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#1 JEMitchell


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Posted 13 June 2019 - 07:50 AM


"Writing is like taking a boat onto the ocean. You pack as many provisions and plan as many contingencies and travel routes as possible beforehand, but once you open those sails, it’s up to the ocean where you’ll end up."



#2 Carney


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Posted 16 June 2019 - 01:44 PM

Queries are tough. It took me months and more to finalize mine and then more time to receive a positive response from an agent. Let's see if anything I've learned can be of help for you. 

Hey, guys. Looking for any thoughts on a query I’ve been trying to trim back, as it’s pretty intricate. To clarify why I’ve included the elements I have in this query, this is ultimately a subversion of the standard revenge narrative. The question ultimately is not “can she succeed in her revenge?” but “should she succeed in her revenge, knowing the cost?” Feedback is highly appreciated!

Bounty hunter Jade Sinclair longs to put her brother's killer in the ground. Her sister Ruby would rather bury the past. Neither gets their wish till Jade receives a job offer comes from the black market empire Penumbra Read this sentence out loud to determine if if makes grammatical sense to your ear. I find it confusing and unclear— If this is meant to be an em-dash, it is used incorrectly. An em-dash is used to set off a parenthetical phrase or to emphasis an element. You must close the em-dash with another em-dash.  find and deliver the missing notes on her brother Micah's illegal research into fusing magical catalyst into humans, and she'll get the name of his killer. I think you need to read this entire paragraph for clarity. To my read, it is unclear and thus ineffective. One thing important to remember when sending a query is you only have one chance to capture the agent's interest and compel her/him to keep reading. If the agent feels confused, chances are good s/he will stop reading. Also, you have to be very careful with any SPaG mistakes. Desperate to end seven years of cold trails and guilt, Jade takes the case, knowing her new allies may be just as dangerous as the killer she's tracking.

Recovering Micah's research challenges Jade, especially when an attempt on her life unveils a conspiracy to purge every trace of her brother's experiments. Maybe they should. An encounter with a mutated test subject and an archive of damning notebooks prove Micah's research to save lives caused devastation to countless victims — and could do the same again in the wrong hands.

As the web of intrigue surrounding the Sinclairs unravels, Jade grapples with destroying Micah's research or leveraging it to avenge his death. And as her thirst for revenge alienates Ruby further, Jade will be forced to choose between giving up on enacting bloody justice against Micah's elusive killer or shattering the last remaining piece of her family. Until this paragraph you only mentioned Ruby in the first sentence. Including her now is just confusing. Her role is unclear and, at this point, merely distracting. 

HELLCASTER is a 103,500 word adult urban fantasy novel with series potential that blends the humor and world building of The Dresden Files with the grit and wit of Jessica Jones. I work as a research technician, and my experiments with synthesizing catalysts in the lab inspired the foundations of the magic system in the novel.Thank you for your consideration.

The hardest thing about this query is that I come away with very little sense of story. Keep in mind that the major role for a query is to show an agent the following: (Stolen from Agent Janet Reid's excellent blogs) Who is your protagonist? What does the MC need/want? What stands between the MC and the goal? What happens first and then what follows? Clarity is essential, as is proper SPaG. What helps me is to read my work outloud. Often merely reading the work on a computer monitor or on paper is not enough. Sounding out the words gives me the ability to "hear" the errors. 


One reason queries are so tough is because they demand a set of skills that are almost opposite those needed to create a great novel. A query is a business letter that has to adhere to a set format that, I find, somewhat restrictive and demanding. No matter how well your executed your novel, you now must distill it down into a compelling and very clear 250 words so as to compel the agent into asking for more. YIKES! Don't despair, you'll get there, it just will take some reworking. I wish you very good luck going forward. 

#3 mwsinclair


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Posted 17 June 2019 - 07:04 AM

I agree with Carney. I read this and came away with similar thoughts.


Those thoughts include being encouraging: Don't despair. You will get there if you keep working on it.

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