Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Query Extravaganza 14

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.

I will have another Query Questions interview Monday July 22th with another great agent. So stay tuned.

Dear [agent], I need to have a contest to see who can come up with the best never-sent query greeting. 

When a dying alien crashes into Chrissy’s car, she’s told the only way to save the planet—and her children—is to join an archaic group of galactic peacekeepers, the Knights of Mourning. Nice straightforward sentence. Is there anyway to spice it up? Try using unexpected verbs at the beginning. When a dying alien splatters/elephant-pounds into Chrissy's car... Chrissy joins up, but once she arrives at headquarters, the Knights tell her that humans need not apply. (Consider letting us figure out she joins, and this doesn't go with them being stuck with her. Why don't they kill her themselves to get rid of her. When she arrives at alien-bug headquarters, the Knights prefer the goo on the the bottom of their size 23 shoes to humans.)  Worse, the only way out is through the morgue so they’re stuck with each other. (This made me think the morgue is inside the headquarters. maybe: Worse, the only way out of this organization is a one-way trip to the morgue, so they're stuck with each other.) A traitor is more than willing to help Chrissy collect her death benefits, but only a set of supposedly accidental deaths suggests the traitor even exists. (I would hold off on the traitor business. Consider cutting this sentence for now. And watch out for overusing 'only.')

With no choice but to take her on(Stuck with the flabby human), the Knights throw her a dead-end case: the some accidental deaths. Determined not to make a laughing stock out of humanity, Chrissy, a PhD wielding scientist, puts all her considerable intellect into solving the problem. That’s when she discovers the deaths are covering up the destruction of remote stars and planets associated with a secret research project. The trail leads back to a traitor within the Knights. Worse (One is your limit. lol) , another human worked on the doomed project, and now the traitor is coming for Sol. (Sorry, but you lost me. Who is Sol? Is that the other human? I can sense this is your stakes, but it doesn't mean anything to me as I don't know what Sol means to Chrissy.) 

KNIGHT FALL, a science fiction similar to what might happen if Stephanie Plum joined Men In Black, is complete at 77,000 words. Awkward. Maybe: A science fiction complete at 77,000 words, KNIGHT FALL is what might happen if Stephanie Plum joined Men in Black. 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

A little rearranging, some unexpected verbs, bigger and clearer stakes, and I think this will get some agent's attention! I hope this helps. 


  1. I really like the idea of using unusual verbs. I think it'll help make the query pop. Not to mention it will give us a great sense of who Chrissy is by giving us a hint to her voice in the novel. When choosing the action verbs, I would be careful to chose only the ones you could see Chrissy using. For instance, if she were a funny character I would go with the 'elephant-pound' line. If she is a serious character, I would go with 'splat'. I hope that makes sense! I think you've got a fairly strong query here.

    Best of luck!!

  2. The idea of having a contest about the best never sent query greeting sounds fun!And I like the idea of using unusual verbs, too. Agents (or their interns) may read hundreds of queries a week, so a slushpile query really needs to catch their attention.

    Good luck, your story sounds like a great read.

  3. Interesting story.

    [First Paragraph]I think you can take out the bit 'and her children'. It's assumed that if she's saving the world, the kids would be included. I don't understand how Chrissy is the ONLY way to save the world. What about her makes her so special? This would also lend credence to the fact that if humans are't allowed to join, why was she asked.I don't understand the part with the morgue. Did Chrissy die? Is that why she's there? I agree with Michelle, the morgue and death benefit part can be removed.

    [Second paragraph] Again, the aliens accept her (somewhat) so there has to be something special about her. I think this is could be the main focus of the query; Chrissy and the special power she holds that set her apart from other humans, enough so that she is asked to join this group.