QueryDice #7

The following is a query critique. Comments, suggestions and discussion are welcome and we hope you join in. I can only offer one opinion. The author of the query and I would love to hear yours!

Dear Ms. Ruth,

His eyes are dark with black shadows, and his lips curl up at the edges.  Maybe I’m being paranoid.  I wasn’t alone, it’s Mardi Gras, and the streets are full of people. Daniel is close by, still giving interviews for his movie.  Security is everywhere because of this party, so why is every hair on my body standing up?

He’s still coming towards me.  His eyes now tearing into mine.  I want to look away, act like it’s nothing, but I cannot.  His steps increase as his expression darkens.  I try to move but remain frozen.  My breath speeds up and I will myself to not panic.  I force myself to take a step, but it’s too late.  I hear the sound, (what sound?) feel the pain, and fall to the ground.

People say when you’re dying your life flashes before your eyes.  I see faces of my family and friends rapidly flashing across my mind.  I think about Daniel and smile inside.  He chose me out of countless girls to be his girlfriend.  I hear faint screams around me.  I feel remorse about everything I didn’t get to do in life.  Faces kept flashing before me, but one was constant, Cary’s face. <—There is a tense conflict in the past two sentences. Flashes of Cary’s smile, the burning of his eyes and the blush in his checks when he looks at me.  The thought of never seeing him again… I want to rip those evil eyes out of the socket of the man who did this to me… and I will.

[redacted] is a completed 70,000 word young adult romance involving angels and demons.

I would be honored to send the completed manuscript at your request.  I have included a sample for your review.  Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


I would reject this. I have absolutely no idea what the premise of the story is, what the conflict is, or really anything about the characters because all I’ve been given is the writing sample the author said was included. The writing isn’t half bad, but writing style or voice can rarely move an agent or editor to request more material just on its own.

After reading this, the most solid thing I knew about this author and his/her book was that he/she hadn’t done enough research on how to query agents.

Note to the author: this isn’t a dead-end for you, though. Why don’t you write a standard query letter and resubmit it to the QueryDice. I’m sure we’d all like to know what brought your characters to the moment in which we’ve seen them here, and what they do after. Good luck.

Lauren Ruth

Posted on August 17, 2011, in book publishing, publishing, queries, Query Dice, slush pile, submissions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I am fairly-new to the submission process, having only started attempting to market my seven-year work in progress last fall. Still, I understand why you would reject this- as you mentioned, the writing isn’t terrible, though it does plod a little in places and definitely doesn’t follow the rules of traditional query-writing. There is a time and place for rule-breaking and, as one published author told me, it can work in one’s favour, if that person is experienced. At the same time, it can make him/her look like a novice and, as the same author also said, “the worst thing you can do is look like a beginner, because that’s a surefire way to end up in the slush-pile”.

    This is my first visit here, and I like what I’ve seen so far… Very informative, yet not overbearing or condemning of the author. I’ll be sure to hang onto this page for reference, when I start submitting again.

    Warm regards,
    Laura VB.

  2. As a query, this doesn’t work and I wouldn’t request more. As was said above, this is definitely more of a writing sample. I’ve heard of authors who have done well using the narrative of the MC so I think it’s possible this could work. If done differently. For me, I didn’t get a sense of the story at all or really the characters beyond what you were telling me. The scene felt overly dramatic. Author, I really think you should do as Ms. Ruth suggests and do an actual query and resubmit. I know I, for one, would really love to hear about the story behind this excerpt. Good luck!

  3. I want to know more. Pretty interesting, but I would have rejected it as well. Not a query. Hopefully the author can resubmit and we can find out what this is all about. I think it is worth a second chance.

  4. Judging as a writing sample…

    A demon killing the narrator (or whatever is going on) should have a quicker pace. Too much description bogs down the reader.

    It lacks variety in rhythm and structure. Most of your sentences start out with ‘I hear, I want,’ etc. You’re also packing too much information into single sentences by relying on ‘X happened and Y happened.’

    Here’s an example of picking up the pace (I’ll try not to edit your voice out):

    His eyes are dark with black shadows. His lips curl up at the edges. Maybe I’m being paranoid. It’s Mardi Gras, the streets are full of people. Daniel is close by, still giving interviews for his movie. Security is everywhere because of the party, so why does my hair stand on end?

    He’s still coming towards me, his eyes tearing into mine. I hear the sound, (of Justin Beiber) feel the pain, and fall to the ground.

    I think about Daniel. He chose me out of countless girls to be his girlfriend. And Cary. The thought of never seeing him again-

    I want to rip those evil eyes out of the sockets of the man who did this to me… and I will.


    The final sentence (above) contains too many small words, since it’s vague, I recommend replacing it.

    The first line of the ‘may I send manuscript’ paragraph seems desperate, no?

    [redacted] is an excellent title, very meta.

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