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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Query Critique - Beacon

Original query - 

Dear [Super Editor/Super Agent],

When ignorance is bliss, Bliss is power.

Seventeen-year-old Macie Breen clings to her registered status in The Colony by the worn laces of her hand-me-down boots. Getting kicked out isn’t part of her plans, but going unregistered would mean fewer rules, no forced blood donations to feed the vampeer of society, and she could try her own search for her missing parents. Having a chance to make her friendship with Thane, her unregistered best bud, something more would be an added bonus. Yet when Bliss, the capital township of The Colony, announces selections of Attendees for the Jubilee celebration, Macie’s hopes crumble at her feet. She’s chosen, trapped as a registered forever. A life with Thane? Impossible.

Devil spawn, snarling beasts thought purged from existence, enter Macie’s township, all with fangs aimed for her. Amid the chaos, Macie narrowly escapes to the safety of Bliss’s walls. Beneath the façade of happy people, an underground resistance brings Jubilee’s true purpose to light, with Macie discovering her heritage as the Beacon of the fae. Fae blood enables vampeer to daywalk, so the fae keep their kind secret, awaiting the Beacon to guide them back to their home realm. Certain vampeer have a different agenda. The Beacon is the key, making Macie’s capture their highest priority.

Joining the resistance, Macie finds protection, but no peace, not after learning a high ranking Colony official, a vampeer citizen, holds her parents hostage. One chance to rescue them. No room for failure. If her powers land in the wrong hands, the whole world would suffer the cost.

BEACON is a Young Adult urban fantasy/dystopian that should appeal to readers of The Hunger Games. It is complete at XX,XXX words and has series potential.

I appreciate your consideration of my query. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Sincerely,

Critique -

Dear [Super Editor/Super Agent],

When ignorance is bliss, Bliss is power.

Seventeen-year-old Macie Breen clings to her registered status in The Colony by the worn laces of her hand-me-down boots. (oh, ExCellEnt) Getting kicked out isn’t part of her plans, but going unregistered would mean fewer rules (period) Like no forced more blood donations to feed the vampeer (correct spelling?) of society, and she could try her own searching for her missing parents. (break that sentence into two or three)

(This next section is IMHO overwritten.) Having a chance to make her friendship with Thane, her unregistered best bud, something more would be an added bonus. Yet when Bliss, the capital township of The Colony, announces selections of Attendees for the Jubilee celebration, Macie’s hopes crumble at her feet. She’s chosen, trapped as a registered forever. A life with Thane? Impossible.

Suggestion: She could make her friendship with Thane, her unregistered best bud, something more also. Yet when Bliss, the capital township of The Colony, selects the Attendees for the Jubilee celebration, Macie’s hopes crumble. She’s chosen and now trapped as a registered forever.

(I’m puzzled by her choice. To me, it looks like going unregistered is much better than registered. )

Devil spawn, snarling beasts thought purged from existence, enter Macie’s township, all with fangs aimed for her. Amid the chaos, Macie narrowly escapes to the safety of Bliss’s walls. Beneath the façade of happy people, an underground resistance brings Jubilee’s true purpose to light, with Macie discovering her heritage as the Beacon of the fae. (that sentence seems thrown in there. It left me scratching my head) Fae blood enables vampeer to daywalk, so the fae keep their kind secret, awaiting the Beacon to guide them back to their home realm. Certain vampeer have a different agenda. The Beacon is the key, making Macie’s capture their highest priority.

A lot going on in this paragraph. Maybe too much. Suggestion: When devil spawn, beasts the people thought were extinct, enter the township, Macie escapes behind Bliss’s walls. There she learns of the underground resistance. And of her heritage. And value. Unknown to her, she is a Beacon to the fae, a guide that will lead them back to their home realm. A person who the vampeer must capture by any means necessary. She is a valued asset to them, the key that unlocks the ability to daywalk.

Joining the resistance, Macie finds protection, but no peace, not after learning a high ranking Colony official, a vampeer citizen, holds her parents hostage. One chance to rescue them. No room for failure. If her powers land in the wrong hands, the whole world would suffer the cost.

BEACON is a Young Adult urban fantasy/dystopian that should appeal to readers of The Hunger Games. It is complete at XX,XXX words and has series potential.
I appreciate your consideration of my query. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Sincerely,

****

Ho, boy. If I were an agent, I’d have the full NOW.

There is so much going on that the reader might miss important details. I’d suggest going back over it and picking out the vital elements, storyline that can’t be cut and then delicately add to it.

I would break up some of the longer sentences. It’s probably only personal taste, but I like a certain rhythm to sentence structure. Example: a long sentence followed by a shorter one. Then a *really* short one. You can mix it up but IMO, it creates drama and keeps the words flowing.

Followers?

9 comments:

L. Blankenship said...

Delete the first sentence. The second one is much more interesting.

>Having a chance to make her friendship with Thane, her unregistered best bud, something more would be an added bonus.

Verb tense problems here...

Again, what's Macie's challenge in this story? Keeping her status? Being an Attendee? Monsters? Being a Beacon? Rescuing her parents?

Stories are always about change. What's the one thing that forces Macie to change over the course of this story?

Charity Bradford said...

I agree with L. There is a lot going on and I'm not sure what the main conflict is. All the things you've included are fascinating and will make the book an exciting read, however, for the query you need to focus on the BIG Conflict. The one that drives us from page one to the end. All the other things are what push your MC and us forward in the search to solve the main conflict or slow us down.

Other than that, you're heading in the right direction.

Beth said...

The first thing I saw before I started reading was that this is very long. Your blurb needs to be under 175 words. I agree with other comments about there being too much going on. I teach a query class and I always tell students to break their books down into 7 plot points and use that to write the query. The other thing is if being kicked out was never part of the plan how are her dreams dashed to learn she won't be unregistered. It seems like she was never really supposed to be unregistered anyhow. I would put the query and the book in a drawer and re-read them in six weeks to see what you want to change.

Angela Brown said...

This is all very great information. Thanks so much :-)

mshatch said...

That first sentence is a great one but after that the query goes down hill, imo, mainly because of what the other commenters said: too much going on.

Here's a few changes I might make (with comments in parentheses):


Seventeen-year-old Macie Breen holds tight to her registered status in The Colony by the worn laces of her hand-me-down boots. At the same time, the lure of going unregistered offers fewer rules, no forced blood donations, and the possibility of searching for her missing parents. But when she's 'honored' at the capital city's Jubilee celebration with permanent registered status, Macie's hopes are shattered and any chance of finding her parents lost.

When Devil Spawn overrun the township, all with fangs aimed at her, Macie narrowly escapes to the safety of Bliss’s walls. There she discovers her true heritage as the Beacon of the fae. (here I would insert a brief description of the nature/purpose of the Beacon followed by her importance) The Beacon is the key, making Macie’s capture their highest priority (for who?).


Hope this helps and good luck with it!

Kristin Smith said...

I absolutely love the first line! It draws my attention and entices me to read more, but I did get lost as the query continues. Pick out the few most important points and focus on those. And like Beth said, try to shorten the query. I know it's hard to do, but just remember that less is more. You want to give an agent a taste of what your book is about and leave them wanting to know more.

Sounds like a great story! All you have to do is tighten your query and you're there! Good luck!

Sarit Yahalomi said...

OMG

It can win here
Enter the BAD Query Contest #bestbadquery

http://www.sharonbayliss.com/2014/05/enter-bad-query-contest-bestbadquery.html

Misha Gericke said...

I think the second paragraph (not counting the first line) needs less detail on what, and more detail on WHY. We're suddenly having a lot of names, events and things with no meaning to us thrown at our heads, with no real idea as to what relevance they have to the story.

Wait wait wait. Paragraph three now has a new set of problems. What exactly is the main problem, goal, conflict, stakes of the story? Keep those in. Delete everything else. Because right now, I'm just confused. Because I'm pretty sure devil's spawn has nothing to do with her not being able to hook up with her buddy.

Yep... okay so her discovering her identity as beacon of the Faye is the main story? Build a query around that. Right now, you've spent almost two thirds of your pitch on things not really important, and leaving the most important stuff squashed right at the bottom. Remember that you have maybe 10 seconds to hook the agent's attention.

Focus on the inciting incident (realizing she's the beacon)
The goal (What she has to do as a result)
The conflict (what's making this difficult to do?)
The stakes (what happens if she fails to achieve her goal?)
And possibly, if there's space left, her choice. (If she doesn't go after her goal, what should she do instead?)

Liz A. said...

I'm ignoring the other comments as I find that I won't give my opinion if I read them. So, apologies if I'm repeating.

That second paragraph? I'm confused. I don't get it. At all. Completely lost.

Love the first paragraph, though. The first half of the first paragraph sounds interesting. And then the bit about Thane... That's where my confusion starts.

Sounds like an interesting book, though.