Thursday, June 14, 2007

Follow-Up to Query Critique #10

I received so many great comments and questions after Query Critique #10. Bear with me, I’ll be getting to all of your questions, but I wanted to respond to this comment first:

Admittedly, I'm at a loss as to why this query captured you so much. There's redemption and destiny, and a very generalized feel to it. I'm not sure what the conflict/story is. There's the mc who has to defend a world she doesn't like. How? Why? What's up with the angel's redemption? Why does he want to challenge Lexie to come out of her shell? Is there an attraction between them? Jessica, you have harped on getting that conflict in there at all costs and what makes the story unique. What are you seeing here that is going totally over my head? This could be a great story, it might not, but I don't see anything that tells me really what's going on. Curious.

The shape-shifting rock, of course. Paranormal is really hot right now. It might die next week, but in this very moment it’s what everyone is looking for and fallen angels, demons, and certainly a shape-shifting rock are some of the few creatures that are yet to be overdone in the paranormal romance market. So those elements alone make the book stand out. You’re right. This author failed to give me anything about conflict or story, but her writing captured my attention (in other words, she could clearly write) and ultimately I was so struck by the concept of inanimate objects that shape-shift that I’m curious to read more and learn about how a shape-shifting rock fits into a story.

In this case the author was lucky. She wrote something that happened to interest me enough that my curiosity was piqued. Would this work in every instance? Absolutely not! And because she failed to include any conflict I do have hesitations and concerns that the book overall won’t work. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not curious enough to read more. Do you know that in my younger assistant days (when I had much more time) I was actually known to request full manuscripts out of curiosity? I knew that they probably would never fly, but there was something there that struck me enough that I had to read more.

Thanks for calling me on this and asking about it. You’re correct that every good query letter will let the reader know what the conflict is, and in this case the author didn’t do that. But sometimes there’s one thing that can grab an agent enough to make her request more, even if the conflict isn’t there. For example, if you sent me a query today about a forensic medical examiner in the paranormal realm—someone who has to know all the intimate details of vampires, werewolves, and humans—I would probably request more even without a defined conflict. That alone would hook me in.

However, never count on the fact that you have that one thing. A conflict in your query will get you much further.



Lesley said...

I was totally completely intrigued by the idea of a shape-shifting rock. I thought it might be a golem or something, and I've never seen them done in anything but a fantasy world where they are beating people up. I'd love to see one as a sympathetic character!

Mark Terry said...

Huh. Interesting. The other day, my 13-year-old son, who IS a writer (ie., he writes stories every day on his own) was telling me: I'm working on a story about a forensic expert...

But he's a centaur.

See, you'd want to read it, wouldn't you?

julie Rowe said...

Have you read Vivi Anna's Nocturne Blood Secrets? It's about a vampire CSI who investigates crimes commited by vampires, werewolves, witches and humans. I absolutely loved it!

Cheers, Julie Rowe

jodi said...

lol, I have a paranormal CSI book too. (just joking...) But I'm sure if there are any out there, you'll get a flood of queries. :)

Bernie said...

Thank you for answering my question, the one that I was most curious about, regarding requesting a full manuscript even though you knew it probably would never fly.

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