Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, 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 Jessica,

After struggling with epilepsy since childhood, twenty five year old [redacted] hit rock bottom and decided to go forward with a major brain surgery that changed her life forever.

I think for this to be more powerful it would be helpful to know a few more details. What exactly was rock bottom? What happened that would make you want to undergo such a major surgery.

Independent to the point of stubbornness, [redacted]'s biggest challenge was admitting that she needed help. Over the course of a year, she learned to depend on her family, letting them hold her hand, spoon feed her in the hospital when she was too weak to move, a gauze turban covering her exposed brain, help her begin to walk again and finally figure out what it means to lead a genuinely full life.

I'm not sure this has the pull you intend it to. Unfortunately, a lot of people regularly experience major medical trauma and are forced to rely on others for help. What makes this different? What makes your experience stand out from all others?

[redacted] ’s memoir chronicles her painful journey from frustration, to fear, to ultimate acceptance. LIVING IN A BRAINSTORM is expected to be 100,000 words in journal entry format.

Memoir, like fiction, needs to be completed before querying. A memoir is written like fiction in the sense that you need to create "characters" that come to life for the reader. I'm concerned that the journal format will read like a journal and not a story, which is what a memoir should be. That being said, I know others might not have that same concern.

[redacted] ’s writing has been featured in publications by the Epilepsy Foundations of both Minnesota and Colorado. Through her blog, [redacted], she has been sought out for her help and advice by people with epilepsy and their families as well as non-epileptics who need someone in their corner as they face their own limitations.

This is good. If you're getting a large number of blog readers you should mention that as well.


Overall I'm not completely wild about this query. It doesn't have that oomph for me that makes it stand out from the many other memoir submissions I get from people who have faced serious medical trauma. What about your story makes it different from someone else who has gone through something similar? Sometimes that can be your voice and writing, but I don't get that here.