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  1. Alicia K

    Alicia K New Member

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    Query: Middle-grade Island Adventure

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by Alicia K, Mar 31, 2021.

    Thanks for stopping by! I would love your feedback on my query letter for a middle-grade fantasy novel.

    Dear X,

    Flower Island’s delicate pink shores, crashed by emerald-green waves, hide dangerous deathtraps, and Moia is clueless about what a simple decision will mean for her survival. <insert title, word-count, target audience, and personalizing statement).

    When twelve-year-old Moia trudges along with her father to his farm and catches sight of a strange boy lurking in the bushes, she is curious enough to chase him to the river and brave enough to dive in to save him from drowning. She emerges on a strange island, and the force--or whatever it was that brought her there--had disappeared, leaving Moia stranded. Desperate for a solution to her predicament, Moia is forced to follow the boy, Andem, a curious lad with hair of glowing flowers. Flower Island, as it is called, is no ordinary place. There are strange creatures, crawling trees, glistening rivers, and island people, Floras, who grow strange flowers from their heads. At night, the flowers set the island ablaze with their glowing petals.

    After Moia and Andem are seized by guardians of the island, a worrisome overseer and his council of sages--of whom Moia is heartily suspicious--send them away, along with a guardian, on a dangerous journey to a neighboring island to hunt for a sage. Things soon go swiftly and horribly wrong on the treacherous voyage, and Moia and her friends are in for a struggle for their survival. Even the beautiful flowers hide perilous threats. In Thornland, they meet the reclusive sage--a scientist of sorts and a man who is not who they thought he would be. He is in fact a woman who, despite her reluctance, proves instrumental to Moia’s difficult circumstances. But if Moia is to find her way home, she and her friends must first survive Thornland and then make the perilous journey back to Flower Island.
     
  2. Alicia K

    Alicia K New Member

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    Please say if you find the story interesting and why. If you do not like it, please say what you don't like and why.
     
  3. Alicia K

    Alicia K New Member

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    I have updated some things. Please see below.

    Dear Ms. Agent,

    Flower Island’s delicate pink shores, crashed by emerald-green waves, hide dangerous deathtraps, and Moia is clueless about what a simple decision will mean for her survival. Flower Island is a X,000-word fantasy novel that is intended for middle-grade readers. It is a story about a young girl who, armed with curiosity, finds adventure on a tropical island that her wildest imagination could not have conjured, but this magical island might hold on to her forever. Insert personalizing statement.

    When twelve-year-old Moia trudges along with her father to his farm and catches sight of a strange boy lurking in the bushes, she is curious enough to chase him to the river and brave enough to dive in to save him from drowning. She emerges on a strange island, and the force--or whatever it was that brought her there--disappears, leaving Moia stranded. Desperate for a solution to her predicament, Moia is forced to follow the boy, Andem, a curious lad with hair of glowing flowers. But Flower Island, as it is called, is no ordinary place. There are strange creatures, crawling trees, glistening rivers, and island people, Floras, who grow strange flowers from their heads. At night, the flowers set the island ablaze with their glowing petals.

    Moia unwittingly finds herself on a dangerous adventure when the island’s overseer—of whom she is heartily suspicious—send her and Andem, along with a guardian, to a neighboring island to hunt for a Thornian gentleman. Things soon go swiftly and horribly wrong on the treacherous voyage, and Moia and her companions are in for a struggle for their survival. Even the beautiful flowers hide perilous threats. In Thornland, they meet the reclusive Thorn--a scientist of sorts and a man who is not who they thought he would be. Worse, he is unwilling to help Moia. Now, Moia and her friends are uncertain of their fate as they navigate the unfriendly terrains of the Thornian Island. Far more troubling, Moia is uncertain if she will ever find her way home.
     
  4. Idiosyncratic

    Idiosyncratic Member

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    Currently Reading::
    Six of Crows
    It sounds like you have an interesting setting and premise, however, the lack of specifics leaves me feeling that I don't know what's going on. 'Things go swiftly and horribly wrong', that happens in pretty much every book, I want to know what happens in this one. The same goes for things like 'struggle for survival, 'dangerous adventure', 'perilous threats' etc, they're so vague that they become essentially meaningless.

    As a challenge (you don't have to keep it this way) try removing every adverb and most of the adjectives. Dangerous, suspicious, perilous, treacherous, swiftly, horribly, unfriendly (many of which are just synonyms, they don't really add new information) and find specific details you can use to show us how thorn-land is all these things. And, I'd like to know what your protagonist is actually doing. Convince me that Moia is an active character who shapes the plot and not just getting dragged around. 'Monsters made of brambles and shadows attack the trio. Moira discovers that their weakness is light and fends them off with a torch, but not before their supposed guardian is dragged off. Now alone, Moira and Andem must...' (made up on the spot but you get the picture)

    As for actual story pieces, Why have they been sent to find Dr. Thorn/what does he have to do with getting her home? After they find him, what's their goal? 'they find him, he refuses to help, they wander around navigating dangerous terrain' is what you have right now. Why is it 'worse' that he's refused to help him, was being 'not what they expected' a bad thing? Who is Andam? We get a bit of physical description but I have no sense of his personality or why he's caught up in this. What does the island overseer do to make Moia suspicious? In this case, it might be helpful to narrow down your focus to the first 50 pages or so. If you can clarify why finding Dr. Thorn is so important, then that's a nice, clear goal with obvious stakes. Stoping the query before they find him means that you have an obvious 'will they succeed?' question and you don't have to spend more space explaining what happens next, meaning you have more space for specific details early on.

    Queries are extremely difficult and completely different from writing a book, and I think this is a good start, regardless of all my comments. Best of luck!
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2021
    Alicia K likes this.
  5. Alicia K

    Alicia K New Member

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    Idiosyncratic ---Thank you for your valuable response. Please take a look at the following. I hope it provides more clarity.

    Dear ,

    Flower Island’s delicate pink shores, crashed by emerald-green waves, hide dangerous deathtraps, and Moia is clueless about what a simple decision will mean for her survival. Flower Island is a X-000-word middle-grade fantasy novel. It is a story about a young girl who, armed with curiosity, finds adventure on a tropical island that her wildest imagination could not have conjured, but this magical island might hold on to her forever. (personalizing statement)

    Twelve-year-old Moia is an island girl, and she knows everything about growing up on an island. At least, she thought she did, until she chases a strange boy lurking about her father’s farm to the river and dives in to save him from drowning. She is unprepared for the stunning isle on which she emerges. There are strange creatures, glistening rivers, and island people, Floras, who grow spectacular flowers from their heads. At night, the flowers set the island ablaze with their glowing petals. The only caveats? It might just be a one-way ticket, and the island’s overseer seems all too eager to throw her into the dungeon.

    A dangerous adventure Moia finds herself on when she is sent with a guardian and the boy (who volunteers himself for the trip), to a neighboring island to hunt for a Thornian gentleman--what might just be a sordid attempt to get rid of her. After witnessing trees crawling up the side of a cliff and barely escaping being swept away by a roaring river in the Rocklands, Moia and her friends must fight off unusual and terrifying creatures in the tropical jungle. In the city of Absa Luma, they meet the Thorn, a scientist of sorts and a man who is not who they thought he would be. Worse, he takes no interest in Moia’s circumstances as the overseer was convinced he would. Now, Moia is uncertain of her fate as she and her companions traverse the unfriendly Thornian Island. Far more troubling, Moia is uncertain if she will want to leave, even if she does find a way home.
     
  6. Fiender_

    Fiender_ Active Member

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    Hello! Fresh eyes here. I'm starting with the latest version.

    There are some interesting ideas and images here, but I feel like the major through-line of the plot and the character's motivation got lost in the shuffle. It seems to me, the biggest issue here is how many sentences or details ended up more distracting from the story rather than reinforce it. There were many sentences that pulled me out of the query and made me ask 'wait, is this that person from before?' or 'why is this happening?' If you can include these details in more supportive ways (or decide which things aren't needed for the query), I think it would be a lot stronger.

    Anywho, these are just my thoughts. I hope something here helps! :)
     

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