By repeated request we’ve started Workshop Wednesday. It will definitely play out through 2011, and beyond that we’ll just have to see. We’ve received well over 200 queries at this point, but we are choosing at random, so don’t be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.
For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that’s great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I’m leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don’t make me feel the need to change that policy.
And for those who have never “met” Query Shark, get over there and do that. She’s the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.
As I always do, the obvious reminder to use the agent’s name if possible.
I would like you to consider my YA urban fantasy, THRICE-BORN, complete at 65,000 words.
Simple opening that works. I don’t think you need anything fancy.
Seventeen years old Andra’s life is full. On top of dealing with the aftermath of drunken sex with the best friend whose advances she’d previously rejected, concealing the growing pain caused by her fractured soul, she also has to make a choice that will determine her standing in Octavian society. As a mere Initiate, she is powerless until she makes her Offering and chooses a Discipline: the spiritual Dyaus who sacrifice a piece of their spirit at the risk of madness, or the immoral but powerful Prithvi, who offer blood.
The first sentence is rough, very rough. In fact, I rewrote it five different ways in my head and determined it’s probably best to scrap it altogether and find another way to start this paragraph. I assume, though, that what you want to say is “Seventeen-year-old Andra’s life is full.”
As for the rest of the paragraph, I have no idea where this is going. There’s a huge disconnect between the fact that this girl had drunken sex with a friend, now has a fractured soul, and suddenly, boom, you hit me with the fact that this is set in another world. That threw me completely. In terms of the information about the drunken sex: This did not sound YA to me; there was something about this description that sounded very adult, as if it were two friends having drinks in a bar when one thing led to another. To make this work I think you need to watch the wording or explain the setup a little more. Did this happen after a high school party, after the big game, or just after a night of drinking when the parents were out of town? The problem for me is still that it sounds too contemporary and not like an urban fantasy at all.
I have no idea what Octavian society is or what this world is like. What is a mere Initiate or an Offering? There’s no world building in the query, which is going to lead me to believe that there’s some world building missing in your manuscript.
Andra’s life takes a dramatic turn when a mercenary Disciple attacks her astral twin, Andy, and stabs him with a cursed dagger. If she can’t destroy the spell draining his life, her brother will die in twelve hours. Complications arise as Andra finds out that the Disciple holding the spell is her best friend’s estranged mother, the Prithvian Priestess Alazne. Andra and the rest of her friends battle time, family and secrets best left buried as they risk everything to save Andy, and stumble in the middle of an assassination plot that could throw their society back into war.
I’m wondering again what having sex with her best friend has to do with anything in this story. Granted, in the manuscript it might be part of building her character, but in the query it adds nothing and there’s no need for it.
“Andra’s life takes a dramatic turn,” but I have no idea from what. I get no sense that there was a dramatic turn, and I guess I don’t get what her life was really like before. Maybe it needs to read (the entire blurb) more like this: “Andra always thought her life was full. Between studying, boys, and basketball she never felt that she could fit anything more in. Andra was a typical teenager. Typical until her twin was attacked…” This way we are shown and not told what the conflict is in this book.
I think the real problem is still that you mention a lot of things like mercenary Disciple, Offering and even Prithvian Priestess and I have no idea what any of these are or what the world is about. And ultimately that makes it really impossible for me to understand your story or your query.
Thank you for your time and attention.