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Monday, March 3, 2014

Query Crit: Fade Into Me

I'm so glad this came in as my first query to crit, because I've found that this is a mistake most people make with queries. In fact, I made the same mistake again and again until a helpful writing friend rewrote the whole thing to show me how a query really is supposed to work.

So today, I'm doing the same thing again. But first, the query:

Dear ___________,

Everything humans think they know about evolution is a lie. Aliens, called Abhithians, live among them sentenced to watch over and nurture their greatest mistake...

Abhithian Caedan Frey doesn't believe humans will ever evolve enough to see the magic, much less control it. But he is the prince of the Reparation and he must marry a human in order to fulfill an ancient promise. Bitter about his duty, Caedan figures any girl will do. He's about to propose to a girl when his anamchara or soul mate stumbles into--and right out--of his arms. Wonder of wonders, she's human!

Ryanne Killian doesn't believe in love or magic anymore. She just graduated from high school and acted as best man at her crush's wedding. Her life is not going as planned. Then strange colors in the sky draw her to the botanical gardens, and even though she’s vowed to never let anyone into her heart again, she steps straight into the arms of her soul mate. She can feel it, but can she trust it?

When Ryanne has a physical reaction to the magic, Caedan takes her to his world to recover. All of the Abhithians watch her with growing hope as she sees the swirling colors of magic. Ryanne doesn't feel like her growing attraction to Caedan is enough reason to marry him, and she demands to be taken home. Crossing the barrier between worlds causes her to forget everything about the magical realm.

It's time for Caedan to work harder to help Ryanne fall in love with him. Unfortunately, a rival sees this as his chance to steal the throne from Caedan's family. All he has to do is keep the two unlikely lovers separated until after Caedan's birthday.

FADE INTO ME is a contemporary YA Fantasy similar in style to Julie Kagawa's Iron King. My first novel, THE MAGIC WAKES was released by Wido Publishing in 2013.

Thanks for your time and consideration,


So, ladies and gents, do you see the mistake? It's pretty subtle... 


Okay. The mistake here is that the query pitch actually resembles a synopsis. 

A synopsis is a more exact rendition of the story, usually a page or two long, listing events of the story in detail. 

A query is the author's first audition with an agent. In it, a writer needs to show-case both writing skill, and the ability to distill a story into its bare bones. Why? Because the agent needs to know within seconds whether or not he/she is interested in reading on. 

As such, any query needs to inform the agent of the following: 

Character intro: Who is the MC and what’s his/her current situation? 

Inciting incident: What happens to really kick the story off? 

Goal: What must be done in reaction to the inciting incident? 

Conflict: What’s keeping the character from achieving the goal? 

Stakes: What happens if it all goes wrong?

You need to answer all of those questions in 250 words or less. 

So with the information I have, I rewrote the query like this: 

Unknown to humans, aliens called Abhithians live among them. Their purpose: to [insert something that leads up to Caedan and his goal to marry.]

Caedan Frey has fulfilled this duty all his life, but that doesn’t exempt him from his duties as the prince of the Reparation. He must marry a human in order to fulfill an ancient promise before his birthday. If he doesn’t, [insert terrible result]. The way he sees it, the sooner he marries, the better, and any girl will do. He's about to propose to someone when his soul mate stumbles into--and right out--of his arms. Wonder of wonders, she's human! 

Ryanne Killian might be his one shot at happiness and Caedan is willing to do anything be with her. But after a disastrous experience with love, Ryanne isn’t willing to give anyone else a chance. 

He’ll need to convince her to marry him within [insert timeframe]. Which is a problem, because a rival for the throne sees his opportunity to get rid of Caedan, and keeping Ryanne away from him is all too easy.

Obviously, this version needs a ton of work (I don't have enough info to actually polish it), but it's a good foundation with which to start. 

But now's the fun part for you, lovely people. If you look at my query, can you find further ways to improve it? 


Jess said...

Nice critique! Making my query sound like a synopsis is something I've done time and time again. This was helpful, thanks :)

Huntress said...

The word 'alien' bothers me a bit. I think little green men with big eyes when I see this word. Try this:

Evolution is a lie. Others live among us, sentenced to watch over their greatest mistake...

IMHO, don't use the "Abhithian". It's unneeded at this stage.

Charity Bradford said...

Thanks Misha and everyone! I appreciate the nudge in the right direction.

Misha Gerrick said...

Jess, I'm glad you found my crit helpful! Feel free to send something in this week if you need further advice. :-)

Carol, I have to say I keep having mixed feelings about the word "aliens" too, but I guess it all depends on the writer.

Glad to help, Charity. :-)

Stephen Tremp said...

Matthew McNish. Now he is the one to critique a query.

Patchi said...

I like how you focused the query on Caedan. I didn't realize Ryanne was distracting until you took her POV out.