Welcome to today's special guest, Wendy Nikel! Wendy has helped me out with contests before, including as a judge in Query Kombat!
Keep in mind that feedback is subjective by nature. What does and does not catch the eye is going to vary by person. Each writer must weigh the comments they get against their own judgement and make the changes that resonate with them.
The Holiday Query hop is closed. Please make sure you get your 10 critiques done.
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Dear Wonderful Agent,
I am currently seeking representation for my YA novel A
DREAM LOST. Because of your interest in urban fantasy, I thought you would be a
good fit for this project.
After reading through, I'm not sure I would call this urban fantasy,
as it seems a good chunk does take place in second world apart from our own.
Eighteen-year-old Adelie Elliot is ready to make a break
from her foster home and head off to college. But there’s a hitch in the plan
when shadowy figures make their appearance without warning when she's awake and recurring
nightmares claim her sleep. Struggling to be brave against the crippling fear,
Adelie pursues one of the mysterious shadow people and is transported to a new
world within dreams. Waiting to guide her in using her abilities as a Dream
Seeker are three eccentric young men with rather unorthodox methods of
training. She never knew that sleepwalking could become an art form or that
plastic, take-out forks would be a tool used in mastering such a technique.
Nice setup! Just a few things:
It's unclear how the first line (her making a break from her foster
home) relates to the rest of this paragraph. How does this cause a "hitch
in the plan"? Is she worried about flunking her classes due to lack of
sleep? Is she concerned that her new college roommate will think she's crazy?
Is she going to lose her scholarship if she doesn't perform well in her sports
game/musical performance/drama production? A specific example would work well
Also, we don't really get a good sense of Adelie or what kind of
person she is, so adding some more details in this section could help. For
instance, why does she agree become a Dream Seeker (or does she even have a
choice)? How does she feel about these newfound abilities?
With the Seekers’ help, Adelie learns to manipulate the
dream world and discovers the real purpose of the elite group: to destroy the
rogue nightmares before they capture dreamers within sleep. When the nightmares
become more consuming, Adelie finds that a fallen mythological god is scheming
to reclaim his dream world. As he gains power by feeding off of other Seeker’s
strength, Adelie realizes that her own life –and the lives of her new friends
–would give him just what he needed to restore himself as lord over the dream
Only suggestion here is that these sentences are all fairly long and
you might want to mix it up a bit to make it easier to follow.
If Adelie doesn’t stop the unnatural villain before he’s
restored to full power,
her life will be lost, or worse –she’ll
have to remain within dreams forever as a servant to the god of nightmares.
I'd cut the part about "her life will be lost, or worse."
Yeah, he might kill her, but that's not nearly as interesting as the
alternative, so go with the worst-case scenario here.
A DREAM LOST is a 93,000 word YA fantasy novel with
series potential. It is similar in tone to THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS.
I am currently raising two, rambunctious preschoolers at
home that keep my imagination in working order. Like my protagonist, I drink
entirely too much coffee and always have a crazy dream to share upon waking. My
completed manuscript is available at your request.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
Wendy Nikel lives in Michigan where she enjoys writing speculative fiction, playing video games with her husband, and building epic Lego creations with her sons. She is represented by Natalie Lakosil of the Bradford Literary Agency, and you can read some of her short stories at wendynikel.com. Find her on twitter at @WendyNikel