Querypalooza Day 2

querypalooza

QUERY

Dear Agent X,

I would like to offer my completed 87,000 word YA manuscript for consideration.

CURE MY SOUL is a dystopian novel with never-before-seen paranormal elements. The story explores both what is means to discover who you truly are, and what it means to be human in light of the question: “What if the cost of saving mankind is its humanity?”

“For years, mankind has shunned the supernatural – but now they may be our only hope.

In the near future, the Old World has fallen to disease and only the Soulless have survived. In an effort to protect mankind, every seventeen-year-old human within the walls of the City– the futuristic version of NYC – is required to be de-souled and turned into one of these supernatural creatures. The process is simple: you live or you die.

Or, in one boy’s case, forget.

He is Luka Obbeck. The blank slate. Free from memories and emotions, which mean certain death for any human in the De-Souling Room, Luka is the poster boy for the Regime’s campaign. Their most prized possession – and most powerful weapon.

Until he is taken from them.

She is Clace Silver. The rebel human born in the secret society of the Underground. The girl who managed to kidnap the government’s most loved celebrity, and who dreams of only two things. One –being free. Two – saving her brother from the Regime.

As their worlds collide, both have reasons of their own to unravel the secrets and intentions of the Regime and the rebels. But when the battle lines are drawn, they must choose a side to stand on – or get caught in the crossfire…

The truth can burn down a city.”

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours sincerely,

THOUGHTS

JODI: While there are some really cool elements to this story, I always do a little eyebrow raise whenever someone says something is completely new. Sometimes I have seen certain elements before, and it makes me question whether the author has read widely enough. It’s almost never safe to make that kind of sweeping claim.

KAT: Yes, I agree with that. Even if you do have something that hasn’t been done before, it’s probably not a good claim to make. I also think that we need more concrete details here. Ideas like “discovering who you really are” and “what it means to be human” are pretty vague and apply to many, many stories. I’d focus more words on what makes your story unique. What exactly are the Soulless, for example? Are they humanoid? Are they like ghosts? Are they just people with emotions removed? You say “supernatural,” but does that mean they have special powers? What kind? What is the Regime? Is it run by humans or Soulless?

JODI: Agreed. And while there are some vague bits here, we also have a few too many disconnected details, like the “De-Souling Room” and the “Regime” — things I can’t quite figure out from this description. I think the details in the query need to be chosen with a bit more care, and remembering that the reader has no idea what is happening in this story beyond what we’re told in the query. We rely on it 100% to get the ideas across to us. I also don’t think it would hurt this query to adhere to a slightly more formal and recognized format without quotes from the story. When queries diverge from the standard format, they can get pretty confusing, especially when you’re reading several in a row.

KAT: I am getting a cool vibe from the story, with like a dark, almost noir feel to it. Very “Dark City” (the movie) kind of tone 🙂 I think it would be very intriguing, but right now, the story isn’t entirely coming across.

What about you guys? What do you think?

           

4 Responses to Querypalooza Day 2

  1. Rowenna May 13 2014 at 10:11 am #

    I agree that this sounds like a really interesting premise, but I’m not sold on the query itself. For me, I tend to not like being told what the story “will explore”–I’d rather see the author “show” that in the query’s summary of the storyline and conflicts the characters experience if possible.

    And I agree, too, that I need a better grounding in the whats and whos–the Regime, the Soulless, what exactly both are, what they do, the Underground…I feel like I need to know “just the facts, ma’am” to understand the conflict presented.

    But that said–I’m really fascinated by this premise–good luck!!

  2. Chelsey May 13 2014 at 10:23 am #

    While I think that some additional detail would be great, leaving some mystery can be good. Look at “The Hunger Games,” for example. We really have no idea who or what the “Capitol” is, and yet when it’s mentioned on the book teaser, it doesn’t confuse, it piques my curiosity.

    So yes, I agree that a clearer picture of what’s going on would be nice for this query. But, it’s wise to keep some mystery.

  3. Claudia May 13 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    The second paragraphy turned me off a bit. I dislike being told up front the ‘big questions’ a book will examine. I’d rather figure it out on my own. Interesting premise, but I wish some aspects of the world were made more specific.

  4. Alexa S. May 14 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    I totally agree with you, Kat, about the vibe from this story! HOWEVER, it does sound like quite a few other paranormal YAs I’m familiar with (even as someone who doesn’t delve much into the genre). It would definitely benefit from a bit more description (for me)!

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