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Query Critique Request - Science fiction/Romance


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#1 Rap541

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 11:46 AM

Hi! I would really appreciate some query help and will happily offer some in return. I'm working off the advice from a book written by Noah Lukerman and any suggestions or comments are welcome.

 

 

Dear <Insert Name>:

 

I am seeking representation for my 103k science fiction novel/romance, currently titled A Cold Sort of Joy.<Insert reference to agent’s requests>

 

When Malcolm Wycliffe walked into the hospital, he didn’t realize he was seeing the beginning of the end. Within a month, everyone he had ever known was dead of a plague that he was somehow immune to. His only direction comes from his dying mother, to find the family’s ancestral castle in southern England. When he and his band of survivors of the plague, that’s when the adventure, and the terror, really begins.

 

Ella Wycliffe, daughter of the Earl of Trelawney, is a rarity, someone who contracted the new disease and survived. Her father and sister are immune, and in the aftermath of the deadly plague they’re struggling to keep the family castle and farm running when Malcolm appears.  She is leery of him at first, an unknown distant relative, but reluctantly accepts his help when she decides to head to Scotland and find her youngest sister. As they journey to Scotland, the dangers force Malcolm and Ella to work together. The dangers, their fellow survivors, some with good intentions and some bent on setting themselves up as warlords, a shadowy corporation seeking a cure, and previously mundane things like injuries and finding food, pile on and force them to lean on each other in ways they didn’t expect. With the world dying around them, is it possible they find themselves and each other?

 

I am a first time author and have recently completed the Your Novel Year program at the Virginia C. Piper Center at Arizona State University.

 

 



#2 Preston Copeland.Biz

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 12:00 PM

Hi! I would really appreciate some query help and will happily offer some in return. I'm working off the advice from a book written by Noah Lukerman and any suggestions or comments are welcome.

 

 

Dear <Insert Name>:

 

​Welcome Rap,

I am seeking representation for my 103k science fiction novel/romance, currently titled A Cold Sort of Joy.<Insert reference to agent’s requests>

 

When Malcolm Wycliffe walked into the hospital, he didn’t realize ​(hey, bud, this sentence doesn't tell us anything specific. Focus on specifics when writing a query) he was seeing the beginning of the end. Within a month, everyone he had ever known was dead of a plague ​(ok, now this second sentence makes a better hook, but tell us why he's immune, magic power, vaccine, etc.) that he was somehow immune to. His only ​(What does direction mean, Rap? emotional, geographical) direction comes from his dying mother, to find the family’s ​(I see now, but why is he going here?) ancestral castle in southern England. When he and his band of survivors of the plague, that’s when the adventure, and the terror, really begins.  ​vague

 

Ella Wycliffe, daughter of the Earl of Trelawney, is a rarity, someone who contracted the new disease and survived. Her father and sister are immune, and in the aftermath of the deadly plague they’re struggling to keep the family castle and farm running when Malcolm appears.  She is leery of him at first, an unknown distant relative, but reluctantly accepts his help when she decides to head to Scotland and find her youngest sister. As they journey to Scotland, the dangers force Malcolm and Ella to work together. The dangers, their fellow survivors, some with good intentions and some bent on setting themselves up as warlords, a shadowy corporation seeking a cure, and previously mundane things like injuries and finding food, pile on and force them to lean on each other in ways they didn’t expect. With the world dying around them, is it possible they find themselves and each other? 

 

​Alright, so this sounds like a cool story, but I've realized you don't have a clear antagonist, or a goal for these 2 people. Also, you seem to have 2 protagonist. Pick one, likely Malcolm, and then weave how "he and Ella lean on each other in ways they did expect" show how this happens through out the whole query, while they search for the goal of the story. Then give us stakes, Rap. You have know of those either.

 

Hope this feedback helps. Please reciprocate at - http://agentquerycon...-book/?p=344931

 

I am a first time author and have recently completed the Your Novel Year program at the Virginia C. Piper Center at Arizona State University.


Preston Copeland

Website: prestoncopeland.biz

Twitter: @pcopeland2345

Email: pcopeland2345@gmail.com


#3 Rap541

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 08:42 PM

Thanks for the feedback! I am inclined to agree with your advice although its been a little awkward deciding whether Ella or Malcolm is the true protagonist. They're both fairly strong and doing a lot. What I may try is writing queries with one or the other as the protagonist and see what works.



#4 Jemi

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 09:11 PM

 

 

When Malcolm Wycliffe walked into the hospital, he didn’t realize he was seeing the beginning of the end (kind of a cliche and doesn't really give us a hook to keep reading). Within a month (a month from the 1st sentence?), everyone he had ever known was dead of a plague that he was somehow immune to. His only direction (not sure about that word choice) comes from his dying mother, to find the family’s ancestral castle in southern England (we need to know why- is this connected to the plague or just mom wanting him to visit home? or something else?). When he and his band of survivors (now he has a band? - everyone he knew died - show us briefly how he got these friends, or if they're not integral to the query, ignore them :)) of the plague, that’s when the adventure, and the terror, really begins (again, a bit of a cliche and doesn't tell us anything specific).

 

Ella Wycliffe, daughter of the Earl of Trelawney, is a rarity, someone who contracted the new disease and survived (not that rare - the first guy is one too! :)) . Her father and sister are immune, and in the aftermath of the deadly plague they’re struggling to keep the family castle and farm running when Malcolm appears.  She is leery of him at first, an unknown distant relative, but reluctantly accepts his help when she decides to head to Scotland and find her youngest sister (need a bit more of a reason - why would Malcolm care about her sister). As they journey to Scotland, the dangers (what dangers?) force Malcolm and Ella to work together (it felt like they already were). The dangers, their fellow survivors, some with good intentions and some bent on setting themselves up as warlords, a shadowy corporation seeking a cure, and previously mundane things like injuries and finding food, pile on and force them to lean on each other in ways they didn’t expect (too much going on in this sentence). With the world dying around them, is it possible they find themselves and each other? (try to avoid the rhetorical question and phrase it as a sentence ... If they don't... then ... 

 

I am a first time author and have recently completed the Your Novel Year program at the Virginia C. Piper Center at Arizona State University.

 

 

I'm assuming from the query that the story is told from both points of view. In that case, I would continue to showcase that in the query. You've got a good start, but I think it needs to be tightened up quite a bit. As is, you've got more a list of plot events. You might want to include more emotions - how are the characters feeling about all these events? We also need a bit more of the Why throughout the query.

 

A lot of romance queries follow this pattern:

1st paragraph - intro 1st MC (one who shows in the 1st chapter - I'm assuming Malcolm) and tell us the problem he faces

2nd paragraph - intro 2nd MC and showcase her problem

3rd paragraph - tie both plots/problems together and wrap it up with the stakes if they don't solve their problems

 

Incorporate your voice and the style of your MS into the query as well - make sure it matches so that when the agent requests more, it has the same feel. Show what makes your story cool - let us care about your characters.

 

Wondering if he's lost his mind along with his family, plague survivor Malcolm follows a dying woman's promise that a cure can be found in Scotland... (obviously that's just me playing around but it's just to show you what I mean by tightening it up and showing the emotions :)

 

Hope some of that helps you out a bit. Good luck with it! 



#5 susanjett

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 09:04 AM

Hi there!

Thank you for the help with my query, I hope to return the favor!

I found a couple of awkward constructions--missing verb, and I was slightly confused by Ella’s status as a rarity--is her situation more rare than the other survivors’? But other than those quibbles, this got the idea across nicely.

I might recommend that since this is a storyline that has played out before, you might want to emphasize something that really stands out about your book. Something memorable and intriguing to make THIS post-apocalyptic story the one an agent is dying to read next. 

Good luck with this, it sounds like a great story!

 

 

Hi! I would really appreciate some query help and will happily offer some in return. I'm working off the advice from a book written by Noah Lukerman and any suggestions or comments are welcome.

 

 

Dear <Insert Name>:

 

I am seeking representation for my 103k science fiction novel/romance, currently titled A Cold Sort of Joy.<Insert reference to agent’s requests>

 

When Malcolm Wycliffe walked into the hospital, he didn’t realize he was seeing the beginning of the end. Within a month, everyone he had ever known was dead of a plague that he was somehow immune to. His only direction comes from his dying mother, to find the family’s ancestral castle in southern England. When he and his band of survivors of the plague (do what? I think you’re missing an action here!), that’s when the adventure, and the terror, really begins.

 

Ella Wycliffe, daughter of the Earl of Trelawney, is a rarity, someone who contracted the new disease and survived (not that much of a rarity, since we already know about Malcolm and his band of fellow-survivors. Unless you mean that Malcolm & her father & sister never got sick at all, though Ella did, but she beat it back?). Her father and sister are immune, and in the aftermath of the deadly plague they’re struggling to keep the family castle and farm running when Malcolm appears.  She is leery of him at first, an unknown distant relative, but reluctantly accepts his help when she decides to head to Scotland and find her youngest sister. As they journey to Scotland, the dangers force Malcolm and Ella to work together. The dangers: t Their fellow survivors--some with good intentions and some bent on setting themselves up as warlords--a shadowy corporation seeking a cure, and previously mundane things like injuries and finding food, pile on and force them to lean on each other in ways they didn’t expect. With the world dying around them, is it possible they (might be able to?) find themselves and each other?

 

I am a first time author and have recently completed the Your Novel Year program at the Virginia C. Piper Center at Arizona State University. I’m not sure I’d include any of this. An agent doesn’t need to know this is your first novel, it’s not going to help you sell it, so...  In lieu of a one-line writerly bio, I might put something like: "As per your guidelines, I’ve enclosed the first XX pages." or drop the title & genre down to here. "A Cold Sort of Joy" is a 103,000-word science-fiction / romance novel...."



#6 Theo A. Gerken

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 10:43 AM

Hi! I would really appreciate some query help and will happily offer some in return. I'm working off the advice from a book written by Noah Lukerman and any suggestions or comments are welcome.

 

 

Dear <Insert Name>:

 

I am seeking representation for my 103k science fiction novel/romance, currently titled A Cold Sort of Joy.<Insert reference to agent’s requests>

 

When Malcolm Wycliffe walked into the hospital, he didn’t realize he was seeing the beginning of the end. -- I don't think this is well phrased. "was seeing the beginning.." it's phrased to be dramatic but is pretty vague. Try rephrasing it.

 

 

 

Within a month, everyone he had ever known was dead. -- this is a dramatic sentence in of itself.

 

of a plague that he was somehow immune to. His only direction (clue?) comes from his dying mother, to find the family’s ancestral castle in southern England. When he and his band of survivors of the plague, that’s when the adventure, and the terror, really begins. incorrect sentence?

 

Ella Wycliffe, daughter of the Earl of Trelawney, is a rarity, someone who contracted the new disease and survived. Her father and sister are immune, and in the aftermath of the deadly plague they’re struggling to keep the family castle and farm running when Malcolm appears.  She is leery of him at first, an unknown distant relative, but reluctantly accepts his help when she decides to head to Scotland and find her youngest sister. As they journey to Scotland, the dangers force Malcolm and Ella to work together. The dangers, their fellow survivors, some with good intentions and some bent on setting themselves up as warlords, a shadowy corporation seeking a cure, and previously mundane things like injuries and finding food, pile on and force them to lean on each other in ways they didn’t expect. With the world dying around them, is it possible they find themselves and each other?

 

I am a first time author and have recently completed the Your Novel Year program at the Virginia C. Piper Center at Arizona State University.

 

I would prefer cleaner and more formal language. Shorter sentences, more efficient. Sounds like a good story. The second parapgraph feels like a brick to get through, it's massive.

 

But I feel you're on to something. Apocalyptic scenarios are great.

 

Link to my own query below:


Return the favour?? Link my query here.


#7 Rap541

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 09:24 PM

Susanjett, thanks, I appreciate the feedback.

Yes, what makes Ella different is that she survived having the plague while her father, her sisters, Malcolm, his merry band of survivors. That means she has the antibodies that could possibly develop a vaccine for the shadowy corporation. I suspect that distinction needs to be more clear based on feedback.

Theo, thanks for the feedback as well. I will check out your query in the next few days.




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