Query

My thought on queries: yuck. They make me all sorts of unhappy. It’s a good thing this is part of Deana’s blogfest – I need all the help I can get on this, guys! So have at it, hack away, give me the best advice  you can. :)

Dear So-and-So,

Twins, Farrah and Felix, are born into an existence of servitude.  They are Bonded with the king’s sons for the sole purpose of protecting the boys; if they fail, they will be put to a painful death.

Farrah protects Alec, but all she desires is to not be chained to a man she can’t stand.  But the only way to escape her imprisonment is to end her life.  What makes matters worse, is that Farrah begins to fall for Alec and realizes she must make the most difficult choice of all: freedom or love, for she cannot have both.

Felix can’t deny his intense curiosity.  He willingly protects his Charge, Gabe, because it means he has free access to the secret tunnels of the House they live in.  As he searches further into the history of his world, he uncovers secrets that will put both his and Farrah’s lives in danger.

After death threats against Alec puts Farrah life on the line, and the other slaves in the House rise up in rebellion against their captivity, Farrah and Felix escape with Alec and Gabe to try to find answers to three questions: Who wants Alec dead?  Would Farrah and Felix keep Alec and Gabe safe if they weren’t Bonded to them?  And, if they return to their House, will they all be killed?

GUARDIANS is a finished at 72k.  It is a stand-alone YA-fantasy but has strong series potential.

*personal stuff here??

Sincerely,

Juliana Brandt

(I’m not a fan of the questions at the end but can’t figure out how else to end it.)

    29 thoughts about "Query"

    • kristibernard says:

      This grabbed my attention right away. There seems to be a lot of conflicts going on. Where is this setting? Is this mostly about love and freedom? Or is it the persons they are protecting and some murderous plot? I am no expert, just curious.

    • Michelle Fayard says:

      Hi, Juliana,

      I've put a handful of suggestions in parentheses/all caps:

      Twins(,=DELETE) Farrah and Felix(,=DELETE) (are=WERE) born into an existence of servitude(. They are) (COMMA) (Bonded=LOWERCASE) with the king’s sons for the sole purpose of protecting the boys(;=PERIOD INSTEAD) if they fail, they will be (put to a painful death=KILLED). (TOTALLY HOOKED!)

      Farrah protects Alec, but all she desires is to not be chained to a man she (can’t stand=?DETESTS, FEARS, LOATHES). (ONLY ONE SPACE AFTER ALL PERIODS.)But the only way to escape her imprisonment is to end her life. (ANOTHER POWERFUL STATEMENT THAT GRIPPED ME.) (What makes matters worse, is that=WHEN) Farrah begins to fall for Alec (and=, SHE) realizes she must make the most difficult choice of all(:=EITHER A COMMA OR SURROUND "FREEDOM OF LOVE" WITH EM DASHES) freedom or love, for she cannot have both.

      Felix can’t deny his intense curiosity. He willingly protects his (Charge=LOWERCASE), Gabe, because it means he has free access to the secret tunnels of the (House=LOWERCASE) they live in. As he searches further into the history of his world, he uncovers secrets that will put both his and Farrah’s lives in danger. (EVEN THOUGH THIS ALSO IS A STRONG GRAPH, IT DID JOLT ME A BIT GOING FROM FARRAH TO FELIX'S STORIES.)

      After death threats against Alec puts Farrah life on the line, and the other slaves in the House rise up in rebellion against their captivity, Farrah and Felix escape with Alec and Gabe to try to find answers to three questions: Who wants Alec dead? Would Farrah and Felix keep Alec and Gabe safe if they weren’t Bonded to them? And, if they return to their House, will they all be killed? (THIS QUERY IS STARTING TO FEEL LONG. I THINK YOU COULD GET BY WITHOUT THIS GRAPH, AS THE OTHERS ARE SO STRONG.)

      GUARDIANS is a finished at 72k. It is a stand-alone YA-fantasy but has strong series potential. (PERHAPS: GUARDIANS, a stand-alone YA fantasy with series potential, is complete at 72,000 words.)

      *personal stuff here?? (YES, LET EVERYONE KNOW WHY YOU'RE THE BEST PERSON TO WRITE THIS BOOK. :)

      Books like these remind us our own lives are so good after all. Having a twin bond I'm sure will be a powerful hook in your plot.

      Michelle

      P.S. I hope I'm showing up as a follower now. :)

    • Juliana L. Brandt says:

      Michelle, that is ridiculously helpful! Thank you :)

    • Juliana L. Brandt says:

      Kristi- I probably need to make it more specific, but honestly, it's a mixture of the two. Clearly I need to think about that more. Haha.

    • Kate Larkindale says:

      Hi Juliana,

      It feels a little long to me. See if you can tighten some of the sentences to cut down on word count. Also, the last paragraph with the questions in it could be cut out entirely because you mention most of the info in the earlier ones.

      But overall, it's pretty darn good!

      Good luck!

    • Christine Murray says:

      'Farrah protects Alec, but thinks there must be more to life than being chained to a man she can’t stand.'

      Other than that, Michelle pretty much nailed it. Good luck! :)

    • Juliana L. Brandt says:

      Thanks Kate and Christine. You guys are wonderful :)

      Looks like I have some cutting to do and probably need to change that Felix paragraph since I never write from his POV. Hmm…

    • Tracy says:

      I don't see your first page for Brenda Drakes…but have you checked out: http://agentqueryconnect.com ? The give great reviews for queries.

      Good luck.

    • Emily Rittel-King says:

      I agree with Michelle. You can shorten bits and pieces her and there, but your story line and characters come across clearly. Tighten it up and you're golden!

    • Andrew says:

      My cents:

      "but all she desires is to not be chained to a man she can’t stand." is very awkward sounding. Try saying it out loud.

      Do not start the next sentence with "but" when you have just used it in the previous compund sentence.

      "What makes matters worse, is" There should be no comma here. Your phrase is acting as your subject. You would not say "Bobby, is going to the store." Actually, it would be better to not use that phrase at all.

      I also wouldn't use "begins to fall for" or "life on the line." That may just be me, though.

      I would change "choice of all: freedom or love, for she cannot have both" to "all: freedom or love. She cannot have both."

    • Juliana L. Brandt says:

      Andrew- I'm horrible with my grammar/punctuation, so thanks for helping with that! Those suggestions are fabulous.

    • J.C. Martin says:

      A lot of what I think are already echoed above, so I'll just add this: I've been told that agents don't like rhetorical questions, or questions of any kind, in that case, in a query letter. Something about the fact that your query should invoke those questions in the reader rather than throw them in their faces. You have 3 in a row in paragraph 4. They probably need to go.

      Other than that, intriguing story!

    • mooderino says:

      Hi – thanks for doing my query, here are my thoughts on yours.

      First para is strong, gives a clear idea of what's going on .

      If she hates being a slave but loves him, fair enough. But saying she can't stand him but can't help falling for him doesn't quite sit right with me. I would suggest dropping the 'can't stand him' bit nad make it about her disliking her situation.

      Felix's storyline doesn't seem on a par with Farrah's, making it feel a bit unbalanced. You have 4 characters but from the pitch I would say it feels like Farrah and Alec's story.

      Is it just death threats or an attempt on Alec's life? The latter would have greater impact.

      That para gets a bit busy and the slave revolt and your plot questions may be too much info. I think the key thing is once they get away from the world they know, Felix and Farah can escape, leaving the princes at the mercy of their enemies, or they can stay and all fight as equals (I'm assuming this si the sort of thing the story will be about).

      mood
      Moody Writing
      @mooderino

    • Angie Cothran says:

      I immediately love the conflict of Farrah having to choose between love and freedom! That is a great choice to confront, it feels like a real choice and I couldn’t guess what she would choose.

      I’m guessing because your characters are twins that you go back and forth between them in the story? I have a story like that too, and I have read that agents want you to focus on one character and what they have to face. I’m sure Felix is amazing, but he didn’t capture me as much as Farrah did.

      I would pare it down a bit to the bare bones of your story.

      Author Elana Johnson—founder of querytraker—has a great blog about writing queries that helped me tons: http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/p/writing-query-letter.html
      She has great tips for how to end a query. Good Luck.

    • K.V. Briar says:

      Oooh I agree queries = yuck!

      I think your story sounds awesome. I love that it's about male-female twins, so fun! And the plot sounds awesome :)

      Okay onto the nitty gritty details. The other posters have made some awesome suggestions, but I'll had what I can. I'll break my suggestions into paragraphs to make it more managable.

      P1)Instead of "put to painful death" maybe give more details. ie. hung, or burned alive, or tortured, etc.

      P2) Instead of "Farrah protects Alec" maybe say "Farrah protects her Bondmate, Prince Alec." Why can't she stand him? Is there a detail you can share? And why does she have a change of heart about him?

      P3 and 4) Good paragraphs, but could be tightened . . . possibly made into one paragraph. I agree that the questions at the end don't quite feel right. I think if you combined the paragraphs and took out the questions it would be stronger.

      I love your premise!

    • Juliana L. Brandt says:

      J.C.- Yeah, the questions didn't sit right with me. Those are being thrown out :)

      Moody- I love your idea about switching the part where Farrah dislikes the situation and especially the attempt on Alec's life. Nice details!

      Angie- I agree. I just need to take out Felix's part and weave that info into the rest.

      K.V.- How have I not thought of the word Bondmate?? I am totally using that :) I think I'll take your suggestion- delete the questions and combine the last two paragraphs.

    • Pk Hrezo says:

      Hi, Juliana. :)

      I'd omit the third and fourth paras entirely. It gives too much info. And I'd avoid capitalizing "bonding."
      Sounds like a fun story!!

    • magpiewrites says:

      Hi Juliana
      Great sounding story, really gripping. I think you could lose 'existence of servitude' and just go with 'servitude'. There are a bunch of small edits like that (already mentioned by others) that will really tighten up what is a strong query. Good luck!

    • Deana says:

      Juliana, I'm right there with you on loathing queries. I suppose they have to be done thought soo….

      I am pretty sure I will love your story based on what I'm reading. Most of the suggestions I have, have already been convered, but I will say that the way Farrah seems to hate Alex but want to be with his was a bit odd sounding to me. I get the conflict of thinking someone is bad and then falling for them becasue they really aren't but it sounds like she is falling for someone that she really doens't like.
      I think this love is intruiging but it is a tad confusing the way it is worded to me.

      If you are going to submit your query in for the contest, email it to me by 12PM ET Tuesday:)

      Good luck!

      D

    • Jen Daiker says:

      I love the concept. I would definitely read this. I do love what Michelle has offered up as far as a critique. The only thing I'd do after you've used her ideas is tighten up a bit. You use the word 'but' a lot, however if you erase BUT you'll notice the sentence still works. In fact it strengthens it.

      You've been given incredible feedback but over all I can hear the voice and I love the characters names… that would keep me wanting more.

    • amber says:

      Hi! Sounds like a fun book! Here's my comments:
      1.) in the first sentence, take out 'an extistence of' — you don't need those words.
      2.) 2nd graph: take out the comma! 'What makes matters worse, is' — you're seperating the subject and the verb — a no no!
      3.) there are a lot of details — see if you can bear to cut half of them. If you can make it into a few nice, short paragraphs, it will be much better than it already is! The shorter, the better — agents won't want to read a page of description.
      :) Good luck

    • Nicole Zoltack says:

      This sounds like a very intriguing story. Honestly, I think the query would be much stronger without the death threat paragraph. I think by removing it, it's tighter and ends with a hook. Just a suggestion.

    • Nicole Zoltack says:

      Another thought, you might want to add a little bit of details as to why Farrah begins to fall for Alec. It seems too rushed in the query as it is now.

    • Laura Barnes says:

      I think you have some great feedback already. I would add to not have open-ended questions in your queries as agents don't tend to like them.

      Tighten your query as much as you can and say each statement in the shortest way possible and you will have it. Good luck!

    • Alleged Author says:

      You have great feedback already, but I would add that I don't get much sense of voice in your query. I would hate for a great premise to go unread because of lack of voice.

    • alexia says:

      First of all, this sounds like a really cool freaking story! Very unique. I would definitely read on.

      Your real hook comes in at your fourth paragraph, so that needs to be moved up, IMO. Also, you are right about questions, I hear agents tend to hate questions in queries. Maybe something like:

      Twins, Farrah and Felix, are Bonded with the king’s sons for the sole purpose of protecting the boys. The penalty for failure is death, so when when a threat is made on Prince Alec's life, there's more than one life at stake.

      Farrah protects Alec, but all she desires is a freedom which can only be bought with her life. To make matters worse, Farrah begins to fall for Alec and realizes she must make the most difficult choice of all: sovereignty or love.

      Felix can’t deny his intense curiosity. He willingly protects his Charge, Gabe, because it means he has free access to the secret tunnels of the House they live in. As he searches further into the history of his world, he uncovers secrets that will put both his and Farrah’s lives in danger.

      After the other slaves in the House rise up in rebellion against their captivity, Farrah and Felix escape with Alec and Gabe. In order to return to their House and their lives, they must delve into the truth behind their Bond, and discover who wants them dead.

      The last paragraph there I was just trying to find a way to word it without the questions. You'd definitely need to play with it some more. Awesome start! Good luck!

    • jamieayres says:

      Sorry I'm late in the game in commenting on this (day has been . . . hectic). I did want to echo what everyone was saying about deleting the Q's. I had 2 in my own query before reading today many articles about how almost all agents hate them. Wish I would've known that BEFORE I sent my query to many of them already *sigh

    • Lori M. Lee says:

      Twins, Farrah and Felix, are born into [cut]an existence of[/cut] servitude.

      A lot of what follows is back story, so you could either cut it out or condensed. And how important is the romance between Farrah and Alec? If it's not integral to the plot, I'd sum it up in one or two sentences instead of giving it its own paragraph.

      I also don't see how the last two paragraphs are related. Felix discovers secrets that puts his life in danger. Okay? But then Alec gets death threats. And the slaves rise up in rebellion. These sound like random events–what's connecting them? How do the secrets relate to the death threats and how do the death threats relate to the slave uprising?

      And like everyone else said, I'd remove the questions and narrow down the focus to one thing instead of three.

      Hope this helped. Good luck!

    • Nancy Thompson says:

      Having learned so much from the critiques on my query during this blogfest, I'd say that the first three paragraphs should be condensed into 3 sentences before you jump into the heart of the story, the conflict: the death threats and rebellion and all that. Then end with the choices the MCs must make.

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