Monday, June 22, 2015

Query Critique Winner

The query critique winner this week is Diane Anthony!  I read her query and requested her manuscript a couple months ago, so when I saw she was #8, I knew that her letter had already intrigued me.  Here it is:

Dear Carrie, 

Supernova is a completed 41,000 word, fantasy-fiction, new adult novel. 
Welcome to the new world, populated by dying superhumans…and Madeline.
Living in the shadow of her genius older brother Matthew has always been a sore spot for twenty-three year old, Madeline. Now she has finally established a comfortable life for herself: working as a librarian, helping her sweet, elderly duplex neighbor, and enjoying the freedoms of being single and on her own. But when a star goes supernova too close to Earth and blasts the world with radiation, her life becomes anything but comfortable.       
Worldwide black-out, cataclysmic death toll, and a case of amnesia for the remaining population is just the beginning. While Madeline is trying to make sense of it all, she starts to notice some very strange behavior. Everyone is suddenly endowed with superpowers, everyone that is, except her.

Madeline is once again haunted by her feelings of inadequacy as she tries to adjust to this new world where everyone else is gifted with amazing abilities. In a desperate attempt to find her own ability, Madeline ends up injured, leaving her depressed and jealous, until she discovers that the superpowers come with a fatal price. What seemed like a curse soon changes to a blessing as leading scientists begin the frantic search for a cure. Will Madeline be the sole survivor as humanity is wiped out or will her unique reaction to the supernova hold the key to saving everyone?

Thank you for your time and consideration of Supernova. Sincerely,Diane Anthony

Having taken the time to analyze a bit more (when I receive a query, I honestly just usually read though to see if it piques my interest and move on to the sample pages to judge the writing--unless the writing in the query is abysmal), here is my critique:

Dear Carrie, 

Supernova is a completed 41,000 word, fantasy-fiction, new adult novel. [I think it is more captivating to just jump right into the query.  I chose to cut this, but if you want to keep it in, I suggest moving it to the end of the letter.]
Welcome to the new world, populated by dying superhumans…and Madeline.

Living in the shadow of her genius, older brother Matthew has always been a sore spot for twenty-three year old, Madeline. [Maybe give an example of this here to show how Matthew has outshone her?] Now Even so, she has finally established a comfortable, satisfying life for herself: She workings as a librarian, helpings her sweet, elderly duplex neighbor, and enjoyings the freedoms of being single and on her own. But when a star goes supernova too close to Earth and blasts the world with radiation, her life becomes anything but comfortable.                                                                                                                                                         
 
wWorldwide black-out, cataclysmic death toll, and a case of widespread cases of amnesia for the remaining population is just the beginning of the devastation. While Madeline is trying to make sense of it all, she starts to notice some very strange behavior. Everyone is suddenly endowed with superpowers,. Eeveryone that is, except her. 

Madeline is once again haunted by her feelings of inadequacy as she tries to adjust to this new world where everyone else is gifted with amazing abilities. In a desperate attempt to find her own ability, Madeline ends up injured, leaving her depressed and jealous, until she discovers that the superpowers come with a fatal price. What seemed like a boon curse soon changes to a curse blessing as leading scientists begin the frantic search for a cure as everyone slowly begins to die[I switched this around, because since in the previous sentence you talk about superpowers, I assume that you're talking about the superheros, not Madeline in this sentence...also being the only person alive when everyone else on the planet is dead doesn't seem like much of a blessing to me!]Will Madeline be the sole survivor as humanity is wiped out or will her unique reaction to the supernova hold the key to saving everyone? 

Thank you for your time and consideration of Supernova. 
 
Sincerely, 
Diane Anthony

I really like this query!  I thought it was engaging and the last paragraph definitely made me curious to read sample pages.  The only thing I am a little worried about is the genre of this story.  The character is twenty-three, which makes this NA sci-fi, but having the main character out of college and leading what seems like a relatively quiet life makes this (from the query, at least) give it more of a women's fiction/commercial fiction to me.  What do you guys think?  For this to fall solidly in the NA arena, would you want to see Madeline in college?   Any other thoughts?  Comment below!

8 comments:

  1. Also, sorry about the weird spacing! I can't seem to master spacing for queries :(

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  2. Thank you so much for the tips, Carrie! I'm still working hard to find an agent and I think your advice will really help. I appreciate you taking the time to help writers with their queries (one of the hardest things to write, in my opinion!) Thanks again! :-)
    To be honest, I wasn't really sure what genre to put my book under. It really could fit in a few different ones. It will be easier to change the genre label, than to change my manuscript to make it fit in NA. Something for me to think about!

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  3. RE: it being NA, I'm no expert, but I would like to see NA expanded beyond a college setting. If an early twenty-something MC is at a place at her life where she is figuring out what's important to her and what she wants out of life, then, to me, that sounds NA, with or without college (and yay without, for a change).

    This sounds like a fun take on the superhero trope, too!

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  4. I really like the concept, I like Diane's writing, and I like the fact that this comes across as a serious, character-driven novel. BUT as a veteran of the query wars, I can hear the screams of hundreds of online critiquers: "What does she DO?" Aside from jumping off a bridge (or whatever foolish thing she does to try to find her superpower) it sounds like, once the supernova goes blammo, she largely sits around watching everyone else. IF I were an agent, would that keep me from asking for more? I'm not sure. This just may be my reaction based on the conditioning I've received from other writers looking for an agent. I wish you the best, Diane.

    And actually, this makes me wonder, and maybe Carrie can answer this: the bulk of query critiquing that goes on in the online world is done by writers who are trying to get agents; is the advice that's being given solid, or is it the blind leading the blind? If you've looked at the "Query Letter Hell" section on Absolute Write, for example, would you be horrified at the advice you saw, or would you say, "Yeah, these folks are giving out good advice"?

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    1. I think it really depends. I know this is kind of hard to figure out without some kind of foreknowledge, but good advice is good advice, regardless whether it comes from a writer or an agent. When looking at critiques done by writers, I would look for those who have really popular websites or some sort of credentials to give their opinions some authority.

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  5. Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    I like the query too. What I'm wondering about is that wordcount. Is 41K really acceptable for a novel?

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal

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    1. It is definitely a little short. The usual count for New Adult is around 60,000 to 85,000 words. The current word count wouldn't keep me from requesting to read this if I were interested, but down the road, I would suggest the author build out her novel more.

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    2. Sat Nam!

      Thanks.

      Blessings, Siri Kirpal

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