Thursday, June 16, 2016

Query Critique #12: DARKNESS AND THE CITY

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 ________,

John Gauss (Consider throwing one or two adjectives that describe John, that are distinctive to his character. That way, in the very important intro sentence, he doesn’t come off flat.), an agent with the National Intelligence Agency Agent (I’m just trying to cut down words. This is a pretty long first sentence!), witnesses the murder and subsequent revenge killing (Ooh!) of the leaders of Red Scar and then Avarcon leaders—the two most powerful secret societies in the world—in two back-to-back spying missions. It becomes clear after the assassinations that a city-wide underworld war in London, the current capital of the post-apocalyptic superpower, is inevitable (Why does it become clear? Could you try to show this in a single sentence?). Five years ago, this is the same kind of conflict that five years ago left Edinburgh destroyed decimated (strong adjectives are vital!) in after a nuclear explosion (I think you could cut the previous sentence that mentions London being the capital. This sentence shows what you were telling.). While piecing together information on underworld (Do you mean underground?) activity obtained mainly via remote surveillance, John and his team come across uncover a plan to break thirteen thousands of prisoners out of an underwater prison, by Dark Crescent—the terrorist organisation that thirty years earlier destroyed the economies of all the major world powers in a synchronized global terrorist attack.

The discovery of Dark Crescent’s plans suddenly puts thrusts John and his team in the middle of two massive threats to national security—a potential war between Avarcon and Red Scar, and the global threat by Dark Crescent. In order To stop these organisations from wreaking havoc on the country and the current prospering world, the team led by John’s team must maintain its focus even as an unexpected romantic relationship develops between John and Susan (This kind of comes from out of nowhere. You might want to mention Susan earlier before she becomes a “romantic interest.”), a female teammate (I think this is clear by the name “Susan” ;) ), threatening to derail the mission (I love a good romance story! You do a great job of showing the stakes. Well done!).

Darkness and the City DARKNESS AND THE CITY is a story set in the year 2100 (I think you might want to mention the year is 2100 in the first sentence of your query letter), and it examines from different points of view the issue of government surveillance of suspicious private organisations and organisation’s the right to privacy. The novel is speculative fiction with a blend of thriller and mystery (Don't forget to mention the age-range: adults, young adult, middle grade. I'm assuming it's adult, but it's always best to come right out and say so.), and it is complete at 88,000 words.

Please see the sample chapters of my manuscript below the query letter. Thank you very much for your time.

Yours Sincerely,



You’ve got the makings of a very great query letter. The vital elements are included, such as the main character, the antagonist, and the stakes. Fantastic job here! There are a few things that I would suggest adding/editing:

1. Show John’s personality. As the query reads, he’s a cut-and-dry FBI-ish operative that’s just like every other FBI-ish operative we’ve seen on TV and read about in books. What makes him different? A good place to squeeze this in is in the first sentence as I suggested. Also, if you decide to keep the romance angle in, use the way he deals with Susan to show his personality. Is he by the book? Sacrificing love to follow the rules? Or does he toss the world to the fire and love Susan despite everything?

2. Keep things short and snappy. Throughout your query letter there are spots where words could be cut or moved around to shorten long sentences. Long sentences spread out are fine, but there were quite a few after another. That makes for hard readability. Mix things up!

3. Descriptive adjectives and verbs are a must! Comb through your writing and check to make sure you’re using the best descriptor you can—especially when it comes to verbs. It makes your writing more colorful and pop!

Other than my three big suggestions, you’re well on your way! Make some tweaks and feel free to send your query letter back to me. I’d be happy to take a second look! Your concept is really interesting. I love the idea of a futuristic agency and an underground war. VERY cool. Good luck with this query letter. You’re almost ready for agents!!!



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