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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > YA Sci-Fi Query Feedback

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message 1: by Maria (new)

Maria | 11 comments Hey guys! It took me a while to work up the courage to post this but I'm in that dark place right now when I simply can't understand how I can suck so badly at writing queries.
So, please, if you can give me some feedback, some hard critique and anything that can help me moving forward would be great.

Outside world is only a myth inside Institution’s walls. No one knows what’s happening. Everyone says a war is starting and they are the perfect soldiers. The facility designed to train the Elemental, humans born with Power of controlling elements of nature is, in fact, their prison. It’s a concrete coffin and now the ones in charge are starting to hammer down the nails.
Everyone wants Power and killing for it’s just a sheer obstacle in the way of getting it.
Amelia Ames can easily count her days left to live – sixty. At only seventeen a strange heart attack is cutting her life short. Amelia doesn’t mind dying. Her only true regret is leaving her brother Ethan alone.
Her sudden death sentence makes her look around for the first time in years and actually notice what’s happening – people getting sick for no good reason. They are admitted inside Medical, kept under severe observation and after they are released no one is back to who they were before.
Amelia isn’t someone who can stand idle. Even more after two murder attempts at her life that are classified as accidents. But accidents don’t just happen in a place like the Institution. She has to find the truth before it’s too late.
In spite of the signs no one is looking close enough to see the constant threat. But Amelia has nothing left to lose. She’ll do anything to keep her brother safe. She’ll do anything to keep everyone safe.
Before the Assembly takes the Power. Before Ethan happens something.
She’s the most powerful and nothing and no one will stand in her way.
Not even Death itself.

Thank you for your time by reding this guys :).

message 2: by Alica (new)

Alica Walker | 6 comments Hi,
First off, let me say the book sounds interesting. I think I get the idea based on the letter. I've only drafted my first query myself, so I'm hardly an expert. But I'm fairly comfortable with grammar and flow and here's what I see. I found myself re-reading in two spots. It's the actual sentence structure.
#1: "Everyone wants Power and killing for it’s just a sheer obstacle in the way of getting it."
#2: "Before Ethan happens something. She’s the most powerful and nothing and no one will stand in her way."
Those sentences are rather confusing and could use a polish. I also noticed that in one place you refer to it as "Institution" and in another "the Institution." I'd pick just one and stick with it.
Otherwise, I think you tell enough to perk interest without giving away the farm. My favorite sentence - "It’s a concrete coffin and now the ones in charge are starting to hammer down the nails." Nice. :)Good Luck

message 3: by Maria (new)

Maria | 11 comments Hi Alicia. Thank you so much! You have no idea how helpful you were. I've been scrambling my brain to write this little tiny query because it feels like hell to put a book in 300 words.
I get what you are saying. I didn't even realized I did that before you told me (so silly of me). I'll correct and maybe try to write a different version. I still feel it's missing something. I don't know how to put half of what happens in the book in a query and make it sound interesting without revealing too much information.
Thank you so, so much for your time and advice. Good luck to yourself too.


message 4: by Alica (new)

Alica Walker | 6 comments I'm so happy to help Maria. Hearing that you're thinking of redrafting I'd like to add one more thing. I'm a notorious planner/list maker (drives people around me crazy). But I've been to dozens of websites at read tons of blogs, articles etc. on how to submit to agents. This is my favorite site. It's all written by an agent turned author so he probably has a pretty good idea what he's talking about. But mostly I liked his site best because he's funny. It's a whole lot easier to read 18 posts on improving your query when it's amusing. Read the comments too, he has a number of published authors leaving additional advice. Or if it's not for you there's other sites and books too and as many different methods as there are types of writers. I'm sure you'll find something to take the sting out of writing this. After all, you wrote a novel, how hard can a letter be? ;)

message 5: by Maria (new)

Maria | 11 comments Oh dear God! You have no idea for how long I've been searching for someone funny to teach me for to write queries. I start thinking you are my guardian angel or something. I thank you so very much for everything. I'll start reading the site and improve my query letter so much I won't even believe I wrote it in the end.
Yeah, I've been asking the same question myself. I guess I just needed some courage and some nice words from someone. I so owe you one Alicia. Thank you so much :).


message 6: by Jaxxon (new)

Jaxxon D'Malamute | 15 comments Hi Maria! I always think about the “60 Second Elevator Speech” technique – in other words, say you walk into an elevator and meet a publisher. You’ve only got one minute to sell your story. What would you say to grab their attention and make them interested in your character and your character’s story/dilemma? Here's a suggested rewrite:

Sixty days left to live. That’s the most 17-year old Amelia Ames can hope for after being unexpectedly diagnosed with a heart condition.

Amelia and her brother, Ethan, are residents of The Institution, a facility designed to train Elementals—humans with the power to control the elements of nature.

But Amelia is beginning to notice that strange and deadly things are happening around her: people are being used in dangerous medical experiments; someone is trying to kill her; and rumors are growing that Amelia, Ethan and the other Elementals will be drawn into a power struggle to control the outcome of an impending war.

Amelia is determined to find the truth about what’s going on before it’s too late. And as one of the strongest Elementals in The Institution, she will use the full power of nature to keep Ethan and her friends safe.

message 7: by Maria (new)

Maria | 11 comments Hi Jaxxon! :)
Wow, that was unexpected, in a very, very good way. I think I'm going to use the “60 Second Elevator Speech” technique from now on. It sounds crazy amazing.
And the rewrite! I'm so grateful for that, really. You have no idea. First you give me a look of what people think the book is about and I realized I've been keeping some details that are important out of the query.
Second, thank you so much for wasting your time to rewrite. People don't do that. So yeah, forever in you debt and everything.
I’ll keep in mind what you changed and how you perceive the whole query and write a new one using some of your lines. You have no idea how much you opened my eyes with this one, really. No. Damn. Idea.
I actually think I've been angling the whole thing wrong all the way up until now. So thank you, thank you, thank you. I made kind of a mess in my lame attempt to write a query and you are a mind opener [I don't know if that's an actual saying but you get the point].
You have a smooth, clean way to write queries and damn if I don’t envy that. In a good way too. Thank you again Jaxxon for you time spend on my behalf. You are the best!

message 8: by Jaxxon (new)

Jaxxon D'Malamute | 15 comments You’re so very welcome, Maria! It’s always easier to be the editor than the writer. Think of all those reality cooking shows: so easy to sit back and say, “Wow! I would’ve used the fish” compared to the chef contestant who’s under the pressure to come up with the concept of something new and fantastic and then has to figure out how to make it happen. Good Luck!

message 9: by Maria (new)

Maria | 11 comments That comparison was pretty accurate. Actually, I'm always doing that when I watch cooking shows. Thank you for the other set of eyes, Jaxxon. You are really helpful. Thank you so much!

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