Ask Daphne! About My Query LXV

July 23rd, 2010 • Kate

superheroIn honor of Comic Con this weekend, some superhero Miu Miu shoes for RPG, who contributed today’s letter for our About My Query post. Shall we begin?

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

For sixteen-year-old Cameron Ware, there is only one thing worse than realizing that her menacing, half sister Terri is right about them being descendents of the most powerful witch that has ever existed. What’s worse is that in a moment of insecurity Cameron asks Terri to help her cast a spell on her own boyfriend, Jonathan.

Not only does this spell alter the course of Jonathan’s life, it also entwines Cameron into a world of witchcraft where her infinite power and gene pool is coveted and sought after— most aggressively by Terri. In the midst of a complete physical deterioration that eventually befalls all witches, Terri draws Cameron even further in. She believes that Cameron has inherited the power and eternal beauty that should belong to her.

Cameron regrets the harm that her involvement in witchcraft has caused and is willing to give Terri whatever she wants in order to protect herself and everything she loves. But when Cameron realizes that giving Terri what she wants will have tragic consequences she accepts who she is and everything that comes along with it.

The Village at Copper Creek is a 70,000-word YA fantasy novel.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
RPG

Thanks for your query, RPG! I have some comments starting at the top, and then we’ll open for comments from the informed peanut gallery. First of all, I think there’s a lot of information in those first two lines — which is good, because it sets up the whole story nicely, but bad, too, because it’s a little confusing. I keep trying to read it as “the only thing worse than” which would leave the sentence unfinished. Basically, it may be late on a Friday afternoon, and I may have seen one too many pictures of scantily clad superheros and slave Leias, but I think you broke my brain.

I’m definitely curious to know more about the complete physical deterioration that Terri’s in the middle of, but I think you can be more specific about the “tragic consequences”, as well as about what kind of spell is cast that alter’s Jonathan’s life.

What I think I’m basically saying is, good start, but see if you can’t add some specifics that really make us care about Cameron and her predicament.

What do you guys think?

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

  1. Daisy Whitney Says:

    I think I like those shoes!

  2. Rissa Watkins Says:

    I had to read the first sentence twice. It does pack a lot of info, but maybe you could break it up to help with the flow.

    How does Jonathon's life change? I assume not for the better- but you don't say for sure.

    Also, you say Terri covets Cameron's power and gene pool- but doesn't Terri share the same gene pool as Cameron?

    I agree with Daphne, the last paragraph is too vague and could use more detail to up the stakes and make the reader care more about what happens.

    It does sound like a good story, just need to tweak the query a bit.

  3. Liz Czukas Says:

    There's a lot of good info about your story here to work with. Overall, I feel like you're trying to fit it into a "typical" query style, with "the only thing worse" and "protect herself and everything she loves" and "tragic consequences". If you go wild and break the mold for a YA query, I think you might be able to communicate the message better.

    If I may be so bold as to offer a revision:

    Sixteen-year-old Cameron Ware doesn't want to believe her half sister, Terri, is right about them being descendants of the most powerful witch that ever lived. But in a moment of insecurity, Cameron turns to Terri for to cast a spell on her boyfriend, Jonathan, altering the course of his life. (possibly add more about what happens to Jonathan) Now, the truth is impossible to deny.

    Cameron is caught deep in a world of witchcraft where everyone–especially Terri, who is in the midst of the physical deterioration that eventually befalls all witches –covets the infinite power of her gene pool. Terri believes that Cameron has inherited the power and eternal beauty that should belong to her.

    (Or add more about what's happening to Jonathan here) Cameron wants out, and at first, she's willing to give Terri whatever she wants to protect herself and everything she loves. But when she realizes giving Terri what she wants will (be more specific than tragic consequences), she accepts who she is and everything that comes along with it.

    It's not perfect, and I don't know about your story so I can't fill in the gaps well, but I hope it at least gives you another idea about your query.

    Good luck!

    – Liz

  4. Rissa Watkins Says:

    Ohh, Liz. Good job!

  5. RPG Says:

    Thanks so much for the feedback. I think I'm afraid to break out of the query format that we read so much about. (Which isn't like me really.) I will definitely add more details.

    And Liz, I am thankful you were so "bold." I hope you don't mind if I actually use your suggestions.

    RPG

  6. Red Boot Pearl Says:

    I like the revision by Liz, really great job.

    Sometimes it's easier to write the query when you don't know the all the details… I find myself having a hard time paring it down to the essentials.

    My only concern about this query is it sounds similar to Jinx by Meg Cabot–not that it is…the query makes it seem darker and it's not like you wrote the same book, but you might consider reading Jinx just to know how to market it differently–and show you have something unique 🙂

    Good Luck!

  7. Liz Czukas Says:

    RPG –

    Feel free to use anything I've suggested. I hope it helps!

    – Liz

  8. Jess Says:

    I was confused by the first two lines as well, but I'm more interested in the really generic next parts. I think adding specifics would help this a lot.

    Not only does this spell alter the course of Jonathan’s life [HOW? Why is this important? Is it just the inciting incident that forces Cameron into the magical world stuff?], it also entwines Cameron into a world of witchcraft where her infinite power and gene pool is coveted and sought after— most aggressively by Terri [and who else? does this matter?]. In the midst of a complete physical deterioration that eventually befalls all witches, Terri draws Cameron even further in [how? into what, really?]. She believes that Cameron has inherited the power and eternal beauty that should belong to her.

    Cameron regrets the harm that her involvement in witchcraft [what harm? Jonathan?] has caused and is willing to give Terri whatever she wants in order to protect herself and everything she loves [generic]. But when Cameron realizes that giving Terri what she wants will have tragic consequences she accepts who she is and everything that comes along with it. [generic. what consequences?]