Tuesday, October 11, 2011

QUERY CRITIQUE #1: NOCTURNE

Here's how this works; I've put the original in blue; the revisions in red, and my comments in black. The authors have a chance to revise and resubmit before the voting begins.  

Dear Ms. [Agent],

Betrayed by his family and by love, seventeen-year-old Gabriel Durante has no one to turn to but the demon he serves. Now a high school dropout, Gabriel haunts the streets of San Francisco and collects souls from the dead so his demon, Moira, can feed on their energy.

This is a GREAT hook! I wouldn't change a word of this opening. 

But one night, Moira causes a disastrous fire that kills the brother of Ana?a spunky, sixteen-year-old fashionista. When Ana accuses him of being responsible, Gabriel tries to scare her away, only to find himself wanting to devour her soul?a sign that he?s becoming a demon himself.
I like the sense of conflict here, as well as the potential for a love interest, but I feel that the way Ana is introduced is a bit clunky. Also, make sure you use standard HTML for the characters; MS Word smart quotes and em-dashes don't translate so well in email; the trick is to mail yourself an email with the pasted version, then copy the entire query into a new email and replace the characters that didn't format properly.
After Moira causes a disastrous fire that kills a man, Ana, the victim's 16-year-old sister, seeks out Gabriel. Gabriel tries to scare her away, only to find himself wanting to devour her soul--a sign that he's becoming a demon himself.

Gabriel finds out that the only way for him to become human again is to kill Moira. But he can?t do it alone. He must team up with Ana and the Angel of Death to kill Moira by the end of the month?or die trying.
This sets up the conflict nicely, although the "end of the month" seems a bit arbitrary.
Gabriel finds out that the only way to become human again is to kill Moira. But he's nearly out of time and he can't do it alone. He must team up with Ana and the Angel of Death to kill the demon--or die trying.

NOCTURNE is a YA Urban Fantasy complete at 95,000 words.

Sincerely,
[contact info here]

This is a WONDERFUL query! If we'd received this at Spencer Hill, we would request pages. Notice how well this brief letter gives a sense of the main characters and the conflict.

Thanks for giving us such a great start to the query contest, Lyla! 

3 comments:

Deniz Bevan said...

Not my genre at all but I love the way everything's spelled out in so few sentences. I'm rooting for Gabriel already.

Lyla said...

Oh wow, I just saw this today! I had no idea I would be the first one. Thank you so much for your comments/suggestions, Kate! They really helped. :)

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