if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

Ask Daphne! About My Query LX

yellow_shoesDaffodil yellow shoes for Mel J.’s query today, which follows below. Please add your comments in the appropriately-named comment section!

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

High in her castle, shielded by an immense stone wall, the Princess Mairwen hides from her starving people. Orphaned by the plague, she desires only to avoid the filthy commoners and their fatal diseases. But when her interest in the outside world begins to blossom, her loyal advisors insist on complete isolation—and Mairwen begins to wonder if she’s a beloved princess, or a prisoner.

Meanwhile, on a far mountaintop, timid Eirian has enjoyed a simple pastoral life with her father, who is determined to shield her from a secret past and an uncertain future. Having had only her beloved sheep for company throughout childhood, she is utterly unprepared when tragedy thrusts her into the thick of a famished society on the verge of revolution.

Two maidens kept from the world. Two lives turned inside out. Two separate paths that will soon converge, for when Mairwen chooses to defy her oppressive caretakers, she will need help to save not only her people, but also herself. And that help must come from a shy mountain girl who has no idea of the power she holds.

Drawing on Welsh mythology and geography, When Daffodils Bloom is a Young Adult novel complete at 80,000 words. I thank you for your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Mel J.

I like the set-up! The opening line is very strong, but I immediately want to know more about what brought about her blossoming interest in the outside world. I also have to question just how “beloved” a princess she was, if she thinks the commoners are filthy and she needs from them. It seems to speak to her self-delusion, if nothing else.

When we get to Eirian, I had to stifle a laugh when I read about her beloved sheep — I may have lived in England for too long, but I can’t help but think of several dirty jokes about people loving their sheep. I don’t think you want that in your query. I’d also be aware of some possibly unintentional alliteration: “tragedy thrusts her into the thick”, for instance.

The repetition of “two” in the penultimate paragraph is nice, but I’d aim for a more aggressive end to that cycle, maybe “Two separate paths that must converge” or “Two separate paths that will crash together”.

I’d love to have a little more detail about why Eirian needs to help Mairwen, and what power you hint at, but maybe that’s me. In all, I think this is a pretty strong query! Readers, your thoughts?

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