After seventeen-year-old Dessa Sanford dies, her spirit becomes stuck on earth and she must free herself before her soul is dragged to hell.
Okay. So this is a really cool premise, and as an opening hook, it's actually not half bad, but I think you do need a bit more in order for this query to really shine. For one thing, who is Dessa? I mean, other than being seventeen, and you know, dead, what kind of person is she? The first thing you want to convey in a query letter is Character. What I call the first C (Character, Conflict, Choice). Try to introduce us to her in a way that we can sympathize with who she is before you fill us in on what happens to her.
Dessa never expected to be dead at seventeen, Does anyone? much less surrounded by the dismissive living. I like this. Very unique. She can’t interact with them, can’t tell them they’re wrong about her death—it wasn’t an accident and she most certainly didn’t kill herself. Searching for someone who cares, she keeps visiting the boy she can’t forget. This whole paragraph is actually pretty good, but I think you can reword this last sentence for a bit more clarity. The way it's worded, it sounds like she keeps visiting the boy because she's searching for someone who cares, not in spite of that fact. Does that make sense?
Garrett Cooper is the only one who believes there’s more to Dessa’s death. He saw something the day she died and didn’t act on it. Saw what? Always be as specific as possible in a query letter. I understand that maybe you're trying to avoid opening a big can of worms, but it's better to do that than to be vague. Now he’s haunted by the guilt—and Dessa. Nice.
With the help of a guide, Again. Specificity is your friend. Dessa must let go of her old life if she’s to free herself from the grip earth has on her spirit. But she’s too busy following Garrett, who vows to uncover the truth about her death. The longer Dessa stays among the living, the more likely it is the Reapers of the Night will find her and force her soul to hell where she’ll be tortured by the devil for all eternity.
Okay. This paragraph is actually pretty good too. You don't have a clearly stated sadistic choice (WARNING: link leads to TVTropes.org, follow at your own risk), but it is implied, and sometimes that's enough.
Complete at 61,000 words, CRASHING DOWN is a young adult paranormal that I believe readers of
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Okay, in summary, I actually think this query is in pretty good shape. I don't read a lot of ghost stories, so I can't say how unique the premise is, but I can tell you that it is well presented here.
Of the three Cs, your conflict is presented best. Second, you've got a Choice that can be figured out with a careful read, but I think you'd be better off if you reworded to make it more explicit.
Finally, the one thing you're really lacking is Character. If you can rewrite your opening hook so that it introduces us to Dessa as a character, and makes us sympathize with who she was before she died, then we will care much more about everything that comes after.
What do you all think? Disagree with anything I said? Can anyone share an example of how to rewrite Jessica's opening hook paragraph?