Wednesday, July 29, 2009

47 Query Contest

If Claudia’s best friend, Selma, had never accidentally revealed that she could talk to plants, then she never would’ve been arrested. Claudia wouldn’t have had to go after her or be imprisoned herself. She wouldn’t have met Erik, escaped from the fire that killed the prison guards and supposedly both of the king’s sons – Erik being one of them.

If Claudia hadn’t discovered that she too had a special ability – to persuade people with words – they wouldn’t have survived the fire, the king wouldn’t have committed suicide, and the power-hungry council wouldn’t have had the opportunity to steal the throne and plunge the world into another century of oppression.

But Selma did accidentally reveal that she could talk to plants, and the effects of the discovery are bigger than the two teenagers could imagine.

Andra is a 75,000 word young adult fantasy. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.

The first moon, Aikia, was already in the sky when I left school that night. Soon Aikia’s sister, Ladia, would appear and it would be after curfew. Here in Sicyon curfew is not something to be ignored on a whim or even a need. The scars on my back are proof enough of that.

The kids pushed and shoved as they poured out around me, all anxious to get home with their tattered clothes and government-issued school books. None of them were willing to be late and be the latest punching bag for the Bevak, the law keepers of our world often got out of hand with their punishments.

I glanced around for my best friend, Selma, and finally caught sight of her walking away with her head down. She too wore clothes sewn by her mother, though hers and mine were a little better made on account of both our mothers worked as seamstresses in a clothing factory.

“Hey wait up!” I called, running after her. She paused, not looking at me. Her black hair shone like a polished piece of onyx in the moonlight and her features were cast into shadow. Selma had always been a pretty girl, but never returned the affections of any of the boys around our school. We’d been through thick and thin together, friends since the cradle as our mothers often said.

“Hey,” she mumbled not looking at me.


  1. Why is talking to plants a problem? Perhaps, if they can talk back and be understood?

    I'm dreadfully sorry, but all I could think of in reading your first line was that my mother talks to her plants when watering them all the time so why is this a problem.

    Good luck with it, I think you've got a great idea.

  2. I loved your opening sentence. Although many people talk to their plants, they don't usually end up getting arrested.

    Your query did make me want to read your begining. Well-written, good beginning.

    My only concern is that the query has a much lighter, breezier tone than the actual novel, which seems quite dark. I believe the query letter should reflect the tone of the manuscript.

  3. I picked this one to crit because I read YA, but it didn't hook me as much as I had hoped. I had to reread it several times because of all the negative statements, which I had thought was clever at first. Then it just became too tiresome. However, this is just personal taste more than anything.

    By the way, anyone can talk to plants. That's no big deal. It's if I can understand their reply, then that would be amazing.

  4. Phrases like "the law keepers of of our world" and "here in Sicyon" make this sound like the MC is not from Sicyon, or like she's addressing a person who is explicitly not from Sicyon. If I were talking about what police are like, I would never say "On Earth, police wear uniforms..." or even mention what country I was talking about unless I was addressing someone from another country.

    If your story is entirely set in that world and your MC has no reason to think people from another world would be reading it, it would be better to leave those phrases out.

  5. Not completely hooked and agree that I am pulled out because I need to understand why talking to plants is so special.

  6. Query didn't hook me... everything felt to jammed together and confused. There was repetition in the first and second paragraphs that could have been combined, so you could expand on other points of tension or importance.

  7. Too much going on in the query. Plus, the way your first sentence is written, it sounds like Selma is the one who can talk to plants.

  8. I'm mostly confused rather than hooked. The concept sounds intriguing, but it feels buried under all of the "if this hadn't happened, then this wouldn't have happened" language. Why not just rewrite it and tell us what DOES happen to get us hooked?

  9. Confession: I talk to plants. Mainly roses, but sometimes the other things in the garden. It's supposed to be nurturing - at least according to the lady at the garden center.

    But they don't talk back. And in the real world, talking to flowers isn't a problem. :]


    Actually - I like the premise, but it gets a litte confuzzled and circuitous the way it's presented here in the query.

  10. I liked the query. An interesting way to do it.

    Sample: There are a few grammatical errors (commas) that make me pause and wonder at how well proofread this is. It's enough for me to pass, actually. The sample didn't grab my attention, so I'm having a hard time forgiving the grammar.

  11. Not hooked. I assume by talking to plants you actually mean communicating with plants, but is this really what the story is about? and if not, way too much focus on it

  12. I really like the ideas, the voice, and the momentum. Maybe it needs a little cleaning up, but I think it could be great. I'd like to read more! Good luck.

  13. I'm not hooked. All the negative (if this hadn't happened...) stuff puts me off. Obviously it DID happen so maybe you should format the query around that.

  14. I liked your query. It was short and to the point. I liked the intro paragraph in the format you used to get the storyline out there. (Okay, so you fix the bit about 'the plants talked back' or whatever.

    so so on your 250.

  15. I really liked the first two sentences of the query. The third seemed a little awkward, and so did the whole second paragraph.

    I think you have a neat idea going here, but I don't know that I would have asked for a sample if it wasn't submitted along with the query.

    Since the writing was there, I looked, of course. =) I'm thinking that more things should be taken as given and less explained. The first moon had risen. Okay. If people call it by it's name, maybe you should? If you tell me, "Aika had already risen in the sky," I will assume that Aika is some sort of moon. Especially if the next line says, "Her sister-moon, Ladia, would appear soon..." It's still explained, but it's closer to "Venus was on the horizon. The other stars would be out soon," and less like, "The bright planet Venus was out, other stars and planets would be visible soon." ::shrug:: I don't know that I'm explaining myself well and that makes me wonder if it's just me.

    Anyway, overall the idea seems interesting, but I'd probably pass on seeing more.

  16. My first question was why is talking to plants a bad thing. I did get, though, that it wasn't necessary bad, but desired by the council.

    It looks like there's probably a pretty neat story in here, but the way the query is set up on a series of coincidences based on one discovery, that really put me off.

    The writing in the opening page is decent, but nothing about it grabs me enough to make me want to read more.

    I think this has potential, but it's not for me.