Ask Daphne! About My Query XCII

December 12th, 2011 • Kate

carrieunderwoodSorry for the delay in posting this! My Friday got away from me and suddenly, whoa! It’s Monday! Without any further delay, here’s J.K.’s query for your review.

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

Finding her best friend dead in the river is bad enough. Becoming the killer’s next target is worse. Dealing with the emotions of every other person around her is unbearable.

Sixteen-year-old Emma Hawthorne picks up emotions like a radio signal and with a touch she can draw them into herself, burdening her soul with a stranger’s troubles. Devastated by her friend’s death – a death she suspects wasn’t an accident – her grief leaves her unable to resist the constant bombardment of extrinsic emotions. Unexpectedly reunited with her childhood playmate, Gabriel, she sifts through the shattered pieces of her life, desperate to find truth behind her friend’s drowning.

Emma’s search for answers draws unwanted attention from Patrick, a stranger who promises to free her from her abilities. But Patrick’s offer isn’t without a price – he wants her soul. When Emma resists, Patrick attacks, forcing Gabriel to reveal a secret of his own: he’s spent the last four years training to hunt and kill creatures like Patrick, a powerful, ruthless Soul Eater.

When Emma discovers Patrick is also responsible for her friend’s death, she realizes she can’t hide behind Gabriel forever. With her soul on the line, she must learn to control the gift she thought was a curse and destroy Patrick to find the peace she so desperately craves.

THE ALTERED is a YA urban fantasy, complete at 63,000 words.

— J.K.

I’m afraid this query falls victim to one of the most common problems: not enough character detail. You have some nice detail about what happens to Emma, but nothing about how she moves beyond devastation to find the answers she seeks. I’d love more information about Gabriel and Patrick, as well. In particular Patrick — how old is he, for instance?

Otherwise, I do like the opening hook, and its pacing. Beyond that, however, it’s a little less than specific.

But maybe I’m just not feeling on top of my game today. What do you guys think?

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2 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query XCII”

  1. @jennykacz Says:

    Thank you very much for the feedback. I'm hoping these notes will help me draw out the specifics of my story in the query. I've had trouble with too many details in the past – especially concerning Patrick & Gabriel – but it seems I've gone too far the other way now!

  2. @lizwrites Says:

    I'm going to disagree with Daphne and say the opening paragraph didn't work for me. It made me think this was a mystery, and then I was surprised when I read about Soul Eaters, etc. It almost felt like I was reading a query about two separate books. It might be better to open with the 2nd paragraph explaining her powers.

    Here are some specific phrases that could be expanded upon:

    "with a touch she can draw them into herself, burdening her soul with a stranger’s troubles."
    What does this mean? Why would she want to burden her soul? Does it help the other person, or is it something she can't control (in which case you should chance "she can draw" into something like "she accidentally draws").

    "Devastated by her friend’s death – a death she suspects wasn’t an accident – her grief leaves her unable to resist the constant bombardment of extrinsic emotions."
    Why is she unable to resist? Does it help null her own emotions? Or is she weakened by her grief and can't control her power?

    "she sifts through the shattered pieces of her life, desperate to find truth behind her friend’s drowning."
    This is all vague. Also, why does she think the death isn't an accident?

    I actually think you could cut Gabriel out of the query entirely. Right now I sorta feel like Gabriel and Patrick are doing all the action, instead of your main character. Maybe focus more on Emma and her conflict, and less on the boys? Hope that makes sense.