Ask Daphne! About my Query II

September 19th, 2008 • Kate

Lovely riding boots for Emily, who sends along her query for our comments. As before, I’ll make my notes, then ask you to leave your thoughts in the comments for Emily. Here goes:

Dear Daphne:
THE HUNT is the retelling of a medieval myth in modern times. It is a paranormal young adult novel, complete at 61,000 words. I thought you might enjoy The Hunt because of your interest in urban fantasy and magical realism.
17-year-old Alisha Ryan’s world is officially out of control. She’s doing okay with the minor problems — her best friend’s budding alcoholism and her little brother’s blackmail attempts. She’s not coping so well, however, with problems of another nature.
A demon wants her to lead the Wild Hunt — a supernatural, indiscriminate killing rampage that was last believed in the Middle Ages. Alisha’s not quite sure how she got mixed up in the Wild Hunt, and she’s not interested in finding out. What she wants is to go back to being normal. But before she can do so, she learns the boy she’s crushing on is the demon’s assistant. And the demon has been stalking her for, oh, the past few months. Not a long time at all.
It’s enough to make her scream. The clock’s ticking and the Hunt’s approaching. Alisha will do anything and everything to be free of the Hunt, but this time, it might not be enough.
Thank you so much for your time. Please find the first three pages below. The complete manuscript, as well as a synopsis, is available at your request. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Sincerely,
Emily

First of all, I think this is pretty good. You’re not introducing too many characters for me to follow, we get a sense of the voice, and you inject some drama with the ticking clock metaphor.
More specifically though, if you tell us that this is a modern retelling of a medieval myth, I want to know what myth. I think of Greek myths like Helen of Troy or Cupid and Psyche, but I don’t often associate “medieval” with mythology. Maybe that’s just me, but I think it’s less about myth and more about a dark fairy tale come to life. You may also want to consider changing up the format of the first paragraph, which currently consists of three relatively simple sentences. Can you mix this up a bit?
I love the second paragraph — by telling us about these “minor” problems, you allow the introduction of something much bigger. Plus, this is a great example of the voice coming across. Instead of just saying “another nature,” you might want to insert “demonic” — it just spices it up a bit and leads nicely to the next para.
Here’s where I would want more information. The Hunt was last “believed” in the middle ages, but has it been going on since then? Why did people stop believing in it? Did it go underground? What can you tell the reader here that hooks them in more without giving away your story. While I respect that Alisha doesn’t care about finding out how she got mixed up in, that’s an important detail you could give the reader. You later mention that “this time, it might not be enough” which makes me wonder if she’s been involved in it before. It’s a nice tease.
As for the boy, it’s a good way to throw in a little romance, and I immediately wonder if he’s a plant for the demon, like a spy, or if he has reasons of his own for approaching Alisha. Can you tell us any more?
I didn’t love the “oh” or the belittlement of the stalking, or saying it’s enough to make her scream. That’s a little banal — can you be more specific to your world? Otherwise, the ending is good, though that’s where I would put any biographical information that might be pertinent, if you have it to share.
Ok, readers, your turn! What do you think? And if you want to participate in a future round of “About My Query”, send me an email with your book’s title and “About My Query” in the subject line.

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4 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About my Query II”

  1. Jolie Hale Says:

    She needs to give some explanation of what the Wild Hunt is. At this point, I have no idea what it entails, so I have no reason to care whether Alisha gets involved with it or not.

  2. Sheila Says:

    I had the same reaction as Jolie. What is the purpose of this hunt? The hunt is described as “indiscriminate killing,” and her goal is to get out of leading it. Shouldn’t her goal be to stop it? Doesn’t she care about those people who are going to be indiscriminately killed?
    Mostly, though, I thought this story sounded intriguing. Everyday girl with a secret life as a . . . I'm not quite sure. As a person who talks to demons?
    Why do they need her, in particular, to lead the hunt? Maybe you could hint at that in the third paragraph. The demon must have been stalking her for a reason.
    Good luck! And thank you for sharing. It’s insightful to read, um, Daphne’s reaction to a query.

  3. Emily Says:

    Thanks so much for commenting about my query! And thanks for your thoughts, Daphne. I really appreciate everyone's time and effort.
    Just to explain a bit, the Wild Hunt was a myth believed in the Middle Ages by the German and English (among others). Basically, the people thought crowds of demons and dead huntsmen would ride from the sky to kill and carry away anyone who saw it. Sometimes the Hunt seemed to chase people.
    This seemed like a little too much to put in the query- kind of just background information- but I'd definitely like to incorporate your suggestions and add more info. Does anyone have any ideas how I could do this without boring the agent or making them scan it instead of really reading my query?

  4. Sandy Williams Says:

    My only hangup was this: "Alisha will do anything and everything to be free of the Hunt, but this time, it might not be enough."
    The "this time" makes it sound like Alisha's been through this before. Has she?
    Otherwise, I think it's great. It didn't bother me not to know exactly what the Wild Hunt was – I wanted to read the story to find out.
    Good job and good luck!