As promised, I’m going to post my new query for FOSSEGRIM, after Matt Rush was kind enough to post it up last week for a three day critiquing session. I got TONS of fabulous feedback, the key points being:
1. 1. Your query should encompass the voice of your character and the tone of the story as much as possible.
2. 2. The ‘hook’ should be within the first paragraph and offered in a way that really grabs the agent’s attention.
3. 3.There’s no need to be too specific. Make sure you have your main conflict and the consequences if your MC doesn’t reach his/her goal. (what’s at stake)
4. 4. Finally, the ending paragraph should be short and sweet and give very little information about the writer unless you have credentials.
You can see the original query letter here. I’ve posted the new and improved version below followed by a question ...
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Dear (specified agent)
Teen delinquent Sage Reynolds has been looking forward to his eighteenth birthday ever since he was dropped into ‘the system’. Now, just six months away from freedom, his foster parents are sending him away to military school after one (okay, maybe two) run-ins with the law. Sage was pretty sure he’d covered all his bases in the ‘screwed department'…that is, until he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.
In this 70,000 word YA urban fantasy, Sage deals with the realities of turning ‘Fossegrim’- a mermaid race living off an enchanted island in the North Sea. Truth is, Sage never asked to sprout a man-tail and shoot through the waves like a Disney character on ‘roids. He’d do anything to get his old imperfect life back. His one chance at becoming human again lies with the Fossegrim mermaid who threw the changing stone down on human land seventy years ago. If Sage can find her and convince her to go back to the ocean, he can reclaim his humanity. If he doesn’t, he’ll have to give up everything he loves and resign himself to life as a sushi-eating Fossefreak.
In addition to novels, I also write articles about publishing, the craft of writing, and the querying process which are featured on my blog- Creepy Query Girl. I am twenty eight years old, a married mother of three, and have been residing in France for the last six years.
I have included the first chapter below and the complete manuscript of FOSSEGRIM is available upon request.
Thank you for your consideration.
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Now, I’ve tried rewriting the ‘screwed’ line a few times to tone it down. The reason I put it in to begin with is because it’s very much a tone and language that Sage, the MC, would use. But I’m wondering if it’s too harsh and might deter some agent’s interest in the story? I've read about some agents accepting querries with far worse language, so it could be a matter of taste.
What do YOU think? Keep the ‘screwed’? Or screw the ‘screwed’?