Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Query Revised--Round 2

First, thank you all very much for the comments you made Monday. Query #2 won hands down. I tried to take the comments and rework/reword it just a bit. Did it get better? I've highlighted the areas I'm the most concerned about and put my thoughts in italics at the end of the paragraph. Thoughts?

Dear ____,

As her nightmares of invasion and death become reality, a lonely scientist embraces forgotten magic to save her world from an ancient evil.

In a world that tried to crush all forms of magic in favor of science, Talia Shannon is trapped. Unable to warn the military about the impending invasion because her source is magical in nature, she has spent her life searching for the scientific proof needed to warn them. But time is up. (I actually like it, but it starts with but! The sentence before is also pretty long.)

A loner by habit, Talia’s life is turned upside down by a commander in the Royalist army when he accuses her of treason. They call a truce when the Draguman, a creature fashioned by magic in Sendek’s past, return from exile with superior science and technology to wipe out the humans. Together they must survive the invasion, wake a dragon, and learn to use their magical gifts to save their planet from the Draguman. (loner by habit--Is this redundant because of my first paragraph? Should I just cut it? List of events--um, its a list. I saw this in a query that a certain agent liked. Her thought was, "now I see a glimpse of what is going to happen." But I'm still not sure.)

When science fails to protect their way of life, magic becomes their only hope.

Sendek is an 84,000 word Science Fantasy novel. The complete manuscript is available at your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

And, they say you should never write a query from your MC's point of view. Well, if I did decide to break that rule. This is what it would look like.
Dear ______,

Journal entry—Talia Shannon (Keep or delete?)

The end is near. I know they’re coming. I know I’ll die when they find me.

I hoped the measurable, steady laws of science would save me, but the woman in my dreams looks out from every mirror. Last week I moved to the city in my visions. Now, I live in a waking nightmare, fearing each moment will be my last. 

The magic coursing through my veins pulses stronger every day. It wants me to do something. I long to give in; let it explode outward from my body. But I can’t as long as the Commander continues watching me so closely. The worst part is I find myself hoping he’ll visit the office again, even though he infuriates me.

I feel my destiny pressing close. Something has to happen. Soon.

SENDEK  is an 84,000 word Science Fantasy novel describing Talia’s struggle to embrace the forgotten art of magic. Only magic can defeat the dragonoid humans that invade her planet, and Talia’s birthright makes her the chosen leader of the new mages. The complete manuscript is available at your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Why can't someone just create a software program that asks for:
  • main characters name
  • list of defining words that make them unique, special, or just why we should care
  • the conflict
  • title
  • word count
  • genre
  • insert voice to make it exciting
  • ready made author bio that rocks even though you've never been published
And then it magically creates a query guaranteed with 100% satisfaction rating to hook every agent you mail it to. Yeah. If you ever run across that out in the world wide web, shoot me an email.

Here are some great sites for learning about writing queries.

Successful Queries: Agent Elana Roth And Eli Stutzs Pickle Impossible There is a whole series dedicated to sharing Successful Queries on Guide to Literary Agents website.
Queries: Really Not that Complicated by Rachelle Gardner
How to Target Your Submissions to Agents--because you can't query every agent out there. Well, you could, but no one recommends it.
4 Ways to Make Your Query as Professional as Possible by Agent Jon Sternfield
You're Making Me Crazy Here! by Janet Reid
Top 10 Query Mistakes by Rachelle Gardner
Read every entry on Query Shark
The Basic Query Letter Formula (Query Letter Madlib) by Nathan Bransford
How to format an e-mail query by Nathan Bransford


  1. Writing queries is harder than writing the book. I hate it myself. Good luck. You've gotten further along the process than I have with my present book.


  2. I love the software idea, but I think querying is like being hazed: if you want to join the club, you have to do it, despite the fact that it's illegal in 47 states (I won't point fingers...)

    I'm hesitant about your rule-breaking summary for use in a query. While it's intriguing, and might make a good back-cover or prologue, it's a little too intriguing. It catches one's interest because it's not clear what's going to happen, and instead is shaded in intense mystery. And it doesn't tell the *whole* story, and it can't because it's 1st person and therefore stuck in a single moment in time. From my research on what agents are looking for (and I am by *far* no expert), they want to know--as best as possible in 2-3 paragraphs--what happens from front to back cover. Limiting your summary to one moment in time--which has to be before the end of the story--can't give the full picture (and might even have the potential to make an agent thing the novel isn't finished...) That being said, I really like the journal entry. I just think you might want to find a different use for it.

    Yup, I'm long-winded again this morning....

    Okay, highlighted areas: I'm not of the school that insists on not beginning sentences with and/but. I know many people are, and maybe those people would be better suited to answer your concern here. I think it gives a nice sense of urgency to that short sentence which you can't get otherwise. I tried replacing "But" with "Now", but I still couldn't get the same strength from it. I'll keep thinking about it, though.

    I don't find "A loner by habit" to be redundant after the first para. The first paragraph doesn't imply to me she's a loner, but only that she's stuck in a world where she doesn't fit. This phrase adds to the strength of that and gives it more meaning, imho.

    I like that you moved your list to the end of the paragraph. I don't dislike the list, but the sudden mention of a dragon still throws me, and may be part of my confusion with what's going to happen. I think I might prefer you keep something about the army of mage (although, possibly a different term could make it clearer; or perhaps something like "a magical(ly-inclined) army") than the dragon. It seems random to me, where as surviving an invasion and the raising of an army seem to go together.

    One other thing: I agree with Olivia's comment on your original post about adding something to the effect of "Sendek’s Space Exploration Foundation". It easily sets up the meaning of "Sendek" without actually doing it.

    I really like the way this is coming along. I'm really impressed with your effort and the results, and I'm more and more intrigue to read the whole thing.

    Great work! Good luck! :)

  3. I have an award for you at my blog.

  4. I actually took a class with C.J. Redwine to get my query where I wanted it. She offers both instruction and several critiques to help you get it right. Though I can not tell you whether or not my query is an agent grabber having only just started, I can tell you that hers was. Let me know if you want to check it out.

  5. Great links! Good luck on the query.


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