- By: Jessica Faust | Date: May 18 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 Bookends Blog,
Jason is dead. To Bri MacBride, nothing else matters.
It doesn’t matter that his death is just one in a string of murders. It doesn’t matter that Bri is Suspect Numero Uno. As long as the police are investigating her, they will never find the real killer, so Bri takes on that job herself. Finding answers is her only priority.
That is, until she starts finding answers.
When the people in your life are targeted by a serial killer, you’ve got the makings of some pretty hefty shrink bills. When that serial killer is also a powerful sorcerer, your problems are just a little more serious than that.
This is all a bit wordy. I like that the voice is coming through in the query, but it could have cut to the chase much sooner. The way this query is introduced, this book sounds like straight suspense. I think it’s in the writer’s best interest to make it clear that this book has paranormal elements much sooner.
Bri isn’t a total stranger to magic. She is one of the fae, belonging half to the faerie world, half to the human world, but not quite to either. She plays music as a day job, but when money gets low – or when life gets boring – she has a few extracurricular activities. Like scaling buildings, disabling alarm systems, and stealing valuable jewels, for instance. When your talents include the ability to manipulate energy, fry electronics, and make yourself unnoticeable, the real crime would be letting your skills go to waste.
Now here’s the interesting stuff. This paragraph is what sets the book apart from a typical serial killer novel. This information should be introduced as close to the beginning of the query as possible. At the same time, though, it was a red flag for me. The tone has taken a turn. Those two introductory paragraphs sound very dark and serious. First we’re talking about how “nothing else matters” to Bri other than finding Jason’s killer. Now there’s breezy talk of her “extracurricular activities.” If it’s a dark book, there’s still a way of describing her abilities that isn’t quite so casual. If not, then the writer might want to find a different way to open the query.
But all of Bri’s abilities won’t be enough to stop a sorcerer like this one – and if she is out of her depth, what chance do the cops have?
As Bri tries to put the pieces together, she discovers that she has more than one enemy to contend with. It’s hard enough just to evade the police, but she also has to escape goblin mercenaries, and survive attacks from mysterious faerie assassins. All this, while trying to hunt down a sorcerer who can kill her with a wave of a pinky finger. She must also bargain with her estranged mother, a faerie Queen who may not have Bri’s best interests at heart. Then she has to figure out what all the pieces add up to, and the answer to that may change her life forever.
I sort of feel like we’ve forgotten all about Jason. He seemed so important at the beginning, but as the description goes on, I’m starting to think that the heart of the book is really in this last paragraph. Jason was a launching point, but not really the book’s focus.
This whole description could’ve been much shorter and more concise. If the writer had spent less time talking about Jason and setting it up like a suspense novel, we would’ve gotten to the meat of the book much sooner. I’d still like this last paragraph to be a bit more specific about the conflict. It raises some interesting elements, but they’re all a bit vague. All in all, though, it’s much more interesting to me than the beginning of the query.
OBSIDIAN BLADE is a completed urban fantasy novel of 100,000 words. This is the first novel I am submitting for publication, but I have been writing fantasy novels for fun ever since I was twelve years old. OBSIDIAN BLADE is stand-alone, but it has series potential, and I am already at work on a sequel.
Scrap the second sentence. Let the book speak for itself. Don’t tell me that it’s the first book you’ve submitted. That second sentence makes it sound as if writing is more of a hobby for you, not a serious career that you’re pursuing.
I would be happy to send you an excerpt or the complete manuscript for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.