Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer Query Extravaganza 13

So you know the drill. Contact me on twitter if you want your query showcased. Comment on the query before and after yours. All query critiques are subjective. And rabbits don't come out of my hat, but I'll do my best. Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear. Buy one and I'll throw in a set of free steak knives, just pay separate shipping and handling fees.

Here's your warning that I will have another Query Questions interview tomorrow with another great agent. So stay tuned.

Now here is #13. I hope no one is superstitious.

In 1957, seventeen-year-old Delilah Jones journeys to a Gothic mansion in New England to find information about her birth parents. Why? Why does she need the information? You are leaving out important points that determine your mc's motivation. In 1957, seventeen-year-old Delilah Jones is searching New England for the parents, who left her in a shoebox. She just needs closure so she can marry her childhood sweetheart from the orphanage.  She must participate in a dance contest in the mansion as a cover for her actions so she can search for information about her birth parents who once lived in the mansion. Flat. Try something along the lines of: Her search leads her to a creepy old Gothic mansion where her parents once lived, only it's in the middle the weirdest dance contest ever.  The only way to get close is to act the part of contestant. Weird happenings and rumors make her believe the mansion is haunted. Generic. Give details. Ghostly touches on her skin when she's chacha ing convince her the mansion is haunted.  Her partner in the dance contest has super-human strength and she must stop him from hurting her or other participants before a hundred-year-old curse takes place and silences her and everyone in the mansion. You need to play up the danger and scariness before getting to the closing stakes of the last sentence. Put in details, such as her partner's name and break this last sentence into several filled-out sentences. When her assigned dance partner, Rhoul, throws someone through a wall(shows his superhuman strength), Delilah knows something isn't right. Could this curse of super-human strength be what happened to her parents(some sentence that explains the curse)? She must stop Rhoul before he kills her or the other contestants and prevent the hundred-year-old curse from silencing everyone in the mansion. Right now you are trying to rush this query and it has become all telling. There is no link between her goal of finding out about her parents and the curse or haunting.   

My writing credits include a short story published in Palm Prints, the University of South Florida’s writing journal, 1st prize in the Virginia Romance Writers Paranormal Romance category, honorable mention for fiction from the National Writers Association, and 2nd prize for YA fiction from the Florida State Writing Competition. Nice bio. I'd put it under the genre word count paragraph. Information about your book should come before information about you.

Mysterious is a YA Gothic novel complete at 58,000 words. Thank you for considering my novel. I translate Gothic as horror which makes you at the low end for YA. 

Sincerely, Probably don't need this additional sign off. Most queries separate the 'thank you' line and use that for their closing. That will work nicely if you move your bio to after the word count sentence. 

Many queries go too long, but this one is too brief. Additional details that show would add excitement to it. You need to transfer the scary and ominous voice of a horror novel into your query. 

Don't be afraid to connect what is happening at the mansion with Delilah's search for her parents. Your query should have an arc, just like your book. What you start out with at the beginning of your query in the hook should cycle back around to the ending sinker line.  


  1. Thanks, Michelle,

    Terrific comments! I'll get right to revising my query.

  2. Another thing you might want to consider for this query is how to make this different. For instance, is your MC into dance? is that why she thinks she can use a dancing competition to sneak into this mansion?
    With YA with super natural elements, you need to show--in your query--how your novel is different from other novels with super natural elements (I think the dance stuff can help).

    Also, this query has taken the novel and boiled it down, so I recommend adding some voice back into it. It's important to show your voice in your query as well as your book. On the plus side, you've stripped away so much of the novel at this point, that you have a bit of room to work with, so you have room to add back in.

    Good job, and your story sounds interesting.