Friday, June 10, 2011

Query 79: Redux

Partition

Dear [Agent]:

Maya doesn't have a last name. In the Sprawl, no one needs a last name. No one needs an education, or electricity, or running water. No one needs a reason to live, because their only purpose is to die.

A fiery trench divides the Sprawl from the rest of the city, from the section that's elevated on glass stilts and shrouded in opulence. Maya isn't meant for that world. No - soon she'll be drafted, and then she'll be just another slave to conflict, one more soldier out of millions.

Maya's a fighter. She believes in survival, and she believes in herself, but she doesn't dare believe in hope - hope is too dangerous. After all, no one's ever been able to escape the Sprawl or desert the army, and Maya isn't going to be the next idiot to try.

One boy changes that. A boy who shouldn't follow Maya into the war, shouldn't fall in love with her, and shouldn't ignite the desire for revolution in her.

But he does.

Sam doesn't know who he is, or, more importantly, where he's from - but Maya knows where he belongs, and it's not in the Sprawl.

And now she knows she doesn't belong there, either, and she has never known anything so dangerous.

PARTITION is a YA romance with strong dystopian elements, complete at 89,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Comments

The author has done a complete overhaul on this query. It's gone from a lot of specifics about what happens to a more general feel of what the book's about. And you know what? IMO, despite all advice to the contrary, this is one of those times that it was the right decision.

Repeat after me: There are general guidelines for writing queries, but there are no hard and fast rules.

This does sound more like cover copy, which will not always work for enticing an agent. But there are degrees of cover copy just as there are degrees of query writing, and in this case, I think the line where these two intersect is appropriate.

Overall, I like this query. It has enough voice and hints of mystery and conflict to entice me. But does it entice YOU? Please weigh in with your opinion!

The only paragraph I have any issues with is this one:

A fiery trench divides the Sprawl from the rest of the city, from the section that's elevated on glass stilts and shrouded in opulence. Maya isn't meant for that world. No - soon she'll be drafted, and then she'll be just another slave to conflict, one more soldier out of millions.

For me, the "fiery trench" seems a little over-the-top. It likely works in the story, but maybe keep it a bit more grounded in the query where there isn't room for the explanations. Ditto the "glass stilts." There's likely a good explanation for how this works in the ms, but here I'm brought to an abrupt halt as I try to figure out the physics for how that's possible. "Shrouded" also doesn't work for me; in this case, it's just the word choice as I think of shrouded meaning covering something and the opulence is an integral part of this place.

"Slave to conflict" also doesn't seem to be the right turn of phrase. Maybe something more like "slave in the conflict/war with [whomever] or "slave in the [name of the war] War."

With those couple of tweaks, I think you're ready to send this out to a test group of agents and see how it does!

10 comments:

Wilkins MacQueen said...

I am not much of a technical critter - but YEAH!!! I want to read this. GREAT turnaround, great stuff.Dark and mysterious like my mood right now. Or was it your writing that gave me this mood? Intrigued. Thanks Author. Brill, just brill.

vkw said...

I think this is pretty good. I would rework the 2nd paragraph -

the Sprawl is divided from the rest of the city, the opulence part. Maya isn't meant for that world. No -- soon he'll be drafted and she'll be just one more soldier out of millions.

I have two tiny ideas - first having read the author's other queries, I am a tiny bit concernced that knowing the details is helping me get this query.

Second - I think I kind of want to know a little bit about Sam. The author may want to try adding just a detail or two

Sam, found on the wrong side of the wall, doesn't . . . or something like that.

Sam, second son of a nobleman, . . .just a bit about Sam so we get the idea that he has the ability, training, education to ignite a revolution.

I would read this book now.

very nice job

Stephanie Diaz said...

I absolutely love this. That is all.

Sarah Laurenson said...

It's a little clunky for me. I like it, but I'd love it if it flowed better.

Xenith said...

Did not work for me at all. I had to read it three times to get some idea what was going on, and I'm still not sure. Don't think building it on negatives is a good idea either.

No one needs anything.
Maya is not meant for something.
Maya is not going to do something.
The boy should not do things.
The boy doesn't know something.
Maya knows she's not something.

But what IS she meant for/going to do?

fairyhedgehog said...

I really like this and I want to read the book now!

I'm sure it could be tweaked, author, but unless you're sure you're improving it I'd leave well alone because for me this one works!

Anonymous said...

Ok, a quibble. Good query but... If Maya's been bred to die in battle for her overlords, I wonder about her age. If she's old enough for romance, surely she would have already served in battle.

In Africa children are kidnapped to serve as cannon fodder as soon as they are big enough to hold a weapon (I'm talking 6 or 7 here).
Unless she is being trained or groomed as an elite fighter. In which case, perhaps she would be given priveleges, such as running water and a type of education.

The only explanation I can think of is that females aren't sent to fight/die until they've bred the next generation of soldiers. Thirteen, maybe?

If that's the case I think it needs to be spelt out.
Otherwise, good stuff!

Jo-Ann said...

Dont know why my previous comment was published anonymously... blogger, are you playing silly tricks?

All-Stars said...

This piqued my interest! I did agree with Phoenix's comments and that of Xenith. Re-wrting in the positive should amp up Maya's status as a kick butt heroine. The Sprawl reminded me of the New Orleans set in "Darkness Becomes Her" by Kelly Keaton.
Just a tweak here and there, and you'll be ready to go.
Great job.

Norma Jean said...

I don't love the query, especially 'And now she knows she doesn't belong there, either, and she has never known anything so dangerous.'

However, I don't usually read this genre, but I'm intrigued. I would definitely read this.