1. K.P Gazelle
    Offline

    K.P Gazelle Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2014
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0

    Query Letter Keep Faith (please help!)

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by K.P Gazelle, Aug 12, 2014.

    Hey Everyone,

    Below is a query letter for my young adult novel. Please help me!!! Any constructive advice/feedback is HIGHLY appreciated! Thank you!!


    Dear [Agent’s Name],

    Love can be destructive.

    High school sophomore Faith Lane doesn’t want to die. She really doesn’t. But with the devil reincarnating himself into evil bullies at school and her parents expecting Faith to be the embodiment of perfection, she is nearly driven to suicide. Then Faith meets Alex Caputo, a varsity basketball player with forever-messy hair and a lopsided smile.

    Faith and Alex soon fall in love. They ditch class to cuddle in the back of the library and enjoy the sweetness of their first kiss on a cool summer night lit by a full moon. Alex encourages Faith’s passion for dance and her life reaches perfection the day she makes the school’s team. Faith never suspects one night to turn perfection into destruction, the night everything catches on fire while she’s dancing in a trance. She prepares for an inevitable death until Alex breaks into the locked library and brings them both to safety. Moments later, Alex dies in Faith’s lap. Faith drowns in the guilt of Alex’s death and of surviving. She shuts down altogether, becoming a soulless body. And her mind once again burns with ideas of suicide. Faith is now left with the decision of cultivating courage from deep recesses to heal equally deep wounds and forging a new life, a life that is her own or succumbing to self-destruction.

    Keep Faith is a young adult novel that [insert specifics of agent] complete at 89,000 words.

    Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to future correspondence.

    Best,
    K.P Gazelle
    [Contact details]
     
  2. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    So, the guy dies and THEN Faith has to heal her deep wounds - so you're saying, the story actually only starts AFTER Alex dies.

    And yet, you've spent a total of one, two max sentences on what the story is about: Faith must overcome her grief and forge a new life, or die.

    And the rest of your letter is about the story PREMISE.

    That's not what queries are for. Queries should sum up what your story is - not simply what starts your story off.

    Another note - cut the fluff. Alex's lopsided smile doesn't add to the story. Their sweet cuddles tells me nothing about the story.

    And unfortunately, you've spent so much time describing what seems to be irrelevant detail, you ended up rushing when you summed this up in these sentences:

    I can't tell you what it is, but the abruptness of this tossed in the middle of an otherwise fairly standard, uneventful love story made it seem comical. I grinned. Not the response you want. It's probably the abruptness of it paired up with the fact that it's pretty cliche. Esp "soulless".

    I'm not sure if it's your writing quality, or if you're simply trying too hard. Somehow our writing level has a way of spiraling when we're trying to sum things up, probably because we're too worried about it.

    Have you tried Query Shark? It's a very useful site where an agent actually critiques queries, and she posts entire queries, both failed and successful ones, and writes out exactly everything that's good or wrong about them. You can also submit your own query to her.

    All the best.
     
    ToDandy likes this.
  3. K.P Gazelle
    Offline

    K.P Gazelle Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2014
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Mckk,

    Thank you so much for your honest feedback! It's appreciated :).

    I think I'm trying way too hard and over thinking this thing. I have heard of Query Shark and did check it out before writing this letter, still managing to fail miserably :(.

    Let me tell you about the story a little bit. Faith is a high school sophomore who is bullied because of her conservative upbringing and low-key social life. She's also pressured by her parents to be perfect in all aspects. After suffering many episodes of bullying and dealing with all the pressure from her parents, she attempts suicide but backs out last minute. Then she meets Alex, who is the love interest in the story. He helps her build a backbone and encourages her passion for dance, nudging her to try out for the school team which she makes. At this point life seems perfect. But then Alex dies trying to save her from a burning library. Of course she feels responsible and thoughts of suicide resurface. The remaining part of the story follows Faith as she tries to come out of her grief and guilt and start a new life. The story is essentially about Faith. Her struggles with bullying, her experiences with first love (and it's fatal loss), and her struggles with thoughts of suicide.

    Help?
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
  4. ToDandy
    Online

    ToDandy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2013
    Messages:
    336
    Likes Received:
    206
    Location:
    Bozeman Montana
    Dear [Agent’s Name],

    Love can be destructive.
    -This is what is called a hollywood log line. It works great for film but I've seen lots of agents list it as a pet peeve. It doesn't really say anything about the story or entice them.
    -Also, from this query, love isn't destructive, love saved her life! So I don't even get how this ties into anything below.


    High school sophomore Faith Lane doesn’t want to die (if she is contemplating suicide-as suggested only two sentences later- then she kind of does want to die and this first line doesn't make a whole lot of sense). She really doesn’t. But with the devil reincarnating himself into evil bullies at school and her parents expecting Faith to be the embodiment of perfection, she is nearly driven to suicide. Then Faith meets Alex Caputo, a varsity basketball player with forever-messy hair and a lopsided smile.

    Faith and Alex soon fall in love. They ditch class to cuddle in the back of the library and enjoy the sweetness of their first kiss on a cool summer night lit by a full moon. Alex encourages Faith’s passion for dance and her life reaches perfection the day she makes the school’s team. Faith never suspects one night to turn perfection into destruction, the night everything catches on fire while she’s dancing in a trance (Huh?). She prepares for an inevitable death until Alex breaks into the locked library and brings them both to safety. Moments later, Alex dies in Faith’s lap (How? Why?). Faith drowns in the guilt of Alex’s death and of surviving. She shuts down altogether, becoming a soulless body. And her mind once again burns with ideas of suicide. Faith is now left with the decision of cultivating courage from deep recesses to heal equally deep wounds and forging a new life, a life that is her own or succumbing to self-destruction.
    -Okay, so I am completely confused as to where the bulk of this story is....

    If it's when Faith and Alex fall in love, then you are revealing too much by showing him dying in the query. If it is after Alex dies then you are revealing too much backstory. Start the query where the bulk of the story is and where it gets really interesting. That is what will draw an agent in.

    Start the query with Alex's death.


    Keep Faith is a young adult novel that [insert specifics of agent] complete at 89,000 words.

    Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to future correspondence. [Thank you for your time and consideration]


    Back to the basics. Check out this site. It should help you in learning what to do, what not to do, and how to go about formatting. I can't recommend this site enough to people as finding help or lessons on Query letters is extremely hard.


    http://queryshark.blogspot.com
     
    Mckk likes this.
  5. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    I'm afraid I'm no better at summarising things - I struggled with my own query (the book ain't finished yet anyway mind you). But I suppose I can ask questions.

    I guess I'd ask: well, what are the few story milestones of your novel? I'd include those in the query - Alex's death, and what else?

    Have you read any queries within a similar genre as your book? How do they do it?

    What makes this story special? Why should I read this book? What makes this different from the dozens of other love/life stories I've read already? Somehow, this should be expressed in the course of you telling the story.
     
  6. BookLover
    Offline

    BookLover Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2014
    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    186
    I liked your summary in your second post better than your query letter summary. It made more sense.

    The query letter really threw me off when you talked about the devil reincarnating himself into evil bullies. Not knowing anything about the story, I took it literally, but you didn't mention anything about the devil in your second post. So I take it this isn't some sort of supernatural, demon story? If not I wouldn't include that bit in your query letter. It's confusing. :)
     
    Mckk likes this.
  7. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    I agree with @BookLover - I forgot to mention it in my previous posts. I also thought it was some faith-based supernatural story when you first mentioned the demon reincarnating himself. Definitely leave that out if it's actually got nothing to do with anything supernatural.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,952
    Likes Received:
    5,481
    The summary in this post is much better than the one in your query letter. However, it still seems to stop at the beginning of the story--what happens in the rest?
     
  9. Selbbin
    Offline

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,201
    Likes Received:
    1,787
    Location:
    Australia

    In my opinion edit this summary a bit and ditch the actual letter. You're right, in that the first letter tries too hard. This summary is more to the point and with a bit of work would be more effective. Remember, the ONLY thing a query letter needs to do is get the agent to read the sample chapters.
     
  10. bythegods
    Offline

    bythegods Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2014
    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Sometimes you have to throw away a few 'treasures' in exchange for a greater gift that can only be received through loss - critical thought.

    There is a classic history lesson from Alexander the Great; The Burning of Persepolis.
    http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=macgregor&book=greece&story=persepolis

    I urge you: Burn your Persepolis.
     
  11. K.P Gazelle
    Offline

    K.P Gazelle Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2014
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey Everyone,

    I thank each of you for your feedback and advice. @bythegods, don't worry. I've burned my persepolis. This whole process is so much harder than I had anticipated.

    Anyway, I'm going to start fresh. Shall keep you all posted ;).

    Once again, thanks!

    Best,
    K.P Gazelle
     
  12. K.P Gazelle
    Offline

    K.P Gazelle Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2014
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    The beginning of the story focuses on Faith's struggle with thoughts of suicide which are caused by the bullying and pressure from parents.

    The middle of the story revolves around Faith's experiences with love and the dance aspect; making the team, dance competition, etc. Towards the end of the middle is when Alex's dies.

    The end of the story (the last fifty-ish pages) focuses on Faith's grief and guilt, her resurfacing thoughts of suicide, and her recovery journey.
     
  13. LetaDarnell
    Offline

    LetaDarnell Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2014
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    4
    Faith Lane doesn’t want to die. But with The Devil reincarnating himself into bullies at school ,and her parents expecting Faith to be the embodiment of perfection, the pressure nearly to suicide. Then Faith meets Alex Caputo, a varsity basketball player with forever-messy hair and a lopsided smile.

    This version makes it more concise, but you don't have to go with this verbatim.
     

Share This Page