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  1. Mendressa

    Mendressa New Member

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    Query Letter Query Critique Requested

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by Mendressa, Mar 26, 2017.

    Working on this for my novel. I'm hoping to pitch it next month at a writing conference. The XXX are places I'd add some specific personalizing to the individual.

    Dear Ms. XXX,

    I was pleased to meet you at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference. Thank you for sharing your insights in publishing particularly XXXXX. Per your request, I am sending you sample pages from THE GILLION, a story where the high fantasy and mystery of Dawn Cook’s First Truth meets the dark isolated world of Lois Lowry’s The Giver.

    Death rolls over a mind. Mint scorches the air. Flash of pain, a young boy’s dreams dwindle into nothingness. A teenage girl wakes up screaming from nightmares. Days later, the boy dies. Another night comes and the nightmares return.

    Despite being from the poorest region of her mountain, sixteen-year-old Aarya is unwavering in her desire to receive special training and become a jeweler. Unfortunately, she’s fighting against wealthier and, sometimes, magical teenagers. Still, she’s determined to succeed. However, her aspirations fall to the wayside when she begins dreaming of attacks on her village’s children. The dreams feel like memories gone bad: sled rides ending in screams, vibrant days fading into black and white, and the voice of a child begging for help.

    As the children in her town fall ill and begin dying, Aarya realizes the truth: her dreams are actually happening; a creature hunts the children of her village. Aarya worries her sickly sister is next. With parents unwilling to help, Aarya turns to her best friend Jasmine. Together with Aarya’s enemy-turned-ally George, they begin uncovering the secrets of the Gillion, a creature connected to one of Aarya’s past lives, and discover a dark power meant to be forgotten. With malice spreading, Aarya's friends find themselves in the midst of a losing fight and she must make the hardest decision of her life. Does she destroy the Gillion and save her village, leaving her friends to an uncertain fate? Or, does she join with the Gillion, save her friends, and hope she can control the creature's darkness and unending hunger?

    Complete at 60,000 words, this young adult dark fantasy novel explores socioeconomic challenges for hardworking youth, bias based on race and ability, a fantasy world influenced by both India and Europe, and the sweetness of first love between two young women.
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Hmmmm...

    The "death roles over..." paragraph is... I'm not sure. It might be a hook, but it's kinda over the top, and the "mint" bit is kind of weird - everything else seems scary, but mint? Even if it's important in your story, I'm not sure it makes sense in the context of your query.

    The rest of it seems good, to me. Well, the last paragraph is maybe a bit much... but maybe not... I mean, I know there are definitely a lot of publishers looking for diversity, so I think it's important to include the last two, but the first two (socioeconomics and race/ability) felt kind of after-school-special-ish.

    And maybe either clarify why the parents are unwilling or leave them out entirely. Right now they just feel like they're unwilling because they have to be for the plot to work, rather than for real organic reasons.
     
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  3. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Edit: I made the mistake of failing to say what I liked as well as didn't. D'oh. I think it's very well written and has a great tone/atmosphere. You can tell it's a dark fantasy before you read the genre. Nice!

    I'm not sure why this paragraph is here but I think it should go. It doesn't add anything to the query.

    What's the relevance of her wanting to be a jeweller? It doesn't come up again and I can't see how it relates to the story, so I'm scratching my head. I like the rest, especially the last line.

    If there are magical people in the village, and Aarya isn't one of them, why is she and her friends fighting the Gillion? Is it because it's connected to her through past lives? I think that should be clearer, and I would also give a specific about the Gillion; its power, or why it wants to kill, or something.

    More importantly, I'm confused why Aarya has this choice. If she destroys the Gillion, why would that leave her friends in danger? If the Gillion is destroyed she won't have to try to control its hunger, so both problems are solved at once. It seems like a no-brainer...
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
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  4. Mendressa

    Mendressa New Member

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    Thank you both for your feedback. I've done a bit of a rework based on the commentary. I'm on the fence about giving too much more on the creature. It's a hard balance with keeping some unanswered questions and making them the right questions so the agent will want to read the novel. I took the jeweler piece out, while it's important to the story it's probably not query level important.

    Dear Ms. XXX,


    I was pleased to meet you at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference. Thank you for sharing your insights in publishing particularly XXXXX. Per your request, I am sending you sample pages from THE GILLION, a story where the high fantasy and mystery of Dawn Cook’s First Truth meets the dark isolated world of Lois Lowry’s The Giver.

    Despite being from the poorest region of her mountain, sixteen-year-old Aarya is unwavering in her desire to receive special training. Unfortunately, she’s fighting against wealthier and, sometimes, magical teenagers. Still, she’s determined to succeed. However, her aspirations fall to the wayside when she begins dreaming of attacks on her village’s children. The dreams feel like memories gone bad: sled rides ending in screams, vibrant days fading into black and white, the voice of a child begging for help, and, always, a voice begging Aarya to join with it.

    As the children in her town fall ill and begin dying, Aarya realizes the truth: her dreams are actually happening; a creature hunts the children of her village. Aarya worries her sickly sister is next. When the adults in her community dismiss Aarya’s concerns and dreams as hysteria, she turns to her best friend Jasmine. Together with Aarya’s magic-wielding enemy-turned-ally George, they begin uncovering the secrets of the Gillion, a creature connected to one of Aarya’s past lives. But, some secrets are buried deep and as the teenagers learn of the Gillion, they unwittingly discover and help release a dark power meant to remain forgotten.

    Aarya and her friends find themselves in the midst of a losing fight not just against the Gillion, or the dark power they released, but also a community determined to blame Aarya for the children’s deaths. Now, Aarya must make the hardest decision of her life. Does she destroy the Gillion and save her village, leaving her friends to an uncertain fate at the hands of her community and the dark power? Or, does she join with the Gillion, save her friends, and hope she can wield the creature's magic and unending hunger against those who stand against her?

    Complete at 60,000 words, this young adult dark fantasy novel explores the difficulty in changing social status, racial bias, a fantasy world influenced by both India and Europe, and the sweetness of first love between two young women.
     
  5. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

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    Good stuff - I suggested some line edits below, and some random musings that I'm not sure what to do about (the random musings are in blue). I am really intrigued by this premise!

     
  6. Niki

    Niki New Member

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    Ok, I can see that buried in here somewhere, you have a story. You just need a little help showing what it's about. You show us too many plot lines. 1) she wants to fight. 2) she has these great/horrible visions that no one believes or cares about. 3) all that mess with the Gillion.
    To me, it feels like the story is about the Gillion. So start there. You have to cut about 200 words from this query, so ax the first few paragraphs. Come out swinging.
    --Sixteen-year-old Aarya has horrible visions of children in her village dying and they keep coming true. When she appeals to the adults for help, she is dismissed. In a prophetic dream, she sees the Gillion, a monster with the ability to fly and turn anything into metal (or whatever it actually does). Sure that the Gillion will be able to help her, she seeks him out and ends up releasing a dark power into the world much worse than all the dying village children.
    Something in here about what she wants and how she can get it.
    and your last paragraph mostly unchanged. -- Shes thrown into a losing fight against the Gillion, and the dark power she released. Now, Aarya must make the hardest decision of her life. Does she destroy the Gillion and save her village, leaving her to an uncertain fate at the hands of the dark power? Or, does she join with the Gillion and hope she can wield the creature's magic and unending hunger against those who stand against her?

    Obviously, that needs tweaking, but it might be something to get you on the right track. Use or discard as you please.
     
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