#13 and a Query Blogfest Entry

#13 on our countdown of best/worst things about being an aspiring writer...decisions, decisions. 

do you write your query before you really get into your manuscript OR do you wait until your manuscript is completed to tackle the dreaded task?

for the query posted below, i started it after.  this posed many problems for me.  i knew waaaay too many details about my story.  it was very, very difficult to pare it down.  for my current WIP, i wrote it first.  now as i write i can add in as many details (subplot, characters, issues, etc) as i want without confusing the main plot points and characters.  all set.  well, probably not, but i'll worry about that when the final 40% is completed.

 And now, only one day late, here is my blogfest entry for Jodi Henry's Query Letter Blogfest.

Dear Agent,

Fifteen year old Dawn Buchanen has nowhere left to hide. She’s charged with arson, blamed for spreading an influenza strain so bizarre it’s dubbed Influenza X, and hunted by a spark-throwing figure that can’t possibly be human. And to think being known as a goody-goody used to be her only problem. Those days are as gone as the hems of her burnt pants. Oh, and her sanity is pretty close to up and leaving, too.

The only thing left she finds comfort in are her drawings. They seem to be trying to tell her something and she’s compelled to draw more often and more vividly every day. A new world comes alive on her paper. Through her boyfriend, Lawrence, she learns the world on her paper truly exists—in another dimension called Themura. He confesses he is a Transporter, one of very few with the gift to be able to go to the world she thought she created with her charcoal pencil.

She makes a confession of her own. She can see his aura—along with all the rest of the Transporters’ glowing forms. While she swallowed his news without a second thought (okay, there may have been a third), he didn’t return the favor. He’s gone. To make matters worse, he blabs about her rare “gift” of vision. Now Transporters are watching every move she makes, prepared to haul her to Themura to put her on trial. Confused and scared, she’s determined to learn who, or what, she is. She believes the answers are written in an old family journal. It's too bad the secrets are stuck inside its seamless binding. No lock, no opening. Only whispered stories hinting at its contents.

It’s only a matter of time before she’s caught by somebody. The trouble is, since everyone is out looking for her, the real evil doers are getting closer to finding what they’re looking for: the portal between the dimensions. If they do, life will never be the same. However, if Dawn can somehow help the Themurans keep their little secrets, she just might save the worlds.

I hope you’ll fall in love with Solstice, an 80,000 word YA Fantasy novel, as easily as Dawn falls into trouble.  When I'm not writing about make-believe worlds, I'm sparking an interest in reading and writing for my second graders or reading books to my cuddlers at home.

Thanks for your time and consideration,



  1. I usually write my logline while I'm working on my novel but I write the query after. This is a really well done, very intersting query. The first paragraph was perfect. You're right though, after that there is a bit more info than we need at this point. I'd try to cut it down to three or four paragraphs highlighting the problem, stakes, and solution. This query is bound to get a lot of good attention!

  2. I have my query. It is about 4 paragraphs no more than 2 sentences each and have no structure as of right now. Because, I too have waited to really get down to it...UGH. Got to get it done!

    But! I REALLY like the sound of your novel!! REALLY REALLY. So, great query! I think it's lovely! And have my fingers crossed for you! GUSH GUSH GUSH. Okay okay, I really do think it is well structured and just the right length, from what I have researched anyway. And very interesting.

  3. Christy,

    Love the premise. I have a few suggestions for you.

    Para 1. Strong paragraph, It takes you right in. However I would loose the "And" not a strong word to start a sentence. You should take out the Oh, it sounds like an afterthought.

    Para 2. Try starting.... She takes comfort in her drawing. They seem to be revealing something to her. Now she is compelled to draw more often and more vividly. Through these images a new world is born. To her surprise, her boyfriend informs her this world exists and the he is able to transport between both worlds. Themura: the world she created on paper.

    Para 3. What you have is good, but you need to economize your words. This is an important paragraph it needs to be clear.... maybe try...

    She confesses to him that she has the ability to see his aura and his glowing form. A moment later he is gone, taking the news of her gift back with him to Themura. Now transporters are watching in the hope to put her on trial. Confused and scared ...

    Para 4. Pare down a bit... It's only a matter of time before she is caught. Wasting time chasing her, the real evil doers are getting closer ...
    Lose the however. If Dawn can somehow ...

    The rest is fine. Fantastic premise.... I hope this helps.


  4. This is not usually how I start my query but I think your way is genius too, I have a thing or two to learn from this query.
    I write my queries after btw

  5. Hi Christy,

    I'm going to jump right in here:

    P1 is great. It starts strong, but I would lose the last two sentences here. Ending with the "goody-goody" remark is really, well, good.

    P2 really drops the incident, but you need to chop out all of the unnecessary information so I can feel more for the incident: Here's a suggestion: "Dawn's compelled to believe her drawings are special. When her boyfriend confesses he has a gift called Transporting, he shows her the charcoal world of her imagination lays just past the paper."

    P3 is just too chunked up with telling words. Like Michael said, economize. Say only what's necessary to entice the incident further into the full blown conflict. Get yourself to the barebones without the glamour of worldbuilding around the characters. I have the very same problem and am learning to fix it.

    Hope some of this helps,

    In My Write Mind

  6. I've never written one before. I know it SOUNDS like a good idea, but I feel like it would mess with my Chi or something. Then again, there was a time I thought that about outlining, and now I do some approximation of that, so it may just be I'm not enlightened enough yet...

    I would agree with the feedback of a great first paragraph, then a need to mainstream the rest of it... The idea is intriguing, but there are places that giving details is jarring--I can see how the full story is probably interesting, but I think THIS would be more appealing by just giving a more vague version.

  7. Whoa, christy - you really worked hard at this!

    I have to write mine after. I'm just not a good enough outliner/plotster to figure out where my story is going until after I'm 1/2 done with it.

    And if you're starting sentences with "And" and "Oh" I fear you've been spending too much time reading my work!! (and yes, I like the sentences as they are)

  8. I agree with Justin about dropping the last two sentences in the first paragraph. I love the premise behind the query but you could tighten this down some more to really nail it. Good luck!

  9. i agree with the whole paring down thing. but the premise is super, and i would pick this up in a heartbeat. great job!

  10. heather- thanks very much! i appreciate your kind words and think i have an idea of how to cut out the unnecessaries.

    colene- THANK YOU! (the novel is still in rewrite stage, but thanks so much for the confidance boost and well wishes!)

    michael- thanks very much for the suggestions! some of what you recommend i cut was my attempt at YA voice...but i will need to rethink my incomplete sentences for sure.

    joanna- i appreciate your comments!

    justin-thank you for the suggestions. i will definitely try to work them in and will surely cut out some of the unnecessary details!

    thanks hart! YOU are a lucky lady! (pure talent, i know!)

    erica-without you i'd still have no clue what YA voice looked like and teens would need a dictionary to read my book.

    nicole- thanks very much!

    lexcade! um, THANKS! :0) :0)



  11. Ooh, your novel sounds interesting Christy! I have not written a query yet- I just wanted to finish my novel. Now that I'm done, I can focus on revisions, and that dreaded query letter. I'm going to get some books and do some major research on these.

    I agree with some of the others- good strong first paragraph and just make sure you watch it doens't get too jumbled with details. There are a few things like maybe cut out some of the third paragraph and make it tighter- maybe get rid of the journal part, and insert the fourth paragraph there so you only have three paragraphs. And what would she be put on trial for? Is there something wrong with seeing their auras? That was kinda confusing- you might want to leave that out too if there is a ton of explaining to do.

    But seriously- I want to read your book now and find out what happens!

  12. Hi Christy

    I was suffering from too much information syndrome (no, not like that!) and completely re-wrote my query dropping sub-plots like there was no tomorrow. The thing is the query needs to have clear protagonist and clear antagonist - all the other antagonists are surplus to requirements as far as the query is concerned.

    You could even lose Lawrence actually! You won't want to of course but just as a for example ...
    "A new world comes alive on her paper - a world that truly exists in another dimension called Themura. She thought she’d created it with her charcoal pencil, but no! Then she learns about Transporters who can travel to Themura, but now they are watching her every move, prepared to haul her to Themura to put her on trial."

    This is 131 words down to just 59! It might ruin your story, but it sounds OK query-wise to me!

    Anyway, I'm just encouraging you to really ask what does the story actually need when you pair it back to the skeleton! I know your real protagonist is in the shadowy background but you need to write them large and make us fear them!

    Anyways, I love the premise of the book and I think a slightly more streamline query will really sell it!

    Good luck


    PS I had no more than half my novel outlined when I wrote my query, and I still had too much info! I would always write my query first now though. Take a look at my original cringe-worthy attempt and the (near) final version following lots of advice and you will see that they sound like completely different books. I simply concentrated on a different plot thread, and chucked unnecessary people and facts.

  13. I love the premise here! I'm not just saying that. My story is about parallel universes too. I would definitely read this.

    Everything except P3 is working for me. I started feeling like it was really long when I reached P3 and then skipped over it to see if it was actually necessary to the query as a whole. I went right on to P4. If I had been confued at any point I would have gone back to read P3 but I didn't feel confused so I never went back. I still haven't read P3 and would still buy this book in a store.

    When I wrote my first query, I wrote it after I wrote the story and it was challenging to figure out what parts of the story were hook worthy. My synopsis was the same way. With my NaNo story (which I'm using for this blogfest) I wrote the query first and the synopsis before NaNo started. However, I tweeked the query a little bit for this blogfest. I can see now, from feedback, where I can fix the query and add some stuff now.

    Good luck to you. I think you'll do just fine.

  14. Oh! No!

    I thought I had already gotten to this, and apparently not.

    I am putting the drawing list together right now but will be back to comment on your query.

    Seriously sorry for missing this.



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