Sunday, 17 January 2010

Anne says, "Still, no!"

Anne says, "No. Not like that, like this..." She gave me enough frame to work with so I could improve my query - hook, line and...

Dear Literary Agent
My novel NEAR EDGWARE is a YA paranormal romance complete in 72,200 words.
Sixteen-year-old, Jess Trainer, has a lot in common with her classmate Caleb Ridgway: the athletic skills, unusual senses and the feeling of being something different - a little apart from their peers. If only her parents had told Jess their family secrets she might have understood why she is attracted to the boy who will not allow anyone to get to know the real him.
Jess does not understand why Caleb fights to keep his distance when their classes, common interests and an almost magnetic attraction keep pulling them together. His resistance crumbles and he trusts Jess with his heart. When his lingering scent puts Jess in danger, Caleb rescues her and his secret is revealed. Can Jess still love him when she knows he was born Were?
Jess becomes the Pack's protector when they are attacked. She risks her life, and humanity, to reach a traumatised Caleb, and guide him back to her love.
This book can stand alone but has series potential.

It is more specific and precise but what can I tell, I wrote the last twenty-two!
Thanks to Anne and Keren, what was long is now much shorter.
Donna - we are agreed - this is the Query - without the writer's biographical details

Please feel free to add your thoughts, I'm finding it incredibly helpful.


  1. I think this one is not specific enough. It throws up all sorts of questions for me.

    First sentence: Returns from where? Training in what? And she's called Trainer but she's had training seems a bit clumsy.

    Why does she think they are werewolves? How do werewolves protect all living things? What/who is the Alpha? 'Deals with the situation, thrown up by unique circumstances, differently' is too What?

    Jess finds the motivation to make karate more than ballet beautiful....this lost me a bit. What actualy happens?

    I think the crucial thing is to explain what makes this story different from other werewolf stories. I'd also want to know if the Feral Were are defeated, or if there's scope for a sequel.

    Hope this is helpful! Good luck!

  2. Hey Keren
    Thanks for thinking this through with me.

    You spotted the whole "Jess knows less than everyone else around her" dilemma!
    I am torn because I think Book One has to be capable of standing alone.
    And yes the rest of the English pitch letter is missing here.
    I'm sensing another back to the drawing board coming along!

  3. Oh, hang on, have you changed it? let me read it again!

  4. *Beams but feels far too much relief!

    Thanks Keren :)

  5. Way better! But I steered you wrong the first time telling you include the back story about returning from abroad (Guyana set me off thinking about crazy cults, so I sacrificed clarity for a silly joke. Not a good idea.) Karen's right--that opening brings up questions you don't want to mess with in a query.

    I'd start with "Jess has a lot in common with Caleb..." Then you've got a dynamite hook. After that, you'll want to cut down to two paragraphs max, so I'd go through and cut every word that isn't essential to the action. You show character by telling us what they DO (very nicely) so you don't have to describe what they ARE.

  6. Well, this synopsis is confusing to me. I got lost in the feral Were's, and Alpha Were's, and exactly what the conflict is. After stating that she is the "last of the Werewolf Hunter Line", nothing else is mentioned that seems like she is supposed to be hunting (to kill? protect?) Caleb and his brothers.

    And what about the revenge part of Caleb's attraction to Jess? I'm unclear what her knowledge that is more dangerous to the pack" is. Is it the pack's existence? And why will Caleb and his brothers be "moved to safety?" By whom?

    You've built a lot of emotional tension into the third and fourth paragraph, but again, it describes a physical setting and list of characters, without giving away what the core conflict is to be; obstacles and a resolution.

    Some of the problem could be the liberal use of commas to separate long, detailed narrative. It doesn't have a smooth, sequential flow to me. And, I kept looking for the "Edgewater" connection.

    Lastly, is this synopsis of the novel, or is it a query? Is pitch and queryt he same thing? If it is a query, it is too long and detailed. If it is a synopsis, it needs to be a little longer and include a few more details. A sysnopsis does not need to give away the details of every scene, but does need to encompass the core conflict, moved the story through important obstacles, and resolve the plot issue.

    I'm very intrigued by the plot of the story, however. Hmm, maybe I need to read it a couple more times, because it did grab my interest.

    Thanks for sharing this.


  7. Hey Donna

    I find this so difficult because everyone else in the book knows but Jess doesn't and the book is written from her point of view.