1. theperiloustriumph
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    theperiloustriumph New Member

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    Query Letter The Mercy Experiment

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by theperiloustriumph, Aug 31, 2014.

    Critique is so very, very welcome!

    Dear Agent,
    Sometimes, it can be hard to tell where the situation you're in sits on the spectrum of suck. After Quinn wakes up with a wiped mind and discovers she's somehow got roped into a "community service project" that's supposed to get her off of death row, she's pretty sure she's hovering somewhere between "terrible" and "the world is about to be blown up." Especially because being in this "project" apparently involves being a guinea pig in a psychological experiment in which they are strongly advised to stop breathing.

    Quinn and twenty other child criminals (all chosen for their gift at... something. None of them can quite remember) are told that there's no way out of this hellhole but death or victory. And victory, apparently, is a ride with only three seats on it. At least, that's what everyone else is told.

    Through a phone call, Quinn figures out that this game is rigged in her favor. She will win, and she will win alone. The experimenters would do even better if she'd let them; they extend a personal for-real invitation for her to up and leave the place. Which would be great if she hadn't been idiotic enough to become attached to the other contestants. Quinn decides there's nothing she is willing to do but try to keep her new-found friends alive and preferably in one piece.

    But the others grow suspicious. Jaded by life-or-death situations that are constantly slamming into them, they can't help notice the closest thing to an injury Quinn's gotten is a paper-cut (although, in fairness, it was a pretty painful paper-cut). Even the dimwits are starting to figure out that this competition stopped being fair a long time ago. And they start to ask themselves a question.

    If the game is rigged towards Quinn's favor, what happens if she dies?

    THE MERCY EXPERIMENT is YA science-fiction complete at 112,902 words. It is told from the perspectives of Quinn and Blythe. While I have ideas for a series, the manuscript can stand alone.

    I am a 14-year-old writer who has won and placed in various writing competitions. My works (mostly poems, essays, and stories) have been published in local anthologies.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Sincerely,
    Mina Yu
     
    cydney likes this.
  2. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Glad to see another young writer on here!

    I don't know much about the querying process. One thing that I do know is that you need to put it down as their name, not "Dear Agent". They probably get hundreds of queries each day from writers just like you trying to see their ideas, all labeled as "Dear Agent" or "To Whom It May Concern." Stick out and put their name in there. If you put it out to another agent, just change the name.

    Good luck!
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Random observations, not based on any knowledge of queries:

    - The writing is really good.
    - But I would eliminate the use of "apparently"--usually, that word just weakens the sentence it's in.
    - You mention "and Blythe" at the end as if we know who Blythe is, but he/she is not mentioned.
     
  4. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe some who knows query letters better than myself can chime in, but I'm not sure that you should say you are 14 years old. You don't have to lie about it if/when asked, but I wouldn't offer it in your query letter so to avoid potential discrimination.
     
  5. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Too many passive modifiers! Look at them all down there!
    Are you uncertain about what you have written? If not you can get rid of all of these and be fine.
    You can end the whole synopsis right here, no problems. Keep it short and sweet, blast them with the plot and keep 'em wanting more.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I forgot to add. This:

    "she's somehow got roped into"

    is grammatically incorrect. "She's....got" instead of "she's gotten" or "she's been" is a common and expressive turn of phrase, and in your character's voice it would be just fine. But this query letter is in your own voice, so I think that stricter correctness would be safer.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I forgot to add. This:

    "she's somehow got roped into"

    is grammatically incorrect. It's a common and expressive turn of phrase, and in your character's voice it would be just fine. But this query letter is in your own voice, so I think that stricter correctness would be safer.
     
  8. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    First off I like your story idea, it's quite interesting and I would be interested in looking at it based on that alone. My quibbles are these...
    - Your phrasing of your story idea comes across as a little vague. It would be better if you phrased it more emphatically as that would draw the reader in. Somewhere on the spectrum of suck, somewhere terrible, apparently...All work against you in the opening paragraphs.
    - You could cut down the length of the letter considerably with better phrasing and tighter control of your writing enabling whoever is reading it to get a quick take on your story. Time is of the essence as you are just one of hundreds of queries sitting on their desk.
    - I would leave out the part about having idea's for a series and the fact you are 14. Let your writing speak for you as a writer. It shouldn't matter whether or not you've won competitions. If your writing is any good it will speak louder on your behalf. The thing is, the query letter must also be an example of your abilities as a writer.
    It needs to be engaging, professional and interesting too.
     
  9. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    It's far too long. It's clunky to read.

    Also, cut both of the points below. They are not needed and only weaken, not strengthen, your chances.

     
  10. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    Others have already given good advice, so I only add my 2 cents : I would omit the word "suck". For many agents it's not a problem but for some it is, so why take the risk?
    You could be more accurate on referencing your winnings and already published work or leave it out entirely.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014
  11. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I disagree with this. The query letter is meant to get the agent to read the submitted material. Nothing else. Writing credentials give the agent confidence it will be worth their time if they haven't already decided 100% by the end of the pitch.
     

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