Query Letter Critique

Original Query Letter

 

Urban Fantasy, Adult.

 

Kylie Rippons carries a unique skill the gods want to use in their wars – no matter the personal cost. She, however, prefers to keep soul and sanity in tact.

 

Kylie is among the rarest of mortals, born with the ability to see time as strings in her mind, the outcome of every action, and the power to thread those strings into braids with any outcome she wants. As with all things, it comes at a steep cost – a piece of her soul for every braid.

 

Refusing to answer the gods’ demands, she tries to survive with only Tiamat, an ancient Mesopotamian goddess of chaos and creation, and Anahita, the Persian goddess of war, women and water. But life kills the idea with a few truths, a deep, gaping wound of betrayal and a heart rending threat against the one Kylie loves most. Instead it sends her an outcast Valkyrie and a rogue Beserker. The new cast of allies propels Kylie to hunt the gods for peace and an end to their constant bickering.

 

As Kylie tries her best to keep from braiding and changing the outcome of major events, she realizes a truth – she may have to sacrifice herself in order to save the one she loves most.

 

Query Letter After I Got My Grubby Paws On It

 

Urban Fantasy, Adult. The author indicated this query was for a work in progress so I’m going to assume this isn’t actually how she plans to lead the query :D

 

Kylie Rippons carries a unique skill the gods want to use in their wars – no matter the personal cost. She, however, prefers to keep soul and sanity in tact. Pretty nice opener!

 

Kylie is among the rarest of mortals, born with the ability to see time as strings in her mind, the outcome of every action, and the power to thread those strings into braids with any outcome she wants. As with all things, it comes at a steep cost – a piece of her soul for every braid. While the opening para is nice, this one is infinitely more interesting. I would consider leading with this more fun and unique para. After all, you don’t get long to hook an agent!

 

Refusing to answer the gods’ demands, she tries to survive with only Tiamat, an ancient Mesopotamian goddess of chaos and creation, and Anahita, the Persian goddess of war, women and water. But life kills the idea with a few truths, adeep, gaping wound of betrayal and a heart rending threat against the one Kylie loves most. Instead it sends her an outcast Valkyrie and a rogue Beserker. The first part about the wound of betrayal and threat against her loved one is too vague while the second part is confusing. Why specifically are these people sent to her? And who sent them? Life? Is that an actual person in the book, an agency, a power? And most importantly, what does this all have to do with braids of time and a war of the gods? The new cast of allies propels Kylie to hunt the gods for peace and an end to their constant bickering.

 

As Kylie tries her best to keep from braiding and changing the outcome of major events, she realizes a truth – she may have to sacrifice herself in order to save the one she loves most. Who is the one she loves most? We need an idea of that to care. What danger is her loved one in and from whom does he/she need to be saved?

 

There are some very interesting ideas here, and unique ones too. Definitely a lot of promise, but this query suffers from a common problem, which is that it’s too vague to be truly intriguing. It raises more questions than a query letter should. Some might argue that raising a lot of questions would then intrigue the agent to request to read more, but that’s not the case. The one question the agent should be left with is: how will the main character handle whatever high stakes problem they’ve gotten themselves into? Now I think that might be a reflection of the fact that this query is for a work in progress and not because of another issue, which is that some people worry about ‘giving away’ all their interesting plot details in the query…but just in case, let me harp on about that for a moment too.

 

It’s a fine balance in writing a query between saying too much and saying too little. While you don’t want to give away the ending and you definitely don’t want to start getting into every single interesting subplot and character role either, you also don’t want to be so vague that your book sounds generic, doesn’t stand out from the crowd, and worse yet, gives the agent no idea what the novel is really about.

 

Also, don’t worry that someone is going to steal your idea. As Nathan Bransford so eloquently said: “the success of your book will hinge on the quality of its execution, not on the originality of your idea.” Again quoting Nathan, ‘There were vampire books before Twilight, there were wizard books before Harry Potter, there were books that were like whatever Fifty Shades of Grey is like before Fifty Shades of Grey.’

 

Anyway, now that I’ve rambled, thanks so much to the author for sharing this query with me. I hope the writing goes well and that you’re collecting full requests in no time :)

 

Posted in query critique, query letter

6 Responses to Query Letter Critique

  1. Great crit, as always. Good luck, Author!

  2. T.J. says:

    Thank you!! I enjoy all the red ink I can get. Especially queries.

    The issues you pointed out definitely help!

  3. great comments, especially when talking about that fine balance. always helpful to see these query crits.

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