Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Query Critique #11: WORKING TITLE

My thoughts are added in redEvery comment is my own opinion. Readers, feel free to leave your own comments below and help a fellow writer out!

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Original Version (with comments):

Dear ________,

Clumsy, introverted (Stellar job starting with some descriptors of your MC! That said, the adjectives you chose could describe almost every main character in the YA genre. Consider looking at Elizabeth’s personality or hobbies, and see what makes her stand out. Then use that to describe her.) Elizabeth Hofsky watched her twin sister, Brianna, abruptly (this adverb takes away from the punch of “die”) die (Could you consider explaining this a little more? How did Brianna die? The only questions you want an agent to have is how the story ends!) right in front of her eyes. Even almost exactly a year later, Elizabeth still feels disoriented by the fragility of her vibrant twins’ life.

Which is why, wWhen Elizabeth flees (Why is she fleeing? Are her parents not getting along? Is her home life messy? Are there too many memories of her sister? The word seems out of place in the sentence without an explanation) for college, she hopes that she can start fresh. But while a (Here would be a great place to put in some details about what Elizabeth is running from) At first it seems like life might actually be back to like life is back to normal, but Elizabeth soon begins to unravel at the seams. She faces the typical freshman turbulence of difficult classes, an intimidating mentor, a cute RA, a backstabbing roommate, and quirky parents (after everything listed, the “quirky parents” is kind of a climatic downer haha. Do you have a better adjective to describe her parents? Something a little punchier?), but none of these challenges compare to the heartache she buries deep inside of her (What heartache?).

The novel delves into Elizabeth’s disastrous first semester in college, but simultaneously tells the story of Brianna’s traumatic death and the first twelve months Elizabeth endured without her twin. This allows for the novel to explore the true meaning of ‘starting fresh’. (This is the point in your query letter where you would list the title of your book, the genre, and the word count. You don’t need to summarize what the book is about. You show that bit.)

And… the end!

You are on the right track with this query letter. The problem that stood out to me right away was word count. Your query letter is 150 words. The “sweet spot” for query letters is 250-300 words. Your query is very bare bones. You could stand to add 100 words or so. The query letter is also missing some of the book-wide conflict. Is the entirety of it about Elizabeth coping with her sister’s death and moving on? If so, make sure you write that out (without coming out and saying so. Difficult, no? Haha.). Another aspect that is missing are the stakes. What does Elizabeth stand to lose that propels her to keep pushing forward?

This is a great start—don’t stop now! Make some changes and add some more meat to this query. Then, if you like, send it my way again for another look. Good luck!

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