About My Query: LUCK

February 14th, 2014 • Kate

dragonbridgeHere’s to another Friday About My Query post! As always, these queries are submitted to me specifically for critique — I’m not reaching into my regular query inbox and picking on anyone. With that said, let’s go!

Dear Daphne,

When Ila and Lilly O’More’s grandfather is murdered by a dragon in Ireland, they realize that nowhere is safe for leprechauns – even three thousand miles away in America. Dragons are hunting the family to collect their luck, a physical particle in leprechaun blood. Luck is the only way for dragons to disguise themselves as humans and avoid being slain in the modern world. Ila and Lilly have one defense against the dragons; they can produce magic, a rare and valuable talent. If only the girls could control it. They need to learn to master their ability or be added to the body count.

Ila meets Chris Ardon shortly after her grandfather’s murder. He’s sweet, funny, and his Irish accent is enough to make her forget that she should be more concerned about being murdered than being kissed. Unfortunately, Chris isn’t just any Irish lad – he’s a dragon. Without the magic Ila and Lilly can produce, Chris will die.

Ila will have to decide what matters to her most – her survival or his.

LUCK is a young adult fantasy complete at 75,000 words.

I am currently a student at the University of Illinois. I spend my weekdays studying and every other moment writing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
KD

You’ve got a strong beginning here. A little setup, with some intriguing details about a world with leprechauns and dragons in it. The subtle mention of “the modern world” helps me understand this isn’t a story of Irish immigrants in late 19th or early 20th century American (though that would be totally cool, too!). I think you might want to separate a bit the fact that Ila and Lilly have “luck”, as a physical, special thing, from the mention of their one defensive ability, to produce magic. Is there a connection between luck and magic? Can they only do one because they have the other?

My main concern comes in the second paragraph, when we focus on Ila and Chris. Here I worry that we’ve got this charming accented stranger who shows up just after her grandfather is murdered, and like YA protagonists everywhere, she doesn’t worry about the coincidence and falls in love. What happens to Lilly? Where is she in this part of the story? I’m given to understand in the first paragraph that this is a manuscript about sisters — what does Lilly think about Chris? Is she warning Ila about him? Is she the voice of reason, or a romantic urging her sister to go for it when Ila is showing caution? I’d love to know more about their relationship, which is I think what could make this manuscript special, and stand out from all the other YA paranormals in which a girl who’s different falls for a boy who could hurt her.

Especially when we come down to the hook paragraph — “Ila will have to decide what matters to her most – her survival or his.” What about Lilly? Self-sacrifice is one tale, often told, but if Ila has to decide to save her sister or her boyfriend, there’s some fun opportunity for real drama there!

Finally, I think the last five sentences have a pretty staccato rhythm. You might want to consider changing it up a bit.

Those are my two cents. Readers? What do you think?

Photo above by Flickr user Nathan Meijer, used under a Creative Commons license.
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3 Responses to “About My Query: LUCK”

  1. Krista Van Dolzer Says:

    The great thing about this query is that you can tell, at a glance, that you know what you're doing. I've never wrangled a slush pile, but I imagine that this query already puts you in the top 8.391%.

    That said, I did stumble over the first line a little. The two halves didn't seem to go together to me; it felt like you'd smashed two random magical creatures into the same line just to smash two random magical creatures into the same line. I'm sure there's a great explanation for the link between dragons and leprechauns in your manuscript, and I wanted to see a little more of that in the query.

    Also, as Kate mentioned, I'd rather hear more about Lilly than Chris. Simply by virtue of the fact that this is YA, I'm going to assume that some sort of romantic relationship is going to develop, but well-written sibling relationships are nowhere near as common. That's one of the unique elements you should definitely highlight.

    That said, I don't think you necessarily have to sacrifice one for the other. Even if you add some world building elements to that first paragraph, I think you'll still have room to cover Lilly without taking too much away from Chris. You've got a full page, so don't be afraid to use it! (I know some agents say they're into really snappy queries and are always telling writers to cut their queries down, so maybe you'll want to keep a shorter version on hand for them, but in general, I'd say it's more important to produce a fully formed query than worry about being extra pithy.)

    Good luck!

  2. Samantha Says:

    I would read this. It reminds me, off the bat, of Sophie Jordan's Firelight series. I like the twist on dragons and leprechauns, though I echo the sentiments about world-building. I'd like to see more of the world and the sister.
    Also, I don't know how much it matters, but I like the bio. It made me smile.

  3. C.Allen Says:

    I think you really hit the highlights well in your query. I actually felt like I got enough of the world building to intrigue me but I do want a little clarification between luck and magic. Also, if Ila is your main character and Lilly is more of a supporting presence, maybe don't introduce us to Lilly in the first sentence, but bring her in during the world building later in the paragraph. If Lilly is a big enough character to warrant a mention in the first sentence, then we need a hint at her own storyline in the book.
    Is Chris trying to kill the sisters for their luck? I feel like you could hook even harder with the romantic angle (nice job mentioning the Irish accent– I'd swoon!) and then drop the bomb on us that he's a dragon. You wouldn't need the last two sentences (about Ila vs Chris's survival) because you've already given us that information.
    All that and a degree too… that's impressive!