Sunday, September 4, 2016



My story has a feminist approach and my target agent would ideally be looking for such. However, in order to be concise and straightforward, I skip out on any details that make it feminist. I’m afraid it even comes off as the opposite.

Also, my protagonist is Latino and bisexual. I added his last name, Sosa, but made no mention of his sexuality. I only added the word romance in the query, which I am also not sure about.

Dear QueryShark,

I am seeking representation for my first novel The Once and Future Queen. Given your interest in fantasy novels for young adults, I thought it would be a good fit for your list. 

You don't need to state the obvious. You wouldn't be querying if you didn't want an agent, and you wouldn't be querying me if you didn't think I'd be interested. This is like "um" in conversation. It's warm up, it's filler.  Don't signal that the agent should start skimming in the first line. Start with what's important: the story.

Liam Sosa is in his senior year of high school and is on the verge of impending doom— adulthood. Between homework, nagging parents, sucking at sports, and of course girl trouble, Liam feels like life could not get any worse. But things get unexpectedly shaky when one night, Liam gets into a car crash after deciding to drive home his drunken schoolmate Tristan.

This sentence clunks: "But things get unexpectedly shaky when one night, Liam gets into a car crash after deciding to drive home his drunken schoolmate Tristan"

Short form writing (ie querying) absolutely requires clarity. You can not write a sentence that requires an agent to re-read it to understand what's going on.  The best way to do this is short, standard organization: subject, verb, object.

To wit: Things get unexpectedly shaky the night Liam drives his drunken schoolmate Tristan home. (You'll then need a sentence about the car crash).

Liam and Tristan wake up in a strange forest, with no sign of another car, a road or even houses. Bewildered, they search around until they are met by a strange woman with bizarre clothing and a shining sword. She takes them to a massive fortress complete with knights and peasants, where they realize they’re no longer in their small town in Virginia. They’ve been transported back in time to medieval Great Britain by sorceress Morgana to help the woman that found them, Queen Guinevere. She is in the midst of a war against her brother King Arthur. In a twist of events, Arthur was not the one to take the Sword from the Stone, his sister Guinevere was. The enraged Arthur took Camelot from her with an army of immortal soldiers and attempted to steal Excalibur, which vanished at his touch.

It's not a twist of events, it's a twist on the whole story.

Morgana enlists Liam and Tristan to find Excalibur, the only weapon capable of destroying Arthur and his immortal army. Although the adventure seems compelling, Liam finds that medieval times are dark and violent. Furthermore, he struggles to see what he, a simple teenager, can really do against the legendary warrior, King Arthur. With Tristan and Morgana at his side, Liam embarks on a journey of self-discovery, romance and adventure.

Of course the problem here is that you have not specified what makes Liam and Tristan the Men For The Job.  What do they bring to this adventure other than the fact they are there?  You're using a tried and true motif here, and that's all well and good, but you have to tell us what makes L&T special.

The novel delivers a 75,500 word provoking twist on the ever-popular Arthurian legend, all through the eyes of a twenty-first century teen.

 Don't laud your own novel in a query. Just the facts please. It's 75,000 words, a re-imagining of the Arthurian legend through the eyes of a modern guy.

As requested, I have attached the first X pages of the manuscript.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.

Answers to your questions:
1. I don't think you need to worry that this doesn't sound feminist. Any story that has Guinevere pulling Excalibur out of the stone signals the reader to expect a feminist take on an old story.

2. If you think Sosa makes me think a character is Latino, you've forgotten that Liam is Irish. I wouldn't make any assumptions about ethnicity based on this name.

The way to convey ethnicity is by what the character does and says, not by his name. Is it important that Liam is Latino? Is something about his background key to how he survives in Camelot, or why he's called upon to save the day.

Ethnicity shouldn't just be adjectives you assign a character. 

This query doesn't do the job yet. Unclunk the sentences, and tell us why L&T are Our Heroes.

And of course, the irony of telling a feminist version of Arthur with two main characters who are of the testosterone persuasion is not lost on your reader.