Monday, November 26, 2012

Query Help!!

My dear, lovely, wonderful readers, today I need your assistance. I recently finished revising The Descent of Chris Chappell. It's down to a beautiful, lovely 81,000 words. (Uh...well beautiful, tragic 81,000 is probably a better description). And my beta readers have their hands on it as we speak, trying to turn it into a masterpiece.

But you see, I really hate query writing, and if I'm ever going to get published, I need to have a killer query. So below is the query for my story, and I would really really appreciate it if you guys could give me your reactions and feedback.

The most important question one must ask themselves when giving query feedback is: would you want to read the story the query is describing. So if you could especially help answer that question, (and why or why not) I would greatly appreciate it.

Any other advice/nitpicks/thoughts/feelings/concerns are greatly appreciated.

So without further ado, the QUERY:

Chris is doomed to the life of a Norm—a normal American 17-year-old that is—until his wizard father develops an amulet to grant even the most normal of people wizard powers. It’s all Chris ever wanted. With the amulet he becomes praiseworthy, popular, and powerful.

But not everyone is happy with the development of Chris’s late and unexpected powers, including Chris’s best friend, Jeremy. He thinks being a Norm is nothing to be ashamed of and realizes the dangerous implications of the amulet. It allows Chris to draw his power from the world around him, instead of from himself like a true wizard, giving him unlimited power. If it got into the wrong hands, the wielder of the amulet would be unstoppable. The amulet’s very existence is a danger to both wizard and Norm kind. Chris, however, is not willing to go back to being the shame of his family. He won’t go back to being on the outside looking in. And he’s now the most powerful wizard to ever live—powerful enough to tweak the minds of those who confront him.

After all, what’s a little mind control between friends?

The Descent of Chris Chappell is an 81,000 word YA paranormal fantasy told from two points of view.

So would you want to read this story? Why or why not? Other thoughts?


  1. There are a thousand ways to write a query, but every query has to showcase three things: character, conflict, and stakes. A few thoughts on each.

    Character: You've done a good job giving us a sense of Chris's character (I especially liked the juxtaposition of a normal kid wanting to be something more, since so many amazing YA protagonists are always lamenting the fact that they're not normal), but I think you could push it even further. I wanted to get more of a sense of what Chris's life as a Norm is like and what he thinks about it. Saying that he's "doomed" to being normal gives us a clue, but I think a few more specific details would sharpen Chris's characterization and also give us a better sense of the world. (Also, if you keep the description "a normal American 17-year-old that is," you'll want to add a comma after "17-year-old" and probably delete "American," since we can assume his nationality.)

    Conflict: Here again, you've given us a good sense of the conflict, but I wanted more specifics. I think the second paragraph focuses too much on philosophizing and not enough on plot points. Once he gets his hands on the amulet, what happens? You could reveal this inner conflict through the things that happen to Chris. I mean, it's not like he sets out to become an evil sorcerer, so what events lead him down that path? You don't have to spell everything out, of course, but I'd like to get a better sense of how the story unfolds, how this event leads to that one, which leads to that one, which leads to that one.

    Stakes: I LOVE the last line of the query, but it did leave me wondering what exactly Chris wants his friends to do and, more importantly, WHY. I got the feeling that the stakes in this story were more intimate, more personal--they're not trying to, say, prevent the political and ecological collapse of the planet Zoron--but what are they trying to do? Prevent Chris's descent into tyrannical madness? If you reveal a few more plot points, I think the stakes will be clearer, too, but just make sure we know exactly what's on the line.

    Hope that helps!

  2. I agree with Krista a few more plot details would draw the reader into the story. Maybe give an example of the amulet's power and how it's changing Chris and let me deduce the danger instead of saying it outright. That gets me invested in the story. The last line is great! It definitely sounds like a story I'd like to read.

  3. Thanks, Sarah! I'm working on a second rev with a few more plot points, it's just I love that last line too! So I don't want to go too far into the plot so I can keep it you know? lol.