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.
All Zach wants to do lately is fight. It doesn’t matter with whom or what.
He’s always had a problem with his temper, but never like this. Never to the point that he gets into fights and can’t remember why. Ever since he and his mom up and left their home in Florida for Dave-her new husband, he’s gone into uncontrollable rages. Zach knows there’s a trigger since he isn’t always mad, but needs helping figuring out what it is.
It is not believable to me that Zach’s rage started right after he and his mom moved in with Dave and Zach has no idea what’s causing his anger.
His latest psychiatrist thinks there’s something going on at home that’s triggering these rages. And she’s right, there is. That sonofabitch Dave is what’s going on at home. He prefers leaving Zach bruised and sore to spending time together as father/son, not to mention the black rings around his mom’s eyes that are becoming a regular occurrence.
For Zach, thanks to three fights in the last three weeks, any chance of a future hinges on learning to control his anger. He hopes his psychologist and her assistant, the girl he loves, can help with this. He wants to go to college, he wants to date, and he wants to survive Dave.
There is nothing specifically wrong with this query. I don’t think the conflict is complicated enough, though. We’ve already heard the story of the boy whose step-dad abuses him and his mother. What makes yours markedly different from those? While I agree that this is a theme welcomed and sought by YA readers, I think there needs to be something else, something big, specific and external, at stake.If there isn’t, then I can easily predict the outcome of this story: Zach figures it out. Who would write or read a story about an abused boy who has uncontrollable rages at the end of which the boy still has uncontrollable rages and is still abused? That’s why there needs to be a complication to the conflict here, or an added conflict.
This has more to do with the manuscript than it does with this query, though. The query was well-written. I know what the conflict is, who stands to benefit or lose-out, and what the challenges to solving it are.
ZACH’S FIGHT is my contemporary young adult novel and is complete at 60,000 words. I am a member of SCWBI and RWA. Thank you for your time and consideration.
As always, please remember to say goodbye! A simple “sincerely, so and so” suffices.
Best of luck, LR
Posted on March 29, 2012, in Advice, literary agency, manuscripts, publishing, queries, Query Dice, rejection, slush pile, submissions, writers and tagged abuse, commercial fiction, conflict development, dos and donts, making your query interesting, making your query stand out, plot holes, queries, query, query example, query problems, querydice, rejection, slush pile, writing, ya, young adult. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.