Oct 4, 2010

QUERY - LAKESIDE

Dear Agent,

While swimming in a secluded lake, seventeen-year-old Hannah sees a discarded pendant on the lakebed. When she picks it up, the pendant transports her to the isolated town of Lakeview where she meets Lily. The two become friends, and Hannah agrees to keep the lake, the town, and their friendship a secret – for her own safety, as well as Lily's.

Once school starts, Hannah begins dating Brendan, the new kid in town. After his mom dies unexpectedly, Brendan overhears his dad speaking with a stranger about her death taking place at a lake. Brendan realizes that his dad lied to him about his mom's death.

Hannah tells Brendan about Lily and the lake, knowing that Lily may be able to shed light on his mom’s death. What they discover in Lakeview gives Brendan hope for seeing his mom again. But when his plan fails and Hannah’s life becomes in danger, Brendan must use the powers of the lake to set things right, or risk losing his girlfriend forever.

LAKESIDE, a young adult novel complete at 85,000 words, combines mystery, romance, supernatural elements, and adventure.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Author

10 comments:

Dominique said...

I don't know what this book's about. I know there's an amulet on a lake, some girl (who I'm assuming is from a different time period) that people can't know about, and a dead woman (who I'm thinking might have been the boy's mother as a child.) This query needs more specifics.

RaeLin said...

Dominique - thanks for your helpful comments. This is the first query that I've ever written, and it's helpful to have someone who hasn't read the story give their opinion!

You're actually pretty spot on. So with that said, how much of the plot are you supposed to give away in a query? I guess I need to give more specifics, but 1) not give away the entire plot, and 2) keep the query a decent length (not drag on and on).

I thought the main purpose of a query was to get someone interested in reading more (which perhaps this hasn't done). Thanks again!

Shelley Sly said...

I like the premise of this story. I'm sure your manuscript is very interesting, but I think your query lacks voice.

Right now, this sort of sounds like a series of events read in an official, almost textbook-like tone (especially the second paragraph). Since there's probably lots of emotion and drama in your story, I would reflect that in your query, too.

My personal suggestion is to chop things up a little. Don't be afraid of fragments or short sentences. Majority of your sentences start with a phrase followed by a comma. I recommend breaking those up a little.

Lastly, I suggest defining your genre and sticking with it. Call it mystery, or romance, or combine the two. I'd leave out supernatural and adventure.

Just my opinion, and by no means the "right" way to write your query. I wish you best of luck with this -- it really does sound like an exciting story!

Shelley Sly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RaeLin said...

Thanks Shelley! Very helpful comments. I will definitely incorporate them into my next draft! I think you're right that to chop things up a bit would help.

abogash said...

My 2 cents for what they're worth.

There are five characters mentioned in your query- yet I can't find one reason why I want to read any of their stories.

Focus on the Protag. Hannah-I think but I'm not sure since Lily and Brendan take over your query and Hannah seems to fade in importance vs get stronger.

There are also a lot of "empty" words ie: While, sees (boring), discarded (how would she know it's discarded not just lost?), Obviously she picks it up or there wouldn't be a story. Make it more exciting just like your novel probably is.

Try something like: Summer break and picking up a pendant she spots on the bottom of the lake seventeen year old Hannah is dragged into (whatever happens).

Obviously polish it up so we have Name, age (if it is important for the query), setting and and a good idea of why we should want to read
more both of the query and the ms.

Is Lakeview a "real" town? Isn't Hannah weirded out by being transported? It sounds more like she walks down main street and makes a friend all in 5 minutes.

Why does she need to protect herself and Lily by keeping something a secret? What do Lily and Lakeview have to do with a pendant on the bottom of a lake?The rest also raises more questions versus the intrigue you are looking for in a query.

Paragraph 3 drives me crazy- she breaks a promise risking her own safety and Lilys for a guy it sounds like she just met? Is he paranormal? What DO they discover at Lakeview? Seeing his dead mom again? What plan? Losing his girlfriend forever as in dead? Pissed off? Trapped at the bottom of the lake?

Remember you know your ms inside out and backwards- try to show us an enticing glimpse into why we should want to read more. Everything that happens doesn't need to be explained or provided but enough has to be there to intrique an agent.

I agree you should stick with only one genre- perhaps Paranormal young adult?

Also, kind of nit picky but Lily is too close to Lady and we already know about her.

Good luck and keep trying- my daughter would certainly read something like this.

RaeLin said...

Thank you, abogash!

Question for everyone... if my novel is a mystery, how much of the plot do I want to give up? Does it not matter if the agent knows everything going in?

Just curious, because it seems like the comments here are asking that I reveal more... and obviously in a more exciting way. :-)

Thanks again everyone for your comments. They really help!

Piedmont Writer said...

In answer to your last question, you want to give away the ending. You must reveal the "core" of the plot and what Hannah's (the MC) goal is. Which from the query, I don't know.

abogash said...

RaeLin- In answer to your question of how much to give up in the query, I think you should focus more on how you give up tidbits of information which will make the agent want to read more.

Instead of focusing on vaguely telling us what happens during the book, show us. Determine how your MC gets into her conflict, what the stakes are if she can't solve it and why we should care.

An agent and reader will want to connect with Hannah on some level. Hannah is painfully flat in your first try.

Regan said...

I think you've got an interesting idea here, but the query's tone needs to feel more urgent. I agree with everyone who's said that we need some more specifics.

As far as how much to give away in the query...you don't give away the ending, but you give us as much as we need to get hooked. The query is supposed to make us want to read the novel, so we need to know enough about what's going on to make an informed decision. If there's a mystery, don't tell us the solution to the mystery--but do give us enough background to the mystery to make us really want to know the solution. Hope this helps!