Ask Daphne! About My Query LXXVII

proenza-schoulerI loved the image of these Proenza Schouler shoes so much when someone shared them with me yesterday that I made them my new Twitter icon. And now I’m ALSO featuring them on today’s About My Query post. Gonna play with format again today, though. The query is in bold italics, with my comments after each line or paragraph. Read on, won’t you?

Dear Super Agent,

I read your bio and thought you might be interested in my YA dystopia adventure manuscript. This is a little vague. Not wrong, necessarily, but in my case, for instance, it’s nowhere near the most specific or interesting way of introducing your dystopian YA novel to me. Did you see me chatting about dystopians on Twitter the other day, or notice my client’s upcoming dystopian novel? A comment like that feels much more immediately grabby than just that you read my bio. Moving on…

New paragraph: A shadow society formed during the Civil War bent on creating a shadow government that will control the US Government, Camp Liberty’s goals are clear – erase the damage done by decades of crooked politicians and corrupt corporate forces. Can you use another word other than “shadow” twice in the hook line? Also, I’m a little unsure when your novel is set. You refer to the Civil War and the pass decades’ worth of damage — so are we talking about Antebellum dystopia, or or society where Camp Liberty has existed already for generations, if not hundreds of years? On a personal note, this line doesn’t mention any specific characters, and I’d rather be compelled by people than politics.

New Paragraph: The Camp’s latest unwilling recruit, fifteen-year-old Lillie Forester is kidnapped, drugged and interned into this mixture of a town and military compound. There’s a weird comma here, I think, and though I suspect you mean “interned” as in a prisoner would be, it’s hard to shake my initial read of the word like a summer intern. I’d have to check with my grammar expert, but I also think “interned into” is wrong — I believe “interned in” is the correct phrase. The phrase “this mixture of a town and military compund” as makes me doublecheck to see if you’d introduced the Camp as a literal place already — which you haven’t. So there’s another way you can clarify what Camp Liberty actually is (and when), if it’s evolved beyond a shadow society to a highly visible specific location.

Lillie’s ability to find the truth in everyone, even the truth they work so hard to hide is a perfect addition to the Special Ops team. So this is a paranormal?

Lillie is brassy and stubborn and her answer to her forced induction is to escape the Camp. I think I need more of a break between this and the previous sentence. Also, no one’s really asking a question, so “answer” doesn’t sit right with me as a word choice.

It is only when she is rescued by charming Wil, a persuasive boy with many physical gifts that Lillie decides to become a member of the Camp. To be honest, I’d rather know more about how Will persuades Lillie that the folks who kidnapped her and want to use her to further an agenda she didn’t agree with are worth joining than about his “many physical gifts.”

New Paragraph: Her first mission is to discover the traitor who has been plaguing the Camp. But it’s a bitter-sweet [that should be “bittersweet”] discovery that forces Lillie to decide either to stay with the Camp she now considers home, or leave with the traitor who has stolen her heart. So it’s Wil? I have to say, this has me thinking Lillie’s got a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome going on. She doesn’t seem to have much of a mind of her own. Wouldn’t a traitor to the people who kidnapped her be someone she’d be thrilled to run away with?

New Paragraph: THE CLANDESTINE is complete at 83,000 words. This story takes place in the present, but it’s my idea of what might have happened if the young people of the 60’s were able to stay organized with a common goal. I have a degree in English and History. Ok, so now we know when the book is set, but I think you’d be better served to seed this information earlier in your query. And I don’t know if you need to tell us the idea behind the story — give yourself more time to develop the story and the characters, and I might be interested enough to want to find out the idea that the novel sprang from. At this ppoint, it’s just wasted words.

Sincerely,
Shannon M.
Thanks for sharing, Shannon! Readers, what are your thoughts? Am I completely off base? And just to make it easier for you to comment, I’ve repeated the query below without my interjections. Please add your two cents in the comments!

Dear Super Agent,

I read your bio and thought you might be interested in my YA dystopia adventure manuscript.

A shadow society formed during the Civil War bent on creating a shadow government that will control the US Government, Camp Liberty’s goals are clear – erase the damage done by decades of crooked politicians and corrupt corporate forces.

The Camp’s latest unwilling recruit, fifteen-year-old Lillie Forester is kidnapped, drugged and interned into this mixture of a town and military compound. Lillie’s ability to find the truth in everyone, even the truth they work so hard to hide is a perfect addition to the Special Ops team. Lillie is brassy and stubborn and her answer to her forced induction is to escape the Camp. It is only when she is rescued by charming Wil, a persuasive boy with many physical gifts that Lillie decides to become a member of the Camp.

Her first mission is to discover the traitor who has been plaguing the Camp. But it’s a bitter-sweet discovery that forces Lillie to decide either to stay with the Camp she now considers home, or leave with the traitor who has stolen her heart.

THE CLANDESTINE is complete at 83,000 words. This story takes place in the present, but it’s my idea of what might have happened if the young people of the 60’s were able to stay organized with a common goal. I have a degree in English and History.

Sincerely,

Shannon M

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