Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This week is query critique week! Some brave authors have volunteered their query letters for us to give them some feedback. Keep in mind this is just our opinions and not written in store or gold. The writers have the options to take it or leave it, but hopefully walk away with something to think about. 

Write on like, 
Zoraida 


**** 


AUTHOR NAME
ADDRESS
EMAIL
PHONE #


Dear [AGENT NAME],

When God goes AWOL, the race for who will take over the throne has more impact on the demon Liam than just being an amused bystander. <- this is the most important sentence. Make us like Liam right away. God going AWOL is the catalyst, but why are we rooting for Liam? The lead contender is Liam's sworn enemy, the archangel Gabriel, and his tactics are far from angelic. Liam risks losing everything if Gabriel succeeds: his position, his life, and most importantly the one being he's come to love despite their differences. Hiding his centuries-old relationship with the angel Mikael just got a whole lot harder.

Liam enjoys being a demon. (<- Start here.) He gets to travel the Midwest on his motorcycle, chartering contracts for souls. He's got a right-hand man who follows his orders without question, and who is more than happy to do most of the work on their assignments, giving Liam more time to spend with Mikael. As long as Gabriel stops annoying him, he could call this life pretty good. Since this is a story about characters, what if you start with the struggle of your protagonist? This paragraph makes me think there is nothing at stake. Is Gabriel a real threat, or just a nuisance? 

Thus far, Gabriel's attacks against Liam have been weak and no real threat; more a source of mocking by Liam towards Heaven's less-than-competent solider. But now, with Heaven in disarray, Gabriel must prove himself worthy as a leader and he's going to use Liam's death to do just that. nice! So he takes a new approach to an old problem. The next soldier to go up against Liam will be trained by the best teacher in heaven—Mikael. Now the angel must decide how far he can go to protect Liam while serving Heaven, and Liam must save him from having to make the choice.

This sounds like a great adventure! That being said, each sentence is packed with so much info that I think I have to reread them to make sure I got it right. Is Liam acting on his own accord? If Heaven is in disarray, does this mean Hell is too? Keep it simple and give us the juicy bits, not just backstory. Liam seems to be the one to root for, but why? Just because he's a cool demon, or because he's got a forbidden love affair? 

THE FORCES OF HEAVEN AND HELL ALIKE is an 82,000 word completed urban fantasy which stands alone, but has series potential. [WHY THIS AGENT] 

I am a member of the Works in Progress critique group, as well as a beta for the Book Country site, and have learned valuable information from both resources. I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2001 with a double minor in Religion and Creative Writing and have always been drawn to the interrelationship of the two.

My complete manuscript is available upon request. <- This should be unstated since you shouldn't query fiction unless the novel is complete! Unless stated otherwise. I can be reached through email at [EMAIL] or by phone at [PHONE].  <-Most queries that I've gone through have the contact information in the header. I don't see a need to restate the information on the page. 

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response. 

Sincerely,

(AUTHOR NAME)



***

Best of luck! 

Zoraida Córdova was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Her favorite things are sparkly like merdudes, Christmas, and New York City at night. She loves getting tweets @zlikeinzorro and making funny faces on her YouTube channel ZoraidaLand.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate this! Since I sent in the query for this critique, I've been revising based on another published author's feedback (after even more prior critiques) and it seems each person sees the query differently ;) Some want me to lead with God's AWOL status, some want me to lead with Liam's characterization, some think the agent hook should go first. It's great to get so many opinions, though. Helps me see what each person latches onto and gets out of the query. Thanks again!

    ---
    (For reference, the revised pitch as it stood prior to this critique.)

    When God goes AWOL, the race to take over the throne causes the demon Liam to become more than just an amused bystander. The lead contender is Liam's sworn enemy, the archangel Gabriel, and his tactics are far from angelic. After Liam scarred him in their last full-scale battle, the archangel's brothers rejected him and deemed him worthless. Gabriel's been trying to make Liam pay ever since. If Gabriel succeeds in taking control of Heaven now, everything Liam has is at risk: his position, his life, and most importantly the one being he's come to love despite their differences. Hiding his centuries-old relationship with the angel Mikael just got a whole lot harder.

    Thus far, Gabriel's attacks against Liam have been weak and no real threat; more a source of mocking by Liam towards Heaven's less-than-competent solider. Liam was satisfied to just travel the Midwest on his motorcycle, saving more souls than he condemned, while the archangel had his tantrum. But now, with Heaven in disarray, Gabriel must prove himself worthy as a leader and he's decided to use Liam's death to do just that. So he takes a new approach to an old problem. The next soldier to go up against Liam will be trained by the best teacher in heaven—Mikael. While Liam watches Mikael struggle to decide how far he can go to protect his lover while also serving Heaven, Liam must save him from having to make the choice.

    ReplyDelete