QueryDice Hijack #1
The QueryDice has been HIJACKED! The following is a query critique performed by a reader of SlushPileTales. Comments, suggestions and discussion are welcome and we hope you join in. The Hijacker can only offer one opinion. The author of the query and I would love to hear yours. After all comments are in, I will post my own thoughts in the comments section. To apply to be a Hijacker, please contact me using the contact tab above. Heidi, take it away! (Heidi’s comments in green.)
This is hard, because I am querying right now myself, and I know how difficult it is. As a peer, I want to congratulate you on your bravery. I hope my notes will be helpful. Good luck.
Dear Ms. Ruth:
How do you choose between hell and, well, hell?
From what I’ve read and seen, starting with a question is not usually the best tactic for a query. In addition, the question that you posed is really unanswerable. I’d leave it off.
Start here instead: In the novel [redacted] Neely Jane Richter, a neurotic and endearing (I’d leave off the endearing part. Show me, don’t tell me. Can you give me a glimpse into what makes her endearing?) young poet, is at her own personal crossroads: continue life in the clutches of OCD or battle the disorder head-on with a hard-ass therapist who doesn’t find Neely amusing in the least.
I’m intrigued. This could be interesting. I’m not getting a real sense of the conflict yet, but I’m interested enough to read on.
It’s a choice that will force her to embrace uncertainty—in her writing, in her spirituality, and in her relationships both with Matt Coty, the man she loves, and Gabe Reed, her attractive but wayward new friend who wants to take Matt’s place. I have an idea that the relationship issue is the central conflict, what is at stake, but I’m not entirely sure. Help me be sure. At her end of her strength, Neely—supported by quirky friends and neighbors—clumsily tackles life, love, and healing.
The words “quirky” and “clumsily” sound to me like this may be humorous but your query is not showing me that. I’d love to have more of a sense of Neely’s character and voice.
This could be a fun, Diary of a Mad Fat Girl – type romp. Or it could be a serious journey through a young woman’s struggle with mental illness. Either one might be a good read; I’d like to have a better sense of which this is.
[Redacted], a [insert genre here] is complete at approximately 110,000 words.
I received my bachelor’s degree in English at Northwestern College in Minnesota, where I was regularly published in the school’s literary magazine; I also author a blog about obsessive-compulsive disorder. I’ve drawn heavily on my own twenty-year struggle with OCD in the writing of [redacted]. Your bio is interesting and shows that you know what you are talking about. The novel is complete at approximately 110,000 words.
Please let me know if you would be interested in reading part or all of [redacted]. Thank you for your time and consideration. and I look forward to hearing from you.
Heidi Schulz is an aspiring author, currently querying for the first time. She is a fan of the serial coma, green smoothies, puppies, and books of all sizes, shapes, and varieties. Sometimes she goes into a bookstore just to smell it. She writes, reads, folds laundry, homeschools, and cooks dinner in Salem, Oregon, though generally not all on the same day.
Posted on August 30, 2012, in Advice, literary agency, manuscripts, publishing, queries, Query Dice, rejection, slush pile, submissions, writers and tagged critique partner, dos and donts, how to write a query letter, Lauren Ruth, making your query interesting, making your query stand out, queries, query, query example, querydice, querydice hijack, slush pile, standard query format, voice in a query, women's fiction, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.