Sunday, November 19, 2017

#292

Question: I have revised my query until my fingers bled. And yet nothing. So I am wondering if I'm doing something in my query to put agents off without realising it.


Dear QueryShark:

Loren Blake is taking down the patriarchy one revenge plot at a time.

Well I'm all for that, but this doesn't give us any sense of of what's at stake.


As long as she can get away with it.

And this doesn't help. It's too abstract.



When she starts dating school goth Alexa their relationship is like pouring gasoline on the fire and she finds out just how far she is willing to go for the people she loves and what she's willing to sacrifice to protect them.


Too abstract. 
Gasoline on a fire is a cliche. 

She discovers that a boy in her school has raped her closest friend and knows that the only way to stop him is to kill him. Loren doesn’t believe in second chances.

Aha, finally!
Here's where the story starts. 
Why does she think the only way to stop him is to kill him?

And you can bet that by now, she knows how to get away with it.

The Gospel According to Loren Blake is my first novel, it is YA contemporary complete at 84,000 words. It has an lgbt protagonist and is #ownvoices. I am a thirty year old private tutor with purple hair that made me a poor fit for my previous career in teaching.


Your main character's name is an oddity. Laurell K. Hamilton wrote the Anita Blake vampire series. That info was just a squiggle in my brain as I read this, but my first thought was you were paying homage to those books, or that author. (The Goth reference above probably got me thinking like that.)
If you ARE, fine. If you're NOT, you might consider a name change.

I have included the first ten pages and a synopsis below. I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to hearing from you.

Of course you hope I enjoy it. That's like saying you hope I'll keep breathing while I read it. I'm picky about this stuff because I like to see a query that doesn't state the obvious. If you do that here, you'll do it in the novel.  Yes, persnickty and nitpicky. But there's a reason for that.

The only way to close a query is Thank you for your time and consideration.

The answer to your question is yes, this query doesn't do the job. 
You've got the goods, this is an interesting plot, and you've got voice (I know that from your description of yourself) but this query doesn't show that well enough.


Revise, resend.

8 comments:

Kathy Joyce said...

Is Alexa the person who was raped? If not, the entire beginning before rape is mentioned seems useless. If so, I'd describe Loren and Alexa after the "[Loren] has discovered..." paragraph. That para made me interested in this book. Good luck!

Francesca Strada said...

The beginning doesn’t tell much about the stakes, it’s more backstory that I’m sure is important for the story, but not for a query.
It sounds interesting. Here’s some questions that pop in to my mind: how does Alexa discover about the rape? Why is killing him the only solution? Why does she know enough to get away with it? What happen if she succeeds? And what happen if she fails?
I really find this story interesting, and the query makes me think the book has a strong voice.
I think you’re close!
Good luck!

Lydia D said...

Anyone else see this as a run-on? "When she starts dating school goth Alexa their relationship is like pouring gasoline on the fire and she finds out just how far she is willing to go for the people she loves and what she's willing to sacrifice to protect them." There should be a comma after "Alexa" and one after "fire," yes? And even with that, the sentence still sounds clunky to me.

All in all, I think this query just needs more information. A story about a teenager trying to murder someone is definitely interesting, but as it is, it leaves too much to the imagination.

Carrie-Anne said...

I also noticed the run-on sentence! That either needed a few commas, or to be broken up into several sentences.

Mister Furkles said...

The only sentence that catches my attention is:

"She discovers that a boy in her school has raped her closest friend and knows that the only way to stop him is to kill him."

Recommend using only first names and replaced 'knows' with 'thinks'. Also helps to be specific; replace 'boy' with something about him.

Loren's best friend Alexa was raped by their school's quarterback and believes the only way to stop him is to kill him.

So we get who, conflict, and some kind of stakes in the first sentence.

Please recognize specificity as your friend. Generalities and vagueness are your enemies. And hyperbole is evil.

Barbara said...

With respect to the name "Loren Blake," this is the name of one of the professors in PC Cast's bestselling House of Night series (which is a YA paranormal vampire series). I'd also consider changing the name because of that, as I flashed immediately to the House of Night series when I read the name.

Amren Ortega said...

Is that an appropriate place to mention that it's an #OwnVoices work? It seems out-of-place, but I can't figure out where else that information would go.

ReTx said...

The opening line combined with the story title really threw me. 'Patriarch' brings to mind old, white religious leaders. And then 'The Gospel of...' implies some kind of religious theme. But then nothing in the plotline of the the query relates to either of those ideas. The bad guy is just one teenager, not a patriarch of anything.

I wouldn't be surprised if you do have an anti-Patriarchy theme in there, and I'd love to see that brought out. It's a bit controversial as you'll offend some kids, but you'll also attract others (and isn't that always true!).