Query Critique/Workshop: LOSING CORAL (YA Contemporary)



Critiquer: Dahlia Adler

When plans for her older sister’s wedding overshadow her high school graduation, Brooke Cramer tries not to let it bother her. Coral has always commanded center stage. When her sister disappears, (I’d advise against starting two sentences in a row the same way; it adds a singsong quality. Consider swapping the clauses in the previous sentence) leaving her fiancee (fiance – no second e, since it’s masculine) at the altar and her family with no indication of where she is, Brooke is furious. Her family is consumed with the mysteries Coral left behind; Brooke just wants to escape all the drama.
Brooke doesn’t think she’s found the answer to her problems when she stops to rescue a guy (consider using boy here, to clarify that it’s a guy around her age) stranded by the side of the highway. (This sentence would be OK if the next one contrasted it, but it doesn’t, leaving it awkward sounding. Why would she think she’d found the answer to her problems that way?) Brooke gets the boy’s car back on the road; he asks her out. (Consider adding one more bit here, just to show it turning into a romance. It’s kind of an abrupt jump from him asking her out to “summer romance” as is.) At first, their summer romance is exactly the distraction she was looking for, but Brooke soon finds herself falling for her summer fling.
Living out her own love story illuminates what might have gone wrong in Coral’s, leading Brooke to information that could help her locate her sister. Which leaves Brooke with a problem: does she even want to find Coral? (I think the ending would be stronger – and less repetitive sounding – without the red text.)
LOSING CORAL is an 80,000-word Contemporary YA novel and my debut. (Delete the red text; it’s assumed when you don’t include any pub credits.) I have enclosed (whatever the agent asks for) below.
(redacted contact info)
**Twitter: @CarrieJoDowd
Regarding whether or not to include blog and Twitter info in a query: I actually would suggest including them; an online presence is generally a plus. It shows you have some reach and would be able to promote yourself in the event you sell. Plus, they’re just going to Google you anyway.


If you have any thoughts or questions, the comments are open, but please keep it constructive. No douchebaggery allowed.

2 thoughts on “Query Critique/Workshop: LOSING CORAL (YA Contemporary)

  1. This book sounds like pure summer fun. I agree with what Dahlia’s telling you, and I think you can make this whole thing a big more direct. Frex, see my tinkering below:

    Planning her wedding for the week of Brooke’s high school graduation is just the latest way her needy older sister Coral has commanded center stage. Brooke would do just about anything to make the drama disappear, but when her sister vanishes on The Wedding Day That Stole Graduation, Brooke is furious. Instead of finally being free of Coral’s antics, the family is consumed with the mysteries she left behind.

    If you shift focus just slightly and avoid unnecessary detail, you can make Brooke’s experience of her sister (their history and their present) feel a bit bigger. And since Brooke’s character arc seems to primarily emotional, you want to find a way for your query to drive that home.

    In any case, I think a few more specifics in your second paragraph a la Dahlia’s suggestions will really make this thing sing.

    Good luck!

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