Query Workshop R-7: THE DEATHS OF ME

Second-to-last day for this! Time’s running out the crit and learn and love with the query workshop! And don’t forget to check out the queries on the blogs of Brenda, Marieke and Sarah!

On with the show!

Full Query:

Greetings Mr./Ms ___________,

I am seeking representation for my young adult novel THE DEATHS OF ME.

When a vampire and a werewolf team up to save a precious, supernatural treasure, they are more than surprised to find that the ‘treasure’ is a girl, and that girl is the only key to revealing their species to the human race.

Ivy is in a predicament. One, tiny little massacre and she’s indebted to the Covenant until the unforeseeable future. Her latest mission: save Rory, the last half-phoenix, from the clutches of a crazed group of humans, bent on harnessing immortality. That wouldn’t even have been so bad if she hadn’t been partnered with Dane—a werewolf playboy who never shuts up. Post rescue, the vampire and the lycanthrope are put on bodyguard duty until the Covenant reveals what they plan to use Rory for. Ivy and Dane are forced to battle cult members, fairy soldiers, and elven monks to protect the phoenix, all while trying to figure out what is so special about the girl who can’t stop dying.

I am a creative writing student at Southern New Hampshire University based in Atlanta, Georgia. Highlights have included two self-published young-adult novels and several published poems in various literary magazines. Thank you for your consideration.

Once More with Comments:

Greetings Mr./Ms ___________,

I am seeking representation for my young adult novel THE DEATHS OF ME. (Everyone’s advice here differs, but I think unless this part is specifically geared toward the individual agent (e.g., “I’m querying you because you said you’re looking for stories with pink monkeys, and mine stars pink monkeys”) then you should save it till the end. Also, don’t forget to mention word count as that’s an important piece of info.)

When a vampire and a werewolf team up to save a precious, supernatural treasure, they are more than surprised to find that the ‘treasure’ is a girl, (Ooo, interesting) and that girl is the only key to revealing their species to the human race. (This second part doesn’t have as much punch. So do they want to be revealed to the human race? Or not? And why would she be the only key when the werewolf could go fursplode in front of someone and – bam! – revealed?)

Ivy is in a predicament. One, tiny little massacre and she’s indebted to the Covenant until the unforeseeable future. (I like this hook better than the paragraph above.) Her latest mission: save Rory, the last half-phoenix, from the clutches of a crazed group of humans, bent on harnessing immortality. (All this up in here? Voice. So much awesome voice. Definitely start with this.) That wouldn’t even have been so bad if she hadn’t been partnered with Dane—a werewolf playboy who never shuts up. Post rescue, the vampire and the lycanthrope are put on bodyguard duty until the Covenant reveals what they plan to use Rory for. (So, wait, the Covenant didn’t just want to rescue Rory to save her – they have a Big Agenda?) Ivy and Dane are forced to battle cult members, fairy soldiers, and elven monks to protect the phoenix, all while trying to figure out what is so special about the girl who can’t stop dying. (The girl who can’t stop dying = the half-phoenix = Rory, correct? There are few too many labels flying around for that particular character that it’s confusing things. I’m having trouble connecting this paragraph and the previous one. I’m guessing Rory is the treasure-girl mentioned before? But that’s not necessarily clear or why she’d be the key to revealing them to humans?)

I am a creative writing student at Southern New Hampshire University based in Atlanta, Georgia. Highlights have included two self-published young-adult novels (Unless you’ve got some good sales numbers to back this up, I’m not sure that you should mention this. It’s a turn-off for a lot of agents.) and several published poems in various literary magazines. (Specifically? Naming one or two may be helpful.) Thank you for your consideration.

Overall: You really hit your stride in that main paragraph. It gets a little confusing with the names and labels, but the voice in it really carries through and gives a strong sense of Ivy’s character and the tone of the novel. Pare down the rest and focus on that paragraph.

Okay, people, take it to the comments! Do you agree with me? Disagree? Want to punch me in the face? Now’s your chance!

Remember: Every critique you do gets you an entry into a first chapter critique from Brenda!

8 thoughts on “Query Workshop R-7: THE DEATHS OF ME

  1. Yes, I agree with Becks. When I hit that main paragraph, I actually said out loud “That’s it right there”. I agree, move the title, etc. to the end and add a word count. If you are still in the writing stage of this (like I am), just slap on an estimated word count for now (60-70K should do it for now). I also got confused with the names and labels at times.

    Despite that, nice work. And I will say, I’m annoyed because I had a story idea in my head that involved a half-phoenix MC…of course, that’s just jealousy speaking. 😀 Good voice, great concept, just tighten it up a bit.

  2. At the risk of sounding like a parrot, my reaction was almost exactly the same as Becks and Andrew. I sat up a little straighter as soon as I hit this line: “Ivy is in a predicament. One, tiny little massacre and she’s indebted to the Covenant until the unforeseeable future.”

    I also was confused about with all the names for Rory, particularly when, at the end of the paragraph, you called her “the girl who can’t stop dying.” I think this is because I’m a Doctor Who fan, and when I hear “Rory” I immediately think “boy’s name.”

    Then again, if you cut down on the names, you’ll eliminate this problem entirely. 🙂

    Overall, your story sounds very cool. Good job on the query!

  3. I like this, but I’m confused about who’s who. Is Ivy the vampire? At first I thought she was the girl the vamp and werewolf needed to protect. And Rory the half Phoenix, is he/she the girl needing protection, or someone else entirely? Clearing that up could be as easy as making it “When Ivy, a vampire, and Dane, a werewolf team up to save a precious, supernatural treasure, they are more than surprised to find that the ‘treasure’ is a girl…”

  4. I agree with Becca. I would start with your 3rd paragraph. As with the others, I agree that you should leave off information about previous self-published projects. You could say that this is your # completed novel, and then follow with word count or estimated word count. Great premise, and I love the voice in your main paragraph.

  5. Okay, when I read the first sentence, all I could think was TWILIGHT. When I was a lit agent intern, I would pretty much give up on the queries that mentioned vampires and werewolves- there were just so many. HOWEVER, after reading your query, I really enjoyed it and feel there is promise here- especially because the second paragraph steers away from the stereotype.

    I do think you should start with the second paragraph, especially if the MC is the girl and not the werewolf/vampire. I would break up the second paragraph and weed out some of the details and “kinds” of creatures. Mentioning so many is a tad confusing and clutters the writing.

    Good job, though, and I would definitely want to read this! Great voice.

  6. I’ve noticed that, in query letters, it’s difficult to make connections between characters and character descriptions. Stick with their names to make sure we know who you’re talking about. Good luck!

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