Aug 15, 2009

Query- Near Edgware

Dear Agent,

Near Edgware, my YA paranormal romance is set in a seemingly normal secondary school and the ancient woodland that borders the town of Woodford, near Edgware. The manuscript is complete in 75,000 words.

Jess senses that someone’s keeping secrets and despite her determination to avoid trouble she can’t fight the lure of the boy who keeps away from his peers, says he isn’t interested but seems to be around every corner she turns. She can see subtle differences and worries away until she finds out the truth. She runs, more than walks into trouble unaware that there are things her family should have told her.

In the first term of the Sixth Form, 16 year-old Jess returns to a school that has changed in everyway except geographically. She has learned to use swimming and running to focus her excess energy now. The boy that intrigues her shares a lot of her interests and is more attractive than she can resist. She believes that she can really see him and wants to know him better. For a boy who says she should keep her distance his hands linger more than his eyes.

This is an attraction that draws Jess into the world of those born Were, the dangerous feral Were and the hunters who are born to eradicate wolves in any form. It takes trust and courage to love when the obstacles that stand in your way are rooted deeper than cultural norms.

Near Edgware opens up the window onto the world of the Were and the hunters who have bred a highly-skilled nemesis; only Jess knows nothing of her destiny. The result is a gripping and moving tale of two individuals who can see more in the other than the pretty, surface image. It is complete as a stand-alone novel but could be just the first chapter of a love that will have to withstand the ramifications of its existence.

I am a new writer. I am also a teacher and use aspects of Social and Emotional Aspect of Learning (SEAL) as the cornerstone of my work. I have an counselling qualification. I bring these skills to my writing.

Thank you for your time. I hope to hear from you soon.


Right... we all know that I need help of an almost psychological nature so I look forward to a little (or a lot) of advice!

4 comments:

TLH said...

I'm not sure I fully understood this one, but I think have a few suggestions on how to clean it up. This comment is kind of long, and you can take my thoughts with a grain of salt since I haven't landed my own agent yet. But, I hope some of it makes sense and can help.

1) For the first paragraph, don't give me the setting, mostly because I don't really care unless I'm from there. Give me the hook about the creepy school in more detail first and foremost. Leave the setting for the second paragraph. Plus you said "near Edgware" twice. ;D You can also leave the word count for the last paragraph.

2) Give Jess's last name and the name of the mysterious boy. Even though Jess may not know it, and it may not be mentioned in your book until later, I was very confused in the letter without his name. I think this would smooth out some of your wording as well.

3)"She can see subtle differences and worries away until she finds out the truth." I think you can cut this sentence entirely. It's obvious that she'll try to find out the truth - that's your whole plot right? If she ignored it she'd be a very boring main character!

4)"In the first term of the Sixth Form" I know what this means, but if you're querying in America everyone might not. You might have to explain it a little more. Just a thought.

5) I think you can condense the second and third paragraphs into one more brief description of the setting. You need to get to the plot faster to get the agent interested.

6)"She believes that she can really see him" I was unclear about your meaning here. Do you mean she thinks she knows him?

7)The fourth and fifth paragraph can probably be combined to be shorter too; they kind of repeat one another but they have the crux of your conflict - the nemesis. He should be much more prominent since he's the driving force of events.

8)Don't say you're a new writer. I'm sure you've been writing for a while, you're just unpublished, like me, and from what I have heard from many other authors and agents you don't have to say this. Agents just assume it unless you tell them otherwise.

Okay, I usually don't make that many suggestions, but this is a genre I am very familiar with so my query letters have been in a similar vein. I hope some of that is helpful.

I do want to say though that I LOVE your plotline. It's along the same lines of the more popular YA books right now so it's likely to sell, but you turn it on its head by making the supernatural kid the one that's in danger. I love that! I always love plots driven by destiny, too. Let me know when (not if) you get printed, I will definitely want a copy!!

gj said...

You can obviously write, and your sentences are lovely, but I don't have a clue what the story is about (in concrete terms) or how it's different from every other YA story out there.

Forget the pretty phrases and just tell the story. Jess is a really interesting kid who has some special power and who wnats something (goal). She's intrigued by another kid, and as a result of that attraction, she does something (what?). In the course of doing something, she encounters problems and struggles to overcome them.

Show us the story, rather than telling us "about" the story.

And ditto to axing the setting paragraph (we care about people, not so much places, especially when you've only got a few lines to get us to care), and axing the "new writer" comment (accentuate the positive, avoid the negative).

Anonymous said...

I agree with the two previous posts. Your query doesn't say anything about the story, really. It's all couched in generalities. You've got to give us more of your YA romance.

A few things of note:

1. A romance is about two people. You've only told us about one of them. Give us the boy's name, so we can get a better sense of him, of how they might fit. (Super couples are Tom & Katie, Brad & Angelina, Luke & Laura, Bella & Edward; not Jess & that weird guy). Name is absolutely necessary.

2. Have absolutely no idea what 'in the term of the sixth Form" means. If that's supposed to be meaningful, it was lost on this Americcan.

3. You say Jess knows nothing of her destiny. I don't either. What is her destiny. That might help clarify this query. Maybe start your query with that. Something like "Jess is an ordinary girl who meets a boy she was born to love; but choosing to leave him is the only thing that will save the world as she knows it...." (I know, that was dramatic and ridiculous. But, give us the stakes. What's important about this boy, this girl and this relationship.

4. I would lean toward getting rid of this sentence: "The result is a gripping and moving tale of two individuals who can see more in the other than the pretty, surface image." It sounds kind of pompous. If it's really gripping and moving, I'll be able to tell that by what you tell me in the query letter. There are two explanations (possibly more, I suppose, but I'll go with two for now) for you having to say this: (1) it's not actually gripping and moving and/or (2) you've got quite the ego on you. I'm not sure either is a good sign to an agent.

Romance is good. Girl finding love with strange outsider boy is good. Couple facing dilemma is good. But, this needs a lot more fleshing out, in terms of the details of YOUR story.


Good luck

FictionGroupie said...

So here is my humble opinion (comments in italics). Feel free to get me back when my query is posted in a day or two. ;)

Near Edgware, my YA paranormal romance is set in a seemingly normal secondary school and the ancient woodland that borders the town of Woodford, near Edgware. The manuscript is complete in 75,000 words.

I would take out the description of the setting and maybe move the word count to the end. Start with the hook.

Jess senses that someone’s keeping secrets and despite her determination to avoid trouble she can’t fight the lure of the boy who keeps away from his peers, says he isn’t interested but seems to be around every corner she turns.

This sentence seems too long, maybe break it into two. New sentence: He says he isn’t …

She can see subtle differences and worries away until she finds out the truth.
This sentence is a little vague, maybe take out or revise

In the first term of the Sixth Form, 16 year-old Jess returns to a school that has changed in everyway except geographically.

This is a bit confusing. Does she go through two years of school in the book? If not, this may need to be taken out or moved to the top.

The boy that intrigues her

I agree that we need his name

She believes that she can really see him and wants to know him better.

This sentence may need some clarification. Are you saying she can see him—personality wise or see his supernatural side?

This is an attraction that draws Jess into the world of those born Were, the dangerous feral Were and the hunters who are born to eradicate wolves in any form

maybe something a little more action-oriented here: Unable to fight the attraction, Jess stumbles into the world….

The result is a gripping and moving tale of two individuals who can see more in the other than the pretty, surface image.

I would take this sentence out. This is telling the agent what she should feel


Hope that helps! I think you have a good story to pitch. Tightened up, I think you'll have a winner. :)