Thursday, October 28, 2010

Query 30

The Heirs

Dear XYZ

After a lifetime hidden away with her mother in Maui, sixteen-year-old Mia Gabriel finds herself orphaned and oblivious to what she is.

That is the premise of my novel, THE HEIRS, which I would like to interest you in representing.

Taken in by an aunt and uncle, Mia is told about her family's birthright in the dark, violent world of hunting vampires and how her father really died. But if Mia is sure of anything, it's that she cannot be a part of this life. It's not just her father’s premature death that keeps her from wanting this legacy for her own. It’s the charming William Dubois, whom she's fated to hunt.

Now Mia has to make a choice: Join the only family she has left, or stand by the vampire she knows she loves. Mia’s decision may just be the beginning. With no bloodlust for Will and the ability to sense emotion, a gift common among vampires, Mia may become something no one expects. With her great grandmother’s diary in-hand, they find she is directly descended from the last French pureblood vampire. The desperate French coven will do anything to secure a rightful heir. Protecting Will from the brutal Romanian coven that hunts him, and her from the family that will never allow them to be together, may be to the only way to convince THE HEIRS to join their cause.

THE HEIRS is a YA fantasy and complete at 108,000 words.

Yours truly,

Comments

While the writing mechanics here are good, this query left me confused as to the what the real story is. I think it's an issue of the author being too close to the work, so not giving the reader quite the information we need to fully understand what's going on. A few more details will help.

After a lifetime hidden away with her mother in Maui, sixteen-year-old Mia Gabriel finds herself orphaned and oblivious to what she is.

That is the premise of my novel, THE HEIRS, which I would like to interest you in representing.

It seems as though that first sentence is trying to serve as your hook since you call it the premise. But it really isn't the premise or the hook for the story; it is merely a setup. Nor am I convinced it is "the" setup.

I'm making an assumption that Mia's ties to the French vampire are along her maternal line, but that doesn't really explain why she and her mother have been hidden away for 16 years. Did her mother know of the connection and was she trying to protect Mia from the coven or from her husband's family who apparently don't know her heritage? Does Mia realize she's being "hidden away"?

I would delete the whole "That is the premise" sentence since you name the book later on and, since of course you are hoping to get it repped, that's really a rhetorical statement.

Taken in by an aunt and uncle, Mia is told about her family's birthright in the dark, violent world of hunting vampires

If you lead with the first sentence of this query, which is a bit passive ("finds herself"), think about changing this sentence from passive ("is told") to active. Also, are her aunt and uncle in Maui, too? Is the story confined to the islands?

and how her father really died.

Try not to make the reader guess in the query. Agents are reading fast, and they're reading for comprehension. Let us know how Dad died, especially if it was at the hands of a Romanian vamp, which might color Mia's perception of that coven later on. Also, I'm unclear why the focus is on Dad's death. Did Mom die of natural causes? She's a bit of a loose end.

But if Mia is sure of anything, it's that she cannot be a part of this life.

Good!

It's not just her father’s premature death that keeps her from wanting this legacy for her own.

I think this sentence can be deleted. It's filler.

It’s the charming William Dubois, whom she's fated to hunt.

Now, because this is kind of a trope, the reader understands what this means once they read the next sentence. However, you haven't really given us any context around Will. Did she fall in love with him before she knew of her hunter legacy? Has she known all along he's a vampire? And how does Will feel about her?

Now Mia has to make a choice: Join the only family she has left, or stand by the vampire she knows she loves.

This is also good!

Mia’s decision may just be the beginning.

This is where things become confusing for me. What is the beginning: that Mia has a decision to make or the decision she actually makes? Also try to avoid weasel words such as "may be" and opt for declarative statements.

With no bloodlust for Will and the ability to sense emotion, a gift common among vampires, Mia may become something no one expects.

If Mia was born as something, she "is", she won't "become". But that's the trouble with hinting at things. You may well mean that she will become some sort of vamp/hunter liaison in the future. But I can't tell which way you're heading with this right now.

With her great grandmother’s diary in-hand, they find she is directly descended from the last French pureblood vampire.

Who are "they"? Mia and Will? But if it's them, how does the French coven discover Mia's lineage?

It would also help clear things up if the query told us how far back all this happened. Is the vampire her great grandfather? Is the vampire dead now? Can he not make more little vampires? The reader doesn't know the rules of your world, so you have to help fill in the gaps.

The desperate French coven will do anything to secure a rightful heir.

Since Will is obviously French, how does he tie into any pureblood ancestors? I'm assuming since the title is plural, that there is another heir in the picture. Would that be Will? How long has the coven been missing an heir? Seems anyone along Mia's maternal ancestry could have been "secured".

Protecting Will from the brutal Romanian coven that hunts him, and her from the family that will never allow them to be together,

Why are the Romanians hunting Will? This seems to come out of nowhere. And if Mia is being protected from her family, does that mean they've discovered she's part vamp and are hunting her now?

may be to the only way to convince THE HEIRS to join their cause.

This last bit leaves me the most confused. Is the French coven the real protagonist here? If Will and Mia are both being protected, they are not being proactive. What are Mia and Will doing to secure their places in the story as protagonists? And is the reader supposed to be rooting for the French coven's cause? If so, I don't have a clear idea of who they are, what they're doing, and why I should be rooting for them to succeed in getting Will and Mia to join them.

THE HEIRS is a YA fantasy and complete at 108,000 words.

I would classify this as a YA paranormal romance rather than fantasy.

So yes,  lot's of questions. But it doesn't mean every one of them need be answered. And some of them are easily addressed by a simple rewrite of a sentence or through different word choices. And if you delete the suggested sentences, you have about 60 more words you can comfortably add to the query without it exceeding the standard length.

6 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

I think Phoenix has got it nailed here. There are some nice soundbites and some crisp writing but there's still quite a bit needs clarifying.

vkw said...

The author didn't give us enough information.

Vague soundbites. This is more like an introduction to a movie with a voice over hinting at the meaning of scenes.

Does that make sense?

Matt said...

With 108K words, I'm guessing the reason there are so many vague statements is because the explanations are a bit convoluted -- I'm guessing her revision will be lengthy.

I'm wondering what era this takes place in. At first I thought modern day (because the plot reminds me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but when I saw that the genre was fantasy I imagined something more historical.

I've seen worse first attempts; this person obviously did their research. Now it's a matter of rewriting and practicing.

Anonymous said...

Oh Matt you are so right! My new query is right at 300 words....urrgghh! And I need help! An agent has requested pages and I would love a vamped(lol)up query to give her.

Christine

And it should have been YA-paranormal romance;)

Thank you all for posting.

Matt said...

If an agent requested pages I suggest sending him/her exactly what you sent before, no changes.

The reason why is because they make a lot of requests and have other things going on, and often forget what they requested and need to remind themselves by reading it.

I do recommend reworking this query for future submissions, as a crystal clear plot will increase your success rate. However, if you already have a high success rate, the problem might be with your opening pages.

If you have a high success rate, you can use our suggestions to strengthen your synopsis.

And don't feel frustrated, yours is an enviable problem. There are many writers who go through hundreds of submissions without a single request. Feel good about yourself and your writing.

By the way, 300 words isn't too bad. Post the revision when it's ready and I'm sure we can show you where to cut.

Anonymous said...

Again, thank you for the feedback!

The new query is a cross between old and older...lol I like it a whole lot:) I've posted with Phoenix so hopefully it will make it up here soon for everyone to kick around.

My success rate is low. 1/26 request. Not great:( But with reworked query I'm hopeing to attack my agent list again.


Can't wait to hear your thoughts.
Christine