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Author Topic: Query Shark: #191-revised 3x for the Win  (Read 6248 times)

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Query Shark: #191-revised 3x for the Win
« on: June 16, 2011, 08:04:37 PM »

#191-revised 3x for the Win

Dear QueryShark:<br /><br />Sixteen year old Hope's life went off the rails last year, when a stupid freakin' earthquake took away her awesome mom. Not even a butt-load of pills could numb that pain.<br /><br /><br />In rehab, she accepts a surprise invitation to spend the summer with her aunt in the Scottish Highlands. When Hope discovers a secret room full of elaborate costumes and a five-hundred year old painting of her mother’s face, she’s sure all the residents of the huge house are bat’s-ass crazy. The truth will test her new sobriety and give her a chance to redeem herself. Her mom isn’t dead. She is trapped in the year 1543. Hope steps into her mother's shoes, and joins the new generation of Viators—time travelers—as they prepare for the longest road trip ever.<br /><br /><br />The only normal piece of her freak-a-zoid life is the time she spends with local Alex Cameron. But, when Alex appears at Henry VIII’s Hampton Court, Hope realizes she was played. Alex is one of the criminal Timeslippers. Hope’s mom kept them from stealing a book so powerful<strike>;</strike> <span style="color: blue;">(take out the semi colon)</span> its owner can reshape history. <br /><br />Now, Alex is back to finish the job, and it's up to Hope to stop him. He's also ordered to make sure Hope and her mom never return. Hope swore she would risk anything to rescue her mom, and she’ll be damned if some lying douche is going to get in her way. She'll do whatever it takes, even if it means getting left behind.<br /><br /><br />A TIME FOR HOPE is my debut Young Adult novel, complete at 91,000 words. Fans of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly will like this book. I am a member of the Historical Novel Society and the RWA.<br /><br />Thank you so much for your time. <br /><br /><div style="color: blue;"><br /></div><div style="color: blue;">Well dear readers, I think she's got it.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div style="color: blue;"><br /></div><div style="color: blue;">The voice is very forceful; that appeals to me.&nbsp; I also like that we've got a sense of the stakes and a sense of the choice Hope has to make.</div><div style="color: blue;"><br /></div><div style="color: blue;">Before you send your queries out, make SURE you have an eagle eyed copy editor look this over. You've got an errant semi-colon in this version, a misplaced comma in another.&nbsp; These aren't the difference between yes and no, but you want to make sure your work is as polished as you can make it. </div><div style="color: blue;"><br /></div><div style="color: blue;">This works. I'd request pages.</div><br /><br /><br /><br />---------------------- <br />Dear Query Shark,<br /><br /><br />Sixteen year old Hope's life went off the rails last year, when a stupid freakin' earthquake took away her awesome mom. Not even a butt-load of pills could numb that pain.<br /><br />In rehab, she accepts a surprise invitation to spend the summer with her aunt in the Scottish Highlands. <strike>When </strike><span style="color: blue;">There </span>she discovers a secret room full of elaborate costumes and a four-hundred year old painting of her mother's face<strike>, she demands answers</strike>. <strike>But, </strike>the truth might be more than her new sobriety can take. Her mom isn't dead. She's trapped <strike>in the past--</strike>in the year 1543.<span style="color: blue;">(2)</span> If Hope is strong enough, she can take up the family tradition and begin training with the other new Viators--time travelers--as they prepare for the longest road trip ever.<br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">"strong enough" doesn't tell me much. Is she undergoing  GIJane pt routine? Is it emotional strength? What does Hope need to do to get ready?  And if this really isn't an important part of the story, don't mention it at the start of a sentence.  Just start with </span><i style="color: blue;">She can take up the family tradition </i><br /><br /><br />The only bit of normalcy in her life is her budding relationship with local, Alex Cameron. But when Alex appears at Henry VIII's Hampton court, Hope realizes she was played. Alex is one of the criminal Timeslippers, on a mission to steal a book so powerful, its owner can reshape history. She must rescue her mom and keep the book out of the Timeslipper's hands, even if it means Hope will never return.<br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">no comma before Alex Cameron. </span><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">"budding relationship" is a phrase I'm confident no teen girl would use to describe herself or how she feels about a boy.</span><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">You've also used the second paragraph (2) to ask if Hope is strong enough to become a time traveller. In the third paragraph it sounds like not only is she, she's off at the court of H8.  You're wasting time and words setting up a problem that isn't a key part of the book.</span><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">Focus on the first choice that Hope has to make.  If her first choice is to rescue her mom, I said those weren't very high stakes on the first go round.  However, it's clear something went VERY wrong if her mom is stuck in 1543.  What does Hope bring to the problem that will solve it?</span><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">It's like you don't send someone down into a mine to rescue people without sending a rope and shovels with them. Otherwise you just have more stuck miners. What tools/skill does Hope have that will help her Mom? And if they don't work is she willing to be stuck there in 1543 with her?</span><br /><br /><br />A TIME FOR HOPE is my debut Young Adult novel, complete at 91,000 words. <strike>Fans of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly would relate to this work. </strike><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;"> I can relate to a lot of things I don't like.</span> <span style="color: blue;">Vegemite, shark-fin soup, reserves against returns.</span><br /><br /><i><br style="color: blue;" /><span style="color: blue;">Fans of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly are the audience for this book. </span></i><br /><span style="color: blue;">or</span><br /><i><span style="color: blue;">Fans of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly will like this book.</span></i><br /><br />I am a member and district leader of the Historical Novel Society and the RWA.<br /><br />Thank you so much for your time.<br /><div style="color: blue;"><br /></div><div style="color: blue;">This isn't bad, and I know the comment column is clamoring to read this, but a query letter has to show me that you can write so well and so crisply that I will want to read this book more than once.</div><div style="color: blue;"><br /></div><div style="color: blue;">This query doesn't do that yet, but it's getting better.</div><div style="color: blue;"><br /></div><div style="color: blue;">Revise, let it sit for a while, revise again, then resend.</div><div style="color: blue;">Make SURE the book itself is getting the same kind of polish you're doing here.</div><br />-------------- <br /><br />Dear Query Shark,<br /><br />Sixteen year old Hope’s life went off the rails last year. All because when a stupid freakin' earthquake took away her awesome mom. There wasn't even a body to bury.<br /><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">Have I yapped enough about rhythm in sentences? Probably not. Say the first version out loud. Then the revised version. Which sounds better?</span><br /><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">Word choice is mostly about the right word, but the final polish is always the right word in the right place. "All because" and "when" mean about the same thing in the context of this paragraph, but one is better than the other because of how it sounds. When writers talk about reading their work aloud, this is the kind of thing they are listening for.</span><br /><br />She soon discovered that all the pills in the world couldn't numb the pain,<strike> though she gave it her best shot.</strike><br /><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">Pare away everything you don't need.</span><br /><br /><br />In rehab, she accepts a surprise invitation to spend the summer with her aunt in Scotland, who needs her help on a project. Hope doesn't care if it's shoveling sheep crap as long as it gets her out of facing the mess she left back home.<br /><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">She goes to Scotland with her aunt is about all you really need to say: we intuit that she'd want to get away, and with her mom dead, a relative would step in.  Trust your reader to make the logical connections.  </span><br /><br /><br />What she learns at her aunt’s old house in the Highlands is <strike>weirder than any drug-induced hallucination.</strike><br /><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">RESIST THAT METAPHOR. Metaphor is a powerful tool but you don't need it here.  What she learns at her aunt's house is that her mom isn't dead.  We get that that is weird.  Simplify! </span><br /><br />Her mom is not dead. She is trapped in the past, in the year 1543, and Hope is needed to bring her back. She joins the team of new recruits to the society of Viators, time travelelers, as they prepare for the longest road trip ever.<br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">Why is Hope needed to bring her back? That's the key piece of information you're missing here. </span><br /><br />Faced with a truth she never imagined and fighting off the old cravings, she treasures the only bit of normalcy in her life. Her budding relationship with a local boy, Alex Cameron. When Alex appears in renaissance England, Hope realizes she's been played. Alex is a member of the criminal Timeslippers. He’s ordered to steal the powerful Libri Atlantius and kill its owner, the young alchemist John Dee. He is also charged with killing anyone who gets in his way. With the book of Atlantis in the Timeslippers possession, they can shape history any way they wish. Now, Hope has to stop the Timeslippers from getting their hands on the book, save Dee, and bring her mother back home. No biggee for a recovering addict.<br /><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">And here is where you go splat.  You don't need all this.  You've got a nice set up with rescuing her mom. And your first version had a much cleaner version of this:</span><br /><br /><br />The only bit of normalcy in her life is her budding relationship with a local, Alex Cameron. But, when Alex appears at the court of King Henry VIII, Hope realizes she was played. Alex is a member of the criminal "Timeslippers." And he has orders to make certain that Hope and her mother never return.<br /><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">All you need is one more sentence here telling us about the stakes: keep it very simple though. "A book that allows the reader to reshape history is about to fall into the wrong hands if Hope doesn't confound Alex's nefarious schemes."  Or something like that.</span><br /><br />A TIME FOR HOPE is my debut Young Adult novel, complete at 91,000 words. Fans of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly would relate to this work. I am a member, and district leader, of the Historical Novel Society and the FWCA.<br /><br />Thank you so much for your time.<br /><br />A TIME FOR HOPE<br />Genre: Young Adult<br />91,000 Word count <br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">This is better, but it's not ready yet.</span><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">Polish, revise.</span><br /><br />------------------------------------------ <br />Dear Query Shark,<br /><br />Sixteen year old Hope Walton didn't really want to become a time traveler, but apparently it's a family tradition.<br /><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">Here's the trouble with log lines: they undercut any kind of buildup to a punch line-they destroy tension and suspense. Consider how much more a reveal it is if that log line appears AFTER these next paragraphs.</span><br /><br />Her life went off the rails when she learned her mom was killed in a foreign earthquake. All the pills in the world couldn't numb that pain. When her aunt visits her rehab center and asks for help on a project, Hope assumes she means scrapbooking or maybe knitting.<br /><br />She was wrong. <br /><br />Now she has the chance to redeem herself. She can rescue her mother, then begin to pull her life back together. All Hope has to do is travel to the year 1543 and bring her mom home. No biggee.<br /><br /><br /><br />Here's the revised layout:<br /><br /><i>Sixteen year old Hope Walton's life went off the rails when she learned was told her mom was killed in a foreign earthquake. All the pills in the world couldn't numb that pain. When her aunt visits her rehab center and asks for help on a project, Hope assumes she means scrapbooking or maybe knitting. She was wrong.</i><br /><br />Hope Walton doesn't really want to become a time traveler, but apparently it's a family tradition. And her mom isn't dead, just trapped in 1543.<br /><br />At her aunt's manor in the Scottish Highlands, Hope learns about her strange heritage. She is joined by joins a team of new recruits as they prepare for the longest road trip ever. The only bit of normalcy in her life is her budding relationship with a local, Alex Cameron. But, when Alex appears at the court of King Henry VIII, Hope realizes she was played. Alex is a member of the criminal "Timeslippers." And he has orders to make certain that Hope and her mother never return.<br /><br />A TIME FOR HOPE is my debut Young Adult novel, complete at 91,000 words. Fans of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly would relate to this work. I am a member, and district leader, of the Historical Novel Society and the FWCA. I am also under the tutelage of the Young Adult novelist, (redacted).<br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">I'm not sure what under the tutelage means, but leave it out. Your bio is for publication credits and groups you belong to that are relevant.  Your teachers, your school, your tutelors--not relevant.</span><br /><br />Thank you so much for your time. It is such a precious thing.<br /><br /><br />A TIME FOR HOPE<br />Young Adult Category<br />91,000 word count <br /><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">Structurally this is an above-average query. However, when I see paragraphs set up with the reveal (or the punch line aka the climax) at the start of the paragraph, it undercuts my confidence in how the book is structured paragraph by paragraph. I see this a lot in otherwise good queries. You need to unfold a story in your query just like you do the book. Set up, then resolve. In other words, don't tell us she's a time traveller before you set up the situation.</span><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">And frankly, the idea that someone time travels to the court of Henry 8 is beyond over-used. You've got an opportunity to go anywhere in time, and you choose the one period that has been the subject of more television shows and movies than any other.</span><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">And the stakes are pretty pale as well: she has to rescue her mom. Ok, sure, who wouldn't want to rescue their mom, but it doesn't have much pizazz.</span><br /><br /><br /><span style="color: blue;">This isn't a bad query, but it's getting a form rejection cause it doesn't do the ONE thing a query has to do: entice me to read it.</span><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/4812909700950069050-2097466679416799822?l=queryshark.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>
Source: #191-revised 3x for the Win

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