Mar 13, 2011

Query: The Silver Strand (second revision)

Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first revision.

Dear Agent,

The Silver Strand
is a middle grade, fantasy adventure complete at 55,000 words.  The novel is based in the northern coast of New South Wales, Australia and in the inner earth city of Agartha.  It will appeal to readers who laugh out loud at Morris Gleitzman's Toad Rage, or those who love mythical creatures, secret underground worlds, high-tech flying devices and action adventures like Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl.

When thirteen year old Isabelle Tresdon wishes her chunky, silver strand of hair never sprouted, it tarnishes and withers away, along with her imagination.  Turns out the lock is her source of inner magic and in five days time it will die, and so will she.  To save her strand, she must undertake three tests with the help of two Masterminds.  In exchange, she agrees to deliver a crystal bracelet encoded with information.

Trouble is, these two tricksters manipulate energy using their minds and their idea of tests equals Isabelle's worst nightmare.  First they transform her into a toad until she masters tapping into her animal instincts.  Sure, toad warts aren't pretty.  But when they prickle, she best get her poison glands ready, unless she wants to be gobbled by a snake or squished by her father's spade.  Second, she stands up to a dragon that threatens to roast her on a spit if she fails to draw his portrait. 

After defying death, Isabelle thinks her last test will be a breeze until she and one of her companions are accused of being traitors and imprisoned.  All along, Isabelle is used a pawn in the Masterminds' game to expose corruption within the ranks of Agartha's rulers.  To escape, she must muster what remains of her inner magic and battle powerful enemies who break all the rules to seize the bracelet and protect their secrets.  If Isabelle's already good as dead, she may as well go down fighting.

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Louisa Clarkson


Anonymous Author said...

Okay. I'm a published author of several middle grade novels, so hopefully I can say something of use to you. OTOH, I am in the US and rules for Australian agents may be different. However, there are several things you need to work on here.

1. You're at 315 words, which is on the long side for a query. Way too many of these are taken up comparing your book to others. A few words for this should suffice... and even at that, it's strictly optional.

2. I don't think "strand" and "lock" are synonymous... not sure, but I'm picturing one hair as a strand, and it's very, very hard to picture hair as "chunky".

3. The mechanics and rules of what Isabelle must do seem to take up too much of the query, burying more interesting details like that she gets turned into a toad. Try to cut out anything that we don't need to know right now.

4. You have little errors, like "she best get" and "five days time". Your query needs to be proofread to the max. So does your manuscript.

Hope this helps.

Louisa said...

Thanks so much for your comments anon author. I've used strand and lock because I don't like repeating words in close proximity - got told by my writing mentor that it's lazy. And another reviewer suggested to make the strand thicker so it would stand out because it would be hard to distinguish one silver strand amongst brown hair, unless up close.

Anonymous Author said...

Well, as a writer, you have to take the advice you're given and decide how best to employ it. Unless you want to stand next to each reader of your books and explain why you used the words "chunky" and "strand" :).

It's true you shouldn't re-use the same words in close proximity, but doing so is not nearly as jarring as using the wrong words. Such wrong words are often found in a thesaurus. There's nothing wrong with everyday words like "thick". They get the job done.

(For example, in the preceding paragraph I used the word "word" four times. But no other word would have done.)

Anonymous said...

Since "strand" is in the title of the book, it's a pretty important word, one that can withstand the repetition (and using a different word actually weakens it).

On the other hand, the way the concept of the 'strand' is introduced confused me -- I actually stopped reading the query there (I skipped the initial paragraph entirely) and only read it again because of Anon Author's comment (I'm always curious about words and word choices).

What follows seems a little lax, reads more like a listing of plot points to me. I don't find it compelling. Focus on the character.

And cut pretty much the entire first paragraph. You can work the locations into the actual query, and I find comparisons uncomfortable to read.