Sunday, May 18, 2008


Dear Query Shark:

Teenager Cassandra O'Hare knows what it's like to live in constant fear of being mauled by a werewolf. Generations ago, a curse was put on her family that makes even the most civil of lycanthropes want to devour anyone in her bloodline. After her sister is left dead on the front porch, Cassandra and her parents move two states away to start over in a new town.

So, can you imagine the questions for the realtor? "Do you have werewolves here?"
Seriously though, you're missing the most obvious question of why they would think moving away would save them? Is there a den of werewolves nearby? (Where do werewolves live actually?) Wouldn't they be safe if they just took a boat out on the water when the moon was full? The set up for a story has to make sense. You can't just say "this is how it is cause it's my book."

At first Cassandra believes there is safety in the suburbs of Fox Hollow, but when a crazed werewolf begins stalking her, it becomes clear that she cannot escape the family curse so easily. Using what little she knows of magic and the help of new found friends, Cassandra tries to ward off her supernatural stalker before she shares her sister's fate.

I didn't think the werewolves had to be crazed to stalk her. I though it was the curse. And now she knows magic? New found friends?

What you've got here is all set up. There's no antagonist. There's no plot.

Into the Fire is an urban fantasy novel complete at 52,000 words.

This is a good closing sentence, but it's probably YA urban fantasy if the protagonist is a teen.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you!


BuffySquirrel said...

Does a teen protagonist have to be a YA? My protag is seventeen, because that's the age at which he can join the army, but I don't see the book as suitable for YA. Have I written something that can't be sold?

I can take it if so :).

Chro said...

Having a teen protag doesn't necessarily mean it's a YA book. However, if a good portion of the book is devoted to teenage conflicts, such as moving to a new school (check), making new friends (check), feeling outcast (check), wishing you were in a different family (check), or death of a sibling or parent (check), chances are it's a YA novel. 52k words is YA length anyway.

Jamie Hall said...

Usually it is bad to put world-building in a query, but I think in this case you need to put a couple of sentences worth of world-building in. Otherwise, it seems as if several things just come out of left field. Imagine a query for Harry Potter that doesn't mention he is a wizard and doesn't mention that the magical subculture is hidden from muggles. It would be a bad query.

However, I don't think the full moon thing is a big deal, since so many books (and even some movies) have replaced that tired old plot device with werewolves who either (1) change at will or (2) change according to some stimulus, such as hunger or strong emotions.

beth said...

I'm with chro--sounds YA to me, too. If not, the query needs to make it clear why not.