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War of the Sexes

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#1 1cezman

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 03:23 PM

This is the first draft of a query letter for a little multi-pov science-fantasy novel I've just finished. Wondering if the meat of the query is too long?

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Kramskoi-

She called it the Vagina-Alcatraz. You know, having the shitty luck of being born in a family that still believed a girl’s only worth was with a prince charming, cooking, cleaning and sneezing out babies. JK tried to fight it but her family all but rendered her powerless when they turned the boy who’d been like a brother to her into her worst tormentor.

So, when the island came calling, offering not just freedom but also the means to make sure no girl ever suffered the same bullcrap she did, J.K can’t jump onboard quickly enough. But what happens when the same bullcrap follows her to the island? What happens now that she actually has the means to tear them apart sphincter by bloody sphincter?

 

Derrick Bashir-

He once loved her like a sister. They were all but joined at the hip as kids. Then they grew up and discovered that people like them were preordained to hate each other not love. And as much as Derrick tried to fight it, the world around him refused to let him escape that hatred.

So, when the island came calling, offering a fresh start away from it all, Derrick can’t help but hope to rekindle what they once had. But can he truly rekindle the love he once had for her or will the scars her family left him with only tear them further apart?

 

Takaaki Honda-

The island gave them everything. Money was no longer an issue. They could have anything they wanted; cars, clothes…anything a teenager could ever ask for. And for all this, the island asked for nothing in return. But Taka has seen the island’s true face and knows the dangers of what it wants. But can he stop it before it tears his friends apart?


Would really appreciate a little feedback on my first 250 words: http://agentquerycon...ya-sci-fantasy/


#2 rosequinn

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 04:56 PM

I have multiple POV's in my book and read on Query Shark that it's best if you choose one to write the query from. Something to think about!

 

Jessica Kramskoi-

She called it the Vagina-Alcatraz. You know, having the shitty luck of being born in a family that still believed a girl’s only worth was with a prince charming, cooking, cleaning and sneezing out babies.  < This almost made me want to stop reading. Is there another way you could get this across? I get the gist of it but I bet you could say the same thing with fewer words. JK tried to fight it but her family all but rendered her powerless when they turned the boy who’d been like a brother to her into her worst tormentor. <This is confusing to me? Could you be more specific instead of being so general?

So, when the island came calling, (Island? What island?) offering not just freedom but also the means to make sure no girl ever suffered the same bullcrap she did, J.K can’t jump onboard quickly enough. But what happens when the same bullcrap follows her to the island? <I would use a different word than bullcrapWhat happens now that she actually has the means to tear them apart sphincter by bloody sphincter? I don't understand what the stakes are here? We need more specifics about what is actually going on.

 

Derrick Bashir-

He once loved her like a sister. They were all but joined at the hip as kids. Then they grew up and discovered that people like them were preordained to hate each other not love. And as much as Derrick tried to fight it, the world around him refused to let him escape that hatred.

So, when the island came calling, offering a fresh start away from it all, Derrick can’t help but hope to rekindle what they once had. But can he truly rekindle the love he once had for her or will the scars her family left him with only tear them further apart?

Same thing here - you need to boil it down to specifics and then add in the voice. Also - who is her? JK? A random girl we don't know yet? 

 

Takaaki Honda-

The island gave them everything. Money was no longer an issue. They could have anything they wanted; cars, clothes…anything a teenager could ever ask for. And for all this, the island asked for nothing in return. But Taka has seen the island’s true face and knows the dangers of what it wants. But can he stop it before it tears his friends apart?

 

What is the island? Who is they? You've got a lot of different things thrown in here but I would try and think of it in terms of what does the MC want? What is stopping them from getting that? And what will happen if they don't get it?


Critique my query here


#3 lnloft

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 06:21 PM

This is the first draft of a query letter for a little multi-pov science-fantasy novel I've just finished. Wondering if the meat of the query is too long?

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Kramskoi-

She called it the Vagina-Alcatraz. You know, having the shitty luck of being born in a family that still believed a girl’s only worth was with a prince charming, cooking, cleaning and sneezing out babies. I'm still not quite clear on what she's referring to as the Vagina-Alcatraz. JK tried to fight it but her family all but rendered her powerless when they turned the boy who’d been like a brother to her into her worst tormentor. Why? How? What does this mean?

So, when the island came calling, All I can think of is Lost when you say this. I don't know what island this is, so the line means nothing to me. offering not just freedom but also the means to make sure no girl ever suffered the same bullcrap she did, J.K Above, you punctuated as JK (no periods), but here you have J.K, (one period, which doesn't even make sense). Characters can have whatever name yo want, just be consistent. can’t jump onboard quickly enough. But what happens when the same bullcrap follows her to the island? What happens now that she actually has the means to tear them apart sphincter by bloody sphincter? Rhetorical questions are a BIG no-no. An agent is likely to auto-reject when they see them.

 

Derrick Bashir-

He once loved her like a sister. I mean, I'm assuming "her" is JK from above, but queries gotta be clear. They were all but joined at the hip as kids. Then they grew up and discovered that people like them were preordained to hate each other not love This reads awkwardly, and also, what does "people like them" mean? What about them means they will hate each other?. And as much as Derrick tried to fight it, the world around him refused to let him escape that hatred.

So, when the island came calling, offering a fresh start away from it all, Derrick can’t help but hope to rekindle what they once had. But can he truly rekindle the love he once had for her or will the scars her family left him with only tear them further apart? I see what you're trying to do with the repeating structure, but this has the same issues as the latter half above of not knowing what the island is and of the rhetorical questions.

 

Takaaki Honda-

The island gave them everything. Money was no longer an issue. They could have anything they wanted; cars, clothes…anything a teenager could ever ask for. And for all this, the island asked for nothing in return. But Taka has seen the island’s true face and knows the dangers of what it wants. But can he stop it before it tears his friends apart? Again, I'm assuming "his friends" are Derrick and JK, but you need to be specific, because right now I don't see any real line of how Taka connects with the other two.

 

WAR OF THE SEXES is a XX,XXX-word science fantasy. Thank you for your time and consideration.

I'm trying not to tread over your voice, because you do have something there (although I think it could actually come out even stronger). But for the query itself, you unfortunately want to go back to the drawing board. Check out how other queries are structured. You want a hook, a couple paragraphs outlining the initial struggles of the characters, and then end on the stakes, before tacking on a paragraph with your title, word count, and genre, as I added at the end (plus if you have any relevant credentials, mostly if you've had anything else published). Your best bet is also probably to write this from the perspective of one character (I'm guessing JK, since you start with her and wrote the most, but that's up to you), and then bring in the other characters as they are relevant to the other.

 

Otherwise, you need more specifics. You call this a science fantasy, but that doesn't come across. What is the island? What is happening? Be specific. This isn't the blurb on the back of the book. Specifics are what make your query stand out to an agent, so show them off. Good luck.


If you found my feedback useful, I'd appreciate yours: Ouroboros


#4 PureZhar3

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 09:23 PM

As someone who also has a story with multiple POVs, I think the best solution is probably to write this from one character's POV. What you tried to do is cool, but it doesn't really fit for a query, I don't think. InLoft has some great advice - listen :) best of luck!


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


#5 1cezman

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 12:24 AM

Thanks a lot, guys.

I really appreciate all the feedback.

 

Took in all you said and have tried again. Do let me know what you think if you can. Again, thanks a bunch in advance.

 

 

 

Draft #2

 

J.K called it the Vagina-Alcatraz. You know, having the shitty luck of being born in a family that still believed a girl’s only worth was with a blonde prince charming, cooking, cleaning and popping out babies.

 

As a kid, their prejudice was nothing but water off J.K’s back. Then she got older and it became action, action that turned Derrick, the boy who’d been like a brother to her into her worst nightmare—another hate-filled ignorant pig.

 

So, when she gets a letter, offering her a place on a mysterious island with the power to shape the future of the entire world, J.K can’t get onboard quickly enough. The problem is, Derrick has been given a place on the island too as well as a hand on its power and sits ready to shape the future in his image.

J.K won’t let that happen. She’ll beg and crawl and do everything to make him remember when they were kids and free of their families’ prejudices. But if that doesn’t work, she’ll rip those prejudices out of him—and everyone else like him— sphincter by bloody sphincter.

One way or the other, no girl will ever again go through what she went through growing up.


Would really appreciate a little feedback on my first 250 words: http://agentquerycon...ya-sci-fantasy/


#6 galian84

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 09:32 AM

Thanks a lot, guys.

I really appreciate all the feedback.

 

Took in all you said and have tried again. Do let me know what you think if you can. Again, thanks a bunch in advance.

 

 

 

Draft #2

 

J.K called it the Vagina-Alcatraz (what is "it"? A place?). You know, having the shitty luck of being born in a family that still believed believes a girl’s only worth was is with (marrying?) a blonde prince charming (capitalize Prince Charming), cooking, cleaning and popping out babies. (I understand the point you're trying to make here, but this is a long sentence. Maybe try this: "who believes a girl's worth is only in the home, married to a blonde Prince Charming"? Also, try to keep it to present tense for query purposes)

 

As a kid, their prejudice was nothing but water off J.K’s back. Then she got older and it became action, action that turned Derrick, the boy who’d been like a brother to her into her worst nightmare—another hate-filled ignorant pig. (This whole sentence reads as vague...what specific action did she take? How did it turn Derrick into her worst nightmare?)

 

So, when she gets a letter, offering her a place on a mysterious island with the power to shape the future of the entire world, J.K can’t get onboard quickly enough. The problem is, Derrick has been given a place on the island too as well as a hand on its power and sits ready to shape the future in his image. (How does she know all this? Does he tell her? Does she find out some other way?)

 

J.K won’t let that happen. She’ll beg and crawl and do everything to make him remember when they were kids and free of their families’ prejudices. But if that doesn’t work, she’ll rip those prejudices out of him—and everyone else like him— sphincter by bloody sphincter. (Wait, are there other people on this island too? Or is she planning to kill him on the island, and then go back to the real world and kill everyone else like him?)

 

One way or the other, no girl will ever again go through what she went through growing up. (I like this last line...however, you never mentioned what exactly she went through. I got that her family was prejudiced against her...but this is not uncommon. What exactly did they do to her to make her angry enough to want to kill people?) 

Hi there, my $0.02 above. The formatting is much better in your revision, but I'm having some confusion as to what exactly is happening in your query. I get a very general sense of what's going on, but a lot of it reads very vague. It could definitely do with some more detail woven in (FWIW, I had this same issue with my own query!), because I left this with too many questions (more of the "wait, what's going on?" type rather than the "omg I need to know more!"). The story has a very Survivor / Lost feel to it, was that what you were going for?

 

I think I understand J.K.'s motivation, and I know what's stopping her (Derrick), but I didn't get a good sense of what this island was or how it had the power to change the world.

 

With all that being said, I like your premise! Good luck and I look forward to reading your next revision, if you decide to revise again :)



#7 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 09:41 AM

As someone who also has a story with multiple POVs, I think the best solution is probably to write this from one character's POV. What you tried to do is cool, but it doesn't really fit for a query, I don't think. InLoft has some great advice - listen :) best of luck!

 

I also have a novel with multiple POVs, and found that the best way to manage my query letter was to pick one character and tell THEIR story. It results in a more focussed query with higher emotional stakes that is (potentially) more engaging for the editor or agent reading it. :)



#8 Temeraire

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 06:01 PM

J.K called it the Vagina-Alcatraz. You know, having the shitty luck of being born in a family that still believed a girl’s only worth was with a blonde prince charming, cooking, cleaning and popping out babies. I get the sentiment but this is a bit too wordy. I'd suggest cutting the bit about blonde prince charming. 

 

As a kid, their Who? prejudice was nothing but water off J.K’s back. Then she got older and it became action, action that turned Derrick, the boy who’d been like a brother to her into her worst nightmare—another hate-filled ignorant pig. This is rather unclear - what specifically did Derrick do? What made him change? Why did he change? 

 

So, when she gets a letter, offering her a place on a mysterious island with the power to shape the future of the entire world I have no idea what this means. "Offering her a place" sounds like it's a university of some kind. How is it going to shape the future? What does that mean? If it has that much power, how come it's not common knowledge? Why did they pick JK? Why does she believe it's real and not a hoax? I'm having a bit of difficulty buying this, J.K can’t get onboard quickly enough. The problem is, Derrick has also been given a place on the island too as well as and a hand on its power, and sits ready to shape the future in his image. If the power is that easily grabbed, why is it still available? Has anyone else tried to grab power? 

 

J.K won’t let that happen. She’ll beg and crawl and do everything to make him remember when they were kids and free of their families’ prejudices. But if that doesn’t work, she’ll rip those prejudices out of him—and everyone else like him— sphincter by bloody sphincter. This makes it sound like it's the sphincters he's full of and that she's going to rip out. 

 

One way or the other, no girl will ever again go through what she went through growing up. But how can she regulate this? 

 

I'm not really sure I understand how the story is going to happen. There's an island with power on it/in it to change the future - Derrick wants to make everything dickish because he's a dick but he may also be redeemable - JK wants to make things better for women and girls. But what's the conflict? What are the stakes? What does JK have to lose? What else happens in the story? 


If I've helped you with your query, I'd love if you would take a look at mine! 

 

UNICORN (gothic fantasy) 

Query letter 


#9 PureZhar3

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 05:42 PM

Thanks a lot, guys.

I really appreciate all the feedback.

 

Took in all you said and have tried again. Do let me know what you think if you can. Again, thanks a bunch in advance.

 

 

 

Draft #2

 

J.K called it the Vagina-Alcatraz. You know, having the shitty luck of being born in a family that still believed a girl’s only worth was with a blonde prince charming, cooking, cleaning and popping out babies. ​this sentence needs to be more concise

 

As a kid, their ​her parents'? prejudice was nothing but water off J.K’s back. ​I'm not familiar with this phrase Then she got older and it became action ​what specific action?, action that turned Derrick, the boy who’d been like a brother to her​comma into her worst nightmare—another hate-filled ignorant pig. ​This paragraph will be a lot better if you give specifics

 

So, when she gets a letter, offering her a place on a mysterious island with the power to shape the future of the entire world ​be more specific, J.K can’t get on ​space board quickly enough. The problem is, Derrick has been given a place on the island too as well as a hand on its power and sits ready to shape the future in his image. ​you definitely need to expand more as to how it can shape the future

 

J.K won’t let that happen. She’ll beg and crawl and do everything to make him remember when they were kids and free of their families’ prejudices ​this sounds a bit weak on her part. She's just going to beg and crawl?. But if that doesn’t work, she’ll rip those prejudices out of him—and everyone else like him— sphincter by bloody sphincter. ​ah. Never mind. Solid action

One way or the other, no girl will ever again go through what she went through growing up. ​I'm having trouble imagining this prejudice was terrible enough. Currently, this reads almost as if J.K. is just a classic fuming teenager . You need to be more specific, or we won't feel for her/think the stakes are worth it; we may just get the sense that she has a victim complex. You want to present a likable (in some way) character..


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


#10 Maddie978

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 07:28 PM

Thanks a lot, guys.

I really appreciate all the feedback.

 

Took in all you said and have tried again. Do let me know what you think if you can. Again, thanks a bunch in advance.

 

 

 

Draft #2

 

J.K called it the Vagina-Alcatraz. You know, having the shitty luck of being born in a family that still believed a girl’s only worth was with a blonde prince charming, cooking, cleaning and popping out babies.

 

This hook is not the best. Start with the interesting part: the letter to the mysterious island (or Derrick). "Vagina-Alcatraz" is a little crude for a query letter. Not that you don't want to give your character a voice, just make it a voice that makes you lean forward, not cringe away. 

 

As a kid, their (who?) prejudice was nothing but water off J.K’s back (what prejudice? Women only being fit for having children? This is not clear). Then she got older and it became action, action that turned Derrick, the boy who’d been like a brother to her into her worst nightmare—another hate-filled ignorant pig.

 

Very unclear paragraph: who are "they"? What is the prejudice? How old did she get (good to add the character's age if it is YA)? What is "it"? What action happened that turned Derrick into a pig?

Also, stay in present tense!

 

So, when she gets a letter, offering her a place on a mysterious island with the power to shape the future of the entire world (wordy and unclear), J.K can’t get onboard quickly enough. The problem is, Derrick has been given a place on the island too as well as a hand on its power and sits ready to shape the future in his image. This sentence is too long. It gets confusing. Try writing a draft where every sentence is 10 words or under. That will force you to get the basics out. From there, you can add to the sentences.

J.K won’t let that happen. She’ll beg and crawl (seems uncharacteristic from what we've heard of J.K. so far) and do everything to make him remember when they were kids and free of their families’ prejudices. But if that doesn’t work, she’ll rip those prejudices out of him—and everyone else like him— sphincter by bloody sphincter. Strange word choice. Who rips people apart sphincter by sphincter? Don't try to be clever or verbose. Be clear and concise. Be interesting. Sphincter jars me out of the story because it's not a common word. I definitely wouldn't expect a teenage girl to use it.

One way or the other, no girl will ever again go through what she went through growing up. 

Still not sure what she went through growing up. Also, how does killing (or whatever she's going to do) Derrick and others like him help? What will she lose if she does it? Or doesn't do it?

 

 

A great start, much better than the three perspectives draft. The most important thing you are missing are the stakes. Make me understand what J.K. wants and why she can't have it. Tell me what will happen if she doesn't get what she wants, and what she hopes will happen if she does. 

 

Keep working! You're getting closer. It's brutal, but it's worth it.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

 

 

http://agentquerycon...cience-fiction/


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

 

 

http://agentquerycon...cience-fiction/






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