Friday, September 20, 2013

Kodi Ross's Current Query Critiqued

All righty then, today we have Kodi's query again, this time with my feedback, in blue.

Here's the letter:

Dear Agent (Why I am querying)

(Why you are querying) I'm sure you meant to move this line down here, but just to be sure. Also, I've said many times I prefer personalization at the end, so I won't harp on it any longer.

Seventeen-year-old Mihael This is a weird spelling, but I see from the rest of the query it's on purpose. Wrath This name feels a little too obvious to me, but that's not really query critique territory. is the son of the most powerful Sin in the Demon Realm, but if he doesn’t turn into a full demon by his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be just another blood splatter on the sacrificial altar.

Okay. I like this. I have no idea what a Sin is, or how turning into a full demon works, but it doesn't really matter, because this is just the hook. I'm hoping we get an idea what Mihael is before becoming a full demon (half-demon? no-demon?), but I'm sure you'll get to that.

With his crucial birthday looming and not even a demonic roar inside him, See? I knew we could count on you. No-demon it is. Mihael discovers his father’s plans to launch the Apocalypse and make the AntiChrist rise, with Mihael’s split You really mean split, not spilled, right? blood being a key part of that plan.

I think you need to clarify what you mean here. You mention Mihael being murdered in the opening hook, but then this paragraph confuses it. Is he some kind of demon-human hybrid? If so, you need to say so. If not, you need to explain what he is.

With brains, guile, and a powerful aid, Like another character? This is vague. Mihael escapes from his father’s demonic clutches. His only hope lies in the human world, in his new allies(, Oxford comma) and the answers he’ll find there. He joins up with an unstable psychic and her half-angel friend, who he finds are also being hunted by his father, Wrath. You don't need this. Just "father" is sufficient. Also, are the psychic and the half-angel the same characters who were the "powerful aid?"

With few clues to guide them, Mihael and his friends must find a way to fight back against Wrath his father’s horde of demons. Though hopelessly outmatched, they have a weapon Wrath he doesn’t. If they figure out how to use it correctly, they might just have a chance at stopping Armageddon.

HALF-BREEDS AND OTHER LIABILITIES is a 80,000 word YA Urban Fantasy novel that will appeal to fans of Holly Black’s WHITE CAT White Cat and Cassandra Clare’s THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. It is a standalone with series potential.

Thank you for your time.

Okay. You're off to a good start here. You've got some cool elements, and you certainly cover a clear conflict, and imply a decent choice, but you need to focus this query more. Avoid vague-ness, and focus on specificity.

Also, I get that his father is Wrath, and that Mihael shares his surname, but I would suggest keeping that out of the query. It would just confuse things.

That's it!

What do you all think?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think it definitely has a good hook. You pointed out the main things such as what is he and what is the aid. And split? Spilled makes more sense.

Sarah Ahiers said...

Yeah i think Matt said everything i would have said. I think you're almost there with this query and adding some specifics in the vague areas will really cinch the deal.

Rusty Webb said...

It's a great query. I want to read more already. I was confused about some of the things alluded to, like what the statement about turning into a full demon on his birthday means, but all in all, it was great to read. If I were choosing people to request a manuscript from from a large pile, I'd probably be asking to see more of this one.

K.A. Barbieri said...

It's "Spilt" blood. I DID A TYPO. (This is Kodi btw). xD

And thank you all. This is really helpful, I'll try to get out some of the vagueness. :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

I agree with Matt's comments. And just want to say, I can see the care you used in picking your word choices. I'm impressed. Good luck with this.

mshatch said...

Completely concur with everything Matt said. And I'd name the aid, be specific. Sound like a fun story :)

Laura Stephenson said...

I agree with Matt. I also feel like the only reason he's on the side against his father is because his father plans to kill him when he doesn't go demon. Is he just fighting for survival, or does he actually care about the people of Earth? How does he end up friends with an angel? The query raises questions it's too short to answer. Which could be good, or it could be indicating weak spots in the full book.

Laura Stephenson said...

Also it does sound really cool. A devil's son is a main character in my own book. :)

Eliza Tilton said...

Matt hit all the points. Knowing what that powerful aid is will help.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Great comments, Matt. I can add nothing that you haven't already touched on.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Excellent critique, as usual, Matt. Half Breeds & Other Liabilities sounds like an exciting book. So even without the tweaks, it captured my attention.