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Violet's on the Train - YA Romance (Resolved?)


Best Answer Arait , 10 February 2018 - 01:40 AM

I'm going to leave this another day to give everyone one last chance to mark me up. But as far as I understand, when a thread reaches a fairly decent query, I'm supposed to call it resolved.

So going once, going twice... Go to the full post


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#1 Arait

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 08:14 PM

Thanks everyone for helping. I have reached a final draft at the end of the thread. I'm going to wait one more day to give everyone one last chance to mark me up. But as far as I understand, when a thread reaches a fairly decent query, I'm supposed to call it resolved.

So going once, going twice...

Violet believes in fairy tales. Jonah is her proof.

As a child, Violet's sister Sarah indulged her wild imagination, painting her world with her storytelling. One day by the railroad tracks behind the farm, she met a boy straight out of her favorite story. Calling himself "Plum" with a cheeky grin, he vanished when the train passed.

Eight years later, Violet has grown out of most of her childish fantasies. When she returns to her hometown to help mend Sarah's broken heart, however, her belief in fairy tales is refreshed when she runs into him, literally, at the train station. Now a handsome young man, Jonah is accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes. Determined to learn the truth behind his mysteries, Violet soon finds herself involved way beyond what even her far fetched imagination could dream up.

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN is a story of young romance budding in the midst of small-town gossip, prohibition-era crime rings, and family tragedy. Set in a time when America was moving from the past into the present one city at a time, Violet challenges gender roles, deeply ingrained prejudices, and her parents' own standards. Many people are against her and Jonah, but along the way they discover their numerous supporters as well: her brother's flapper wife, innocent Sarah, a clumsy bookworm, and even the ex-saloon girl's daughter.

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN is a YA historical romance complete at 95,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

~Or~

Violet believes in fairy tales. Jonah is her proof.

Legends tell of a group of troublemaking boys who ride the train to the mountains every spring, never to be seen again. At least, that's what her sister Sarah told her, once. Violet was positive that was who she saw by the railroad tracks, a wild-eyed boy who vanished as the train passed.

Eight years later, she runs into the same boy at the train station. Now a shifty young man, Jonah is accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes by the authorities, townsfolk, and her family. Determined to prove his innocence, and his legendary origins, Violet makes herself and her family a target of the criminals. Reality proves to be a much greater adventure than what even her far fetched imagination could dream up.

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN, 95,000 words, is a story of young romance budding in a prohibition-era America which was moving from the past into the present one city at a time. Thank you for your time and consideration.

#2 VSChapman

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 09:59 PM

I have two drafts that I would like to share to see which one is better, what works about them and what doesn't. Thanks everyone for helping.

Violet believes in fairy tales. (I love this.) Jonah is her proof. (I love this too. nice opening)

As a child, Violet's sister Sarah indulged her wild imagination, painting her world with her storytelling. One day by the railroad tracks behind the farm, she met a boy straight out of her favorite story. Calling himself "Plum" with a cheeky grin, he vanished when the train passed. (and this line is why I like this one sooo much better than the one below. The cheeky grin makes it come alive)

Eight years later, Violet has grown out of most of her childish fantasies. When she returns to her hometown to help mend Sarah's broken heart, however, her belief in fairy tales is refreshed when she runs into him, literally, at the train station. Now a handsome young man, Jonah is accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes. Determined to learn the truth behind his mysteries, Violet soon finds herself involved way beyond what even her far fetched imagination could dream up. (so this is all fantastic but I feel like I need a little more after this last sentence. Is there a way of taking the paragraph below and mixing in some of those comments to the actual query part.)

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN is a story of young romance budding in the midst of small-town gossip, prohibition-era crime rings, and family tragedy. Set in a time when America was moving from the past into the present one city at a time, Violet challenges gender roles, deeply ingrained prejudices, and her parents' own standards. Many people are against her and Jonah, but along the way they discover their numerous supporters as well: her brother's flapper wife, innocent Sarah, a clumsy bookworm, and even the ex-saloon girl's daughter. (This stuff is all very intriguing but I think it would do better making it part of the story than just telling us. Not all of it, but parts of it. Like how 'many people are against her and Jonah'. That could probably be fit in somewhere in that last paragraph.)

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN is a YA historical romance complete at 95,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

~Or~

Violet believes in fairy tales. Jonah is her proof. 

Legends tell of a group of troublemaking boys who ride the train to the mountains every spring, never to be seen again. At least, that's what her sister Sarah told her, once. Violet was positive that was who she saw by the railroad tracks, a wild-eyed boy who vanished as the train passed.

Eight years later, she runs into the same boy at the train station. Now a shifty (you had me at cheeky grin- now you're loosing me with shifty) young man, Jonah is accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes by the authorities, townsfolk, and her family. Determined to prove his innocence, and his legendary origins, Violet makes herself and her family a target of the criminals. Reality proves to be a much greater adventure than what even her far fetched imagination could dream up.

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN, 95,000 words, is a story of young romance budding in a prohibition-era America which was moving from the past into the present one city at a time. Thank you for your time and consideration.

I'm voting for the first one without a doubt! Please, please keep the first one! It tells me a little more about the MC and her thoughts, feelings and experiences. The other falls a little flat and feels like you're just telling instead of showing. Everything you've written in the first one is good, but I feel I need a little more at the end. I think if you bring some of the details from that next paragraph and keep telling the story with that it should work. Good luck! Hope this helps!



#3 Arait

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 12:43 AM

VSChapman
Thank you very much for your specific insight. I had no idea if I was on the right track at all. It's funny, the first one I just wrote what I felt like saying. Then, I went and did all this research on queries, and read examples, and tried to follow the instructions with the second one. So it's funny you liked the first one so much more.

I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to get some of the details from the last paragraph into the main summary without any success. Any suggestions?

I've read a lot about making sure the "stakes" are clearly defined and specific. Is "Violet soon finds herself involved way beyond what even her far fetched imagination could dream up" too vague?

Thanks!

#4 mramberg

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 10:56 AM

I think this is a great idea for a novel, but I find the query a bit confusing. Suggesting in the first sentence that fairy tales are true makes it look like you are going to be querying a fantasy novel. The rest of the query is standard historical fiction, and it's also a bit vague. I like the first query's setup - the sister's worldbuilding, and the second query's specificity of plot - she sets her family up as a target is a good detail. I would do this:

 
"As a child, Violet's sister indulged her wild imagination, painting her world with her storytelling. One day by the railroad tracks behind the farm, she met a boy straight out of her favorite story. Calling himself "Plum" with a cheeky grin, he vanished when the train passed.
 
Eight years later, she runs into the same boy at the train station. Now a shifty young man, Jonah is accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes by the authorities, townsfolk, and her family. Determined to prove his innocence, and his legendary origins, Violet makes herself and her family a target of the criminals. "
 
It still needs a summing up, and I'd like to know why she thinks he's innocent and why she wants to prove it, but I think this starts to provide enough detail that it pulls people in. Hope that helps. 


#5 PureZhar3

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 04:38 PM

VSChapman (a great advice-giver, btw) is absolutely right. The first one is much better; it may need a bit more harnessing in, but the storyteller intrigue is definitely there.

 

Violet believes in fairy tales. Jonah is her proof. Fabulous hook

As a child, Violet's sister Sarah indulged her wild imagination, painting her worlds with her through storytelling. One dayby the railroad tracks behind the farm, she Violet met a boy straight out of her favorite story. Calling himself "Plum" with a cheeky grin, he vanished when the train passed. Watch out... you're playing the pronoun game a lot (saying 'she' when we're not sure who). Also, I think this paragraph should be in present tense

Eight years later, Violet has grown out of most of her childish fantasies. When she returns to her hometown to help mend Sarah's broken heart, however, her belief in fairy tales is refreshed when she physically runs into him Plum, literally, at the train station. Now a handsome young man going by Jonah, he I assume that the name switch is due to how he introduces himself the second time is accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes. Determined to learn the truth behind his mysteries, Violet soon finds herself involved way beyond what even her far fetched imagination could dream up. 

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN is a story of young romance budding in the midst of small-town gossip, prohibition-era crime rings, and family tragedy. Set in a time when America was moving from the past into the present one city at a time, Violet challenges gender roles, deeply ingrained prejudices, and her parents' own standards. Many people are against her and Jonah, but along the way they discover their numerous supporters as well: her brother's flapper wife, innocent Sarah, a clumsy bookworm, and even the ex-saloon girl's daughter. 

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN is a YA historical romance complete at 95,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I really like this! I actually don't think that information in the last paragraph needs to be integrated, necessarily, into the previous parts. See what other people think, but I think this is really solid as is. 


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


#6 Arait

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Posted 28 January 2018 - 01:06 AM

Thank all three of you for your ideas (I honestly didn't think anyone would like the queries or even the story, so you have all made me very happy). I tried to implement suggestions from each of you, I think... I hope. Here's what I've got now, for you and anyone else who might be there.

Violet believes in fairy tales. Jonah is her proof.

As a child, Violet's sister Sarah indulged her wild imagination, painting worlds through storytelling. One day by the railroad tracks behind the farm, Violet met a boy straight out of her favorite story. Calling himself "Plum" with a cheeky grin, he vanished when the train passed.

Eight years later, Violet has grown out of most of her childish fantasies. When she returns to her hometown to help mend Sarah's broken heart, however, her belief in fairy tales is refreshed when she runs into "Plum," literally, at the train station. The wild-eyed young man, whose true name is Jonah, is accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes.

Even if some evidence points to Jonah, most of the town spread the rumor of his guilt by collective prejudice alone. But Violet knows her sister would never fix her up with a no-good crook. Determined to prove his innocence, and his legendary origins, Violet makes herself and her family a target of the criminals. Reality proves to be a much greater adventure than what even her far fetched imagination could dream up.

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN, a YA historical romance complete at 95,000 words, is a story of young love budding in a prohibition-era America which was moving from the past into the present one city at a time. Thank you for your time and consideration.

#7 TClark

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Posted 28 January 2018 - 12:02 PM

Thank all three of you for your ideas (I honestly didn't think anyone would like the queries or even the story, so you have all made me very happy). I tried to implement suggestions from each of you, I think... I hope. Here's what I've got now, for you and anyone else who might be there.

Violet believes in fairy tales. Jonah is her proof.

As a child, Violet's sister Sarah indulged her wild imagination, painting worlds through storytelling.  One day by the railroad tracks behind the farm, One day down by the railroad tracks Violet is seemingly transported straight into one of her sister's fairytales. Violet met a boy straight out of her favorite story. Calling himself "Plum" with a cheeky grin, he vanished when the train passed.

 

So my issue with this paragraph is the flow of information and how its presented. It reads slightly too literal instead of creating excitement and lure that a query letter needs to hook an agent. I recommend just playing with the sentence structure and words like in my example. 

Eight years later, Violet has grown out of most of her childish fantasies. When she returns to her hometown to help mend Sarah's broken heart, however, her belief in fairy tales is refreshed when she runs into "Plum," You have already introduced Plum in quotations and given no explanation as to why is name should remain in quotations. His name should just be Plum unless more info is provided. literally, at the train station. The wild-eyed young man, whose true name is Jonah, is accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes. Examples? Theft, murder, or petty crimes? Raise the stakes!

Even if some evidence points to Jonah, most of the town spread the rumor of his guilt by collective prejudice alone. But Violet knows her sister would never fix her up with a no-good crook. Determined to prove his innocence, and his legendary origins, Violet makes herself and her family a target of the criminals. Reality proves to be a much greater adventure than what even her far fetched imagination could dream up. This is the paragraph that hooked me, which is both good and bed. This paragraph itself I wouldn't change at all, however, I shouldn't be falling in love with the story idea this far into the query. 

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN, a YA historical romance complete at 95,000 words, is a story of young love budding in a prohibition-era America which was moving from the past into the present one city at a timeThis needs to be entirely re-worded. I have no idea what you are actually trying to say. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

So my overall opinion is that this query letter is pretty good, but far from polished or ready for submission. I just like to remind everyone that the query letter process is tough and can be more than demoralizing, so if my critiques come off the wrong way, I apologize. On a scale of good to bad, your letter reads more towards good than the latter.

 

That being said, I am not hooked by the first or even second paragraph of the story, and that's a problem. A query letter, especially in the first paragraph or two, should use  exciting language. You are more or less just presenting the story with how it happened. 

 

Also, what type of crimes did Jonah commit? What will the townspeople do to him if he's caught? This is just my opinion, but this is where I became invested. 

 

Keep up the good work!



#8 PureZhar3

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Posted 28 January 2018 - 03:22 PM

Thank all three of you for your ideas (I honestly didn't think anyone would like the queries or even the story, so you have all made me very happy). I tried to implement suggestions from each of you, I think... I hope. Here's what I've got now, for you and anyone else who might be there.

Violet believes in fairy tales. Jonah is her proof.

As a child, Violet's sister Sarah indulged her wild imagination, painting worlds through storytelling. One day by the railroad tracks behind the farm, Violet met a boy straight out of her favorite story. Calling himself "Plum" with a cheeky grin, he vanished when the train passed.

Eight years later, Violet has grown out of most of her childish fantasies. When she returns to her hometown to help mend Sarah's broken heart, however, her belief in fairy tales is refreshed when she runs into "Plum," literally, at the train station. The wild-eyed young man, whose true name is Jonah, is accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes. The stakes might be amplified if you told us what the crimes were

Even if some evidence points to Jonah, most of the town spread the rumor of his guilt by collective prejudice alone.Alright, I like and understand the purpose of this sentence. I dislike the execution, however. It seems a bit awkward as--is. Try rephrasing it.... maybe something like "Though bits of evidence point to Jonah, the town's accusation spread mostly due to collective prejudice" But Violet knows her sister would never fix her up with a no-good crook. There's not really an indication that Sarah was involved in their relationship... maybe change this to show that Sarah is supporting the relationship, and that's how Violet knows? Determined to prove his innocence, and his legendary origins, Violet makes herself and her family a target of the criminals. How so? Be more specific Reality proves to be a much greater adventure than what even her far fetched imagination could dream up.

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN, a YA historical romance complete at 95,000 words, is a story of young love budding in a prohibition-era America which was moving from the past into the present one city at a time. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Very good! Beyond some sentences that could be stronger, and a bit better flow, this is great!


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


#9 Arait

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 11:43 AM

Quick question: A lot of you are suggesting to elaborate on what crimes Jonah is accused of, but I'm not at all sure if how to do that in only a few words. It's not as clear cut as saying misdemeanors or felonies. Basically anything wrong committed in the town gets pinned on him because that's the way small-town gossip usually works. Once a target is picked, everything that happens seems to be further evidence against that target, whether it even resembles truth or not. The accusations run the whole gambit from jumping trains and destruction of property to arson and murder. That's not to say every single one is entirely unfounded, but it all is basically hearsay.

Any ideas how to make that brief enough to fit at the end of a sentence?

#10 PureZhar3

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 06:10 PM

Quick question: A lot of you are suggesting to elaborate on what crimes Jonah is accused of, but I'm not at all sure if how to do that in only a few words. It's not as clear cut as saying misdemeanors or felonies. Basically anything wrong committed in the town gets pinned on him because that's the way small-town gossip usually works. Once a target is picked, everything that happens seems to be further evidence against that target, whether it even resembles truth or not. The accusations run the whole gambit from jumping trains and destruction of property to arson and murder. That's not to say every single one is entirely unfounded, but it all is basically hearsay.

Any ideas how to make that brief enough to fit at the end of a sentence?

I understand your problem. If you could figure out how to phrase that succinctly, that would be ideal (but I agree, it's hard). Perhaps something like "Jonah is accused of everything that goes wrong in the town" to show that it's not exactly a specific set of crimes ("string of crimes" made me think a series of break-ins or something). OR pick the biggest thing that he's accused of (murder? seems like that would be it) and say that one alone. The agent will figure out pretty quick once ready your book that Johnny is accused of more than just murder.


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


#11 Arait

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Posted 30 January 2018 - 02:04 AM

Here we go again. Better? Worse?

Violet believes in fairy tales. Jonah is her proof.

As a child, Violet's sister Sarah indulged her wild imagination, painting worlds through storytelling. One day a boy appeared by the railroad tracks behind the farm, a perfect representation of Violet's favorite story. Calling himself "Plum" with a cheeky grin, he vanished when the train passed.

Eight years later, Violet has grown out of most of her childish fantasies. When she returns to her hometown to help mend Sarah's broken heart, however, her belief in fairy tales is refreshed when her sister immediately sends her into town to meet someone named Jonah. None other than the boy from the tracks, Jonah is now a wild-eyed young man accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes - most notably, the murder of the mercantile's owner.

Even if some evidence points to Jonah, many of the accusations are hearsay alone, based on collective prejudice. Violet knows he can't possibly be connected to every wrongdoing in town; her sister would never fix her up with a no-good crook. Determined to prove his innocence, and his legendary origins, Violet makes herself and her family a target of the criminals. Reality proves to be a much greater adventure than what even her far fetched imagination could dream up.

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN, a YA historical romance complete at 95,000 words, is a story of young love budding in a prohibition-era America which was moving from the past into the present one city at a time. Thank you for your time and consideration.

#12 galian84

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Posted 30 January 2018 - 04:11 PM

Violet believes in fairy tales. Jonah is her proof. (Love your opening line)

As a child, Violet's sister Sarah indulged her wild imagination, painting worlds through storytelling. One day a boy appeared by the railroad tracks behind the her/her family's farm, a perfect representation of Violet's favorite story. Calling himself "Plum" with a cheeky grin, he vanished (This line is cute, but doesn't add much to your query). When the train passed, he was gone (or something along those lines).

Eight years later, Violet has grown out of most of her childish fantasies. When she returns to her hometown to help mend Sarah's broken heart. however, her belief in fairy tales is refreshed when and her sister immediately sends her into town to meet someone named Jonah. None other than the boy from the tracks, Jonah is now a wild-eyed young man accused of being at the center of  committing a string of local crimes - most notably, the murder of murdering the mercantile's owner.

Even if some evidence points to Jonah, many of the accusations are hearsay alone, based on collective prejudice. Violet knows he can't possibly be connected to every wrongdoing in town; her sister would never fix her up with a no-good crook. (Telly...does she just believe this because she's in love with him? A little more info on their relationship at this point would help. For example, does he do or say something that makes her believe he could be innocent?) Determined to prove his innocence, and his legendary origins (vague, all we know at this point is that Jonah is being accused of horrible crimes, but what else makes him legendary?), Violet makes herself and her family a target of the criminals (how so? Is Jonah part of a crime ring? If so it would help to mention that). Reality proves to be a much greater adventure than what even her far fetched imagination could dream up.

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN, a YA historical romance complete at 95,000 words, is a story of young love budding in a prohibition-era America which was moving from the past into the present one city at a time. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Hi there! I really like the premise of your book. Always a sucker for a good love story! That being said, suggestions above to make it a little more concise and clear on what's happening and what's driving Violet to make herself a target of criminals. With that said, I'd love to read this story :)



#13 PureZhar3

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Posted 30 January 2018 - 04:35 PM

Here we go again. Better? Worse?

Violet believes in fairy tales. Jonah is her proof.

As a child, Violet's sister Sarah indulged her wild imagination, painting worlds through storytelling. One day a boy appeared by the railroad tracks behind the farm, a perfect representation manifestation of Violet's favorite story character?. Calling himself "Plum" with a cheeky grin, he vanished when the train passed.

Eight years later, Violet has grown out of most of her childish fantasies. When she returns to her hometown to help mend Sarah's broken heart, however, her belief in fairy tales is refreshed when her sister immediately sends her into town to meet someone named Jonah. None other than the boy from the tracks, Jonah is now a wild-eyed young man accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes - most notably, the murder of the mercantile's owner.

Even if some evidence points to Jonah, many of the accusations are hearsay alone, based on collective prejudice. Violet knows he can't possibly be connected to every wrongdoing in town; her sister would never fix her up with a no-good crook. Determined to prove his innocence, and his legendary origins, Violet makes herself and her family a target of the true criminals. Reality proves to be a much greater adventure than what even her far fetched imagination could dream up.

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN, a YA historical romance complete at 95,000 words, is a story of young love budding in a prohibition-era America which was moving from the past into the present one city at a time. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Ah, even better! The only big bit that gave me slight hesitation was the whole "her sister would never fix her up with...", simply because it's clearly Violet's biased opinion we're following in that bit, and the wording seems to be more belief-based than the prior clause (which is plain logic). Up to you (and if other people note anything) as to whether or not it's worth changing. Otherwise, this is really good!


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


#14 smithgirl

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Posted 30 January 2018 - 05:30 PM

Violet believes in fairy tales. Jonah is her proof.

As a child, Violet's sister Sarah indulges her wild imagination, painting worlds through storytelling. Nice sentence. One day a boy appears by the railroad tracks behind the farm, a perfect representation from of Violet's favorite story. Calling himself "Plum" with a cheeky grin  But when the train passes he is gone.. he vanished when the train passed..

 

This first paragraph is good, but keep your whole query in present tense.

 

It's eight years later in prohibition-era America, and Eight years later, Violet has grown out of most of her childish fantasies. When she returns to her hometown to visit her sister,  help mend. Sarah's broken heart, however, her belief in fairy tales is refreshed when her sister immediately fixes her up with a man  into town to meet someone named Jonah. None other than the boy from the tracks, Jonah is now a wild-eyed young man accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes -- This should be an em-dash. most notably, the murder of the mercantile's owner. I saw below that Sarah is fixing her sister up. But I don't see the connection between Sarah's broken heart and fixing up her sister. It also seems strange that her sister would fix her up with a man accused of murder.

 

I don't see how the prohibition-era setting affects the story. I also don't see Sarah's broken heart is relevant to the query. I would cut it. It just causes confusion.

Even if some evidence points to Jonah, many of the accusations are hearsay alone, based on collective prejudice. Why is the town prejudiced against him? Violet knows he can't possibly be connected to every wrongdoing in town; How? Violet is a complete stranger. her sister would never fix her up with a no-good crook. Yes, why is her sister setting her up with Jonah? Even if he's innocent, it doesn't seem like a good time for dating. Determined to prove his innocence, and his legendary origins, What are his legendary origins? Violet makes herself and her family a target of the criminals. You mean the real criminals? Jonah is their fall guy? Also, is Violet in love with Jonah now? How is it she cares for him so much? We need some insight into her feelings.  Reality proves to be a much greater adventure than what even her far fetched imagination could dream up. This is too vague. Your stakes need to be very specific.

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN, a YA historical romance complete at 95,000 words, is a story of young love budding in a prohibition-era America which was moving from the past into the present one city at a time. Don't editorialize. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Hi Arait. I get the gist of the story, but I'm missing a logical progression of events. There's too much information missing. My biggest confusion is why Sarah sets her sister up with a man accused of murder. That seems illogical. We need Sarah's motivation. There are just a lot of information gaps that make the story hard to grasp. Why is the town prejudiced against Jonah? When does Violet fall for him? Why does she fall for him? Just because he has wild eyes? Does he fall for her, also? You need to add some essential specifics to your story to make it clear and logical. You also need specifics at the end. Your last sentence is much too vague. What, exactly, will happen?

 

Query writing is hard so don't be discouraged. Revise and post again. Good luck!



#15 smithgirl

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Posted 30 January 2018 - 05:35 PM

This might be a little thing, but your title makes me think of The Girl on the Train. Not sure if other people will have this brain leap, but you might consider changing the title. It's just that Girl on the Train has such momentous name recognition. You don't want people think of a different book when they read your title.



#16 Arait

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Posted 30 January 2018 - 06:45 PM

I know I'm supposed to be able to consider all of this objectively and recognize that so much of whether a query "works" or not is opinion-based. But I really can't understand how reactions are varying as widely as they are. Is it pretty good, only in need of polishing, or inconcise, illogical, and sorely lacking information? At this point, nothing I mentioned is superfluous at all.

Even Sarah's broken heart isn't just why Violet comes back to town. It's connected to the fairy tales, the reason Violet trusts Jonah, and eventually even the crimes. I can't say Jonah is accused of "committing" all the crimes because he isn't. He's accused of being "at the center of," deeply involved, or connected to all the crimes. And I can't say "the true criminals" because that would imply that Jonah is entirely uninvolved, which he isn't.

Everyone kept asking why Violet believes he's innocent aside from just being blinded by love, so I added the reason. She believes he's innocent because she trusts Sarah's judgment. But that only seemed to confuse people more than it helped. I also don't understand how to make it more clear that "proving his legendary origins" means she's trying to prove he's from the fairy tale (Which for those of you who asked, is why she falls in love with him because she loved him from the story before they ever even met to begin with).

The prohibition era very significantly effects the story. I just can't seem to properly get it into the query. Oh, and why is it that most people seem to dislike the word vanish? Also, several people have mentioned making the first paragraph present tense also, but isn't it weird if now and eight years ago are both in present tense?

As for editorializing, I thought that meant not to tell the agent what he/she or other people should/will think about the story. How is mentioning that the story highlights a historical time in American history when the nation went through huge changes but progressively rather than all at once editorializing? Maybe I don't understand what that word means at all?

The Girl on the Train, lol. Kinda funny that I wrote half of this story and titled it before that book got published. I sure hope it doesn't make other people think of that also, since that is a very dark story. In any case, I heard that it's not too important to have the right title because it often gets changed later anyways.

I know the query is no good at all if half the people who read it are totally confused and asking for explanation. So I was hoping maybe if I explained some of it to you guys, you'd be able to help me make it more immediately understandable? I think that's enough questions for now. Thanks for all of your help! (I'd much rather write a sequel than a query)

#17 VSChapman

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Posted 30 January 2018 - 07:50 PM

I know I'm supposed to be able to consider all of this objectively and recognize that so much of whether a query "works" or not is opinion-based. But I really can't understand how reactions are varying as widely as they are. Is it pretty good, only in need of polishing, or inconcise, illogical, and sorely lacking information? At this point, nothing I mentioned is superfluous at all.
Even Sarah's broken heart isn't just why Violet comes back to town. It's connected to the fairy tales, the reason Violet trusts Jonah, and eventually even the crimes. I can't say Jonah is accused of "committing" all the crimes because he isn't. He's accused of being "at the center of," deeply involved, or connected to all the crimes. And I can't say "the true criminals" because that would imply that Jonah is entirely uninvolved, which he isn't.
Everyone kept asking why Violet believes he's innocent aside from just being blinded by love, so I added the reason. She believes he's innocent because she trusts Sarah's judgment. But that only seemed to confuse people more than it helped. I also don't understand how to make it more clear that "proving his legendary origins" means she's trying to prove he's from the fairy tale (Which for those of you who asked, is why she falls in love with him because she loved him from the story before they ever even met to begin with).
The prohibition era very significantly effects the story. I just can't seem to properly get it into the query. Oh, and why is it that most people seem to dislike the word vanish? Also, several people have mentioned making the first paragraph present tense also, but isn't it weird if now and eight years ago are both in present tense?
As for editorializing, I thought that meant not to tell the agent what he/she or other people should/will think about the story. How is mentioning that the story highlights a historical time in American history when the nation went through huge changes but progressively rather than all at once editorializing? Maybe I don't understand what that word means at all?
The Girl on the Train, lol. Kinda funny that I wrote half of this story and titled it before that book got published. I sure hope it doesn't make other people think of that also, since that is a very dark story. In any case, I heard that it's not too important to have the right title because it often gets changed later anyways.
I know the query is no good at all if half the people who read it are totally confused and asking for explanation. So I was hoping maybe if I explained some of it to you guys, you'd be able to help me make it more immediately understandable? I think that's enough questions for now. Thanks for all of your help! (I'd much rather write a sequel than a query)


Ariat,

Don’t get discouraged. You are not alone and I’ve gotten frustrated with this too. However, if you read through all the comments on all the posts (including mine) this happens to everyone. I’ve even had critique partners tell me opposite things. Unfortunately, that’s the way this business works. Just like one person can love a shirt, yet someone else thinks it’s ugly. Agents, editors and readers will also do this. Everyone has their own opinion. Reading the critiques above, I personally agree with some, but not others. And no matter what, it’s impossible to make everyone happy. So, take everything with a grain of salt and write what feels right to you.

I do like your answers and hopefully that’ll help us critique it better. And for the record- I love the word vanish!

Keep going! If you think you get to a point where you’re happy with it then send some queries out. Oh, and I would much rather be writing a sequel than a query as well! That makes two of us (and I suspect a whole lot more) ;)



#18 VSChapman

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Posted 30 January 2018 - 08:15 PM

Here we go again. Better? Worse?

(Okay, I don’t have the color function right now so all my comments are in parentheses)

Violet believes in fairy tales. Jonah is her proof. (Still love this)

As a child, Violet's sister Sarah indulged her wild imagination, painting worlds through storytelling. (I like how this sentence is cleaned up from the first version) One day a boy appeared by the railroad tracks behind the farm, a perfect representation of Violet's favorite story. Calling himself "Plum" with a cheeky grin, he vanished when the train passed. (So, I know some others crossed this out above.... but I think this line gives your query character. Hell, it gives your character— character. ;) )

Eight years later, Violet has grown out of most of her childish fantasies. When she returns to her hometown to help mend Sarah's broken heart, however, her belief in fairy tales is refreshed when her sister immediately sends her into town to meet someone named Jonah. (This one I actually like better from the first version. Where she literally runs into him. It also takes out the question of her sister setting them up. That way, people won’t ask why the sister is setting her up with a criminal if you leave it as she just ran into him.) None other than the boy from the tracks, Jonah is now a wild-eyed young man accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes - most notably, the murder of the mercantile's owner. (I really don’t know why people think this is confusing. Maybe different phrasing would make it a tad bit clearer but I can’t think of anything right now.)

Even if some evidence points to Jonah, many of the accusations are hearsay alone, based on collective prejudice. Violet knows he can't possibly be connected to every wrongdoing in town; her sister would never fix her up with a no-good crook. Determined to prove his innocence, and his legendary origins, Violet makes herself and her family a target of the criminals. Reality proves to be a much greater adventure than what even her far fetched imagination could dream up. (Maybe what this paragraph is missing is a little more of Jonah. Making him more active in it. Instead of saying, ‘she knows he can’t’, maybe something along the lines of him convincing her? Not sure if that would fit your story. Or, something like, ‘her sister trusts him, and she trusts her sister. Again, not the best words ever but you get the point.)

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN, a YA historical romance complete at 95,000 words, is a story of young love budding in a prohibition-era America which was moving from the past into the present one city at a time. Thank you for your time and consideration.

#19 smithgirl

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 01:07 PM

Hi Arait. I'm sorry I've cause you such a crisis. I think your query

 

Even Sarah's broken heart isn't just why Violet comes back to town. It's connected to the fairy tales, the reason Violet trusts Jonah, and eventually even the crimes. I can't say Jonah is accused of "committing" all the crimes because he isn't. He's accused of being "at the center of," deeply involved, or connected to all the crimes. And I can't say "the true criminals" because that would imply that Jonah is entirely uninvolved, which he isn't.

 

I would just omit the broken heart part. It's confusing that you say Sarah has a broken heart but then she sets her sister up on a date. I wonder, if Violet is there because of Sarah's broken heart, why doesn't Violet set Sarah up on a date? If information adds questions to your query that you can't address, then best to omit.

 

When you write that Jonah is at the center a of a string of murders, it makes it sound like he is the on in charge, that he likely ordered the murders. At least to me, so then I assumed he was being accused of murder.

Everyone kept asking why Violet believes he's innocent aside from just being blinded by love, so I added the reason. She believes he's innocent because she trusts Sarah's judgment. But that only seemed to confuse people more than it helped. I also don't understand how to make it more clear that "proving his legendary origins" means she's trying to prove he's from the fairy tale (Which for those of you who asked, is why she falls in love with him because she loved him from the story before they ever even met to begin with).

 

I think it's absolutely essential to add that Violet was in love with Jonah from the childhood fairy tales -- that wasn't clear to me. It just says he's a boy from her favorite story. That doesn't mean she's in love with him. It's essential for us to know that Violet feels like she knows him, and that she loves him, before she meets him years later. Otherwise we wonder why she is so convinced he's innocent, why she could care so much for a stranger.

 

I saw someone wrote above in a comment that Violet was not actually set up by her sister? That Violet just met Jonah? If that's true it's much better because it seems very counterintuitive that someone would set her sister up with a man who is at the center of murders.

 

The prohibition era very significantly effects the story. I just can't seem to properly get it into the query. So just say the year. That way we know the year but we're not wondering how the story relates to Prohibition (I think Prohibition is capitalized). Oh, and why is it that most people seem to dislike the word vanish? Also, several people have mentioned making the first paragraph present tense also, but isn't it weird if now and eight years ago are both in present tense? If you feel it's too awkward, then leave the first paragraph in past tense.

As for editorializing, I thought that meant not to tell the agent what he/she or other people should/will think about the story. How is mentioning that the story highlights a historical time in American history when the nation went through huge changes but progressively rather than all at once editorializing? Maybe I don't understand what that word means at all? You're not supposed to explain your query. You're supposed to show this information in the body of the query.

The Girl on the Train, lol. Kinda funny that I wrote half of this story and titled it before that book got published. I sure hope it doesn't make other people think of that also, since that is a very dark story. In any case, I heard that it's not too important to have the right title because it often gets changed later anyways.

I know the query is no good at all if half the people who read it are totally confused and asking for explanation. So I was hoping maybe if I explained some of it to you guys, you'd be able to help me make it more immediately understandable? I think that's enough questions for now. Thanks for all of your help! (I'd much rather write a sequel than a query)



#20 smithgirl

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 01:30 PM

I tried to revise your query in a way that, at least to me, addresses some of my own concerns. In the end, it's up to you -- it's your book and your query. You will never have a query that pleases everyone, although I do try to get a query that is clear to as many people as possible.

 

To me, the biggest confusion was why Violet's sister would set her up with a man associated with crimes. I would think other people would find this confusing, too. Then the question of why she believed he was innocent. Sorry to cause you so much distress. Good luck.

 

 

Violet believes in fairy tales. Jonah is her proof.

As a child, Violet's sister Sarah indulged her wild imagination, painting worlds through storytelling. One day the fairy tale boy Violet knew and loved more than anyone else appeared by the railroad tracks behind the farm. But when the train passed he vanished.

 

It's 192? and Violet has been living apart from her sister for eight years. She thinks she's grown beyond her childhood fantasies, but when she returns to visit Sarah, she meets a man in her hometown named Jonah. None other than the boy from the tracks, Jonah is now a wild-eyed young man accused of being at the center of a string of local crimes -- most notably, the murder of the mercantile's owner.

 

You mentioned in your explanation above that one of the reason's Violet returned home is the fairy tales. But when you write that she's grown out of her fairy tales, we can't make that connection.

 

Even if some evidence points to Jonah, many of the accusations are hearsay alone. Jonah has an otherworldly quality that arouses suspicion among the small-minded townsfolk, and they view him with prejudice. But Violet still knows and loves him from the stories long ago; she knows her sister trusts him, too. She is determined to prove his innocence and that's he's not just a man but fey. As her efforts make her family a target of the criminals who had formerly targeted Jonah, she must choose between defending a fairy tale man who can never really love her back or a family that does. I took some liberties here; not sure if this is correct. I just wanted to make some example stakes that were clearer.

 

VIOLET'S ON THE TRAIN, a YA historical romance complete at 95,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.






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