Dear [Agent Name],
[Reasons for query]. As such, I thought you might enjoy my 95,000 word young adult novel SHATTERHEART.
After fiendish Greyskins destroy her coastal village, Lacey Gracen flees the burning ruins of her home with only an outdated gun for protection and not a coin to her name.
She hopes to find safety at the prestigious Cloudbourne Academy, where she can hone her magic and gunmanship so that she will never again be a victim. Once exclusive to the winged avi race, Cloudbourne now admits humans like Lacey, and she finds friends among its avi and human students alike. But her dreams of escaping the Greyskins vanish when the monsters spread through the country. As refugees flee westward, bringing with them stories of ragged monsters wielding corrosive dark magic, Cloudbourne’s headmistress seeks Lacey’s knowledge of the Greyskins.
When the headmistress refuses to believe the Greyskins are corrupted avi, Lacey finds true allies elsewhere. Gruff avi Commander Morse is the military mind she’s been searching for, and her new friends—the witty mech Fin and the charming avi Bradyn—will do anything to save Alta. After discovering the Greyskins are the work of a mech—a human who creates technology with magic—they must track down the monsters’ creator before he murders more avi.
Lacey must travel across the country, running from Greyskins all the while, with only her friends at her side. However, worse than facing hordes of Greyskins is where her path leads: through the remains of her ruined village—a nightmare she never wanted to face again. But if she does not brave the horrors of her past, the Greyskins will overrun country, plunging it forever into ruin.
SHATTERHEART is a standalone fantasy novel that blends magic with technology. I believe it will appeal to fans of Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING or Leigh Bardugo’s SHADOW AND BONE.
Thank you for your time.
KAT: My first feeling after reading this query is that I’m a little overwhelmed. I completely understand the difficulty of writing a query for a fantasy, in which there are so many new things, and terms, and a whole new world to describe in so little room. However, I think less is more in many cases. Figure out what is most unique and important about your world and talk about that. Otherwise, just focus on the usual query structure: character, stakes, plot.
JODI: One of the biggest challenges of writing and querying fantasy is giving the reader a feel for the basic worldbuilding without throwing too much at them. It’s a fine balance between too much and not enough, and this is a case of too much, I think. One trick I’ve found useful for writing fantasy queries is to give it to someone who hasn’t read the book and see if they can figure out what’s going on in just one read. (Because often that’s all a query will get from an agent.) There’s a lot in here that could be interesting, but right now I’m mostly confused.
KAT: I think it really all goes back to something we’ve mentioned a few times this week: stakes. For example, there’s the line that says: “When the headmistress refuses to believe the Greyskins are corrupted avi, Lacey finds true allies elsewhere.” Since I’m still not clear as to what avi are, or what their relationship with humans are, I can’t fully appreciate this reveal that Greyskins are corrupted avi. I really like the concepts put forth in this query, though. I’ve always been a fan of mixing technology with magic!
What are your feelings on this one?