Query Critique

Original Query:

Dear (Agent),

Small-time thief, big-time troublemaker, Tristan Storey has beenĀ accused of a murder he didnā€™t commit. And is going to hang for it.

With a rope squeezed tightly around his neck, Tristan knows itā€™s theĀ end, but just as his consciousness flickers, lightning tears down fromĀ the sky. It smashes the gallows, freeing the thief. Eager to cheatĀ death, Tristan attempts his escape in the midst of the chaos, butĀ instead of freedom, he is accidentally sucked into another dimension.

After smashing into the grassy plain on the other side of the portal,Ā Tristan realizes someone else was pulled through: Vespa, the daughterĀ of the man he ā€œmurdered.ā€ Trapped in a foreign world, they have noĀ choice but to work together, despite Vespaā€™s stubbornness andĀ Tristanā€™s habit of saying the wrong thingā€”all the time.

This new world is ruled by an evil god who desperately desires theĀ eternal soul dwelling within Vespa. And when his henchman fails toĀ capture the girl, the man instead steals her memories.

Robbed of her past, Vespaā€™s future suddenly falls in the hands ofĀ Tristan who reluctantly embarks on a journey to recover her memories.Ā Memories which hold the truth about Vespa and her true mother: the godĀ of Earth.

The Eldritch Tales is YA fantasy, complete at 84,000 words and was aĀ finalist in Critique My Novelā€˜s 2012 annual writing competition. It isĀ the first novel in a planned trilogy.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

The Critique:

Dear Ms. (Agent),

Small-time thief, big-time troublemaker, Tristan Storey has been accused of a murder he didnā€™t commit. And is going to hang for it. (How old is he? We find out itā€™s YA at the end, but you want to ground the reader (agent) in what kind of book youā€™ve written up-front. That can be fixed easily by adding: Small-time thief, big-time troublemaker, seventeen-year-old…etc. Also! You can tighten this and make it more present by moving a few words around. Ex: Seventeen-year-old small-time thief, big-time troublemaker, Tristan Storey, is about to hang for a murder he didnā€™t commit.)

With a rope squeezed tightly around his neck, Tristan knows itā€™s theĀ end, but just as his consciousness flickers, lightning tears down fromĀ the sky. It smashes the gallows, freeing the thief. (This can also be condensed a bit for more impact. Itā€™s a wordy way of continuing to talk about Tristanā€™s hanging when the reader should be thrust into the action/conflict faster. So far weā€™ve read a lot about the stuff that happens BEFORE the action. Since most of the conflict occurs after this, flesh that out more.) Eager to cheat death, Tristan attempts his escape in the midst of the chaos, but instead of freedom, he is accidentally sucked into another dimension.

After smashing into the grassy plain (this is unnecessary) On the other side of the portal, Tristan realizes someone else was pulled through: Vespa, the daughterĀ of the man he ā€œmurdered.ā€ Trapped in a foreign world (since they were sucked through a portal, the ā€œforeign worldā€ part is assumed. You can cut this extra info so you have more wordage to add to the conflict and obstacles) they have noĀ choice but to work together (by saying ā€œthey are forced to work togetherā€ it conveys the same message and chops extraneous words), despite Vespaā€™s stubbornness andĀ Tristanā€™s habit of saying the wrong thingā€”all the time.

This new world is ruled by an evil god who desperately desires theĀ eternal soul dwelling within Vespa. And When his henchman fails toĀ capture the girl, the man instead steals her memories. (Who steals her memories? The henchman or the evil god? Itā€™s a little unclear. A fast way to fix that is like this: When a henchman fails to capture the girl, he steals her memories instead. Or better yet, do we need to know the henchman steals her memories? It might be best to remove that element completely to avoid character soup.)

Robbed of her past, Vespaā€™s future suddenly falls in the hands ofĀ Tristan who reluctantly embarks on a journey to recover her memories.Ā Memories which hold the truth about Vespa and her true mother: the god(dess)Ā of Earth. (What conflict does that pose for the evil god? We need a little something here about why the evil god wants her and what the consequence will be if he succeeds. What are the stakes or choices? Will capturing her soul destroy their world?)

The Eldritch Tales is YA fantasy, complete at 84,000 words and was aĀ finalist in Critique My Novelā€˜s 2012 annual writing competition. It isĀ the first novel in a planned trilogy. (Good ending. One minor tweak; I would say that itā€™s a stand alone with series potential.)

Thank you for your time and consideration. (Perfect!)

Your Name

Phone Number

Email

Other Contact Info/Website/Etc.

A couple of nitpick-y things: Be aware of using too many words that end in ā€œlyā€, there are quite a few that are ā€œtellingā€ instead of showing. I.e. Tightly, accidentally, desperately, suddenly, reluctantly, etc. Itā€™s okay to use some – just know that for a short blurb they start to stand out when they arenā€™t necessary.

The Aftermath:

Dear Ms. Agent,

Small-time thief, big-time troublemaker, seventeen-year-old Tristan Storey, is about to hang for a murder he didnā€™t commit.

Just as his consciousness flickers, lightning tears down from the sky, smashing the gallows and freeing him. While attempting escape in the midst of the chaos, heā€™s accidentally sucked into another dimension.

On the other side of the portal, Tristan realizes someone else was pulled through: Vespa, the daughter of the man he ā€œmurdered.ā€ Trapped, they are forced to work together despite Vespaā€™s stubbornness and Tristanā€™s habit of saying the wrong thingā€”all the time.

This new world is ruled by an evil god who desires the eternal soul dwelling within Vespa. When his plan of capturing the girl fails, he steals her memories instead. Robbed of her past, Vespaā€™s future falls in the hands of Tristan who reluctantly embarks on a journey to recover her memories. Memories which hold the truth about Vespa and her true mother: the goddess of Earth.

The Eldritch Tales is YA fantasy, complete at 84,000 words and was a finalist in Critique My Novelā€˜s 2012 annual writing competition. Itā€™s a stand alone with series potential.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Your Name

Okay…so with this condensed version, you now have extra word space to flesh out the conflict and choices the characters face once they are in the other world MORE. Donā€™t be afraid to lay the stakes out there for the agent.Ā 

Thanks so much for sharing your query and for letting me dig my little fingers in. Your book sounds like a really fun read, and the query has a great voice!