left. Plus, no one has stolen into my hidden stash of chocolate. Happy days! SO here goes, Query #2.

Dear Agent [will be personalized once I actually send it out to agents and include their name and why I think they would enjoy the novel)I actually asked a question on this subject to agents during an #askagent session to mixed answers. Some like a little chit chat,while others don't. The Shark wanted straight to the query. So it's a toss up. 

Seventeen-year-old Mihael Wrath might be the son of the most powerful Sin in the Demon Realm, but if he doesn’t turn into a full demon by his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be just another blood splatter on the sacrificial altar. Hmm. That's like turning the tables on normal. He wants to be a demon. Interesting! Nice hook. But what is a Sin?

With his birthday just around the corner and no demonic powers in sight, Mihael would rather face the shame of running away than the blade of a demon’s knife (I'm with you on that one!). His father, the Sin of Wrath (Ah! I'm getting a better picture of it now.), has different plans: Sacrifice Mihael, use his blood to start the next Apocalypse, and win the battle for the Human Realm for good. Those demon fathers. Can't trust 'em as far as you can throw 'em. Does Human Realm need to be capitalized? Where is this taking place? Demon realm, human realm, angel realm? So many realms. I'm getting dizzy.

In a panicked attempt to save himself and the world, Mihael decides to warn the Order of the Angels of Wrath’s plan. It’s a risky move—especially when he finds out the Order doesn’t believe him and demands his head for “false accusations.” They don't believe a demon in training? Hard to fathom. This section is short on voice. Here would be a good place to stick in some personality for Mihael. With the sacrificial knife closing in and world headed for the simmer setting, Mihael decides to flirt with the enemy. He warns the Order of the Angels to wake up and see Wrath's plan...

With only hours left and a cruel new playing card in his father’s game (A touch generic.) , Mihael finds allies in an unstable (Give more detail. How are they unstable? That's your voice!) psychic and a conceited (Same here. Use details to make this voicey!) half-angel, who are also liabilities. They’re hopelessly outmatched (Now angels and demons both want to take off their heads)—but if the three of them can’t stop Wrath, millions will die, and life as they know it will end.

HALF-BREEDS AND OTHER LIABILITIES is a 80,000 word YA urban fantasy novel with series potential. It will appeal to fans of Holly Black’s WHITE CAT and Cassandra Clare’s THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS. The full manuscript is available on request. Good word count. To the point and with comps.

Thank you for your time. And thank you for sharing!

I think what we have here is a solid query that lacks excitement. It needs a little more voice to liven it up. The stakes are there and the plot is given clearly. But, sorry to be blunt, there are lots of stories about angels and demons. It just doesn't stand out the way it is now.  

Also, use details to make us sympathise with Mihael. Figure out what qualities he has that would make us care about him.  But Mihael can't let millions burn. He's a compassionate demon.

This sounds like a unique story. You've got us rooting for a demon. Good luck.  


  1. I have to agree - this query is really good and I'd definitely read on. The voice can be punched up a bit and I'd definitely like to know what the new "playing card" is, if it won't give away too much.

  2. Also have to agree, I don't understand why the demons want earth. Human souls? Larger housing plots? Extra gardening space? I know the fight is for the Human Realm but I don't get a sense of why, nor what will happen should either side win/lose.

    Awesome query otherwise, congrats!

  3. I agree that really what you need is to add a bit of voice to this. What's the MC like? How would he write the query? Is he nervous about telling the Order and defying is dad? Give us a bit of his personality. Other than that it sounds like a good read. Good luck!

  4. I really liked this when I read it. But I was left with a few questions. First, initially it seems as though Mihael is distressed because he is not getting his powers. That is his reason for running away. But later in your query it seems like he is motivated by his desire to save the human race. Also, I wanted to know what a liability is in this context. How is he different from his father?

    Those are a few things that come to mind. Sound interesting though.

  5. I mean "sounds interesting".

  6. "Seventeen-year-old Mihael Wrath might be the son of the most powerful Sin in the Demon Realm, but if he doesn’t turn into a full demon by his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be just another blood splatter on the sacrificial altar."

    Your first sentence is a good hook, but it's a run-on. You don't have to cram every bit of interesting information into the very first sentence. Make this into two, and I think it will be golden.

    "It’s a risky move—especially when he finds out the Order doesn’t believe him and demands his head for “false accusations.”"

    I was with you up to this point, but now I'm having trouble suspending my disbelief. His father is a pretty nasty demon. Why wouldn't they jump at the chance to make the man's life difficult? Silly angels.

    "a cruel new playing card in his father’s game"

    Huh? Is this something new? I'm confused.

    "Mihael finds allies in an unstable psychic and a conceited half-angel, who are also liabilities."

    Is this important information that adds to the query? If you take them out, you've got an interesting character and clearly defined stakes. Remember, you don't have to share everything about the book in the query. I'm no agent, but I would still assume that there are more than two people in the book even if you don't mention them.

    Personally, I'm going to disagree with Michelle here--I think you've painted Mihael as an interesting, three-dimensional character. You've outlined the players and the stakes. If you take out the generic bit about the sidekicks, I think you're fine. Alternatively, you could flesh them out more and add more color to the query, but keep an eye on (query) word count.

  7. I think this is a strong query, but I don't know much about Mihael's personality, other than he's distressed by not getting his demon powers and oddly empathetic about the humans. The only other thing that bugs me is I don't get why the demons want Earth. Is this a rebellion thing? Why does this one action strike Mihael so much?