Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Query 81

Tru Adventures

Dear Agent,

Barely 16, Tru Marcile learns she has had magic in her blood since she was born and her real parents died years ago. But the unsettling revelation leads Tru on a quest to seek the truth about everything, even if she has to break a few rules along the way.

After escaping death, Tru enters Ipswich school of sorcery and learns that she is no average witch. Besides being psychic, an ability about as rare as acing a trig test, she sucks at casting spells, she lands on the snooty queen bee’s hit list, and the boy she really likes is out of her league.

She discovers that the mysterious principal is keeping things from her and she is determined to figure out what it is, sending her on a mission where she must master the art of broom flying, take down the queen bee who has made her life a living nightmare, and catch the eye of her crush, all before facing her biggest fear—her parents were murdered and she is a freak of nature after all. Thankfully, she has her new friends who have her back through the good spells and the bad.

TRU ADVENTURES is an 87,000-word young adult fantasy novel. This is the first in a planned series. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kind regards,

Comments

There are a couple of cute lines here, but I don't think they're quite enough to overcome some of the verrrrry long sentences. I also think the query needs more in the way of specifics so we can understand how your story stands out.

The first paragragh came italicized, so I'm thinking it's meant to be your log line. I think leading with a powerful log line can be very effective, but I'm not sure this one gives the reader quite enough 'different' to grab interest. Without a real wow factor, there really isn't a good reason to include the log line in the query.

Barely 16, Tru Marcile learns she has had magic in her blood since she was born and her real parents died years ago.

This sentence is a bit confusing, which is never a good way to start the query. It gives us two different thoughts mushed together. Also, do we need to be told she was born with magic? Has she just learned her real parents died years ago? Or has she just learned they were murdered?

But the unsettling revelation leads Tru on a quest to seek the truth about everything, even if she has to break a few rules along the way.

The reader doesn't know at this point that her parents were murdered, so we don't have much of a clue to understand what the "truth about everything" is.

I like the "break a few rules" bit!

After escaping death,

Maybe this doesn't need to be glossed over? It doesn't take too many more words to be specific about the kind of death she escaped: a car wreck, a mafia hit?

Tru enters Ipswich school of sorcery and learns that she is no average witch. Besides being psychic, an ability about as rare as acing a trig test, she sucks at casting spells, she lands on the snooty queen bee’s hit list, and the boy she really likes is out of her league.

I'm not sure why we're first told she isn't average and then immediately told that her ability is pretty average followed by a listing of some pretty average teen angst.

She discovers that the mysterious principal is keeping things from her and she is determined to figure out what it is, sending her on a mission where she must master the art of broom flying, take down the queen bee who has made her life a living nightmare, and catch the eye of her crush, all before facing her biggest fear—her parents were murdered and she is a freak of nature after all.

Way too long of a sentence. First, watch your noun-pronoun agreement: things/it. So is the principal keeping multiple secrets or just one big one?

Are taking down the queen bee and catching her crush part of the mission or collateral goals? And does she HAVE to do those things before she faces her biggest fear (actually, you list two things)? I'm not sure why it's her fear(s), though -- I don't think she's been afraid her parents were murdered. And isn't she already facing that she's a freak when she enrolls in the school of sorcery and learns to fly a broom?

So what is the real goal here? To face her fear or to face an actual thing? What are the obstacles to her main goal? This all sounds like setup to the main story.

Now, since this is a series, I'm going to assume a similar story arc to Harry Potter (which, unfortunately, this story sounds like it's a knockoff of), so the real mystery won't be solved in this book. What is the big issue that IS solved here? Taking down the queen bee? What does Tru have to learn or do in order to accomplish that?

Thankfully, she has her new friends who have her back through the good spells and the bad.

I like this. I think it can maybe be woven in a little better, but it adds nice voice to the query.

A little insight into the rules she has to break would help close out the promise in the hook.

TRU ADVENTURES is an 87,000-word young adult fantasy novel. This is the first in a planned series. Thank you for your time and consideration.

I like the title! I would add that the novel is a stand-alone.

I'll be honest and say I don't really see anything too unique in the story or character you've given us, so if there's something you're holding back, be sure to include it in your revision.

My Version

Because I really don't know what the main story is, and because what I do know of the story sounds soooo Harry Potter-ish, I've attempted a little sleight-of-hand by trying to get the reader to concentrate on the voice. Of course, this voice may not be the author's, but it's a demonstration in a distancing technique that can be used when you have a story that's pretty much the same as other books out there. Which is OK if you remember it's all in the execution.

Tru Marcile just wants her teen years to be magical. But those two witches who crash her Sweet 16 and try to kill her? Definitely not on the guest list. In fact, Tru's been kept pretty clueless about her real heritage. And now her aunt's gone and enrolled her in the Ipswich School of Sorcery hoping to make up for lost time.

Seriously, though, how could such a cool-sounding school be so lame? At least her party trick of reading minds made her stand out back in her old school. Here, having psychic ability is about as rare as some nerd acing a trig test. So far, the whole experience has been one huge FAIL: she sucks at casting spells, a week in and she's already on the snooty queen bee's hit list, and the boy she's crushing on has made it plain he's out of her league.

Then her principal drops the bombshell that her bio mom and dad didn't die in a car wreck -- they were murdered. There's something more he's keeping from her too, but she can't quite figure it out. On her way to discovering what secrets he's hiding and why she's a target, Tru realizes the only way she's going to get any respect from her peers is to prove she's got bad-ass witch potential. That means learning to master the art of broom flying and taking down the queen bee who's making her life a nightmare. Lucky she's got some new friends who have her back through the good spells and the bad.

TRU ADVENTURES is a stand-alone, 87,000-word young adult fantasy and the first in a planned series. I look forward to sending you the completed manuscript.

4 comments:

AA said...

Unfortunately, this really does sound like every other teen witch book out there. Maybe focus on how the parents died or how she escaped death herself.

Anything that makes the story stand out.

Also, I have to ask the obvious question: If she's psychic, how can the principal hide something from her? Is he just more psychic than she is?

A more troublesome problem for me though, is that it doesn't seem like this story needs witches in it at all. It seems like a regular teen girl story with witches in it because witches are popular.

If there is a reason for the characters in your story to be witches, it needs to be in the query. Does Tru end up solving a problem she wouldn't have been
able to solve if she were a human? Does she cast a spell that lets her get out of a situation no human could get out of? Does being a witch give her an entirely different perspective on things?

I think this needs to look more like a supernatural story and less like a YA story with extraneous fantasy elements worked in. Perhaps if you explain more about the parents and why they were killed it would make more sense, but right now I'm reading TEEN TRYING TO FIT IN AT NEW SCHOOL.

Sarah Laurenson said...

How rare is acing a trig test? I can't tell from the context, so I don't know if her being psychic is rare or not.

I think you may have condensed the story down a bit too far and now need to add some juicy details.

Here's another example of a beginning.

Tru Marcile got the worst sweet sixteen present ever – finding out her mom and dad are really her aunt and uncle. And it didn’t stop there. Her real parents were murdered by rogue witches years ago. The same ones whose kids crashed her party – literally. At least it ended well. The Hummer missed her by inches.

Jo-Ann said...

I'm going to be frank here and say that I dont think that the query is the problem, it's the plot. Other than the psychic ability, and the fact that the MC is a girl, I can't see anything that doesn't immediately scream Harry Potter: escaping death, murdered parents, flying brooms, snooty kid as enemy, principal who knows more than he lets on, good friends....

If there's anything in the plot that makes it unique, then let it shine through.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Sarah,loved your take. Author first para is lame. She doesn't learn at 16 she KNOWS since she was a kid. I have a fever and shouldn't comment.

Escaping death? A hint please. What they say. If she's psychic - refer to above. Luck, do the re-write.