Wednesday, February 08, 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.

Last year a statue chased Angela off a cliff at a Midsummer masquerade ball. When no one else remembers the statue or the ball, Angela's determined to find out why. Another Midsummer's Eve brings answers, missing girls, and a wolf that claims to be her grandmother. Much to Angela's consternation, the wolf has the answers.

This feels a little scattered to me. I think there are a lot of pieces here that grab my interest, but the lack of real cohesion makes it hard to hold my interest. I think part of the problem is that there's no sense of voice in this opening. And no sense of excitement.

Wolves convert human memories to supernatural energy; the party hosts, the Merdemars, have exploited this ability to steal their guests' memories to build a perfect life with magic. Angela does the opposite, converting magic back into memories, but she doesn't have her gift under control. She also has little time to learn; the Merdemars have imprisoned two thousand guests and just as many wolves in a “nowhere land”. They won't let a 12-year old ruin their perfect life, and their moving statue feels the same way.

This feels disconnected from the first paragraph. It feels like you're explaining the world instead of telling us the story. Personally, I love the idea of this Midsummer's Ball that no one else remembers.It has a very magical, fair-tale feeling, but none of your query had that feeling. In addition, I was lost by this paragraph. As a query reader I wouldn't have even read it. The minute you started explaining the conversion of memories to energy, which felt like a disconnect from a girl that was tossed off a cliff, I quit reading.

Sometimes Beautiful, a young-adult urban fantasy, is complete at 41,000 words.

There are a couple of problems with this off the bat. 41,000 words is too short for young adult and a 12-year-old protagonist is too young. Is your book really middle grade? But then are the themes and voice middle grade? One of the problems with not understanding the genre is that, sure, you could simply change young adult to middle grade, but it's typically not that simple. To write in a certain genre it's important to understand the expectations of the readers of that genre in terms of voice, style, plot, characters and tone. I'm not sure, based on the character's age and word count, that you understand the requirements or expectations of the genre.

Thank you for your consideration. I hope you have enjoyed reading this query.

You should also be aware that something messed with your formatting in translation and the fonts were really off in this letter.