And now, here is Jessica's query, with my feedback, which this time, just to mix it up, will be in this blue.
Dear Awesome Agent,
Emma Potter who? believes she’s an average seventeen-year-old girl until an uneventful road trip becomes anything but when a truck blows a tire and slides into her parent’s lane. Okay, so considering the fact that your first sentence may very well be your most important - this isn't bad, but it could be better. For one thing, I tell every query seeker the same thing: more character from before the story starts. That always helps. But also, I think this opening hook needs more of a gut-punch. We can infer the accident that's supposed to happen, but your next sentence kind of subverts that, and all the tension is let out of this query. A collision is inevitable, but the truck flies over the car, leaving it completely unscathed. So ... this is cool in the sense of describing a clearly powerful inciting incident, but I'm not so sure about how it's delivered. It's mostly passive voice, and even if it wasn't ... I think this final punch of your opening paragraph would be better served if it made it clearer that the truck evading the car was based on your character's power, because as it reads, it sounds somewhat random.
Within twenty-four hours, Emma is whisked onto a plane and shuttled halfway across the country to her new home, Potter Valley. She’s required to attend a high school for students with ‘special powers’ like hers, known as Guardians. Countless secrets are revealed, none more troublesome
Thrust into a world she didn’t know existed, the cause of a war she didn’t fully understand, how can Emma choose which side to fight for? And once the choice is made, how can she defend herself with a power she knows not how to wield, against those who have trained for this confrontation their whole lives. This is better, especially in the last sentence summary, but the beginning of this paragraph is especially vague. We have a vague concept of the "world," but the war, and Emma's understanding of it, are particularly mysterious. Can you elaborate at all on the sides? Why there is war, and why she cares? And, if at all possible, this choice is obviously implied, but if you can make it clearer what the consequences are, and why (or if) she chooses to fight for or against whichever side she does, it would help if the negative potential of her decision was clearer.
AWAKENED is a XX,XXX word YA Paranormal (BTW a "world she didn't know existed" CAN signify a fantasy or sci-fi book, but I think that was a metaphor-at-risk-of-being-a-cliche)
Thank you for you time and consideration.
http://www.JessicaSalyer.blogspot.com You should incorporate this link into the body of your email, and eliminate the HTML. If you don't know how, we can talk privately.
In summary - I know I cut it up, but I do think this query is good. It covers the basics, and may get past some agent's assistant screeners, but you really do want it to pop in order to stand out.
The hook, I think, is your strong point, even if it's not perfectly executed here. I mean a young girl, who suddenly has telekinesis, and yet still doesn't fit in at a school for those like her? That's an awesome premise, but it's not as highlighted as it can be in this query.
As the query (story) escalates from there, things get very vague, fast. We can, thankfully, infer some of the good stuff, but we do need to know more about exactly which sides are available to Emma, and why choosing one is so hard (more specifically, because we do have a hint of that).
Thanks so much for reading, everyone. I actually have the day off, so I wrote this last night, and am now focusing on the writing work I need to do this weekend. Please share your thoughts in the comments, and otherwise, keep on keepin' on. Word up.