- By: Jessica Faust | Date: Aug 10 2011
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.
Dear Ms. Faust,
I respectfully request your review of my query for the Bookends Workshop Wednesday. I hope that my writing does not get in the way of this story. I appreciate your efforts on my behalf.
If you think your writing isn’t strong enough I’m unlikely to think it’s strong enough. Never start a query, never start a pitch of any kind (for a job, for a book, for a marriage proposal) by telling your flaws. The truth is that your writing will get in the way. A great story is necessary for publication, yes, so is good writing. You really do need the total package.
It will never be the same. Jesse was looking for adventure, but this is too much. Ordinarily ordinary, she is a fifteen year-old girl from Boiling Springs. She did all of the right things to collect friends, please her teachers and make summer plans. Being nice and doing what she was told is no longer enough. Who knew that signing up for an exchange student program would put her in a trajectory for a collision smack dab with everything she knew about herself. She came up short. The wreck changed her life in a moment’s decision. She did not offer help when someone needed her, then she lied about it. A priority of fitting in with friends jeopardized everything she knew about human decency and being truthful.
This doesn’t feel like a paragraph to me, it feels like a collection of thoughts, like a rough draft, and yes, based on this, your writing will get in the way. It’s important to remember that your query is a representation of how your book is written, and based on this it feels like your book is going to be choppy and without much connection. In all honesty, there’s something interesting about this idea, about the fact that someone on a foreign exchange program makes one decision that will change her life forever, but why be so vague? Why won’t you simply tell me exactly what’s going to happen and what that decision is.
I’m not sure if this is entirely about poor writing or just an author trying to be too clever. Based on the last sentence in your first paragraph I’m apt to think poor writing, which is too bad because the idea is somewhat intriguing, but I can’t represent poor writing.
This is Jesse’s story. She was a nice person. She became a bad person. LEFT SIDE OF THE TRUTH, a Young Adult novel complete at 52,000 words, is the account of what she did about it.
This feels like you’re going to tell me the story instead of show me the story. I also have a problem with “became a bad person.” I’m not sure anyone wants to read the story where the character’s growth, the protagonist’s growth, actually makes them less desirable.
This is a debut novel. The right side of a lie is not to tell one. The left side is what I will tell you now.
I have no idea what you’re saying here, and that pretty much clinches a rejection for me.