Saturday, October 15, 2011

QUERY CRITIQUE #4: THREADS

Dear Ms. Kaynak,

I have been enjoying your blog. I hope you will be interested in my urban fantasy manuscript.

I suggest moving this down to the end, so you can get to the hook immediately.

“It was as if reality had cracked down the middle like a badly made clay pot, and all her assumptions of what was real and normal were leaking out the bottom.”

I love this image, but I'm actually going to tell you something that may be a bit of a shock to you—this doesn't sell your writing. Why not? Because it's got a lot of passive voice ("It was" and "was ---ng"). As an editor, I see this and assume that your entire manuscript is written in this style. So, this may be a scary thought, but you might need to go through and revise the entire book before you query for it.

Yeah, that's a scary thought. But I put it here to give you the insight into how to get your book published. Lots of passive voice and/or excessive adverbs get manuscripts rejected, but if you cut them and make the writing more intense and immediate, you'll stand out as professional-caliber.

“Her reality cracked down the middle like a badly made clay pot, and all her assumptions of what was real and normal leaked out the bottom.”

When Alice Cunningham, a shy nineteen year old fresh out of high school learns she’s inherited her eccentric great Aunt’s vacuum cleaner shop, she isn’t particularly impressed. But when she visits the shop it starts to change before her eyes. Is she going crazy? Her aunt’s old employee has some wild stories to tell, about the shop, its customers, and even Alice herself…

When nineteen-year-old Alice Cunningham learns she’s inherited her eccentric great Aunt’s vacuum cleaner shop, she isn’t particularly impressed. But when she visits the shop it changes (into…?). Her aunt’s old employee has some wild stories to tell about the shop, its customers, and even Alice herself…

Give the reader more of a sense of what happens in the shop as it changes, so we know we're dealing with magic--and cool-to-read-about magic at that. Also, avoid clich├ęs like "before her eyes."

Eventually Alice begins to enjoy herself. Learning magic is pretty fun, and the fact that the shop can move anywhere in the world is pretty awesome. Until she meets Alexie Ambrose, local Greek titan-turned-pop star. Ambrose shows an interest in Alice, one that quickly turns into a dangerous obsession. It becomes apparent that he wants her for more then her sparkling personality and good looks, and he’s not letting her go until he gets what he wants…

Alice sheds her shy reserve as she enters her new life. Learning magic is fun, and the fact that the shop can move anywhere in the world is pretty awesome… until she meets Alexie Ambrose, Greek titan-turned-pop star. Ambrose's interest in Alice turns into a dangerous obsession. He wants her for more then her sparkling personality and good looks, and he’s not letting her go until he gets what he wants…

Try to cut back on adverb use; it's a warning sign for editors and agents. I've also made tightened up some of the wording ("It was…" or "there were…" can almost always be made into more active prose), and turned the sentence fragment into a dependent clause.

“Threads” is “Ella Enchanted” meets “Mr.Magorium’s Wonder Emporium”. It tells the story of a young woman who goes from wall flower, to powerful female.

"Threads" is complete at 100,000 words.

Titles can be in all-caps or in italics. All-caps is the safer bet, given some of the email formatting problems. I also suggest either using different comp titles or emphasizing that your story is like these two "but all grown up," since these are both younger YA/MG-aimed stories. Alternatively, you could pitch it as a YA story, although editors might ask you to revise your MC's age down to 16 or so. If your book's pretty clean, sex and language-wise, this might be a way to go.

Threads is Ella Enchanted meets Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Complete at 100,000 words, it tells the story of a young woman who goes from wallflower to powerful female.

I have been enjoying your blog. I hope you will be interested in my urban fantasy manuscript.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sincerely,
XXXX

This premise intrigues me, and I'd ask for a partial to get a sense of the writing strength. I hope that the comments above are taken in the spirit I gave them--as a way to help you get this book published, and I hope you'll consider querying this to Spencer Hill this December. 

4 comments:

Disgruntled Bear (Kate Kaynak) said...

Oops! Sorry--this was supposed to post yesterday.

Deniz Bevan said...

I like the idea of the story, too! Whimsical stuff like this can be great fun to read.

Carole Anne Carr said...

It was fun to read - thanks.

Keisha Azzalea said...


I say many thanks to Mr. admin website I read this, because in this website I know a lot of information information that I did not know before his

Obat Benjolan Di Lobia Mayora
Pengobatan Radang Sendi Herbal
Cara Menghilangkan Pendarahan Rahim Herbal
Tips Menghilangkan Kanker Tulang
Cara Menghilangkan Pendarahan Pasca Persalinan
Obat TBC Diseminata
Obat Wasir Atau Ambeien Berdarah Untuk Ibu Hamil
Obat Diabetes Kering Alami