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Thread: Query Letter YA

  1. #1
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    Query Letter YA

    Hey all

    I'm in the midst of crafting a query letter, but I'm getting mixed reviews from people. So far, the consensus had been that it was too long (275 words) so I shortened it dramatically and now it "reads awkward." If anyone could offer their opinion/knowledge, I'd appreciate it so much! I'm so frustrated I could eat my hair!

    Live or die? For fifteen year old Caelyn, this is the hardest decision to make. If she chooses to live, a family member will die.
    On the anniversary of her sister’s death, Caelyn meets a boy, Wren, from Liriter, a parallel world. Wren informs Caelyn her sister had to partake in the ritual of Choice on her sixteenth birthday.
    Now, a year later, Caelyn has to make the same choice on her sixteenth birthday. When she and Wren discover she is part of a prophecy to destroy Liriter, she has an instant target on her back.
    Staying alive just became harder, but if she doesn’t make it to her ritual, she’ll instantly die and so will Wren.
    Can Caelyn find a way to make it to her ritual and save herself?



  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
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    Your story isn't very clear from this query attempt. I don't really understand what this ritual is or her relation to this parallel world.

  3. #3
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    I figured that would be an issue, too. Thanks! I'll work on it some more

  4. #4
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    You're explaining things to your reader as a series of facts, and that's too dispassionate.
    Live or die? For fifteen year old Caelyn, this is the hardest decision to make. If she chooses to live, a family member will die.
    Fifteen year old Caelyn can survive her sixteenth birthday, if she chooses to. But if she does, another family member—someone she loves—will die.
    Instead if explaining, I stated the problem. Everything else you said is inherent in it. And knowing ouly that fact, the reader will be wondering why she has to make that decision, what's significant about that birthday, and what led up to being forced to make that choice. That will involve the reader, emotionally, a way that mere facts won't. As in writing the story itself, each line in the query should lead to the next one, in a way that flows naturally, one to another, so as to entice, not just inform.
    On the anniversary of her sister’s death, Caelyn meets a boy, Wren, from Liriter, a parallel world.
    With the query you're trying to entice the reader to turn to page one, or request you send it. So what, in this line is necessary to that effort? Do we need to know the name of the parallel world, or simply that it exists? Does knowing that she meets the boy on the anniversary of her sister's death matter, given that you don't mention when she died, or why it happened?
    Wren informs Caelyn her sister had to partake in the ritual of Choice on her sixteenth birthday.
    Think of the reader and what they know at this point. Given that, what can the term "ritual of choice" mean to them. Remember, we don't yet know how she met the boy, or her reaction, or what her, or his, reaction was to that meeting. So given that we know only what the words have said to this point, does the reader have context to make the line have meaning? Context isn't just important, it's critical.

    See the problem? You're talking to the reader as though the terms you use are as meaningful to them as they are to you, and dwelling on detail that, while a necessary part of the story, isn't necessar in the form provided, to the query.

    There's a lot about the business side of the profession that we're unaware of, simply because it is professional knowledge, just like structuring the novel, and handling things like the nuance of POV. So just as we need to master the craft of writing fiction for the printed word, we need to pick up those of selling those words to a publisher.

    Judith Applebaum has a pretty good book on that part of the profession, How to Get Happily Published, which you may find in the local library.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greenstein View Post
    Fifteen year old Caelyn can survive her sixteenth birthday, if she chooses to. But if she does, another family member—someone she loves—will die.
    Nice rewrite.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greenstein View Post
    You're explaining things to your reader as a series of facts, and that's too dispassionate.

    Fifteen year old Caelyn can survive her sixteenth birthday, if she chooses to. But if she does, another family member—someone she loves—will die.
    Instead if explaining, I stated the problem. Everything else you said is inherent in it. And knowing ouly that fact, the reader will be wondering why she has to make that decision, what's significant about that birthday, and what led up to being forced to make that choice. That will involve the reader, emotionally, a way that mere facts won't. As in writing the story itself, each line in the query should lead to the next one, in a way that flows naturally, one to another, so as to entice, not just inform.

    With the query you're trying to entice the reader to turn to page one, or request you send it. So what, in this line is necessary to that effort? Do we need to know the name of the parallel world, or simply that it exists? Does knowing that she meets the boy on the anniversary of her sister's death matter, given that you don't mention when she died, or why it happened?Think of the reader and what they know at this point. Given that, what can the term "ritual of choice" mean to them. Remember, we don't yet know how she met the boy, or her reaction, or what her, or his, reaction was to that meeting. So given that we know only what the words have said to this point, does the reader have context to make the line have meaning? Context isn't just important, it's critical.

    See the problem? You're talking to the reader as though the terms you use are as meaningful to them as they are to you, and dwelling on detail that, while a necessary part of the story, isn't necessar in the form provided, to the query.

    There's a lot about the business side of the profession that we're unaware of, simply because it is professional knowledge, just like structuring the novel, and handling things like the nuance of POV. So just as we need to master the craft of writing fiction for the printed word, we need to pick up those of selling those words to a publisher.

    Judith Applebaum has a pretty good book on that part of the profession, How to Get Happily Published, which you may find in the local library.
    Thank you for the help. I can see what you mean about it being dispassionate. It's more bland than I would like. I'll check out the book you mentioned and try to restructure it after some research. Thanks again !

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