Ask Daphne! About My Query XCI

December 2nd, 2011 • Kate

solangeHappy Friday! Welcome to another edition of About My Query. Your mission: to read and comment below to help the author improve their query letter. Ready? Let’s go!

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

A near-death experience grants Drazoral a glimpse of her future, but after hearing that her life is the key to cleansing her home planet, she runs away to Earth, takes on a new identity, and, through trial and error, learns to blend in. As thirteen year old Drew Vardaman, she has the chance to start over. It’s her hope that, on Earth, she’ll be able to control her own destiny.

Although she has a rough start, Drew soon discovers what it means to be human through the guidance of her cryptic guardians, and her handler, Mr. Bleu. And just when she comes to peace with who she is and what life could mean on a planet like ours, a parasitic shadow starts possessing her classmates, forcing Drew to tap into the powers she’s been promised but hasn’t yet learned to master.

As the shadow grows stronger, Drew’s confidence becomes weaker. And though she realizes that playing it safe isn’t always the right thing to do, she sees that putting herself in harm’s way is giving into the destiny she was pre-ordained. When the sacrificing of one life is necessary to save the lives of an entire species, the choice to surrender seems clear. But when that one life is yours, there’s no wrong or right in the decision to fly or fight.

PLANET WEIRD is middle grade, supernatural fiction complete at 47,000 words. Thank you, Ms. Unfeasible, for your time and consideration; I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,
D.M.

I’ve gone on record in the past about my lack of interest in “destiny” books — they’re only interesting to me at this point if they truly subvert the expected and do something original with the theme. So I’m leery of this, with phrases like “her life is the key to cleansing her home planet”, “It’s her hope that, on Earth, she’ll be able to control her own destiny” and “putting herself in harm’s way is giving into the destiny she was pre-ordained”. To me, there’s actually more of interest in her assumption that “When the sacrificing of one life is necessary to save the lives of an entire species, the choice to surrender seems clear”. Is she saying she would kill someone to save the world? Now THAT’S interesting!

Going back to more basic stuff, I don’t have any real sense of who Drazoral/Drew is beyond her destiny. What does she look like? Is her species close enough to human that she could just blend in on Earth without changing her appearance, or is she in disguise somehow? And if she can just blend in, why? What does that say about her species that we’re so similar? Are we linked?

My next question is about Mr. Bleu. How does Drew earn a handler? If she’s run away, it doesn’t seem as if she’d have the resources someone who might be on a mission would. So who is this guy?

I’m afraid I just can’t really follow what’s going on here. There’s some interesting bits, but too much is glossed over or left unexplained, and it’s not enough to entice.

Readers, what do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Want a cookie?

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3 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query XCI”

  1. Krista V. Says:

    I think you can make this query stronger if you infuse it with more voice and replace some of the general statements with more specific ones.

    To give it more voice, you might try inserting some words and expressions that are unique to Drew and her worldview (galaxy-view?). Doing this will also give us a better sense of her character and help us relate to her on a more personal level, which was something that Kate wanted to see more of.

    As for making general statements more specific, I'd focus on clauses like "Drew soon discovers what it means to be human," "forcing Drew to tap into the powers she’s been promised," and "when the sacrificing of one life is necessary to save the lives of an entire species." How does Drew discover what it means to be human? What are the powers she's been promised? And whose life are we talking about? I assumed Drew's, but using a generality like that kind of detracts from the urgency of the story. It makes it feel less real, less relevant, to Drew.

    Good luck with this! You've got some good bones here; now you just have to flesh them out.

  2. Lenna Says:

    I really like this idea! I agree that maybe the summary wasn’t detailed enough but the plot sounds exciting. I hope to know more! I love books like this. It sounds very creative!

  3. Deserae Says:

    Thank you both! And thanks, Kate. I've written a revised query and it's posted on my blog. If anyone would care to comment on that as well, I'd love to hear from you there.

    Thanks again,
    Deserae
    http://almostnotquitethere.blogspot.com/2011/12/r