Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Mania--Query Letter

One of our readers has submitted a query letter for critique. Please offer only constructive comments.

Critique Archive #49

Dear [AGENT]:

She loves him, but he is in love with a ghost.

In Shadows, a young adult paranormal romance, high school senior Samantha Bell is falling hard for her best friend, Mark Baxter, but complications from his past begin to haunt them as Mark’s former girlfriend, Kate Duncan, appears. Oh, and Kate is dead.

Sam (Samantha) soon experiences the frustration in dealing with a spurned ghost who can appear at any time and interrupt any moment, but then the real dilemma unfolds.

Sam learns that Kate, who died in the mid-eighteen hundreds, was cursed by someone she once trusted. Kate is stuck in the mortal realm, never to cross over and be at rest, but she was promised that her true love will die and join her before he turns nineteen. Kate thought this could never happen since the living can’t even see her, let alone love her—until she met Mark who can do both. Mark will turn nineteen next year.

Now Sam, jealous of a freaking ghost, is forced to endure the heartbreak of doomed love but keep Mark in the dark about his impending demise. She must do this as she juggles school, friends and family who can’t see the irritating Kate, and figure out why an attractive guy named Peter is stalking her.

When Sam learns Peter is also a ghost and is trying to protect her, Sam’s world shifts even more as the isolated situation with Kate opens up into something Sam isn’t sure she wants to be a part of; a world where ghosts aren’t just harmless specters who slam doors and throw dishes.

I believe Shadows, completed at 78,000 words, would be a good fit for you and I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Susan said...

This sounds very intriguing.

You need to work on your query a little though. Your first line states a love triangle that includes a ghost, but then you say the exact same thing again, in the next paragraph. Redundant. Also, you state that this ghost is the almost nineteen year old boy's girlfriend, but then state that the ghost died in the 1800's. That threw me off. How is that possible? I thought he'd dated her when she was alive, but then she died and he was still in love with her. But then you said she'd died in the 1800's. How can his girlfriend be a ghost but he doesn't know she's a ghost? Is you definition of ghost different than the typical? Because I'm pretty sure you can't hold hands, hug, or kiss a ghost. So if you definition is different you need to add that in upfront, or the entire query doesn't make sense. Also, the word 'freaking' really stands out. The rest of your voice seems calm, and then it feels like you just threw freaking in for some umph, but it's distracting.

I think the book sounds promising, you just need to tighten your query. Good luck! It really does sound interesting.

Rebecca McKinnon said...

The hook sentence and the following two paragraphs lost me. Once I got past those, the storyline caught in interest.

Agents receive so many queries that they admittedly look for reasons to set them aside. With that in mind:

Make sure you don't have any redundancies - every word has to count. Be as clear as you can, but don't give away more than you have to - your goal is to give them enough that they want to read more. It's really tough to do!

The book sounds interesting, and I think it has a good chance. Just cinch the query up a little more. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

It definitely sounds like a great premise. But I agree with the others, you need to have it very tight because an agent wants to know the main concept asap.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone that it's intriguing, but confusing, too. I personally think the Peter and Sam dynamic sounds more interesting and should be focused on more and mentioned a lot sooner.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments and suggestions. Writing and re-writing my query with my face essentially planted in it, I was unable to see some of these issues. Thank you everyone. I'm off to revise!!