Jan 4, 2010


Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for my 77,000-word young adult novel, Without Her.

After her older sister commits suicide, sixteen-year-old Lana Lindval, stuck in a desolate North Dakota oil town, struggles to rebuild her life. Her sister Skye was unreliable, emotional, and sometimes even cruel, but she always protected Lana. Now Lana has to forge her own way, and the fact that she’s alienated her old friends doesn’t make it any easier.

The only one willing to put up with Lana now is her born-again cousin Britta, and even Britta has an agenda. Britta wants Lana to become a model Christian, but Lana is more interested in Tucker Stevens, a new boy with a smart mouth and a rebellious streak. Britta thinks he’s dangerous, but Lana is sure she’s wrong. Tucker’s example gives Lana the courage to act on her desperate need to get away from Burnt Earth. But her mother, who has grown overprotective since Skye’s death, resists all her plans to gain more independence—including her friendship with Tucker.

Her mother’s disapproval drives Lana to spend even more time with Tucker, who understands how trapped she feels. He may not be completely open about his past—or his love life—but he really listens to her, and Lana is more and more convinced that she’s the one who’s right about Tucker. But when a stupid idea turns into a trip to jail, Lana catches Tucker in a big lie. Maybe Britta and her mother were right all along.

Thank you for considering Without Her. I look forward to hearing from you.



Anne Gallagher said...

I like the premise of this story, I like the lay-out of the query, short, sweet and to the point however there are too many holes - questions?

Why did she alienate her friends?
Tucker's example of what?
What is Burnt Earth?
Her mother - whose mother? Lana or Britta?
And who is resisting who's plans to gain more independance?

Again with the mother, who's mother? Lana or Britta?
What is Lana "right about Tucker" for?
Do we need to care about Tucker's love life in the query?

I think you've got all the elements for a good query you just need to tighten up the facts a little more. I look forward to seeing the revision. Good Luck.

Anita Saxena said...

I think it's well written. Clear and concise. The only question I have is why did she alienate her friends? Because of her sister's suicide? Tucker sounds bad boy intriguing.
Very interesting story.

Scott Daniel said...

I agree with Piedmont. I'd also like the first paragraph punched up a bit. Your MC is dealing with a lot of stuff, it would be great if you could kind of capture it all in that first graph. Something along the lines of:

After the suicide of her sister, sixteen-year-old Lana Lindval strugles to rebuild her life while being pulled in opposite directions by her born-again cousin and her bad-boy love interest.

I would drop the information about Skye into the second graph. Also move the asking for representation line to the very end. Your first paragraph should focus soley on the hook, in my humble opinion!

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone else's suggestion, and and wanted to add that you've got a pretty decent letter here already, you give most of the pertinent details, but I kept waiting on the "twist" to make it unique. What is it about your story that is different from the other ten thousand stories of its kind before? Figure that out and put it in here somewhere.

RC Writer Girl said...

I think your query starts off pretty well, but you miss the mark at the end. You need a clear concise statement to sum up what's at stake. You've implied it somewhat, but I don't think the query packs much of a punch without that explicit statement. You end with the statement: Maybe Britta and her mother were right all along.

If you end it there, you leave the agent saying: So what? That's because you haven't told us what's at stake. If she was wrong about TUcker, is Lana going to commit suicide like her sister? Is she going to have to start rebuilding her life yet again?

Without knowing what's at stake, we don't have a reason to decide we want to read more.

The top of your query is pretty good (save the pronoun confusion about who's mother is whose; and what Burnt Earth is), but you've got to hit the home run at the end. You've got to tell us what's at stake. Otherwise, we're all going to head outta the ballpark at halftime (ok, bad analogy, but it's all I got).


Scarlett said...

Very valuable feedback! Thanks to everyone who commented. I've got stuff to work on here...