Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Query Hop Critique 9

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.  
The random number generator picks 15!
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 here.
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 land.
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.

Best of luck!

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 Find her on twitter at @WendyNikel

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