Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Query Critique #17

Query #17 - Shannon

Dear Ms. Agent,

I am seeking representation for my middle-grade fantasy novel, The Totally True Tales of Tansy Berry, Tooth Ferry.
I usually recommend starting with the hook, but I think this works up here, since the query reads more fluidly if we know and expect a MG story.  I'm thrown by the spelling of fairy/ferry, though. Is there a reason? 

When Ruth Canal takes over as CEO - Chief Extraction Officer - at Tooth Central, Tansy Berry is fired from the only job she’s ever loved. After a brief wallow in self-pity (and the North Pole Spa molasses pool), she’s ready to get her job back. To do so, she’ll need the help of Dr. Chip, an elf dentist with a temper and an obsession with the mythical Sweet Tooth.
There's a nice sense of whimsical voice here. I don't think it needs improving. 

But when they go undercover to infiltrate Tooth Central, they discover something rotten about the new management. And her ex-boyfriend, the cool but fickle Jack Frost, is involved. Not only is he following her, but he’s dating the Ferry who took over her route. And he seems to have more than a passing interest in the fate of those collected teeth. He’s up to something, or her name isn’t Tansy Berry, Tooth Ferry. Well, maybe it isn’t right now. But it will be again. She’ll bet her two front teeth on it.
I just made a few word choice changes to strengthen the connection to the characters.  I also eliminated some of the conjunctions at the beginning of sentences. Technically, it's a no-no--although it's becoming more acceptable. There just seemed to be a few too many. This has a great sense of voice, too. 
When they go undercover to infiltrate Tooth Central, they discover something rotten about the new management. And Tansy's ex-boyfriend, the cool but fickle Jack Frost, is involved. Not only is he following her, but he’s dating the Ferry who took over her route. He seems to have more than a passing interest in the fate of those collected teeth. Jack's up to something, or her name isn’t Tansy Berry, Tooth Ferry. Well, maybe it isn’t right now. But it will be again. She’ll bet her two front teeth on it.

This is a stand-alone novel with series potential, and will appeal to fans of Michael Buckley’s Sisters Grimm series. The manuscript is complete at 42,000 words and is available at your request.
I usually suggest cutting the "at your request" about manuscripts, since the next stage is usually a partial request. I made a minor change to correct a punctuation error (no comma between two clauses with a shared subject). 
This is a stand-alone novel with series potential that will appeal to fans of Michael Buckley’s Sisters Grimm series. The manuscript is complete at 42,000 words.

I recently attended a 6-week revision class taught by NYT best-selling author Lani Diane Rich, as well as a Breakout Novel workshop with literary agent Donald Maass. My short stories have appeared in various journals such as Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Big Pulp, The Binnacle, and Concisely Magazine.
I've got mixed feelings about mentioning classes and workshops. Include the Breakout Novel workshop connection if you query Donald Maass, but I don't think it'll help with other agents. If you query Rich's agent, include the part about being in her class. Your short story credits are well-presented here.  

I thank you for your time and consideration, and look forward to hearing from you.
Again, watch the "comma-and" combo when the second half of your sentence doesn't have a subject. 
I thank you for your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely, 


XXX XXXX

3 comments:

Eliza Faith said...

I think that this could be a really fun MG, and one that I would read!

Shannon Schuren said...

Thanks, Eliza! Now I just need to clean up my comma issues. I seem to have a bit of an addiction . . .

And thank you, DB, for taking the time out to do these. I am learning a lot, not just from my own critique but from the others as well. You rock!

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