if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

Ask Daphne! About My Query XCII

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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