Querypalooza Day 3



Seventeen-year-old Serendipity Tanner has given up on the past—but she hasn’t gotten over it.

Three years ago, when her ex-dad’s disappearance launched her into a nuclear blowout with society, Seri divorced her dreams of composing music for a shot at Harvard-bound success. Yet there’s always been a part of her that won’t let go of what could have been, and this summer, her best friend Charles is determined to restore that faith in the past.

But just when Seri’s starting to heal, an unexpected tragedy catapults her back into the great unknown. Scared and alone, she falls back on someone who’s been there all along: a boy called The Boy, her not fathomable, kind of gorgeous, definitely angry-at-life tutee at Mott’s Alternative School for Troubled Teens. And when she uncovers his terrible secret, she faces a whole new dilemma: coming to terms with the astronomical insignificance of everything that mattered before.

Complete at 73,000 words, THE THEORY OF THE METAPHORICAL GUTTER is the story of a girl whose summer begins and ends with the same five hundred glow-in-the-dark stars, the beautiful and catastrophic business of what transpires in between, and the theory that explains it all.


Kat Zhang Jodi Meadows 

KAT: There are some critical elements to each query, and I think some of them are missing here. We need a salutation of some sort (Dear Mr/Ms. Agent Name), and possibly a reason you’ve chosen to query them (I see you enjoy YA fantasies about witches…). Also, although a word count is provided, which is great, we don’t know either the genre or the intended age group. Is this YA contemporary? Adult magical realism? I’m not sure.

JODI: Yep. We need to know those things in order to know whether the book is even something the agent represents! I’m also curious what this “unexpected tragedy” is, followed by a “terrible secret.” There’s some vagueness going on in here, and while specifics might be too much detail, I’d like to know the basics. What is the tragedy? A car crash? Spontaneous human combustion? I feel like we’re missing a lot of the key details of this story. They’ve all been replaced with big but vague phrases like “unexpected tragedy.”

KAT: There are some really great, strong lines in this query that make me think the story itself will have lovely language. The title is fantastic, too. I get the feeling that this story is much more about the characters and their growth than anything else, and that’s perfectly fine. But like Jodi said, I think we need to know more about these mysterious events. I totally understand the urge to “not spoil” anything, but you have to throw us a bone! 🙂

What do you guys think?


5 Responses to Querypalooza Day 3

  1. Steph May 14 2014 at 9:20 am #

    Based on the last paragraph alone, I really want to read this book. And if the language in the query is any indication of the writing style, I really, really want to read this book.

    That being said, as a reader just trying to get the basic info on plot, there are a few things that are confusing- particularly the adjectives and the vagueness, which is entirely contradictory to what I said previously. In the story, that’s all great and what distinguishes a book form others. However, in a query, agents are so busy and innundated with MS’s that it would benefit you to get to the point.

    Also, when you say “nuclear blowout with society,” while I completely understand what it means, if I’m not entirely paying attention, the trigger words make me think it’s a dystopian. And then the words, catapult, launched, catastrophic, and astronomical are very visual words. While really beautiful and descriptive, at the same time I’m picturing the characters catapulting and launching across the school yard. Maybe I’m having an off day, IDK. This probably isn’t helpful.

    I still want to read this book. Like, really, really want to read this book.

    • Anna Eleanor Jordan May 14 2014 at 10:56 am #

      Agreed. The father’s disappearance doesn’t jibe with the intro of new characters. The beginning feels distopian bad ass girl saves father the end like love triangle. How do these two pieces for together?

  2. Alexa S. May 14 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    Based on what I know of queries (and the few I’ve read as an intern), I feel like more detail about the intended audience and genre is a given. But I will admit that the story sounds very mysterious, and intriguing, and it makes me really curious to see what it’s really all about!

  3. Chelsey May 14 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    Sounds like an interesting book!
    I found the language a bit flowery for my taste. I like the bare facts in a query letter, and words like “catastrophic,” and “astronomical” take away from the plot. They’re distracting!

  4. Heidi Kneale (Her Gr May 22 2014 at 9:13 am #

    I agree about the vagueness. There’s too much of it obscuring what hints to be a promising story. I don’t want to think there might be a promising story her. I want no doubt as to what the story is, what the unexpected tragedy is, etc. Don’t just hint. Tell me that the planet itself is disintegrating, otherwise I could very well assume her “unexpected tragedy” is a well-placed zit on prom night.

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