Query Critique Winner

Monday, September 19, 2016

With lots drum-rolling (because there has been much further ado, sorry!), I am happy to announce this month's query critique winner is Patricia Wentzel!  Here is her original query:

Dear Carrie,


Sixteen-year-old Zora ran from the flames that killed her grandmother and destroyed her homeless camp only to find herself in another world, Aldanea. She’s been brought there by the Exemplars who are supposed to be watching over the six lands of Aldanea. They’ve done a lousy job as far as she can tell because an evil dictator, Parmon McKurick, and his pet mages are threatening to invade and signs of evil are everywhere. Why do they need her? To find the other teenaged members of the Circle of Seven, the group that will lead the fight against McKurick.


Seeker, Healer, Warrior, Mage, Mystic, Muse, and Maker—all the roles must be filled if the Circle is to save Aldanea and Zora must find them. If only she knew who they were and where to look. No, that would be too simple, too easy. The Exemplars sometimes lend a hand but their powers are limited and she must do the legwork.


Quinn the Warrior encounters Zora in the Tangled Wood and together they fight off the first of many enemies. Locating the other members of the Circle takes Quinn and Zora on a perilous journey through Aldanea’s six lands and cultures. Zora, preoccupied by memory loss and grief, doesn’t expect to fall in love with a woman of the Circle. Unfortunately, romance within the Circle proves fraught with problems, not just for Zora. Other members of the Circle deal with their own challenges like adapting to physical limitations and the attraction of prestige and power.


Their largely faceless foes are persistent, attacking, kidnapping and torturing them. Subtle temptations arise and they must beware the unlooked for boon.


As Zora tracks down each member of the Circle, one by one, she struggles to cope under the onslaught of relentless enemies and emotional land mines. It seems less and less likely her quest will succeed. One thing is certain: without the Circle to defend it, Aldanea is doomed.


CIRCLE OF SEVEN is a young adult fantasy novel complete at 99,000 words. As a neurodiverse, differently abled, LGBTQ writer I have striven to create a complex world where diversity is not just a buzzword.


Thank you for your time and consideration.


Patricia J. Wentzel


And here is my critique:

Dear Carrie,
 
 
Sixteen-year-old Zora ran from the flames that killed her grandmother and destroyed her homeless camp only to find herself in another world,: Aldanea. She’s been brought there by the Exemplars who are supposed to be watching over the six lands of Aldanea. [This sentence is choppy and leaves the reader confused.  What are the six lands of Aldanea?  What are the Exemplars...does "watch over" mean they just observe or do they defend?  Use this space to go into detail--but not so much that you get off track!] They’ve done a lousy job as far as she can tell because an evil dictator, Parmon McKurick, and his pet mages are threatening to invade and signs of evil are everywhere. ["Everywhere" as in all the six lands or other worlds like Zora's?  What signs?  Does Zora see people being oppressed or murdered?] Why do they need her? To find the other teenaged members of the Circle of Seven, the group that will lead the fight against McKurick.
 
 Seeker, Healer, Warrior, Mage, Mystic, Muse, and Maker—all the roles must be filled if the Circle is to save Aldanea and Zora must find them. [What is Zora's role?  Or does she not have a position to fill in the Circle and only has to bring them together?] If only she knew who they were and where to look. No, that would be too simple, too easy. [This is a little too flippant.  Change to something like the following.]  If only it were that easy. The Exemplars sometimes lend a hand but their powers are limited and she must do the legwork.
 
 Quinn the Warrior encounters Zora in the Tangled Wood [By accident? And is there anything particular that leads Zora to realize Quinn is the Warrior?] and together they fight off McKurick's mages the first of many enemies [Too generic.  Are they fighting McKurick's mages?]. Locating the other members of the Circle takes Quinn and Zora on a perilous journey through Aldanea’s six lands and cultures. Zora, preoccupied by memory loss and grief, doesn’t expect to fall in love with a woman of the Circle. Unfortunately, romance within the Circle proves fraught with problems, not just for Zora. Other members of the Circle deal with their own challenges like adapting to physical limitations and the attraction of prestige and power. [This last sentence is also too vague.  Give us some specifics here.] 
 
Their largely faceless foes [Why are they faceless?  Don't they know who they are?] are persistent, attacking, kidnapping and torturing them. Subtle temptations arise and they must beware the unlooked for an unexpected boon.
 
 As Zora tracks down each member of the Circle, one by one, she struggles to cope under the onslaught of relentless enemies and emotional land mines. It seems less and less likely her quest will succeed. One thing is certain: without the Circle to defend it, Aldanea is doomed. [ This section is too vague, too.  The description you are giving here could be about a lot of fantasy novels.  Give us some specifics to draw us in and make us want to read more!]
 
 CIRCLE OF SEVEN is a young adult fantasy novel complete at 99,000 words. As a neurodiverse, differently abled, LGBTQ writer I have striven to create a complex world where diversity is not just a buzzword.
 
 Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
 Patricia J. Wentzel

What did you guys think of this?  I think this is a good query with the potential to be great.  I was interested by the concept of a a girl needing to bring together seven prophesied teens and the idea of traveling to different lands/cultures on the search.  However, although this is a great idea and the writing is solid, the way CIRCLE OF SEVEN is explained is much too generic.  There needs to be more intimate detail so that we can a good mental image of what the book is going to be like and interest us in requesting pages and reading more!

3 comments:

  1. Admittedly, I'm writing this without reading Carrie's comments, so if this question is answered there, forgive me. All I could think when I got through the first couple of paragraphs was "Why Zora?" And then I'm thinking, "How does this girl feel about being dragged into another world to do someone's job for them? HOw is she reacting to this?" Maybe this second question is covered by "preoccupied by memory loss."

    Carrie, if questions like mine occur to you while reading a query, how does that impact your decision on requesting pages?

    Patricia, I wish you well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It depends...sometimes it will intrigue me to read more; sometimes I give someone the benefit of the doubt, especially if I like the premise, since I know queries can be hard to write; and sometimes it can make me decide to pass if I think the questions that pop up mean there are issues with the writing.

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  2. Remember, it doesn't hurt to include some pictures and charts about what you are writing. In fact, by including more information within your thesis, you will make it look more presentable. See more qualitative research critique

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