Sunday, October 31, 2021


WYSTERIA Wysteria Collins

don't cap the names of your characters in a query. That's for synopses and film scripts.

 is the twenty-four year old owner of a magic shop in downtown Olympia, Washington. She runs it with her familiar, a turtle named PANTS Pants. Things are her normal brand of chaos until her dear friend PRISCILLA Priscilla calls in a favor.

The Fae


In a short form work like a query, it REALLY helps if you don't call characters two different things in short order. Were you worried about using Priscilla's name twice in short succession?

You can avoid that by paring and combining the sentences:


Things are her normal brand of chaos until her dear friend Priscilla calls in a favor


can’t break her promise to go on a date and  

persuades Wysteria to go on a date in her place. It’s supposed to be a one time event, except that Wysteria likes ARIEL Ariel and he didn’t seem put off by the way she had to chase her turtle across the restaurant floor.


The story is told in a series of vignettes, ranging from comforting a grief-stricken student with a request for necromancy, to an excitable baseball coach. There’s a visit to the beach that ends with bartering with mermaids, and the time Ariel shows up unannounced with a lost snake.


Well this sounds fun and all but there's NO PLOT.

Even a series of vignettes needs a plot, and worse: each vignette needs one, plus you need an overarching story arc.


WYSTERIA AND PANTS is a 60,000 word adult fantasy

I'm not convinced you have enough word count here.  The previous Query Shark post is about a book that's got too many words.


You've got the opposite problem.  Fantasy needs world building. World building takes words.

And not having a plot means you're going to need to add words too. You can double the word count here and still be ok.



 #ownvoices novel with series potential featuring a diverse cast of queer characters.

 #ownvoices is being replaced with #specific under represented voice you mean.

Here's the announcement about that:

We Need Diverse Books announced that it will no longer refer to books using the term #OwnVoices. Instead, they will use "specific descriptions that authors use for themselves and their characters whenever possible (for example "Korean American author" or "autistic protagonist").  They write in the release that the hashtag was originally created "for readers to recommend books by authors who openly shared the diverse identity of their main characters," but has since become a "catch all marketing term" and caused problems with its vagueness.



Most agents now want to see comps in a query. Effective comps are recent books (no earlier than 2018) and published by a trade house (ie not self published), and on the same shelf you envision for your book. Don't use YA titles as comps for books for the adult trade market (or vice versa.)


I moved from California to Washington to live with my shouty cat Icarus where I enjoy wandering around in the greenery and eating blackberries from my bush. I’ve been involved in a writing and critique group since 2015 and together we have published several collections of short stories.


Nice but NOT a publishing credit. Leave that for your website.


Thank you for your time and consideration,



Fae/faer or they/them






    I want to be clear that the chapters are a little disconnected but still related without sounding like they’re short stories all to themselves.


"A little disconnected" strikes fear in even my sharkly heart. You don't want your novel to feel like a pinball game where the reader caroms about.  That's NOT an immersive reading experience.


A novel in stories is very much a thing, and are lots of fun to read. Is there any way to make that happen?




    Will it put agents off to include my pronouns?  How should I handle this?

Put off?


I'm tickled fuchsia to have writers indicate their pronouns.

It's helpful for gender fluid names (Dylan!) plus if you are non-binary, I'd like to respect that.


While I don't have a clue what fae/faer is, I do recognize they/them. How you have it listed is just right.


Any agent who is put off by pronouns in a query is NOT someone you want to work with.


  1. I'd like to know more about what this "magic shop" entails. What makes this novel "fantasy" seems touched on only briefly.

  2. Oh wow I didn't realize using ownvoices was now a faux pas! Time to cut that from my query :)


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