Ask Daphne! About My Query XXVIII

October 30th, 2009 • Kate

red-cowboy-bootsThese are a pretty close approximation of the shoes I’ll be wearing tomorrow for Halloween. What are YOU going to be wearing? A free book from the kt literary library to anyone who can make a connection between their costume and a kt lit client or title! And I’m talking a real connection, too. Photo proof must be provided to win. In the meantime, let’s hit today’s About My Query, shall we? Before I post it, I should mention that Kimber also adds, “I especially would like to know if it sounds suitable for Young Adult or Paranormal Romance. Since I read across all genres, I often get confused by genre lines.” So please bear that question in mind as you read.

Dear Ms. Brilliant Agent,

I became acquainted with your agency while studying the blogs of several other agents and have learned much. Thank you! My Speculative Romance, SWEET, is complete at 70,000 words.

Cornered like an animal, Ophelia must discover her own power before the man {or ‘boy’ for YA} she loves, who would rescue her, becomes the monster she fears.

Ophelia longs to be free, free of Diabetes, free of her ex-boyfriend, free to live. She loves Adrian, but she loved Martin once too. She knows it’s only a matter of time before he succumbs to the same intoxication. It’s an alien virus which transforms them. For every infection, there’s a cure. If Martin has his way though, she will never achieve the freedom to find it.

Adrian came to town searching for his sister. He knew if he stuck close to The Sweet, the monsters who took her would reveal themselves. He didn’t know he’d fall in love. Now, he has a girlfriend to protect too and revenge might get in the way.

Sincerely,
Kimber

Ok, first off, Kimber, you’re close on the introduction to the agent with “I became acquainted with your agency while studying the blogs of several other agents and have learned much”, but it feels a little off to me. It could be read that you’ve learned a lot about other agents from their blogs, which I’m sure isn’t your intention. I think that’s a relatively easy fix, though — something like “While studying the blogs of several agents, I became acquainted with your agency and have learned much from your posts.” The thank you is a very nice touch to include.

Moving on, however, I find the description of the story really confusing and hard to follow. I get that you’re setting up some kind of Beauty and the Beast-esque story, but with a virus instead of a curse. And Ophelia needs to believe she’s strong enough on her own before she can accept help from the guy she loves, and help him in return. Is that close? And then there’s her brother, who’s looking for her, and ALSO falls in love.

There’s a lot going on in these short paragraphs. I feel like you need to take your time and maybe try writing it out in a much longer form. Write a full one-page description of the novel, then cut it in half, then down to a paragraph, then figure out what the one-line hook is.

There’s something really intriguing in a virus called “The Sweet” and a main character who’s a diabetic. Explore that a little more, instead of spending more time on the guys.

To answer your specific question, there’s nothing here that points towards adult or YA fiction. By defining your main character’s age, you could help a reading agent place this more easily. Otherwise, I would learn towards thinking this is adult. But I can’t pinpoint exactly why I’d guess that.

Finally, you also may want to say something about yourself — even if you have no writing credits to speak of, maybe you can add somethign about your influences, your education, or any nationwide memberships you belong to.

But what do you think, readers? Put down that fun size Snickers bar and add your two cents in the comments (if you didn’t give all your change away to Unicef, that is.)

And HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed Under: About My Query, Ask Daphne!

Tags: , , , ,


8 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query XXVIII”

  1. Jamie Says:

    This query is really disjointed to me. It's almost like two different books you're querying.. one is big bad scary alien virus and the other is boring ol love triangle.

    But, I think your story probably isn't that way. It's all intermixed and twangled (yeah I made that word up just now) into one great book. The story sounds pretty interesting, but you need to hook me somehow. As it stands right now I don't see anything that really draws me in. Explore those three characters and their triangle–but do so in a way that naturally describes the story. (I know, also–I need some oceanfront property in Arizona, please.)

    I think you have something here, and I'd be interested to see where you go with this query!

  2. kelljones Says:

    Just a thought here, but I'm guessing that the theme where "Ophelia must discover her own power" is key to whether or not this will read more teen or more adult. In my mind, YA books tend to have some aspect of the protagonist discovering who she is and how she fits into her world (or makes her place in a new one). Aside from the line I quoted above, I don't see that aspect reflected here. (Could just be me, though.)

    More generally, I'm confused about what things are. Does Ophelia have an alien virus in addition to diabetes, or are they the same thing? Is it called the Sweet, or is that the monsters Adrian references, or something else altogether?

    Good luck with the rewrite — I'm also really interested in a protagonist with diabetes and how that affects her story!

  3. Stina Says:

    I agree with everyone else. I guess I got lost at "Cornered like an animal." I think I had a different connotation than what the writer was after. Cornered animals are scared and ready to attack anyone who comes close to them. Does this mean that Ophelia is going to scratch the guy's eyes out or something? Probably not.

    It does sound interesting. I have a thing for romance, though I prefer YA and this doesn't come off as that genre. Maybe for the reasons outlined by Kelljones.

  4. Rissa Watkins Says:

    I think the book does lean towards adult also. Maybe it is because Adrian comes into town searching for his sister- sounds like an adult thing to do.

    I agree there is a lot going on so it feels kind of disjointed.

    As for the costume, hmmm, do you have any titles called, "37 year old mean mom punishes bad 5 year old by not allowing him to trick-or-treat" because that is my costume this year.

  5. Karen Says:

    I'm pretty confused by this, but I think there is a good story hiding somewhere. I'd get rid of the "cornered like an animal" because there is nothing to follow it up. I was expecting something to show that some situation had backed her into a metaphorical corner, but it never came.

    This paragraph—

    Ophelia longs to be free, free of Diabetes, free of her ex-boyfriend, free to live. She loves Adrian, but she loved Martin once too. She knows it’s only a matter of time before he succumbs to the same intoxication. It’s an alien virus which transforms them. For every infection, there’s a cure. If Martin has his way though, she will never achieve the freedom to find it.

    —seems to be missing something. It’s the paragraph where we should be getting to know your character(s) and their conflicts. Unfortunately, because I don't know the story, I can't really say what could be filled in, but something more needs to be said. It makes me think that all parts with Martin could be excluded. Let the story focus on Ophelia, the virus and Adrian’s quest to find his sister.

    And I think I have to disagree with Kate a bit. She said: I get that you’re setting up some kind of Beauty and the Beast-esque story, but with a virus instead of a curse. And Ophelia needs to believe she’s strong enough on her own before she can accept help from the guy she loves, and help him in return. Is that close? And then there’s her brother, who’s looking for her, and ALSO falls in love.

    I didn’t get that it was Ophelia’s brother looking for her and falls in love. I understood it to be that Adrian came to town to find his sister and fell in love with Ophelia. Is that correct? But you see how confusing it is? Ultimately, somebody is always going to be confused by something, that’s just the way the world is and you can’t do anything about that, but more people should understand it than are confused and right now, I think it’s the other way around with this letter.

    Also, you should tell us what the virus does. It doesn’t have to be long a drawn out explanation, but saying monster is not very descriptive. There could be any number of things that could happen to make someone a “monster.” I didn’t immediately go to something like Beauty and the Beast (but maybe that’s because Kate has had Belle on the brain recently ?) I was thinking more Invasions of the Body Snatchers or 28 Days Later type thing-lol. Kate and I could both be wrong, but simply saying something like “the virus transforms them into monsters” is vague and could mean anything from a princely beast to a fast running zombie.

    I hope this helps. The story sounds like there is good stuff in there. Hope you can find a way to bring it out. Oh, and telling the ages will let us/the agent know if it’s YA or adult? How old are they?

    Good Luck…sorry this was so long.

  6. Northwriter Says:

    Not much to add except that I agree with Kate. Start with a longer description and then refine it.

  7. A. L. Sonnichsen Says:

    Kimber, I'm not a query expert by any means, but I agree that this query left me with questions. One of them is why Martin does not want her to have the freedom to find a cure. Is she trapped in a relationship with him? There are a lot of interesting elements to this story, so I hope you can get to the root of the story with your next attempt. I know query writing is not easy! Good luck.

  8. Jenny Says:

    I agree with everyone that this is a bit confusing. Kate is right that the concept of a virus called "The Sweet" coupled with a main character who is diabetic sounds very intriguing. Unfortunately that gets lost in the rest of the query. I think that if you concentrated on Ophelia and the virus, how she is affected and her quest for the cure it would be a much more interesting and concise letter.