Jan 19, 2010

DESOLATION Revision #1

Click here to read the original query.





Dear Secret Agent Man:

I believe you would be interested in my YA urban fantasy DESOLATION, complete at 84,000 words.

It’s time for the devil’s daughter to join the family business of ruining lives and stealing souls, but sixteen-year-old Desolation Black wants to be good.

Desi knows she’s part demon, but what she doesn’t know is that she’s also part angel. Raised by the Prince of Lies, she can’t imagine being anything other than what he demands. So when Desi’s caught in a power struggle for the throne of the Underworld, she makes a choice she thinks will free her from her demonic destiny—only to discover every good act ends in the very death and destruction she hoped to avoid.

With gifts and abilities yet undiscovered, Desi will never be a normal teenage girl. But she can be good—at a cost. With the help of angel and love-of-her-heart Michael, Lost Soul James, and good-girl Miri, Desi will fight the demons of hell and her own father for freedom of all people--including the right to choose for herself the kind of person she will be.

DESOLATION is a fast-paced story that mingles the edginess of Wicked Lovely and the vision of Hush, Hush to create it’s own dark love story at the end of the world.

If you would like to consider DESOLATION, I’ll happily forward the complete manuscript to you at your request. An outline for a potential sequel is also available.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Ali Cross
ali@alicross.com

13 comments:

Lawrence said...

I think this version is a marked improvement over the first one. Bravo! I would suggest leading in with "It's time for the devil's daughter..."

You should get right to the point, and you can mention the title and word count in the penultimate paragraph. "At 84,000 words DESOLATION is a YA urban fantasy novel..."

best of luck

Falen said...

better for sure.
I think you need to include more specifics.

"So when Desi’s caught in a power struggle for the throne of the Underworld, she makes a choice she thinks will free her from her demonic destiny—only to discover every good act ends in the very death and destruction she hoped to avoid. "

What choice does she make? What good does she do, and who dies and what gets destroyed?

You don't need to be specific for all of these, but i would consider adding in some specific details for one or two.

I hope that helps!

Aimless Writer said...

Love the second paragraph, "It's time for the devil's daughter..." Off to a good start but I get hung up on the "choice" too. It almost sounds like she is fighting for the throne of the underworld otherwise why is she caught in the struggle? That just confused me for a minute.
Last paragraph, "with gifts and abilities..." is good too!
Great job, just needs a bit more tweaking.

Donna Hole said...

Much stronger query, and informative. I like it, so I have no more insights to impart than the rest did already.

Good luck.

........dhole

RCWriterGirl said...

It's late where I am, so I'm a little too sleepy to look with a real critical eye, but I read it and liked it immediately.

It had nice voice, good hook an interesting story.

The only improvement I would suggest, is letting us know what Desolation stands to lose if she doesn't succeed in getting freedom. Will she be in a forced labor camp in Hell? Will every good deed she tries to do turn bad? Will she be stuck in suspended animation on earth?

We always want our likeable protagonist to win in the end, but it's nice to know what she stands to lose if she doesn't win.

Again, nice query.

Good luck.

Dominique said...

Great. Definitely much better.
I'd bite.

GhostFolk.com said...

Ali, ali, ali! Wow.

It's so hard for writers to realize that less is more. But it is, it is!

Sorry, Falen. I strongly disagree with you on the more information.

Ali, cut this paragraph: Desi knows she’s part demon, but what she doesn’t know is that she’s also part angel. Raised by the Prince of Lies, she can’t imagine being anything other than what he demands. So when Desi’s caught in a power struggle for the throne of the Underworld, she makes a choice she thinks will free her from her demonic destiny—only to discover every good act ends in the very death and destruction she hoped to avoid. ... and you're done!

All of the above is covered in your subseuqent paragraph.

Seriously, it's truly TMI. All you need to do is entice and you do it SO WELL without the above. You don't need one single thing in that paragraph at the query level. Not one.

And what you do have will look confident and professional; it will scare an agent to pass on this.

You got your teen, you got her pals, and you got her story arc (conflict with dad). That's it.

Coupled with your original concept premise, this will get additional pages asked for immediately from about 1/3 of the agents you e-query.

Have you considered a bio paragraph (even something along the lines of your having read every paranormal YA out there .. well, something)???

My last query was very short and I got a full request the next day, an overnight read, and an offer of repsentation (phone call) one day later. I had four additional agents ask for a full and had to turn them down.

Shorter is gooder. :-) Trust me.

GhostFolk.com said...

Ali, consider getting this out there now. YA Angels are sizzling right now... right now... right now.

If your writing holds up, if your novel works, you're sold! Go!

ali said...

Thank you muchly!

Weronika Janczuk said...

Some comments from an intern in publishing:

This is a good query, better than 98% of the letters I read in the slushpile.

I believe you would be interested in my YA urban fantasy DESOLATION, complete at 84,000 words.
Perfect.

It’s time for the devil’s daughter to join the family business of ruining lives and stealing souls, but sixteen-year-old Desolation Black wants to be good.
"Good" is such a generic term that it barely means anything. Can you qualify it a little bit?

Desi knows she’s part demon, but what she doesn’t know is that she’s also part angel. Raised by the Prince of Lies, she can’t imagine being anything other than what he demands. So when Desi’s caught in a power struggle for the throne of the Underworld, she makes a choice she thinks will free her from her demonic destiny—only to discover every good act ends in the very death and destruction she hoped to avoid.
Be more specific here in two regards (and when I say specific, I don't mean expand; I mean edit to conciseness). (1) "she can’t imagine being anything other than what he demands" - "she can't imagine being anything other than [i.e., 'the girl who pulls wallets from teachers' pockets and breaks up marriages,' or whatever]. (2) "she makes a choice she thinks will free her from her demonic destiny" - you need to tell us what the choice is, what she's choosing between; otherwise we don't really have an idea of what's at stake.

With gifts and abilities yet undiscovered, Desi will never be a normal teenage girl. But she can be good—at a cost. With the help of angel and love-of-her-heart Michael, Lost Soul James, and good-girl Miri, Desi will fight the demons of hell and her own father for freedom of all people--including the right to choose for herself the kind of person she will be.

DESOLATION is a fast-paced story that mingles the edginess of Wicked Lovely and the vision of Hush, Hush to create it’s own dark love story at the end of the world.
Only compare. In other words, cut out "a fast-paced story" and "the vision of . . . world" (being more specific about how you relate). What you have here sounds like a review, and that never goes into a query.

If you would like to consider DESOLATION, I’ll happily forward the complete manuscript to you at your request. An outline for a potential sequel is also available.
The first sentence can be much more concise. My suggestion: "The full manuscript is available, as is an outline for a potential sequel." Also add "This is not an exclusive query."

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Ali Cross

Perfect.

Like I said, this is a very good start - you definitely have me hooked. Good luck, Ali!

Weronika Janczuk said...

Oops, missed a paragraph.

With gifts and abilities yet undiscovered, Desi will never be a normal teenage girl. But she can be good—at a cost. With the help of angel and love-of-her-heart Michael, Lost Soul James, and good-girl Miri, Desi will fight the demons of hell and her own father for freedom of all people--including the right to choose for herself the kind of person she will be.
Again, 'good' is generic. Also, I don't know if this paragraph is necessary... At the very least I say cut the first two sentences; those are unnecessary.

Falen said...

Ghostfolk - i didn't say more information, i said more specifics. The information is already included, but it's vague, more telling than showing. If she's more specifc, she can use less words, therefore tightening the Query and shortening the word count. It would actually lead to less filler.

Anonymous said...

"...to create it’s own dark love story."

Should be "to create ITS own..."

Don't send it out with that kind of mistake!