- By: Jessica Faust | Date: Mar 30 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,
In my novel BOUND TO YOU, an emotionally reserved woman struggles to reconnect with the adoptive family that raised her after discovering a natural affinity with the biological one she’s just met.
If I have to read a sentence twice to figure out what the author is saying you need to rework the sentence. You’ve got a lot of information in here, but honestly, it doesn’t say anything. This is a common mistake in queries, an attempt to give your book an overall theme. Besides the fact that this is an awkward sentence, it doesn’t grab me. There’s nothing here that makes me care about the book. There’s nothing in this sentence that feels special and, frankly, I think you could just keep it simple. Bound to You is an 84,000-word women’s fiction novel about a woman coming to terms with her own adoption.
At 28, Aden Crawford relegates most of her relationships to the backburner. In the ten years since she uncovered adoption papers in the attic—and was met with silence in place of answers—she’s almost convinced herself she’s better off alone. But that’s easier said than done. Especially when her adoptive parents, sister and long-time boyfriend are determined to change her mind.
For some reason her age hit me wrong. The way you described her in the opening, “an emotionally reserved woman,” made me think this character was going to be a lot older. Discovering she’s 28 shifts my thinking on the book. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I just think your description above made her sound older. It might make a difference in your character if you make her five years older; that way you clearly move out of the realm of chick lit.
It seems like there’s a lot of potential in this paragraph, but no oomph. There’s also the potential for a lot of conflict, but I don’t see the conflict as being that big of a deal. She’s moved her relationships to the back burner, and yet she clearly has a lot of people in her life. You need to take this to the next level. Frankly, this query suffers from what I think is the biggest reason queries get rejected. The book just doesn’t sound that interesting. It sounds a little “eh.” There’s nothing special here, nothing that makes it stand out from any other book about an adult who discovers she’s adopted.
They convince her that meeting her biological father, Shawn Channing, will erase any lingering questions about who she is. Aden tracks down Shawn and is baffled by his unquestioning acceptance. She bonds with her two half-brothers through hours-long phone calls, rounds of 20 Questions via email and a few cross-country visits. And she slips into the family dynamic as if she’s always been there.
If she was met with silence then why are those same parents suddenly working so hard to help her connect with her biological parents? That doesn’t make sense. When I see things like this, conflicts in the query, it makes me believe that there are a lot of plot errors in the book. These might be small, but let’s face it, I’m judging your book on the query, and if you don’t see the conflicting information here then it’s likely you aren’t seeing it in 400 pages.
The ease of her new family life, however, leaves her desperate to regain that same closeness with her adoptive family. Insecurity from years of estrangement keeps her from reaching out to them. Aden must find a way to let go of the past if she hopes to wind up with everything—and everyone—she’s ever wanted.
It feels like I’ve totally missed the conflict in the story. This just seems like a nice tale about a woman who has two families. I’m not at all connecting with what her growth is or what she needs to overcome. She seems upset that she’s adopted, but in the meantime both her families seem incredibly supportive. Frankly, it makes her sound a little whiny. Again, this all ties into this book not feeling special.
BOUND TO YOU is a completed 84,000-word women’s fiction novel. I earned my BFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina – Wilmington.
This is good. Great bio. This is all I really need.
Thank you for your consideration.