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AN ELEMENTAL JOURNEY - UPDATE IN POST #16

Young Adult Fantasy Adventure Chick Lit

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#1 Kelz1990

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 09:25 PM

SEE POST #16 FOR AN UPDATE

 

 

I haven't been querying for a while because I've realized I still need a lot of help on my query letter, and to be honest, I have NO idea what I'm doing! But this is why I'm here, and I'd love to have some feedback. So here it is:

 

Dear (Agent), 

 

I am seeking representation for my debut YA contemporary fantasy novel, Codename: E.T.D.E.L.

 

Nobody at Gatlinburg-Pittman High can figure out why Maxine, Alyssa, Riley, Sierra, and Carrie are the best of friends. Because of their different personalities and interests, they should be in separate cliques. But when handsome, mysterious Tyler Wolfe enters their lives, they learn they have one thing in common - a deep connection to the five elements of life (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit). The teens are unexpectedly thrust into a group unheard of in the realms of high school called ETDEL, or Elite Teens, Defenders of the Elements of Life. Together, they must stop the sinister, small-banded society of FAEL, the Fighters Against the Elements of Life, from attempting to take control of the Earth element.
 
Conflict quickly spreads like dandelion puffs, and it isn’t just because the girls have to keep ETDEL a secret from their family and friends. As each day passes, FAEL is expanding efforts to take control of not just the Earth element, but all of the elements of life. The girls must juggle their double lives to save the Great Smoky Mountains, and their GPAs. 
 
The first in a planned series, each focusing on a different element of life, Codename: E.T.D.E.L. is completed at approximately 55,000 words. A strong female friendship between the main characters is at the core of an environmental-themed storyline. I graduated from the University of Charleston with a B.A. in English. I consider the Great Smoky Mountains to be my second home, so I know the area well enough to be mistaken for a local. 
 
Below, as per your recommendation, are the first ____ pages of my manuscript. I look forward to hearing from you.
 
Sincerely, 
 
(my first and last name)
 
Once again, feedback would be greatly appreciated.
 

 



#2 Springfield

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 11:27 PM

 

I haven't been querying for a while because I've realized I still need a lot of help on my query letter, and to be honest, I have NO idea what I'm doing! But this is why I'm here, and I'd love to have some feedback. So here it is:

 

Dear (Agent), 

 

I am seeking representation for my debut YA contemporary fantasy novel, Codename: E.T.D.E.L. That's sort of unpronounceable for a name.

 

Nobody at Gatlinburg-Pittman High can figure out why Maxine, Alyssa, Riley, Sierra, and Carrie are the best of friends. Too many people, also, that's odd. Why would high schoolers be wondering why a group of friends are friends? Because of their different personalities and interests, they should be in separate cliques. Unless the h.s. is located in Tropeville, in the '50s, I don't think this works. But when handsome, mysterious Tyler Wolfe enters their lives, they learn they have one thing in common The girls themselves don't know they have anything in common or do you mean everyone at school learns? This is why unclear antecedents are bad. Is he the MC? - a deep connection to the five elements of life (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit). The teens are unexpectedly thrust into a group unheard of in the realms of high school called ETDEL, or Elite Teens, Defenders of the Elements of Life. Together, they must stop the sinister, small-banded society of FAEL, the Fighters Against the Elements of Life, from attempting to take control of the Earth element. There's WAY too much stuff in here, especially for something so generic. If you're going to sell something like this, you have to be clear about what differentiates it from the 4,000 other things with the same setup and plot. Start with a character, and highlight what makes this unique.
 
Conflict quickly spreads like dandelion puffs, and it isn’t just because the girls have to keep ETDEL a secret from their family and friends. As each day passes, FAEL is expanding efforts to take control of not just the Earth element, but all of the elements of life. The girls must juggle their double lives to save the Great Smoky Mountains, and their GPAs. Just vague and tropey.
 
The first in a planned series, each focusing on a different element of life, Codename: E.T.D.E.L. is completed at approximately 55,000 words. A strong female friendship between the main characters is at the core of an environmental-themed storyline. I graduated from the University of Charleston with a B.A. in English. I consider the Great Smoky Mountains to be my second home, so I know the area well enough to be mistaken for a local.     First, that's super short for a YA, especially for fantasy. Second, does this stand alone? Say so if it does. If not, you need to work on the manuscript so that it does. Finally, the interesting stuff belongs in the query -- along with a single MC, his or her age, problem and their stakes.
 
Below, as per your recommendation, are the first ____ pages of my manuscript. I look forward to hearing from you.
 
Sincerely, 
 
(my first and last name)
 
Once again, feedback would be greatly appreciated.
 

 



#3 Artsnerd

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Posted 26 November 2017 - 09:55 AM

Dear (Agent), 

 

I am seeking representation for my debut YA contemporary fantasy novel, Codename: E.T.D.E.L. You don't have to include this. The agent knows you're seeking representation. You can, however, if you'd like, personalize your query with a brief introduction of how you found the agent/why you're seeking them--for example, maybe you spoke with them at a conference, or maybe you saw their postings on MSWL (Manuscript Wishlist. Just keep it succint and get to the point: your story.)

 

Nobody at Gatlinburg-Pittman High can figure out why Maxine, Alyssa, Riley, Sierra, and Carrie are the best of friends. Because of their different personalities and interests, they should be in separate cliques. But when handsome, mysterious Tyler Wolfe enters their lives, they learn they have one thing in common - a deep connection to the five elements of life (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit) I feel as though their abilities are the most interesting part of the query so far, and yet it's lost in the middle of the paragraph. Maybe try to make it the main focus by putting it at the beginning?. The teens are unexpectedly thrust into a group unheard of in the realms of high school called ETDEL, or Elite Teens, Defenders of the Elements of Life. Together, they must stop the sinister, small-banded society of FAEL, the Fighters Against the Elements of Life, from attempting to take control of the Earth element.
 
Conflict quickly spreads like dandelion puffs (to me, the "like dandelion puffs" gives the conflict a sense of softness, and creates a sort of paradox), and it isn’t just because the girls have to keep ETDEL a secret from their family and friends. As each day passes, FAEL is expanding efforts to take control of not just the Earth element, but all of the elements of life. The girls must juggle their double lives to save the Great Smoky Mountains, and their GPAs. 
 
The first in a planned series, each focusing on a different element of life, Codename: E.T.D.E.L. is completed at approximately 55,000 words (I'd say maybe go back in and try to increase the word count to at least around 70k-80k; that seems pretty standard for YA, but I could be wrong). A strong female friendship between the main characters is at the core of an environmental-themed storyline. I graduated from the University of Charleston with a B.A. in English. I consider the Great Smoky Mountains to be my second home, so I know the area well enough to be mistaken for a local. 
 
Below, as per your recommendation, are the first ____ pages of my manuscript. I look forward to hearing from you.
 
Sincerely, 
 
(my first and last name)

 

You've got an interesting story on your hands! If you'd like to return the favor, I have my own query critique thread here: http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.php?/topic/38154-a-burial-for-ghosts-ya-historical-fiction/


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.

In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 

―Maya Angelou

 

The query for my current WIP can be found here.

 

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#4 Kelz1990

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 06:49 PM

Everyone, thank you for your suggestions and feedback, but I've got some things to say before I revise.

1) Technically, the title's pronounceable (the "ET" from etcetera and "DEL" from delta), but it's also a working title.

2) There are six main characters in this story: Tyler Wolfe (he's 19, almost 20) - the leader of ETDEL, and of course the girls (all 15-16 y/o)

Again, I hope this clears some things up. I could use all the help I can get, and thanks for the feedback.

#5 A.M.Rose

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 10:33 AM

My comments below in green. Hope they help. 

 

I haven't been querying for a while because I've realized I still need a lot of help on my query letter, and to be honest, I have NO idea what I'm doing! But this is why I'm here, and I'd love to have some feedback. So here it is:

 

Dear (Agent), 

 

I am seeking representation for my debut YA contemporary fantasy novel, Codename: E.T.D.E.L. (As others have stated you don't need to lead with this. Consider moving the title to the end and just starting with your story. Unless the agent specifically says they want the Title, word count, genre up front.) 

 

Nobody at Gatlinburg-Pittman High can figure out why Maxine, Alyssa, Riley, Sierra, and Carrie are the best of friends. (WOW. This is a lot of characters to throw at anyone right off the bat. I read your comment above where you say they are all main characters, but also that there are different books for each of them, or at least that is what I understand from what you have above. I would consider just making this about the one character this story is about. Who is the MC of this story? You don't have all 6 POV's do you? And even if you do, for a query it is best to concentrate on one or two characters, but 5 is way too many)   Because of their different personalities and interests, they should be in separate cliques. (I'm not sure this does anything for you, a lot of people are friends with other people that have different interests. Think about your own group of friends. Do you all like exactly the same things? Listen to all the same music? Eat the same foods? Believe in the same things? Vote for the same people? I'm guessing no.) But when handsome, mysterious Tyler Wolfem(So now we have 6 characters. And who thinks he is handsome? All 5 girls? Is this going to be a problem? Do you have a harem thing going on here?) enters their lives, they learn they have one thing in common - a deep connection to the five elements of life (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit). The teens are unexpectedly thrust into a group unheard of in the realms of high school called ETDEL, or Elite Teens, Defenders of the Elements of Life. (Very cool. But how does the arrival of this kid at a school they all have already gone to thrust them into a world they didn't know about before? Did any of them know about their powers before? I don't see the connection of these two things. His arrival and their just learning about powers they have supposedly had their whole lives.) Together, they must stop the sinister, small-banded society of FAEL, the Fighters Against the Elements of Life, from attempting to take control of the Earth element. (Why? How does this come about? You are giving me obstacles which is great, but I don't know why it matters to these kids. What is it about them that makes it so they have to go off and fight the bad guys?)
 
Conflict quickly spreads like dandelion puffs,​ (I love the imagery here, but "conflict" is a little vague. Can you be a little specific?) and it isn’t just because the girls have to keep ETDEL a secret from their family and friends. (Why? Again, great obstacles, but without context they don't have a lot of meaning.) As each day passes, FAEL is expanding efforts to take control of not just the Earth element, but all of the elements of life. The girls must juggle their double lives to save the Great Smoky Mountains, and their GPAs. (This line is funny, and it gives me an idea of the stakes, but what happens if they fail? The Great Smoky Mountains will be destroyed? While yes, this would suck there are other places these guys can live so wouldn't they just move? Do you see what I'm saying? That saving the mountains and their GPA's doesn't really give me a sense for what is at stake in this story, and mainly because I don't really know what the goal is. To stop FAEL? Why should I care?) 
 
The first in a planned series, each focusing on a different element of life, Codename: E.T.D.E.L. (If the title is CODENAME: E.T.D.E.L it should be in all caps) is completed at approximately 55,000 words. (Yes, I agree with your statement above - "is a stand alone with series potential." And I also agree that 55K seems short for a story of this magnitude. My guess is that they don't defeat FAEL in this book and it continues through each of the novels, so then it goes back to what are the true goals and stakes of this book? I could be wrong, but that is the impression that I get. That this in fact is not a stand alone.). A strong female friendship between the main characters is at the core of an environmental-themed storyline. (This line isn't necessary.)
 
(Move your bio to its own line. Also if you are a part of any writing organizations or anything, this would be a good place to add that) I graduated from the University of Charleston with a B.A. in English. I consider the Great Smoky Mountains to be my second home, so I know the area well enough to be mistaken for a local. 
 
Below, as per your recommendation, are the first ____ pages of my manuscript. (Consider, Per your submission guidelines, the first XXX pages are included below.) I look forward to hearing from you.
(Consider, Thank you for your time. As you may not actually get a response.)
Sincerely, 
 
(my first and last name)
 
Once again, feedback would be greatly appreciated.
 

 

So I think you have a very cool concept of a story, but I think where this query is failing you is that we don't really get a feel for any of the characters. There are just too many.  I would recommend choosing one character from the girls and with Tyler that makes 2 total for this query. Then answer the following questions for each of them

What do they want (goals)

What stands in their way (Obstacles) 

What happens if they fail (Stakes) 

 

Right now I'm just not connected to any of the characters enough to care what happens, and that is the goal of this query. To get an agent to care about the characters enough to look down at those first pages. I would stick to who's POV this story is in, and if it is in all 6, I think that might be (not 100% sure) where your problem is. With 6 POV characters they would each have to have their own character arc and goals for this story and in 55K I don't think there is enough space to resolve all of that. Again, this is just my opinion from what I have read here, and may not at all be the case. 

 

I would be curious to see the first 250 words (+) of this story. As it might not be the query that is failing you, but perhaps you are starting in the wrong place. (This happens pretty often actually.) 

 

That all said, I do think you have an interesting concept here and I think once you hammer down on some of the specifics here you will have a very successful query. If this came through the inbox, I would read your synopsis and first pages. 

 

Good luck. 


A.M. Rose

Author of Road to Eugenica - Available 2018 from Entangled Teen 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#6 Kelz1990

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Posted 15 January 2018 - 10:18 AM

UPDATE: To everyone, thanks for the wonderful feedback. The reason I haven't put up any revised versions is because I'm currently in the process of reevauating my manuscript. I know I said in a prior post that it was virtually impossible for me to increase the word count from 55K without adding filler. Well it turns out 1) I was doing a lot of "telling" instead of showing, and 2) some of the character arcs weren't resolved in this book. Since it's standing alone, I'm moving some ideas from either Book 2 or Book 3 and putting them in the first one, and putting more of the focus on Sierra since technically, a subplot centers on her.

Speaking of word count, what would be a good amount for this book, considering it's a YA Contemporary Fantasy (not high fantasy)? I'm currently aiming for 65K - 70K, but would that still be too short? Sadly, mine's now standing at 57K, but I've only changed the first two chapters.

Once again, thank you, and I'm hoping my MS will soon be ready for critique partners and beta readers, and AQC's first 250 words thread.

~Kelli

#7 VSChapman

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 10:58 AM

Kelli,

 

Not sure how long is a good length. I'm sure others on here could answer that better. Since you are revising I won't line-edit but I agree with what others have said above. I like the concept of your book and hope to see a new revision soon! Good luck!



#8 galaxyspinner

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 11:59 AM

UPDATE: To everyone, thanks for the wonderful feedback. The reason I haven't put up any revised versions is because I'm currently in the process of reevauating my manuscript. I know I said in a prior post that it was virtually impossible for me to increase the word count from 55K without adding filler. Well it turns out 1) I was doing a lot of "telling" instead of showing, and 2) some of the character arcs weren't resolved in this book. Since it's standing alone, I'm moving some ideas from either Book 2 or Book 3 and putting them in the first one, and putting more of the focus on Sierra since technically, a subplot centers on her.

Speaking of word count, what would be a good amount for this book, considering it's a YA Contemporary Fantasy (not high fantasy)? I'm currently aiming for 65K - 70K, but would that still be too short? Sadly, mine's now standing at 57K, but I've only changed the first two chapters.

Once again, thank you, and I'm hoping my MS will soon be ready for critique partners and beta readers, and AQC's first 250 words thread.

~Kelli

 

There are differing schools of thought as to how long a novel should be, but I think you'll find that 65k-70k is pretty standard for YA, particularly for a first novel.


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#9 PureZhar3

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 05:51 PM

I am seeking representation for my debut YA contemporary fantasy novel, Codename: E.T.D.E.L. Don't forget word count - also, I would put this at the end

 

Nobody at Gatlinburg-Pittman High can figure out why Maxine, Alyssa, Riley, Sierra, and Carrie Yikes. Too many names are the best of friends. Because of their different personalities and interests, they should be in separate cliques. But when handsome, mysterious Tyler Wolfe enters their lives, they learn they have one thing in common - a deep connection to the five elements of life (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit)oooh interesting concept. The teens are unexpectedly thrust into a group unheard of in the realms of high school called ETDEL, or Elite Teens, Defenders of the Elements of Life. Together, they must stop the sinister, small-banded society of FAEL, the Fighters Against the Elements of Life, from attempting to take control of the Earth element.This sounds great, but I have no idea what "taking control of the Earth element" actually looks like... try to give us a taste of what that would do/look like
 
Conflict quickly spreads like dandelion puffs, and it isn’t just because the girls have to keep ETDEL a secret from their family and friends. As each day passes, FAEL is expanding efforts to take control of not just the Earth element, but all of the elements of life. The girls must juggle their double lives to save the Great Smoky Mountains, try a dash rather than a comma here and their GPAs. 
 
The first in a planned series agents like to hear that they can function as a standalone (idk if you want to mention that or not), each focusing on a different element of life, Codename: E.T.D.E.L. is completed at approximately 55,000 words. A strong female friendship between the main characters is at the core of an environmental-themed storyline. I graduated from the University of Charleston with a B.A. in English. I consider the Great Smoky Mountains to be my second home, so I know the area well enough to be mistaken for a local. Maybe say something less subjective here - perhaps talk about how often you're there
 
Below, as per your recommendation request, are the first ____ pages of my manuscript. I look forward to hearing from you.
 
Sincerely, 

If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#10 JRUET

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Posted 05 March 2018 - 03:14 PM

UPDATE: To everyone, thanks for the wonderful feedback. The reason I haven't put up any revised versions is because I'm currently in the process of reevauating my manuscript. I know I said in a prior post that it was virtually impossible for me to increase the word count from 55K without adding filler. Well it turns out 1) I was doing a lot of "telling" instead of showing, and 2) some of the character arcs weren't resolved in this book. Since it's standing alone, I'm moving some ideas from either Book 2 or Book 3 and putting them in the first one, and putting more of the focus on Sierra since technically, a subplot centers on her.

Speaking of word count, what would be a good amount for this book, considering it's a YA Contemporary Fantasy (not high fantasy)? I'm currently aiming for 65K - 70K, but would that still be too short? Sadly, mine's now standing at 57K, but I've only changed the first two chapters.

Once again, thank you, and I'm hoping my MS will soon be ready for critique partners and beta readers, and AQC's first 250 words thread.

~Kelli

 

I think you could be comfortable with 65-80k words for a total count. Just because it's set in the "real world" doesn't mean you don't have a lot of explaining to do as far as the what/why/how of the girls' powers. 

 

Love your concept, obviously, since it's similar to mine (thank you for the query edit btw. I'll give you some of my words if you want them! ;)

 

I'd be happy to look at your intro once you have it nailed down!



#11 Kelz1990

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Posted 21 May 2018 - 02:57 PM

REVISION #2

 

Okay, I'm posting the latest version of my query because I'll need something to advertise my book in order to get me a CP or beta reader (on here, and elsewhere). It still sucks, so feel free to tear it into shreds.

 

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen-year-old Sierra Rosenberg thinks she's living a normal life - going to school, holding a part-time job, and trying to have a better relationship with her mom. That all changes for her and her four best friends when nineteen-year-old Tyler Wolfe selects them to be in a group called E.T.D.E.L (Elite Teens, Defenders of the Elements of Life). Sierra and her friends are given powers based on the five elements of life - Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit - and they must stop F.A.E.L (Fighters Against the Elements of Life) from controlling and possessing the Earth element.

 

Sierra wants to achieve Tyler's goal to stop F.A.E.L from condensing the Earth element's energy and placing it into one tiny spot along the Appalachian Trail. But since she and her friends are new to the concept of being "superheroes" who have to keep their identities a secret, it makes it harder for them to try and defeat F.A.E.L. It doesn't help that a newly hired member of F.A.E.L goes undercover as Sierra's substitute English teacher, failing her assignments on purpose and giving her after-school detention as a way of preventing her from joining her friends in the fight to save the Earth element. If Sierra doesn't help E.T.D.E.L save the Earth element, F.A.E.L would end up controlling its energy, and the lack of green would not only affect the Great Smoky Mountains, but the entire planet, turning everything but one small place along the Appalachian Trail into a decaying wasteland.

 

A stand alone with series potential, AN ELEMENTAL JOURNEY is a YA contemporary fantasy complete at 79,000 words. (comp titles if required)

 

Per your submission guidelines, the first XXX pages are included below. Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,

 

(my first and last name)



#12 Tree

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 10:54 AM

 

REVISION #2

 

Okay, I'm posting the latest version of my query because I'll need something to advertise my book in order to get me a CP or beta reader (on here, and elsewhere). It still sucks, so feel free to tear it into shreds.

 

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen-year-old Sierra Rosenberg thinks she's living a normal life - going to school, holding a part-time job, and trying to have a better relationship with her mom. That all changes for her and her four best friends when nineteen-year-old Tyler Wolfe selects them to be in a group called E.T.D.E.L (Elite Teens, Defenders of the Elements of Life). Sierra and her friends are given powers based on the five elements of life - Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit - and they must stop F.A.E.L (Fighters Against the Elements of Life) from controlling and possessing the Earth element.

 

 

I wouldn't say it sucks! I think the names of the groups are too much to take in when you're doing a quick read. I also don't love 'thinks she's living a normal life'. It's bland, and your story is not.  I'd stay away from the acronyms. They slow down the reader and add confusion. 

 

 

Sierra wants to achieve Tyler's goal Why does she want to achieve his goal? Why isn't it her goal? to stop F.A.E.L from condensing the Earth element's energy and placing it into one tiny spot along the Appalachian Trail. What will happen if they do that? Why do they want to do it? But since she and her friends are new to the concept of being "superheroes" who have to keep their identities a secret, why do they have to have secret identifies? it makes it harder for them to try and defeat F.A.E.L. It doesn't help that a newly hired member of F.A.E.L goes undercover as Sierra's substitute English teacher, failing her assignments on purpose and giving her after-school detention as a way of preventing her from joining her friends in the fight to save the Earth element. If Sierra doesn't help E.T.D.E.L save the Earth element, what does this mean? FAEL is taking the element and putting it along the Appalachian trial ... will that destroy it? What happens if it is destroyed? F.A.E.L would end up controlling its energy, and the lack of green would not only affect the Great Smoky Mountains, but the entire planet, turning everything but one small place along the Appalachian Trail into a decaying wasteland. i think this explanation comes too late.

 

I did a quick and dirty re-write .... very quick and very dirty. What I wrote does suck, because I don't know your story. But I wanted to illustrate my point: keep it simple, focused, specific and fresh. Don't get bogged down in acronyms and additional characters. Just make us care about what happens next for Sierra. 

 

Sixteen-year-old Sierra Rosenberg is barely able to juggle school, a part-time job, and trying to get along with her mom without losing it. So when the hot new boy at school convinces her that she has the power to manipulate large swaths of land, she's skeptical. And when he tells her that she'll have to use her power to save the entire planet from becoming a decaying wasteland, she's gobsmacked. 

 

But then she sees papers on her new English teacher's desk, proof of an organization devoted to destroying the earth so they can profit from gas sales after the apocalypse.  And it's making moves.

 

Sierra has to act ... while keeping up the act of a normal school girl. Anyone who suspects her secret identify will be struck down on the spot. She can't slip up, can't miss assignments or bomb tests, can't give anyone any reason to suspect that she's living a double life. Not even when her English teacher-slash-evildoer piles on the work in what Sierra suspects is an attempt to keep her out of the action. 

 

Luckily, she's not alone. Her four best friends are superpowered too. Together, they can control the five elements of life - Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit. And only together can they win.

 

 

A stand alone with series potential, AN ELEMENTAL JOURNEY I like this title a lot better than the original is a YA contemporary fantasy complete at 79,000 words. (comp titles if required)

 

Per your submission guidelines, the first XXX pages are included below. Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,

 

(my first and last name)

 



#13 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 01:25 PM

Thanks for the critique on mine :) Returning the favour!

 

REVISION #2

 

Okay, I'm posting the latest version of my query because I'll need something to advertise my book in order to get me a CP or beta reader (on here, and elsewhere). It still sucks, so feel free to tear it into shreds.

 

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen-year-old Sierra Rosenberg thinks she's living a normal life - going to school, holding a part-time job, and trying to have a better relationship with her mom. That all changes for her and her four best friends when nineteen-year-old Tyler Wolfe selects them to be in a group called E.T.D.E.L (Elite Teens, Defenders of the Elements of Life). Sierra and her friends are given powers based on the five elements of life - Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit - and they must stop F.A.E.L (Fighters Against the Elements of Life) from controlling and possessing the Earth element. All of these acronyms are a lot of take in, and none of them are particularly catchy.

 

Sierra wants to achieve Tyler's goal to stop F.A.E.L I think you could move this up earlier when you first mention the FAEL.  It would tighten things up. from condensing the Earth element's energy and placing it into one tiny spot along the Appalachian Trail. But since she and her friends are new to the concept of being "superheroes" who have to keep their identities a secret, it makes it harder for them to try and defeat F.A.E.L. It doesn't help that a newly hired member of F.A.E.L goes undercover as Sierra's substitute English teacher, failing her assignments on purpose and giving her after-school detention as a way of preventing her from joining her friends in the fight to save the Earth element. If Sierra doesn't help E.T.D.E.L save the Earth element, F.A.E.L would end up controlling its energy, and the lack of green would not only affect the Great Smoky Mountains, but the entire planet, turning everything but one small place along the Appalachian Trail into a decaying wasteland. I think I've gone cross-eyed here :P This is A LOT to take in, and I'm having a lot of trouble keeping up with all the acronyms.  It seems like everything that you're throwing at us off the bat should be closer to the stakes of the query (although I'm not sure if this is true to the story or not.)  I like the suggestions Tree had above of how you could word this.

 

I would suggest writing out bullet points to strip the story back to its barebones, without using acronyms or too many names, then build it back up from there.  Because you do have a cool idea in here. I love the idea of everyone assinged Earth elements and superheros saving the enviroment. 

 

A stand alone with series potential, AN ELEMENTAL JOURNEY is a YA contemporary fantasy complete at 79,000 words. (comp titles if required)

 

Per your submission guidelines, the first XXX pages are included below. Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,

 

(my first and last name)

 



#14 lnloft

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 09:45 PM

 

REVISION #2

 

Okay, I'm posting the latest version of my query because I'll need something to advertise my book in order to get me a CP or beta reader (on here, and elsewhere). It still sucks, so feel free to tear it into shreds.

 

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen-year-old Sierra Rosenberg thinks she's living a normal life - going to school, holding a part-time job This is fine, but it's probably an easy place to add a concrete detail that will help make things pop, so "working part-time at the local diner" or wherever she is, and trying to have a better relationship with her mom. That all changes for her and her four best friends when nineteen-year-old Tyler Wolfe selects them to be in a group called E.T.D.E.L (Elite Teens, Defenders of the Elements of Life) Why them specifically?. Sierra and her friends are given powers based on the five elements of life - Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit - Since Sierra's our MC, I'd like to know which one she got specifically and they must stop F.A.E.L (Fighters Against the Elements of Life) from controlling and possessing the Earth element. Why that one specifically? Why do I keep using "specifically" in all my questions? Should I go back to my first comment and tell you to be specific about her job? Sorry, I'm getting snarky with myself. But I guess what this shows is... to be specific?

 

Sierra wants to achieve Tyler's goal to stop F.A.E.L from condensing the Earth element's energy and placing it into one tiny spot along the Appalachian Trail. Bit of a clunky sentence, but also why does F.A.E.L want to do this? But since she and her friends are new to the concept of being "superheroes" who have to keep their identities a secret, it makes it harder for them to try and defeat F.A.E.L. It doesn't help that a newly hired member of F.A.E.L goes undercover as Sierra's substitute English teacher, failing her assignments on purpose and giving her after-school detention as a way of preventing her from joining her friends in the fight to save the Earth element So, I guess Sierra hasn't done a very good job of keeping her identity secret if they already can target her that specifically. Although then I wonder why they haven't done something more drastic to stop her. If Sierra doesn't help E.T.D.E.L save the Earth element, F.A.E.L would end up controlling its energy, and the lack of green would not only affect the Great Smoky Mountains, but the entire planet, turning everything but one small place along the Appalachian Trail into a decaying wasteland.

 

A stand alone with series potential, AN ELEMENTAL JOURNEY is a YA contemporary fantasy complete at 79,000 words. (comp titles if required)

 

Per your submission guidelines, the first XXX pages are included below. Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,

 

(my first and last name)

 

Why does F.A.E.L. want to do what they do? For the Evulz? That's one of my biggest questions right now.

 

Also, I'm not entirely sold on the acronyms. What's good is that they're very easy to tell apart, so I was never getting them confused, but they can at times make things a little bit more cumbersome. F.A.E.L. at least I can read as "fail", but E.T.D.E.L. is a tougher one. I guess one can train themselves to read it as something like ET-del, and in the novel itself it's pretty easy to have a character clarify how they say it if they don't say each letter individually, but that's not likely to happen with a busy agent. Something to think about.

 

Um, the other thing I guess is to make Sierra pop more. She spends most of the query wanting to do things, but I'm looking at it again, and I'm not sure that she actually does anything. And on the subject of doing things, it would be nice to know more about what their powers are. I'm assuming that they each got one element to base their powers on. I'm not sure that you actually even need to name the powers that Sierra doesn't get, like, "they are given powers based on the five elements of life, with Sierra being granted Earth. She is now able to blah blah blah." Unless I've completely misinterpreted and really they all get a mix of all five powers, but I'm pretty sure that's not how it is.

 

So, focus a little more on Sierra and new superpowers and what she DOES. I do kinda like the thing with trying to deal with a teacher who's actually part of the evil organization she's trying to fight, imagining her trying to dodge around that, which helps keep it a little fresher than another "teen gets magic powers to fight evil" story so you can weave that in with the other stuff. Good luck.


Nothing to reciprocate on right now; I'm off in the query trenches.


#15 LadyInque

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 09:53 AM

Thanks for your feedback on mine. Here are some of my thoughts on yours.

 

 

REVISION #2

 

Okay, I'm posting the latest version of my query because I'll need something to advertise my book in order to get me a CP or beta reader (on here, and elsewhere). It still sucks, so feel free to tear it into shreds.

 

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen-year-old Sierra Rosenberg thinks she's living a normal life - going to school, holding a part-time job, and trying to have a better relationship with her mom. That all changes for her and her four best friends when nineteen-year-old Tyler Wolfe selects them to be in a group called E.T.D.E.L (Elite Teens, Defenders of the Elements of Life). Sierra and her friends are given powers based on the five elements of life - Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit - and they must stop F.A.E.L (Fighters Against the Elements of Life) from controlling and possessing the Earth element.

 

 

I agree with the other reviewer who suggested losing the acronyms (or are they letter-words?). They're not snappy to read like S.H.I.E.L.D., and I can imagine typing all the periods may be annoying. I also wonder why it's important that Tyler Wolfe is 19. Is he really? Why does he have these powers?

 

Sierra wants to achieve Tyler's goal to stop F.A.E.L from condensing the Earth element's energy and placing it into one tiny spot along the Appalachian Trail. But since she and her friends are new to the concept of being "superheroes" who have to keep their identities a secret, it makes it harder for them to try and defeat F.A.E.L. It doesn't help that a newly hired member of F.A.E.L goes undercover as Sierra's substitute English teacher, failing her assignments on purpose and giving her after-school detention as a way of preventing her from joining her friends in the fight to save the Earth element. If Sierra doesn't help E.T.D.E.L save the Earth element, F.A.E.L would end up controlling its energy, and the lack of green would not only affect the Great Smoky Mountains, but the entire planet, turning everything but one small place along the Appalachian Trail into a decaying wasteland.

 

 

I would suggest losing the quotes around "superheroes." To me, it reads as sarcastic, but it shouldn't These characters have magical powers and are saving the world. They ARE superheroes.

 

A stand alone with series potential, AN ELEMENTAL JOURNEY is a YA contemporary fantasy complete at 79,000 words. (comp titles if required)

 

Per your submission guidelines, the first XXX pages are included below. Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,

 

(my first and last name)

 



#16 TheBest

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Posted 01 June 2018 - 03:53 PM

Returning the favor on my query!

 

Dear Agent, 

 

Sixteen-year-old Sierra Rosenberg thinks she's living a normal life - going to school, holding a part-time job, and trying to have a better relationship with her mom. That all changes for her and her four best friends when nineteen-year-old Tyler Wolfe selects them to be in a group called E.T.D.E.L (Elite Teens, Defenders of the Elements of Life). the secret E.T.D.E.L fighting force, (Elite Teens, Defenders of the Elements of Life)Sierra and her friends are given powers based on the five elements of life - Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit - and they must stop F.A.E.L (Fighters Against the Elements of Life) from controlling and possessing the Earth element. What happens if they possess them?

 

Sierra wants needs to achieve Tyler's goal to stop F.A.E.L from condensing the Earth element's energy and placing it into one tiny spot along the Appalachian Trail. (Why? Add a quick couple of words saying As an environmentalist, Siera wants... Or as a nature lover, Sierra wants...) But since she and her friends are new to the concept of "secret identities," it makes it harder for them to try and defeat F.A.E.L. It doesn't help that a newly hired member of F.A.E.L goes undercover as Sierra's substitute English teacher, failing all Sierra's assignments on purpose and giving her after-school detention to stop her from battling Fael. If Sierra doesn't help E.T.D.E.L save the Earth element, F.A.E.L would end up controlling its elemental energy, turning the natural world into a decaying wasteland. 

 

A stand alone with series potential, AN ELEMENTAL JOURNEY is a YA contemporary fantasy complete at 79,000 words. (comp titles if required)

 

Per your submission guidelines, the first XXX pages are included below. Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely, 

 

(my first and last name)

 

Love your concept. I think you have all the necessary plot points in your query, but you're a little wordy in parts, and don't always give reasons. I'd suggest reading through the query to streamline every sentence, and making sure you aren't raising more questions than you answer. Your stakes and characters are clear, but I'd also suggest adding a little bit about personality. What's Sierra like? Personality? How about E.T.D.E.L. or F.A.E.L.? Maybe throw in a few adjectives. Good work and good luck!!



#17 Kelz1990

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 08:38 PM

Thanks, everyone, for the replies. I'll be revising another query in the near future, but in the meantime, I'll be searching for CPs and betas. But I'd like to point out some things here:

 

-I'm nowhere near ready to query an agent. I was just wanting to revise my query because some critique places require a query letter in order to get CPs/betas. Well I'm looking into other options (i.e. Scribophile) for the time being.

 

-And when the time comes, would it be best if I hired an editor to perfect my query/synopsis? I know it'll cost hundreds of dollars, but I feel that by doing so, I wouldn't have as many remedial steps to take (pulling the manuscript apart to its backbone, etc.) to make my crappy query appealing to an agent. Answers would be greatly appreciated.

 

~Kelli







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