About My Query: POLARIS

March 8th, 2013 • Kate

borrowedsnowshoesI had a scheduling snafu last week, and so skipped a week of About My Query posts, but I will make that up to you on Monday, with an additional AMQ post with a special guest blogger/query reviewer. Stay tuned! Now for this week’s:

Dear Ms. Daphne,

Polaris isn’t just the safest place left on earth; it’s also the only place Hayley Spencer has ever felt like she belonged. Ten years after the human race causes irreparable damage to the earth, Hayley’s family gains admission to Polaris, the self-contained city at the North Pole. Created by the brightest scientists left in the world, the domed city is everything the Remaining World is not; clean, peaceful and a place for a teenager to thrive. Usually quiet and brainy, Hayley surprises herself by adapting easily to her strange new surroundings. She makes friends with her classmates, falls in love with the orchard in the Ag Sector and manages to figure out how her dog’s personal bathroom works. She even has the attentions of Dylan, the too-good-looking childhood friend she reunites with, and Cody, the moody young pilot who makes her stomach flutter. It would be easy to settle into her new life in Polaris, but when Cody’s sister goes missing from her Florida home, Hayley and her friends break the Polaris rules, leaving the compound to embark on a rescue mission. They find that the safe Polaris community has not prepared them for the realities of the Remaining World; but upon returning to Polaris, Hayley finds that the desperation of the Remaining World has not prepared her for the safe life of Polaris either.

Polaris is a young adult novel with an intricately imagined setting, youthful romance and the candid narration of a sympathetic heroine. The completed manuscript is just under 75,000 words.

Polaris is my first novel. I am semi-retired from sports medicine and fully-tired from chasing a toddler around the house. I have enjoyed Daphne’s blog and I’m attracted to your agency because I agree that boundless optimism and cute shoes are indispensable. I would love to have your guidance and advice for my manuscript. In addition, as a fellow Coloradan, I would appreciate any local resources for writers that you recommend. Thank you for your consideration of my query!

I have pasted the first three pages of Polaris below, per your agency guidelines.

Sincerely,

C.S.A.

This is a really strong opening. I was hooked by the concept, if a little less sure about just who Hayley is. An extra line or so, even a few more descriptive words about her, could definitely help. But then I feel like you throw a lot at me at once, from Hayley and her friends leaving Polaris for a rescue mission in the Remaining World (great turn of phrase!), to them coming back. I wonder if you shouldn’t perhaps keep the focus in the query on the rescue mission, rather than on the return. I think the way you have it now somewhat belittles the rescue, when I’m guessing that’s a big part of the story.

I’d also recommend rewording your second paragraph entirely. Anytime you can find a way to show me something about the story, rather than having to tell me it’s got an “intricately imagined setting, youthful romance and the candid narration of a sympathetic heroine”, the better! And as a mom myself, I love the detail about being “fully-tired from chasing a toddler around the house,” though you may want to exchange that from something different depending on who you’re querying — it might not strike the same note if you’re querying a young, single agent in the big city, than this wizened old momma here in Colorado!

All in all, definitely intriguing. If you were actually querying me, this is certainly something I’d take a closer look at.

Readers, your thoughts?

Photo above by Flickr user Lui.C, used under a Creative Commons license.
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One Response to “About My Query: POLARIS”

  1. Krista Van Dolzer Says:

    As Kate mentioned, this is already pretty strong. You've given us a good sense of the world, and I like the idea of a North-Pole-based settlement. It's intriguing and different.

    I only have two suggestions. First, I'd break up the summary paragraph into two or maybe three. I know several prominent agencies encourage writers to fit the summary into one, but it's not as easy to read. If agents start skimming, they're probably going to miss something important because you haven't made it easy for their eyes to find those things.

    Also, I think you spend too long on the setup and not enough on the plot itself. It sounds like the meat of the story lies in the rescue mission and the return to Polaris, but you only have room to give those events a sentence or two because you spent so long setting up the world (although it was, as I said, interesting and well-written). I'd try to squish THAT stuff down to a few sentences so you have space to flesh out Hayley's character and the events and choices she faces.

    Good luck!