not as pretentious as the header image suggests, but just as awesome

Ask Daphne! About My Query LXXIII

Patrick_Cox_Shoes_featheredSomething about masquerade balls always screams feathers to me, and these Patrick Cox heels fit right in with that. Not that I’d want to fall off a cliff in them. To see what I’m talking about, read on for P.S.’s query:

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

A statue chased Angela-Courtney off a cliff at a Midsummer masquerade ball. As another Midsummer draws near, a wolf claiming to be Angela’s grandmother tells her three important rules:

1) Wolves can convert human memories into supernatural energy, but only with the humans’ consent.
2) Humans who stumble upon and use this ability tend to steal memories for more power. Because of this, the wolves kill any such humans or humanoid beings.
3) Angela can convert magic back into memories, thus possessing an anti-magic.

Angela has to worry about rule #2 because the hosts of the masquerade ball have imprisoned the wolves and two thousand girls in a “nowhere land”, created a perfect life with the memories they have stolen, and discovered Angela’s anti-magic. And they don’t want her interfering.

Sometimes Beautiful, a middle grade Gothic fantasy, is complete at 41,000 words. You’ve mentioned on your website that you like Neil Gaiman and Holly Black; I hope my stories are just as fascinating and terrifying.

My mailing address is [address], my preferred email [email]. My phone number is [phone].

Thank you for your consideration. I hope you have enjoyed reading this query as well as the pages enclosed below.


Great opening, but I’d start with “Last year, a statue… etc.” Also, is it necessary to call her Angela-Courtney, if you otherwise only refer to her as Angela?

The rules are nice, but what are they rules FOR? Or rules OF? And really, are they rules at all, or facts (at least in this world)? The “rules” also don’t give us any answers about how a wolf could be Angela’s grandmother, and going on, I have even more questions — who are the hosts of the masquerade ball? How do they know Angela, or why do they keep inviting her to the ball? What’s up with the statue? What kind of humanoids are we talking about — if you bring them up, I want to know more about them. How did the hosts discover Angela’s anti-magic? Did Angela discover it herself, or only knows about it because the wolf told her she had it?

Moving on, I saw actually a little thrown to read that you see this as middle grade novel. You don’t set the MC’s age in the query, so I guessed, but in doing so, I assumed this was YA rather than MG. I’ll also admit that I think of Holly Black, one of your comparison authors, more as a YA author than MG, though she does both, as does Neil Gaiman. The wording, however, of the sentence “I hope my stories are just as fascinating and terrifying” does give me pause — is this a short story collection (notoriously hard to sell) or a novel?

I wouldn’t waste time in the query letter (especially one as short as this) with a separate paragraph with your contact details. Put them below your name after the closing, and you’re all set.

In general, I think I have too many questions about this to get a good sense of the world it’s set in or the characters. In fact, I barely know anything about Angela at all — not even how she reacts to a wolf talking, let along telling her its her grandmother. Without that connection, it’s hard to want to know more.

Readers, what do you think?

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